By Jawad Ansari
Transportation industry has been at the forefront of both business and personal life in New York City and the surrounding boroughs, an area of approximately 18 million inhabitants. For decades, different modes of transportation including road and water transport services have been connecting the island of Manhattan with its 5 boroughs experiencing and influx of millions of commuters daily. This plus an annual passenger traffic of approximately 60 million international travelers to the city makes New York the hub of a huge transportation business contributing $42 billion to the annual gross domestic product (GDP) of the region.
Since the advent of technology, means of transportation connecting supply with demand have evolved tenfold. App-based technology has made dramatic improvements in how passengers, drivers, and dispatchers interact, raising consumer satisfaction and increasing efficiency for companies. Before the advancement in technology in this sector, transportation services mainly focused on connecting demand with supply through radio systems that were purchased by independent operators hoping to generate income through servicing demand in the city. These radio systems called black boxes connected independent operators with customers through affiliation with licensed bases which charged a monthly subscription called radio dues for association with their base. This was the only option for small operators at the time to connect with market demand due to their size and limited exposure to the market. Furthermore, as part of the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) regulations, you could only operate a For Hire Vehicle (FHV) by affiliating with a licensed base. Big companies that operated these bases and supplied demand to these independent operators generated huge profits through having market monopoly. However, since all goods things must come to an end, so did this monopoly in the transportation industry.
Over the past two decades, the market has experienced rapid disruption from advanced technological solutions such as GPS devices, automated vehicle location (AVL), mobile data computers (MDCs) and telematics. This disruption has led to dramatic growth that has fostered new technological developments, paving the way for their inevitable integration into app-based technologies such as Uber and Lyft. Uber was an idea. A convenience. An ease of connecting demand with supply with just the click of a button. Uber founder and CEO Travis Kalanick defined Uber as, “Uber is efficiency with elegance on top. That’s why I buy an iPhone instead of an average cell phone, why I go to a nice restaurant and pay a little bit more. It’s for the experience.”
The technology not only reduced wait times and provided ease of travel to its customers but also delivered flexible work schedule to the independent operators empowering them to run their work life as they desired. It gave them more control over their lives. In cities such as New York, where there is regulation to be affiliated with a base, Uber solved the issue by providing a base affiliation to each of its independent operators without binding them to a fixed work schedule. All the above mentioned, resulted in an accelerated adoption of the new technology by consumers and providers and has had the same effect on the transportation industry as Netflix had on the DVD rental market.
On the contrary, Uber has experienced some speed bumps of its own. Since it is an availability based model, it has no control over its supply as it does not own any assets and relies heavily on independent operators to satisfy their demand. Furthermore, any new regulations in the transportation industry needs to be satisfied through cooperation with millions of its independent operators. It creates a huge challenge for them keeping control over that many services providers. Uber has also been in the news for many lawsuits against its independent operators for harassment. This also points to their inability to have proper control over its supply chain. In turn Uber only solves one side of the equation.
Enter NuRide Transportation Group, an innovative asset based transportation company that not only has the largest in-house fleet of cars in New York City having full control over its supply chain, but also, has a technology division that designs its own software to support its diverse group of transportation services. These services include wheel chair accessible rides, hybrid electric carbon neutral cars, corporate black luxury cars, transit buses, ambulette services, and leased car model supplying cars to independent operators servicing demand of availability based models such as Uber. NuRide has managed to satisfy this challenge of complete control over the supply side of the business. As these trends continue to shape the FHV industry on a global scale, the initial adopters are beginning to focus on all aspects of the supply chain.
To optimize its in-house assets and deliver first-rate service, Nuride has created RouteMind, a state-of-the-art routing technology platform designed to completely transform how automatic routing and dispatch for transportation companies is handled. RouteMind takes multiple real-time variables into consideration and adapts easily to scheduling changes, all while integrating with other data systems in a company’s operations. FHV providers can receive information about school zones, construction zones, and traffic delays along planned routes. This allows for rapid re-adjustments, reducing travel time, and ultimately saving costs. The newest systems use “nearest car” algorithm to determine how to best route for vehicles in their ecosystem. Factors like destination directions, vehicle pre-availability, and impending traffic changes are as important as proximity and are also imbedded in RouteMind. With new advances like RouteMind, advanced dispatch software with sophisticated route optimization capabilities offer detailed route scheduling to improve the predictability and timeliness of operations.
RouteMind is a disruptive transportation technology that applies the most advanced route optimization technology to the FHV dispatch function and builds products and services designed to further transform the FHV and paratransit transportation sectors. RouteMind’s autonomous dispatch system includes fully featured driver and passenger apps, as well as a proprietary GIS map and traffic server. The dispatch system is cloud-based, designed to allow fleets of all sizes to autonomously dispatch trips using high-level route optimization algorithms. RouteMind finds the most efficient and cost-effective routes, constantly and continually improving them in milliseconds. It features shared-ride routing, rapid will-call decisions, instant dispatching, and live traffic data.
The impact of technological advances on the FHV transportation industry, particularly those coming from developments in dispatch and route optimization software, are poised to make those in this segment of the industry some of the most exciting and attractive opportunities for new business and investment.
Authors: Dr. Syed Ahmed, Jawad Ansari
Dr. Syed Ahmed is the Managing Director of NuRide MedTrans Group. He has an extensive background in technology, law, and Finance; earning a Masters of Law in e-Commerce Law, a second Masters for International Tax Law and Financial Services, and later completed a Doctorate of Law. While earning these degrees, he founded technical startups related to financial services and taxes, and helped several high-end agencies develop product marketing strategies. Among his many accomplishments, Dr. Syed has, written for the United Nations Identity Crime Convention, drafted international legislation proposals, and developed Fujitsu’s first online education platform.