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Passport, the technology business for city transit systems, raises $43 million

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Passport, company that’s managing much of the technical aspects of how people pay to use public transportation resources in cities like London, Miami and Los Angeles, has just raised $43 million.

The money, from Bain Capital Ventures, will go to help the company expand its payment and transaction services nationally and internationally as cities and states wrestle with how new mobility technologies will transform vast portions of urban infrastructure and government income.

Passport’s back-end software manages everything from parking to ticketing to tolling in some of the most populous cities around the world.

The company has already landed big partnerships with car makers like Jaguar Land Rover, Porsche, Ford and GM to embed their software in the new display systems that are mandated for most cars by 2018, according to Bob Youakim, Passport’s chief executive officer.

As public transit moves to the management of autonomous fleets, private companies will need ways to link in to the management systems that city governments are using. And as autonomous vehicles eat into revenues from parking tickets and moving violations, governments will need access to vehicle systems to create new kinds of tolls to pay for the upkeep of transit infrastructure, Youakim said.

“You have to have that infrastructure built so that vehicles know,” Youakim said.

Autonomy also matters for state governments. Soon, an integrated billing system will allow for automatic payment on toll roads across the U.S. Passport is already working with the Pennsylvania Toll Pike on billing. “The toll road is very disconnected,” said Youakim. “The only thing that can bring that together is some sort of mobile-based system,” like the kind Passport provides.

Youakim said the money from the latest investment (which was all Bain Capital Ventures), will be used to develop new products and for strategic acquisitions.

As the company expands, expect to see more integrations with ride-hailing companies like Lyft, with whom Passport is already working on a project in Charlotte, NC.

“We’re working with all of the rideshare folks,” says Youakim. “It’s very new… all of this coming into transit.”

Cities are trying to find ways to hook into the information and entertainment displays cars are going to be required by law to include as part of the demand for rear view cameras and displays in vehicles.

These sensors and integrations are critical for cities as revenues from taxes and tickets decline. “Infrastructure [revenues] will come from tolling,” said Youakim. Cities will monitor drivers’ routes and tax based on usage of roads. It’s akin to what the city of London does with entry fees for vehicles there, Youakim said.

“To come into the city limits you get taxed,” he said. “All the different types of tolling are going to become more prevalent in the U.S.”

All of this becomes more vital as federal infrastructure spending is likely to decline, given the new tax bill that looks like it will be voted into law today. With federal coffers depleted from tax cuts, local governments will be left to fend for themselves to pay for roads, bridges and other means of transportation.

But all of this is in the future. For now, Passport has its hands full with metro-rail, tolling, ticketing, parking and projects that cities are trying to maintain as legacies from the 20th century urban infrastructure. The company and Youakim are just thinking ahead and laying the groundwork for the 21st century’s problems.

Already, Passport’s services have been embraced to the tune of $250 million in transit transactions on its current annual run rate. The company has customers in 450 municipalities.

Passport already has 100 employees on staff and plans to add 50 more within the next year.

“Having reviewed the industry Passport has emerged as the clear leader in the space and its culture speaks to our way of progressive thinking, which is a very powerful driver,” Bain Capital Ventures managing director Matt Harris said. “We believe Bob and his team have the industry experience and vision necessary to lead the revolution in this space.”

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