Join us to participate in the upcoming 2019 City:One Challenge. 

Community Transportation

Local service by RubyRide

Photo of Jeff Ericson
15 13

Written by

RubyRide is a subscription car service that offers unlimited local transportation for a very affordable fixed monthly price.  We know that more than 2/3 of all trips are local - grocery store, shopping, school, restaurants, churches and doctors offices.  We've designed a service that specializes in that kind of trip - in a way that is safe, simple, and very reliable.  We hire drivers who live in the neighborhoods they serve, and treat them ethically (they're employees, not contractors).  This means not only that we've always got cars nearby, but most of the time the driver is familiar to the passenger.  We serve passengers from 10 on up (younger when accompanied by an adult), and have wheelchair-accessible vehicles available for customers who need them.  
Our customers can set up regular door-to-door (or door-through-door) rides or request a trip on-call.  They can use a mobile app, a phone, or a caregiver to set up trips.  
We don't do cross-town trips or Airport runs - there are lots of solutions for that, but we do take care of all those local trips that are just too far to walk - especially with an arm-full of groceries, and even connect you to transit, helping you get across town with ease.

Describe who will use your solution (1,000 characters)

We serve people who don't drive or who don't want to drive. Our subscription price in Pittsburgh is as low as $79 a month - far less than owning and insuring a car. For many, driving just isn't an option. Age (young or old), infirmity, or background keep 15-20% of our population out of the drivers' seat. For many others, the expense of owning and operating a car keeps them from achieving greater things - even in many parts of Pittsburgh, a car is not just a luxury, but an absolute necessity for living a productive, fulfilling life. We've learned that providing personalized, reliable, and safe services for a fixed monthly fee helps everyone, but those who most benefit are those who don't commute to work every day or need a car as part of their job. We go to great lengths to select and train local drivers who care about their neighbors, and provide a dignified, reliable service for everyone - not just a small subset of the population.

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Pilot - you have implemented your solution in a real-world scenario

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

RubyRide was founded by Jeff Ericson - an Architect and Urban Designer who understands how people use cities. We live in cities to connect us - to work, to healthcare, to ideas and culture, and to opportunity. But for most, modern cities don't do this very well. RubyRide (named after Dorothy's ruby slippers) is here to help our cities and towns make life better - simpler, more connected, and more reliable - again. Jeff lives in Point Breeze with his two boys and walks to work in East Liberty

Size of your team or organization

  • 2-10

Funding Request

  • $100,000

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

With the support of the challenge, we will deploy service in three Pittsburgh communities - in the Lower Mon Valley, in the Hazelwood/Greenfield Area, and in the Penn Hills area. We are also preparing to launch in the Mt. Washington/Duquesne Heights neighborhoods as well (independent of the 'challenge'). We've selected the areas based on local need, working with Economic Development organizations, and plan to expand from those areas out to serve all of the greater Pittsburgh Area. The pilot funds will primarily be used to secure wheelchair-accessible vehicles in the areas and to support the startup costs - hiring, training, marketing and advertising. Once in place, the service is proven profitable and sustainable and will continue without additional support - subscription fees will cover operating and management costs, and speculative investors are supporting the software development.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

We measure success in several ways. Financial success is very important - we must be profitable to grow and continue serving our communities. We measure churn - how many customers cancel the service every month, as an indicator of happiness. We also survey our customers, to understand how they use our service and what they would like to see. The Net Promotor Score is a common and recognized measurement. We measure the utilization of our service - that tells us how well we're meeting local demand. We are far more efficient than the taxi-type services, which is a major reason we are so affordable. And finally we strive to measure the 'value' we provide to users. A real benefit of this kind of service is that our customers don't have to worry about the cost of every trip - so they can be more active and live fuller lives. We know we're making a real difference for our users when a customer who rarely left the house before RubyRide now regularly goes to the park.

15 comments

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Photo of Mary Rodgers
Team

Congratulations on becoming a semi-finalist. When my children graduated from school and got their own cars, I thought that "Mom's Taxi Service" was closed... Not so, now I'm really "Mom's Taxi Service," as I take my mother to doctors appointments and such. I look forward to a day when I can give her back her mobility in an environment that she feels safe in. She's always afraid that she will miss the bus that is provided by the independent living community that she lives in and often, she doesn't want to to what they are doing.... Additionally, it would be nice for her to be able to get out and visit my sister (who doesn't drive) a few miles away (or vise versa).

Photo of Jeff Ericson
Team

Thanks Mary - that's exactly why we're out here! We're working to help everybody have the benefits of easy, reliable and affordable transportation.

Best wishes to you and your family, and maybe we'll be in your neighborhood soon!

Jeff

Photo of Diana Avart
Team

Hi Jeff,

Congrats on being a Semi-Finalist! Don't forget to continue using the Share buttons found at the end of the post as you make updates during the Refine phase. This will encourage the community to continue to vote and engage with your submission, helping reviewers to get an understanding of which ideas have the greatest public support and also prompting you to consider different aspects of your proposal in new ways.

- Diana, Facilitator

Photo of Aakash Pathak
Team

Good job, Keep it up!

Photo of Stephen hartle
Team

Hello Jeff, I'm located in New Castle PA 16101. I'm interested in driving for you .I've driven for uber and lyft in the past. I'm ready for something different ,and I'm looking too drive someone else's vehicle tried of pileing all the miles on my vehicle. Do have a need for me.

Photo of Jeff Ericson
Team

Hi Stephen - thanks for the note. We aren't working up in New Castle yet, but we're planning to start in towns like New Castle around Pittsburgh in 2019. We usually have a combination of our vehicles and driver-owned vehicles to operate different kinds of trips. I'd encourage you to follow this link, which will get you an account set up for driving - when we are planning that area we'll reach out to you first: https://www.fountain.com/rubyride/apply/pittsburgh-rubyride-driver

Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Hello Jeff hope you have a moment. I wan

Photo of John Doan
Team

Jeff, I am based in Minneapolis and started Mobility 4 All in April 2017 to be the kinder, gentler ride hailing service for seniors and people with disabilities. I'd be interested in connecting with you to share notes and discuss ways to collaborate. You can reach me at johnqdoan@gmail.com. Cheers, John Doan

Photo of David Tinker
Team

By securing wheelchair accessible vehicles are you purchasing them? How many wheelchair accessible vehicles will be secured with the $100,000?

Photo of Jeff Ericson
Team

Great question! We've been leasing our wheelchair vehicles in other markets. And since they're general-use vehicles, we use them for lots of all kinds of trips - including wheelchair trips and the occasional bicycle shuttle. There's usually a deposit on those and of course a commercial insurance policy, but once the service is up and running, the costs are covered. Our favorite WAV is a Ford Transit Connect conversion, so we're hoping to work with the challenge sponsor on this (hint hint ;)) .

Photo of David Tinker
Team

Sounds good. Thanks. What other markets are you in?

Photo of Jeff Ericson
Team

Hi David - we started in the Phoenix area, and are now in Tucson. I moved here in late 2015 and am excited to finally be getting this rolled out in the Steel City, hopefully with the help of the challenge!

Photo of David Tinker
Team

Great.

Photo of Idrees Mutahr
Team

Hello Jeff, thank you for the proposal, I am one of the facilitators on the challenge. How does Ruby Ride qualify local trips as opposed to crosstown trips, is there a maximum distance that your service runs?

Photo of Jeff Ericson
Team

We make it easy. Most cities are a collection of neighborhoods - Pittsburgh is a classic example of this, but even new cities like Houston and Phoenix are really collections of neighborhoods, if you know how to look for them. So when you sign up for service with RubyRide, you sign up for your neighborhood - Mt. Washington,/Duquesne Heights, or Hazelwood/Greenfield, and you can add adjacent neighborhoods as well for additional cost. Every neighborhood in our system has the basics - grocery stores, churches, shopping, connections to transit (if transit exists), schools... which of course is not only what we need most, but also what other services don't do efficiently. And while walking and biking works for some, in certain weather conditions, a great many of us either don't have the time or the ability to get around without a car. And in newer cities, everything is too far apart to get there any other way, except in a car..