Dollaride - microtransit for the informal economy

About Solution

As a mobility company for communities underserved by public transit, Dollaride helps people to access and pay for traditionally offline micro-transit networks through their smartphones. The challenge of increasing mobility for the world's growing population is huge, but critical considering that we do not the public transit infrastrature to meet our current needs. By 2050, 70% of the world's population will live in cities. Therefore, its imperative that we have a sufficient and sustainable solution to the common mobility challenges that cities all around the world are already facing today....let alone for when their populations increase by 20%+ over the next 30 years.

Nonetheless, what Dollaride aims to do in NYC could be a model for addressing this challenge in many cities around the globe. Below is an example of how Dollaride is combating the negative impacts of NYC's "transit deserts", by partnering with local networks of micro-transit drivers (ie. "dollar vans") to efficiently move city residents to and from their desired destinations. Dollar vans almost identical to other offline ride-sharing networks we see around the globe (i.e. "collectivos" in South American, "matatus", "tro tros" and "danfos" in Africa, "jeepneys" in the Philippines, "tap taps" in Haiti, etc). This global phenomenon where local people are creating their own transit system provides the archetype for the kind of decentralized network entrepreneurship we should support to solve urban problems at a global scale.

While our solution in NYC requires a smartphone, we plan to open this tech-enabled solution up to communities, where it can be accessed via SMS and cash payments in order to increase accessibility. To address the problem at scale, we are indifferent to specific technical solutions but instead creating a platform designed to provide numerous mobility solutions that are localized and relevant to the people in each community. The network infrastructure of drivers with vehicles is already present all around the world, so mobilizing these resources to efficiently move the world's population in a sustainable way is a logistics issue...not a feasibility issue.

Nonetheless, NYC will be our testing ground, providing us with data, examples, and frameworks we can apply to other metropolitan cities around the globe.

Dollaride is a new micro-transit service providing transportation to communities underserved by public transit. Currently, over 120K New Yorkers overcome the challenges of living in transit deserts by using "dollar vans". So Dollaride aims to expand the dollar van network by adding a digital platform (mobile & web), which would make this private network of vans accessible in more neighborhoods to urban city residents who struggle with weak public transit options.

Dollaride is unique because we provide a sustainable solution to low-income and underserved communities, whereas ridesharing services like Chariot, Via, Uber & Lyft - completely miss underserved markets. Dollaride is positioned differently, as a personalized mass transit solution for daily commuters. At $2 fares, we’re more affordable than the NYC subway and all other ride-sharing services.

Dollaride’s solution is to add a digital service layer to the existing “dollar van” network in NYC, which will bring them from the offline world into the online world. Dollaride’s online service includes mobile apps for drivers & passengers, and a free online fleet management platform for Operators.


For drivers, the mobile app will allow them to accept debit/credit cards and deliver a more transparent transit service with ETAs. The app keeps track of all payment transactions, and helps drivers identify new territories where there is sufficient passenger demand to warrant a new route.


For passengers, Dollaride’s app allows them to see nearby drivers and active routes in real-time from a digital map, as opposed to relying on word-of-mouth and street-hailing in order to catch a ride.


The fleet management system will finally give Operators the ability to monitor their true earning across all drivers, as well as stay compliant with local regulatory requirements (i.e NYC Taxi Limousine Commision and Dept of Transportation). Most importantly, our solution digitizes their operations in ways that will make it easier for them to obtain financing and expand their service territory without the risks associated with an all-cash business.


Dollaride is addressing the economic isolation communities in transit deserts experience, as a result of having inadequate public transit infrastructure nearby. In NYC, "dollar vans" have successfully filled the gap left by our failing public transit system (i.e. the MTA).


Serving the outer boroughs of NYC for 40 years, 500+ dollar vans mobilize over 120K daily passengers from low-income areas to places of work, school, shopping, etc. However, dollar van service is still offline and currently accepts only cash fare payments, so drivers & operators endure painful systemic issues related to running a cash-only business, like theft, poor visibility into their business operations, competition from unlicensed pirate drivers, and no access to bank financing.

The impact of this problem affects low income New Yorkers and communities in the outer-boroughs, who are increasingly finding it more difficult and expensive to live in NYC, as they get pushed further and further away from the city's epicenter where public transit is more accessible.


Consequently, nearly 2 million New Yorkers live more than a half mile away from the nearest subway, and 650K New Yorkers live in what the University of Texas categorizes as a "transit desert". Uncoincidentally, it is in these distant areas of the city where we have our populations of immigrant families, people of color and the elderly.

Now the dollar van model presents a viable solution for providing affordable transit options to more New Yorkers, so our mission to convert this offline transit system into an online resources so that the drivers can more easily serve more passengers around the city.


However, without using technology, expanding this dollar van transit service is nearly impossible - despite the growing demand for responsive transit service all over NYC.


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