Metro Manila is not exactly a commuter-friendly metropolis, given the polluted avenues, heavy traffic and very crowded public utility vehicles. But local startup RideIn! plans to make commuting more fun by initially offering badges and rewards to bus and taxi riders.
This is another entry in a series of posts about transportation-related startups in the Philippines. We earlier interviewed the co-founders of MRTtrackr and Tripid, which both aim to make travel easier in Metro Manila through their own means. MRTtrackr focuses on the metro rail transit, while Tripid offers a route-sharing service for organizations and even the public at large.
Another local startup, RideIn!, also focuses on public transportation — in particular, it currently targets bus and taxi riders in Metro Manila. RideIn! actually started as a plan to do an Uber-like service in Metro Manila. But since that has not been viable at this point, the startup then moved on to become an advocacy.
We got in touch with Maui Millan who is co-founder at RideIn!, and he shares how they got around to building their application. “It started as a social advocacy under a volunteer tech group I founded called mobileTAO,” shares Maui. “Tao” means people in Filipino, although TAO in this case stands for “Technology in Action Org.” The advocacy is actually to empower the mobile professional through research and development projects.
The basic premise is that RideIn! lets users earn points while riding public transportation. “Ridein allows commuters to record their ride, rate it, and earn badges,” he said. The app is actually likened to “a foursquare for the transportation industry.” The app further empowers the commuters with its Rides History and Traffic tweets.
The team currently has two big operators as part of their pilot launch. The first one is JAC Liner’s Solid North Transit, which is a bus operator plying the Metro Manila – Dagupan, Pangasinan route. RideIn! has also partnered with BASIC, which operates a fleet of taxi cabs. JAC Liner has the distinction of being the pioneer in offering WiFi service in its buses, which complements RideIn!’s mobile strategy.
“Pilot is on-going with Solid North since late last week and we target to pilot with BASIC later this month,” he added. People ride the bus or cab, take a photo of a QR code, and then earn rewards along the way.
Going beyond earning points, the startup is currently working on a bus reservation module, and is working with Solid North in implementing this in beta in their current Q1 advocacy — something similar to the RedBus model. The team might venture to partnering with other transportation companies, as well, although the founders see time and resources as a challenge.
Read also: Dynamic carpooling goes social with Tripid
RideIn! is currently bootstrapped, and the startup founders are actually doing it as a side project, apart from their own day jobs and businesses. “To be honest, we are all working as of now and all our members are key people from their respective companies. We are doing RideIn on our spare time, that is why we find it hard to accelerate.” However, the team is optimistic that the idea will gain traction and RideIn! will get enough attention to merit funding. “We are hoping to get funding soon.”
An interesting thought is that MRTtrackr co-founder Rai Escarez is also part of team as the lead mobile developer. This might help bring the app full-circle, with RideIn! currently covering taxi cabs and buses, and MRTtrackr offering better access to the light rail system.