Hello Transit Accounts! (And goodbye Citi Bike?) ☠️

Email sent: Oct 24, 2019 2:31pm

Wow. Crazy month. Been a minute since our last newsletter — but darlings, we had more than a teapot brewing. We’ve been brewing up a whole storm!




Let’s start off with the good news. Like you, we’ve been working tirelessly for years, enticing people to take sustainable transportation. Seven years into Transit, we can always find one more reason to abandon cars forever.

Payments are the next frontier: because as ~exciting~ as new modes like scooters and e-bikes are, and as revolutionary as real-time multimodal trip planning is, the simple fact of the matter is… multimodal payments are still terrible. Asking riders to juggle multiple apps to pay for each scooter/bike/ridehail/transit trip leg? Then budget five minutes in order to purchase subway fare at the station? That’s unnecessary friction. It pushes people into ridehails, taxis, and their own cars. And it slows down the adoption of car-free alternatives.

Is there a reason paying for multimodal transit can’t be as frictionless as paying for an Uber? Absolutely not.

Transit Accounts is proof: one account to pay for ALL mobility in a city.

Now if you (or one of your riders) creates a Transit account, y’all can...

  1. pay for your public transit trip
  2. pay for your bikeshare trip

...all with one account. Transit Accounts can support every city, every mode, every operator — once a rider signs up once, they’re set forever.

We have lots of big transit systems supported already: like RTD (Denver 🚍), Metro (Cincinnati 🚍), Big Blue Bus (coming soon to Santa Monica 🚍), BIXI (Montreal 🚲) Capital Bikeshare (DC 🚲), Divvy (Chicago 🚲), Bike Share Toronto (wonder where 🚲) … full list here, with more joining every day.

Want your service available for purchase with a Transit account? Riders love it — it simplifies car-free mobility and saves them a whole lotta time 🎟📬


There’s an alternative argument for multimodal… and it’s being made by companies like Lyft. Their pitch goes something like this:

"Instead of having apps where you can see all your options… how about just having our app — which lets you ride 36% of your city’s ridehails, unlock 67% of the bikeshares, and ride 26% of the scooters! And oh yeah, here’s some transit info on the side."

It’s something we’ve taken issue with before. These companies don’t want to be part of the transportation system. They want to own the transportation system.

Case in point: Lyft is now shutting down third-party access to their services — to force people to download the Lyft app. It’s why, last month, they shut down Citi Bike unlocks in Transit. It was a big blow for open mobility. Full story here.

So when Lyft shut us down, we sent a message to all our New York users, letting them know who was blocking their access to Citi Bike.

As you’d expect: riders were livid. Journalists recognized the stakes immediately. Mobility advocates went on the record, pointing out that Lyft was weaponizing bikeshare, and imploring cities to act so that riders don’t get locked into walled gardens.

Thousands of people emailed the New York City Department of Transportation, and showed their support publicly — just take a look at the tweets. Big stories came out in Curbed and CityLab. The message to cities was clear: this is something people care about!

But we aren’t just in the business of “generating awareness” — we’re actively working with cities, highlighting the importance of having an open mobility marketplace, and outlining the ways policymakers can prevent anti-competitive maneuvers, like the ones Lyft is making in bikeshare. Now more and more cities are taking action.

We can have something better: Riders should be able to see all their available options, pay for them, unlock them, and combine them with public transit. Period. If cities want to get people out of their cars — empowering open mobility platforms like Transit (and other open-data-powered competitors) is deliciously low-hanging fruit.

Until next time… bon appetit! 😉🍇

Like the cut of our jib? Forward to a friend — via text, bike messenger, paper airplane, whatever. And here’s a link to our newsletter sign-up form, if you haven’t subscribed.

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