Spare, Lyft partner to offer flexible transportation for transit agencies

Spare tested the service in Texas ahead of a broader roll out.

Spare is expanding its mobility software platform for public transit, ride sharing, and other shared transportation through a partnership with transportation company, Lyft. The new partnership will help transit agencies provide passengers with transportation in the face of fluctuating demand.

Spare has been testing the service in Dallas, Texas for a few months. Kristoffer Vik Hansen, Spare’s CEO, told BetaKit that the service will potentially be available in any city where Lyft operates. “Now we’re hitting the accelerator to open it up to any market,” he said.

That said, Vik Hansen would not disclose which markets they are eyeing for expansion. Lyft operates across the United States and Canada. Founded in 2012, Lyft combines rideshare, bikes, scooters, car rentals and transit all in one app.

Through the partnership, it’s possible for transit agencies to design and launch micro-transit and paratransit programs using agency vehicles and the Lyft network. Agencies can also expand or contract their fleet size with the network, serving both peak demand as well as lower-demand hours that have been traditionally difficult and expensive to serve.

Spare claims its integration gives riders access to reliable on-demand rides, either on a transit vehicle or the Lyft network, leading to lower wait and travel times. Spare and Lyft also contend it is easier for agencies to consolidate reporting, trip management and service performance data to continuously optimize operations between their dedicated vehicles and the Lyft network.

Spare’s platform includes data-driven transit planning, analytics dashboards, and a customer relationship management hub to help enable on-demand mobility services.

“It enables us to really seamlessly augment cities and transportation providers’ own fleets of vehicles and use Lyft almost like an overflow [provider] where maybe your own city fleet may be struggling with too much demand so we can easily kick trips over to Lyft,” Vik Hansen said. He noted the cost for consumers would be comparable to any other transit trip.

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Vik Hansen said negotiations between Spare and Lyft began a year ago. “We did a couple of rounds of negotiations, but I think we landed at something that’s really good for both parties,” he said.

Spare began in 2015, originally with the idea of operating a transportation system of its own. It launched a volunteer carpooling platform in 2016, but Vik Hansen said the startup needed to focus on one thing, and Spare concentrated on the technology. That coincided with people noticing the company’s technology, and asking how they could tap into it for their transportation agencies. Spare’s customers now number close to 100 across Canada, the United States, Europe, and Japan.

Spare closed an oversubscribed $18 million Series A round in 2021. Inovia Capital led the round, and Todd Simpson, a partner at Inovia, joined Spare’s board at the time. Vik Hansen said the firm had been advising them on a number of different aspects of its business.

At the time, Spare said it hoped to double or triple the size of its staff by the end of 2022. Currently, it has some 70 employees up from 50 in 2021.

Looking ahead, Vik Hansen said Spare is likely looking at a Series B raise in 2023. But for now, he said, “we’re just going to be heads down, executing on our business.”

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel's reporting and writing on technology has appeared in, Canadian Business, Report on Business Magazine, Canada's National Observer, The Globe and Mail, and the National Post, among many others. He lives off-grid in Nova Scotia.

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