Spare, a Vancouver-based tech company, enables the future of mobility and empowers transit agencies to implement on-demand microtransit though its innovative transit software. Below is our recent interview with Kristoffer vik Hansen, CEO of Spare:
Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to Spare?
A: Through our technology, cities and transit providers can plan, launch, operate, analyze, and incorporate more modern modes of transportation (i.e. microtransit, paratransit, non-medical emergency transportation, autonomous vehicles, etc.) into existing transit systems.
Having the ability to blend on-demand and fixed-route transit networks is vital in today’s world because it ensures that people have equitable access to mobility. Spare’s technology provides the flexibility to make this happen, and transforms how public transit can operate, benefiting both the operational side of the business, as well as riders. In essence, our mission, through Spare, is to change and improve public transportation and how an entire community moves.
Q: What is on-demand microtransit technology, and how does it differ from other ride sharing technology currently on the market? (i.e. what are the highlights and unique benefits)
A: Microtransit is essentially pooled, on-demand public transit tailored to specific mobility needs. Through Spare, microtransit can be fully integrated into the existing transit network of any given city. We provide transit agencies with an open API platform that connects the traditional modes of transportation (fixed-route busses and trains) with more modern modes like on-demand transit and/or integrated specialized transportation such as paratransit.
Our goal is to redefine how people see and utilize public transit. We are not building another ride-sharing service or app. Instead, we believe public transit needs to evolve to include more ridership options and flexibility so that public transit is accessible to all. Our technology enables and empowers transit agencies to make the shift that improves their systems. Unlike for-profit ridesharing solutions like Uber, Spare’s Open API technology can bring together many different on-demand transportation solutions and integrate them into the existing fixed-route network on one single platform. In this platform, they can work together, and complement each other.
Q: What is Spare’s rapid response plan for COVID-19 and is it currently being used by any transit providers in light of the pandemic? Please give examples!
A: Due to the pandemic, public transit ridership in major cities has been down 50-90% from pre-crisis levels across the globe. At Spare, we have built an emergency rapid-response framework that enables organizations to launch a targeted microtransit program in under 48 hours.
There is no doubt that there will be a long recovery phase for transit operators from COVID-19, which is why Spare has adapted its entire platform to provide optimal flexibility and support for cities while they work through the recovery process. The pandemic has also created an opportunity for transit agencies to rethink transit, and use new innovative technology to improve it on all levels. To date, we have launched three systems in response to the pandemic:
● In Denton, Texas, Spare complemented the reduced fixed-route transit by expanding the existing on-demand microtransit services to provide essential workers with a reliable, safe transportation system. A similar service was also launched in the neighboring city of Lewisville as a result of the success in Denton.
● In Palma, Spain, Spare recently enabled the launch of a completely new on-demand microtransit service. In just 48 hours, we were up and running in the city, including the incorporation of local taxis as overflow vehicles by utilizing ‘Spare Fleets’ which allow the transit agency to deploy multiple fleets.
● In Lincoln, Nebraska, Spare accelerated the launch of a completely new, on-demand microtransit service to complement the reduced fixed-route transit system that already existed. Initially, this was set to launch as a new paratransit service, but now it combines both based on a “co-mingling approach” that allows multiple services to share one single fleet.
Q: What do you see as the future of public transportation as a whole? What role does Spare play in the future of mass transit?
A: The future of transit will be flexible, data-driven, technology-enabled, and seamlessly include many equitable ridership options through a single app. Public transportation of the future can be simple, easy-to-use, and more sustainable, with improved efficiencies and ridership satisfaction.
When deployed correctly with fixed-route transit services, on-demand microtransit has incredibly positive impacts on the society and transit agencies, including reduced emissions, better social cohesion, and significant cost savings. We can see from our case studies than when faced with a global health crisis, the widespread adoption of microtransit has the potential to be a powerful tool for addressing public safety issues, responsiveness, and inequality across our cities.
Through Spare’s platform, our mission is to support and accelerate the recovery and evolution of public transit and the adoption of an on-demand microtransit system that is powered by a simple universal technology.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: On-demand microtransit can have a tremendous financial, social, and environmental impact. The benefits are vast, and to encourage widespread adoption of microtransit, we are looking to focus our efforts on expanding throughout North America, Europe, Japan and Oceania. Ultimately, we take pride in being a globally accessible company and are constantly keeping an eye out for ways we can integrate our technology in transit markets worldwide. To learn more and to stay updated on where Spare goes next, visit our blog.