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Ubirider: the Portuguese startup disrupting urban mobility

By [email protected] - 11th February 2019 - 11:46

Porto-based company wants to revolutionize the urban mobility experience worldwide

“I love my commute!” Said no one ever. It’s a daily struggle, regardless if you drive, take the train or a bus, or even Uber. It’s a constant topic of conversation at dinner parties, in the kitchen at work, at your kid’s soccer match on the weekend. Commuting, and transportation in general, has become inefficient, uncomfortable, stressful, and dominates our lives.

Paulo Ferreira dos Santos and his team are determined to change that.

In the world’s 20 largest cities, there are 117 million trips per day (This includes all types of transportation, from automobiles to trains), with around 57 million of those being in Europe alone. Getting from one place to another is an essential part of life, and yet so much needs to be improved. The EU has committed to investing XX Billion into mobility solutions. That in itself is a signal that mobility as we know it needs to change.

Dos Santos and his team of young, brilliant software developers and designers saw an opportunity to introduce a system that would revolutionize not only how people got from point A to point B, but how people thought about mobility in general.

“We are so used to large infrastructure systems being cumbersome and hard to navigate that we assume the problem is too big to solve,” said dos Santos. “The reality is that the technology exists to make mobility much easier and affordable, and even enjoyable again. We just have to change our thinking a bit to see mobility in new ways.”

Dos Santos is no stranger to taking on big challenges. In 2007 he founded Tomorrow Options, a health tech company that made electronic devices that monitored the movement of hospital patients and provided detailed info on how healthcare workers could improve the care of individual patients. For eight years he ran Tomorrow Options, and then pivoted the company to enter the sports wearable market and rebranded the company Kinematix. Kinematix produced TUNE, a wearable for runners that obtained meaningful information about body movements, and turned that information into tangible actions that would improve the health of the individual on a daily basis.

Keeping with the theme of “movement”, dos Santos rallied his old team from Kinematix to come up with a solution that made using public and private transportation easy, seamless and affordable.
“The biggest lesson i learned through Tomorrow Options and Kinematix is that if you really want to be successful and start a company that will change the world, you have to create it thinking globally,” says Paulo Ferreira dos Santos.

The Pick app allows users to use and pay for any mode of transportation and not have to worry about understanding the different systems. If you wanted you could take the bus, the ferry and an Uber all in one trip, but only use Pick to plan your trip and pay for everything instantly, as, in the case of Portugal, of MBWay. This is also useful when when visiting other cities and you’re not familiar with the different systems. Pick will suggest the best transport options according to the user’s criteria of choice.

In most developed countries, there are tax incentives for travelers and their employers to use public transportation as an alternative to automobiles with the goal of reducing congestion, one of the greatest burdens of economic value and lack of productivity. Passenger transport is essential for urban development, access to jobs, better environment (air, noise, less congestion), and attractiveness to new citizens and visitors, etc. The integration and good management of the various existing alternatives is recognized as essential to deal with the increasing number of public transport users, and providing a good experience. It has proved difficult and expensive to integrate different ticketing methods that utilize physical media in the infrastructure (e.g., contactless cards) among various carriers. Ubirider allows this integration without the operators having to abdicate the systems they use, just using the users’ smartphone features.

The app is already being tested in Portugal (Fertagus), Spain (Metro de Sevilla) and soon in the United Kingdom and Colombia. Results so far have been positive, as it takes less than XX minutes to get Ubirider set up to work with any transport system.

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