Almost seven years later, Remix now has a team of around 70 and a client list that includes over 350 transit agencies across five continents, including titans like the MTA and Transport for London.
Every day, more than 240 million people around the world interact with planning decisions made on the platform, from individual routes to system-wide reviews. In March, the New York-based ridesharing company Via Remix acquired for $ 100 million. (Remix will operate as a subsidiary of Via, and the company says Chu and the rest of the staff to stay on.)
Dan Getelman, CTO at Remix, says one of the team’s goals is to free up time for shipping companies to experiment more. “It’s always frustrating as a transit driver when you say ‘I guess that makes sense at some point, but it doesn’t fit the bill. [riders’] needs or doesn’t feel responsive to what’s going on, ”he says.
The tech sector, however, has a complicated relationship with public transit. On the one hand, technology has brought some urban infrastructure into the 21st century, making it easier for passengers to travel through advancements such as software APIs (think metro countdown clocks), contactless payment, and apps. navigation. But on the other hand, technology is a direct competitor; Companies like Uber have come under fire for intentionally keeping users (and income) away from public transport, while clogging the streets. How the two can best coexist is an ongoing debate in both worlds.
Remix may fall into a different category. It’s a tech company that goes all out on the public sector, betting that passengers will be drawn to traditional public transport options with good, reliable service rather than an entirely new product. It’s a high-tech solution, of course, but the premise is terribly low-tech: build it better, and they will come. And in our rapidly changing world of mobility, says Getelman, responsiveness is key: “Being able to do that makes for a better system.
A kind of transit reversal happened when covid-19 hit. Yes, city centers have emptied, but ridership outside the central corridors – along local roads and in neighborhood stations –has not completely disappeared, and in some cases it has actually increased. The riders were still moving; it’s just that their destination had changed.
Local trips like these have generally been overlooked by planners who make transit decisions. They involve fewer users and funding is linked to ridership. Race and class also play a role; poorer runners and people of color, who are more likely live further and are less likely to own a car, have long been left out of the construction of the city.