Fredericton, New Brunswick-based transit technology company ReadyPass is seeking to bring the same kind of smart upgrade that we’re beginning to see in North America’s largest metropolises to every other municipality, starting with Canada, but also targeting approximately 250 cities with populations of less than 150,000.
Municipalities all over the world are dedicating increased resources to “smart city” initiatives, on the assumption that an investment in software or technological solutions to real-life problems will make sense in a return-on-investment sense, in terms of cutting down on inefficiencies and improving urban quality of life.
But anyone who’s spent time in small towns knows how remote and impossible these “big city” techno-fixes can seem, with their small budgets, small infrastructure and tiny staff limiting the possibilities for what impact city administrations might have on the lives of the people who live there.
ReadyPass purports to be “the public transit upgrade Canadian cities deserve”, adding accurate GPS tracking, clear routing, and simple e-ticketing to public transit, as well as the larger objective of making transit smarter and simpler for passengers and drivers.
Co-founders Amy Colford and Taeler Dixon started the company out of a frustration trying to predict when buses would arrive at stops in Fredericton.
They proposed a digital toolkit to the local transit agency, who responded well, and got to work.
Serial entrepreneur and UNB MBA student Alex Kall joined the group as CEO, guiding them through local accelerator Propel ICT’s Launch program, which they graduated from this past spring.
Previous to that, they competed in the BMO Financial Group APEX Business Plan Competition, hosted by the International Business and Entrepreneurship Centre (IBEC) at UNB, which they won, also grabbing the ‘Best Elevator Pitch’ and ‘Viewer’s Choice: Best Elevator Pitch’ awards for their sixty-second pitch.
The company is now on the hunt for $100,000 investment to expand outside of the Maritimes.
They’re currently working with the city of Fredericton, and are in talks with Saint John, as well as municipalities in Cape Breton and a bus company in Fredericton.
The ReadyPass team installs a suite of sensors on each bus, letting the transit agency monitor the location and speed of buses, as well as the number of passengers getting on and off, and has developed an Android and iOS app that shows bus routes to passengers, and where the buses are in real time.
The sensors can also monitor road conditions, which adds value for the city administration, giving the public works department data on work that needs to be done.
Transit agencies now have a dashboard through which they can use historical data to change the routes and frequencies of buses according to demand.
Soon, ReadyPass hopes to incorporate an electronic buss pass feature, so that a passenger can pay for and display a bus pass through their phone.