For many, urban car ownership is no longer an attractive prospect. Busy roads, poor parking, and the cost of vehicle upkeep have pushed city dwellers to look at alternative ways of navigating their cities. This demise in car ownership has already been seized on by companies such as Uber and Bridj, a novel Boston based transit company who shuttle commuters to and from work in wifi equipped buses.
Now a new app called Shift is aiming to minimise the hassle of urban travel. With transit options ranging from Smart cars, to a party bus and even plans for a private jet, Shift promises to give users access to the right vehicle for the job, within five minutes. The app does this by using an algorithm which figures out what form of transport best suits the user’s journey. When the vehicle is selected, it can be collected from one of Shift’s stations, or a valet can deliver it to the user.
Shift CEO Zach Ware recognises that “A person’s need to move varies” and the range of transit options available from Shift is a reflection of that. For shorter journeys electric bikes are available, with cars on offer for longer trips. With easy access to such a broad variety of transport options Shift aims to deliver the convenience of traditional vehicle-pooling services with the tech-enabled accessibility of apps such as Uber.
Unlike conventional taxi services, Shift operates on a membership basis, with 25 USD per month getting users bike-only access, and options ranging right up to unlimited access subscriptions. With the cost of car ownership estimated at around USD 800 a month by the AAA, Shift represents a reasonable alternative for those wishing to explore their city. The app could also make urban travel far more sustainable, with the bulk of Shift’s fleet being electrically powered, and car-sharing a more efficient alternative to ownership.
The company is currently piloting a beta service in downtown Las Vegas, with plans to expand to a second city early in 2015. With the growth of car-pooling and bicycle hire services in urban areas, as well as the ubiquity of Uber, is there room for this dynamic app?