GoMetro has been doing some fantastic work over the last couple of years, providing South African commuters with regular updates on public transport.
It provides service updates and route information to Metrorail, Golden Arrow buses, MyCiTi buses in Cape Town, Gauteng Rapid Rail and Johannesburg’s Rea Vaya buses. To tack on to that, it also provides live traffic information for road users.
Recently, GoMetro unveiled its latest offering: the Flexible Mobility Platform. Essentially it combines everything GoMetro has to offer into one, giving commuters and businesses a one-stop opportunity to organise their inner-city travel.
“We are sitting in a position where we have developed mobile apps and technology, data analytics and advanced mapping capabilities – as we have a very clear view of where the world is moving with regards to movement,” said GoMetro founder Justin Coetzee.
“We are now ready to start participating in a very active manner in the conceptualisation, planning, implementation and management of flexible transport services.”
GoMetro, go anywhere
Almost any organisation or city precinct that has a need for public transport can make use of the platform.
As a bit of a test run, the University of Pretoria made use of it to run its bus service and provide real-time bus location information to its students. That way, students knew exactly where each bus was, where they were leaving from, and what time they departed.
The system is similar to Intelligent Transport Systems, but Coetzee said that its service can do the necessary calculations and computations in a tenth of the time.
He also explained that as more businesses in a CBD group together, the better transport will become for everybody that needs to venture out into the city.
“A user on our app would be able to request an Uber to their closest mall, then a shuttle to another mall and then a City Bus to their meeting or appointment. No car needed, no parking fees, no traffic congestion – but better mobility and accessibility,” he said.
The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) is one of GoMetro’s biggest clients, and the two have been working together to provide WiFi through fibre at train stations. By being able to connect to the WiFi and the see train information on the Flexible Mobility Platform, it makes commute planning easier.
With the ructions in the taxi industry regarding Uber and metered taxis, Coetzee says that the Flexible Mobility Platform will be able to help government and cities better plan, regulate and co-ordinate private transport services, public transport services and the rise of on-demand services.
“Government has always been our biggest customer of GoMetro tech, so we are sure that municipalities and provincial governments will be very interested in Flexible Mobility Platforms of their own to better manage and plan this disaggregated new operating model for transport,” he said.
GoMetro’s services are currently only available in South Africa, but that is certainly not stopping the company from expanding internationally. As it stands, it has plans to be live in 100 countries in the next 3 to 5 years.
“We are starting with 10 countries in 2017, and can already confirm early agreements with partners in Kenya, Zambia, Namibia, Moldova and Indonesia,” he said.
Coetzee comes from a Civil Engineering background and served as a professional Transport Planner before GoMetro, so he knows a thing or two about how things can (and should) be planned when it comes to transport.
Where technology has been catered for or actively been included in the planning of movement, Coetzee said, public transport has worked very well. Other areas, not so much.
“We are still facing apartheid-era city planning which means that transport operations in South Africa are not as affordable or economic as other developing countries – which means that the urgent priority for the majority of South Africans accessing opportunities is fast and efficient long-haul or “corridor” services – to get people into the economic centres from the outlying areas as quickly and affordably as possible.”
That will solve the problem of getting from rural areas into hub of businesses, what Coetzee then ponders the options once you need to commute to the actual place of business. According to him, it can be confusing at the best of time – which where the Flexible Mobility Platform comes in.
“(It provides) all options for that “last-mile” of transport services – and providing local last-mile service providers with the technology tools they need to deliver the best possible customer experience.”
There has been much hype in the media over the last couple of months regarding self-driving or autonomous cars. Electric car maker Tesla and Google has been leading the charge here, but while it has been somewhat successful on a testing base, a lot of research and work still needs to be done.
GoMetro’s platforms will make things a lot easier for people once these vehicles start rolling out more widely across the world, and understandably Coetzee is excited for the prospect.
“I think autonomous vehicles are closer than we realise in well-defined contexts such as a fixed-route shuttle – and tied to electric drive-trains, smartphones, cloud services, and better connectivity – we are only starting to redesign how we deliver transport to the next,” he said.
While self-driving cars might not be here yet, we certainly know who we want to co-ordinate everything.[Image – CC by 2.0/mungosciko