Zoute is the latest application to join the competitive transit app space, which this past year saw Apple scooping up services like Embark and HopStop to beef up its own Maps product. But Zoute is taking a different approach than most, by launching on Android first, with an app that delivers both fixed route schedules and real-time departure information.
The Mountain View-based startup was founded barely a month and a half ago by two long-time mobile developers, Hai Le and Li Li, both of whom previously worked at early location-based service Loopt, and stayed on following its acquisition by Green Dot, where they helped build Green Dot’s GoBank app.
But now the two have struck out on their own, with a bootstrapped service aimed at making using public transportation more convenient.
Zoute’s new app initially targets those in the Bay Area, pulling in routing info for local services like BART, SF MUNI and AC Transit, as well as Stanford University’s Marguerite Shuttle.
An iOS version of the app is in development now, too, and is expected to arrive in a couple of months. In addition, the plan is to expand Zoute’s coverage to other major metro areas across the U.S. this year, including East Coast cities like Boston, NY and D.C. (A feature in the app called “Bring Zoute to my city,” will help guide the company where to launch next.)
Given the prevalence of transit services online, and in both the iOS and Android app stores, Le tells us there are few things he hopes will set Zoute apart from the crowd, which today also includes apps like CityMapper, The Transit App, Moovit, Transit, and even mobile assistants like Donna, among many others.
In addition to what he hopes is an improved design, Le notes that a good number of transit apps on the market today are those built for a single city or a single transit agency. “Our goal is to make one app designed for people who don’t have a car, or who take public transit,” he says. Plus, Le adds, “we provide two pieces of information – both the fixed time schedule and the real-time departure information.” This makes the service more comprehensive than competitors which only offer one or the other.
In the future, the app will be upgraded to offer things like push notifications and alerts, but today it includes some basic enhancements, like the ability to favorite destination and stops, or view all stops nearby.
In the long term, Le says the company’s business model would involve Zoute working with other public transit agencies that don’t offer open data or real-time departure information, and get them on its transit platform. But for now, the focus is just on building the apps themselves and attracting users.
Zoute is only a few days old, and is a free download here on Google Play.
[Image credits: flickr user Michael Patrick; Zoute]