After Waze’s $1.1 billion sale to Google on the back of crowd-generated data for drivers, it feels obvious that someone should do the same thing for the world’s mass transit systems. And indeed, another company out of Waze’s home market of Israel is trying to provide real-time, crowdsourced data on public transit.
Called Moovit, its backed with more than $30 million from investors including Sequoia Capital. The startup is adding adding a new city every two days and is growing at about 1 million users per month. Moovit has 10 million registered users total; it’s not sharing daily or monthly actives.
Unlike other apps like Uber, which have been criticized for being too exclusive before moving down-market, Moovit attracts a totally different clientele. For instance, many of their users in Los Angeles are working-class Latinos who rely heavily on public transit over commuting by car.
With more than 400 cities, Moovit is starting to amass data on the efficiency of public transit in different cities. For instance, they’ve found that Bogota and Los Angeles have the longest commute times with more than two hours in each system per day. While Los Angeles is understandable given its sprawl, Bogota is famous for pioneering a special Bus Rapid Transit system that has dedicated lanes and designed pick-up stops to make bus transit faster. They’ve also found that cities like Rome and Rio de Janeiro have the unfortunate distinctions of having the longest wait times for transit in their global network.
Like in Waze, Moovit users can look up directions to different places and see live commute times. They can also put in tips or data that alert other users in the community to delays.
That could form the basis of a valuable network of mapping data if they can scale the user base fast enough. Waze took a similar approach and it ended up being an enormous strategic acquisition even though Google already had overlapping mapping and transit data. Google didn’t want the app to fall into the hands of a rival like Facebook or Apple, that could build or improve a competing mapping product with the live Waze data.
Moovit now has about 55 employees and is in the process of opening Bay Area offices around marketing and business development.