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RideCo expands on-demand transit through Uber partnership

RideCo Inc. is partnering with Uber Technologies Inc. to give transit agencies more flexibility and efficiency in how they operate by supplying additional vehicles and addressing staffing challenges.

“This partnership gives us Uber as an additional means of transportation beyond the agencies’ core fleet, ensuring comprehensive service delivery to citizens at different times and days of the week," said John McLeod, Head of Marketing at RideCo. 

Waterloo-based RideCo is a SaaS company that provides transit agencies and fleet operators with a software and an app that enable on-demand transit for riders. The app provides the user with several ride options based on price, time and destination. 

“RideCo is a cost-effective solution for transit agencies because we are continuously optimizing and ensuring that vehicles are not driving around empty all the time,” McLeod said.

The company was founded in 2013. CEO and co-founder Prem Gururajan, a University of Waterloo graduate, noticed that his family members encountered several challenges while using public transit, such as infrequent buses. He felt there must be a better way for public transit to function.

“Our app allows for more efficiency and lower costs,” McLeod said. “Riders get access to flexible services effectively. Prem saw an opportunity for improvement, given the importance of transit, and that is where we started.”

Through the app, riders can request transit service and are then provided with information on where they will be picked up and dropped off, along with the cost. 

“We are striving to have more and more shared rides,” McLeod said. “We try to combine riders who are going in a similar direction.”

The company works with transit agencies directly to understand their requirements, services, and cost-structure, and tailors the software to operate accordingly. 

“Transit agencies can now expand or contract their service offerings at different points in the day,” McLeod said. “We want to help agencies achieve their vision through this partnership.”

The Uber partnership is a big win for RideCo.

“Uber is a big company and a highly recognized brand,” McLeod said. “The fact that they chose to work with us is a testament to the good things we are doing. This partnership came together because Uber recognized the pivotal role we play as a vital centerpiece within transit agencies' capabilities.”

Integrating Uber’s software with RideCo optimizes operations for agencies and fleet operators. They can utilize RideCo's software across various fleet options and combine it with Uber's services including vehicles and drivers to cater to additional ride requests during non-standard hours, less populated regions, rider preferences, and high-demand periods. 

This approach allows for a broader range of services and promotes an equitable solution for all, according to RideCo. 

The partnership with Uber addresses the pressing need for transit agencies to become more efficient, especially in the aftermath of COVID-19, where ridership has declined and become less predictable.

“With the changing patterns of commuter behavior, traditional rush hours have become more sporadic and less predictable,” McLeod said. 

This integration acts as a lifeline for transit agencies, helping them overcome hiring challenges and optimize their operations efficiently, ultimately benefiting both the agencies and the passengers they serve, the company said.

RideCo’s workforce has grown to about 100 people, up from 70 in February 2022 when it raised CDN$20 million through a series A raise. The partnership with Uber is expected to contribute to the company’s continued growth. 

“While the partnership may not have a predetermined impact on hiring numbers, it is anticipated that as we expand and gain more traction, we will likely experience further growth, leading to additional hires,” McLeod said.

Looking forward, McLeod said RideCo is working to improve paratransit services and reduce system inefficiencies. 

“Paratransit operations in large cities often suffer from inefficiencies, costing millions of dollars annually, and this poses challenges for cities dealing with budget constraints,” he said. “We want to make it more affordable.”

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