A tech company launched an app Monday that offers public and private options to help people get around, including subway, buses, bike-share, ride-hailing companies and even temporary carpooling arrangements using a person’s social network.
The SoMo app — short for social mobility — is the work of HERE Mobility, a division of HERE Technologies specializing in GPS-related applications. Liad Itzhak, a senior vice president with the company, said the app launched in 15 cities around the world, including Los Angeles, with plans to add about five cities a month.
Itzhak said the app intends to make it easier for users to get from one place to another by presenting the widest array of options.
“What we have created with the app is the complete opposite approach in the current market,” Itzhak said.
Sometimes the last mile of a trip in an urban area is the most difficult. While trying to reach your destination after exiting public transit, options dwindle or become less convenient. Why hail and Uber or Lyft for just a mile? Walking may take too long or is unappealing because of the weather or other factors, and there aren’t any buses or traditional taxis nearby. It may be the point at which frustration sets in.
With the “last-mile” problem having vexed urban dwellers for decades, venture capitalists are seizing the opportunity to fund projects that could fill in gaps that public transit cannot meet. Bikesharing and electric scooters are two common methods used to help commuters snake through city streets when other options have been exhausted or are inconvenient.
Uber is officially a multi-modal transportation platform. On the heels of its acquisition of bike-share startup JUMP, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi today announced Uber Bike‘s expansion into Washington, D.C., along with two key partnerships in car rentals and public transit.
Dubbed Uber Rent, the platform taps into Getaround’s existing marketplace of cars that are available for instant rentals. Uber Rent, which will launch in San Francisco later this month, lets people book Getaround cars directly from the Uber app. Once Uber feels solid about the product market fit, it will expand the program nationally.