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February 14, 2016

RideScout CEO Sees a ‘Right-Pricing’ Transportation Revolution

At Monday’s U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation panel discussion on using data to expedite transportation, RideScout co-founder and CEO Joseph Kopser played the role of visionary and crusader.

His company has an app allowing travelers in more than 60 cities in the United States and Canada to figure out the quickest way of getting from one point to another, whether’s it’s a taxi, a bus, or their own car.

Kopser sees a world in which all travelers have more real-time information to choose the least expensive mode of travel, but in which they pay more of the costs which right now are implicit or hidden.

People must “understand the fully burdened costs” of transportation mobility, Kopser said.

“There’s no such thing as ‘free’ parking and there’s no such thing as a ‘freeway,’” he said, “We call them freeways” because drivers don’t stop and pay tolls on them – “but we’re all paying for them one way or another.”

He added, “There’s only 6,000 miles of toll ways in the U.S., but it is about to have an explosion, because automated and electronic lane management is going to give people the ability to price lanes correctly so that we can help change behavior” by making the costs explicit.

Charging people a fee or toll for what is now “free,” may be a hard sell but Kopser sees a future in which “we’re right-pricing all of our transportation in the United States. The potential is amazing. And not in a bad way, but in a good way, because we’ll be able to have infrastructure that pays for itself with not only the public good aspect, but also for the people who are using it the most.”

He said at that point “we’re going to be able to affect some behavior change and get people into some more sustainable modes of transportation than we have right now, because we can’t keep building roadways…. There’s just not enough capacity or resources or space.”

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