TransLoc Steps on the Gas With $8M for Mass Transit Software

For commuters and transit system operators, travel planning is a headache. Many commuters use a hodge-podge of transit modes to get around cities. Meanwhile, mass transit operators have a hard time gathering accurate and timely data about how their systems are used—data crucial to planning expensive and necessary upgrades.

TransLoc, a transportation technology startup based in Durham, NC, thinks its software can ease the pain of both the traveler and the transit operator, and is announcing today that it has raised $8 million in financing to bring its offering to more users across the country. SJF Ventures and Fontinalis Partners co-led the Series A round, which includes participation from Patient Capital Collaborative, a fund within Sustain VC; as well as Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM) founder, chairman, and CEO Marc Benioff, through his Efficient Capacity Fund; and Thomas McMurray, formerly a general partner at Sequoia Capital. The round also includes debt financing from Square One Bank.

SJF, which has offices in Durham, New York, and San Francisco, invests in companies focused on sustainability and conservation. Detroit-based Fontinalis, founded by Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) executive chairman Bill Ford, focuses on investments in mobility and transportation companies. The latter venture firm has invested in startups such as Cambridge, MA-based air cargo startup SmartKargo, and Palo Alto, CA-based car-sharing startup Wheelz.
TransLoc CEO Doug Kaufman says his company has grown organically since its founding in 2004, and now claims more than 140 municipal transit agencies and universities as paying customers. TransLoc doesn’t disclose revenue, but Kaufman says the company did not need to raise outside funding. However, the time was right to raise money to scale operations, he says.

Kaufman says that there’s been a favorable market shift for TransLoc. Riders increasingly prefer access to different modes of transportation over owning cars. People are embracing buses, trains, bikes, and even ride-hailing apps as their first choice in transportation. “That movement has been happening and gaining speed, rapidly, over the last 12 to 24 months,” Kaufman says. “We’ve positioned ourselves right in the middle of it.”

For travelers, TransLoc works as a free app installed on a smartphone that helps users plan their trips. The app also shows the location of a bus or a train, along with an expected arrival time. Each transit vehicle’s GPS coordinates are sent to TransLoc’s data center, via cellular networks. By taking into account a vehicle’s direction, position, and speed, TransLoc’s algorithms can predict the arrival time for a vehicle. That information is transmitted to transit system users. The app is available for Apple and Android devices. TransLoc says riders use its app more than 3.5 million times a month. The company also claims that its app can increase ridership by up to 25 percent.

Kaufman acknowledges that since TransLoc’s launch, many other transit-tracking apps have entered the marketplace. But he says the company sets itself apart from others through … Next Page »

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Frank Vinluan is editor of Xconomy Raleigh-Durham, based in Research Triangle Park. You can reach him at fvinluan [at] xconomy.com Follow @frankvinluan

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