Moovel CEO: The Solution to Portland’s Traffic Problem Isn’t More Highway Lanes, It’s Carpooling Via Smartphone

The CEO of a local smart transit startup says innovating public transportation will save Portland’s gridlock. A powerhouse merger between car2go and ReachNow services should help.

TechFestNW (Sam Gehrke)

Last week, Daimler and BMW made an announcement with big implications for Portland: The auto companies will be merging car2go and ReachNow car-sharing services.

The merger will also include Portland-based, Daimler-owned moovel—the urban mobility company that created the technology that powers the TriMet ticketing app.

Today at TechFestNW, moovel CEO Nat Parker said that the powerhouse merger will guide the future of Portland transportation by halting further highway construction and getting individual drivers off the road.

"The key issue is: you can't build your way out of congestion," Parker said. "People will drive more if they think there is more room to do so. Oregonians need to use shared services, and there has to be the infrastructure to support it."

The car2go and ReachNow merger, Parker says, will provide some of that infrastructure.

The service consolidation will also include a new app called "moovel on demand," which will allow people to "look, book and pay for any mobility option in the city" from their smartphones.

Parker added that Portland may soon get a moovel van carpool service—essentially ridesharing aimed at helping, "people at the end of the bus line get home, transporting bar crowds after [the MAX] shuts down and filling the city's transit deserts."

The rollout of these services has not yet been announced. But Parker is urging Portlanders to "put your money where your mouth is and support infrastructure development."

"For the same reason you support education even if you don't have kids," Parker said, "you should support public transit solutions—because we all benefit."

Meanwhile, a Daimler spokesman, Timothy Krebs, says the car2go and ReachNow merger will also introduce additional ride hailing and electrical-car charging services.

"We're very excited to become a part of what stands to be a true global mobility powerhouse," Krebs told WW in an email.

TechFestNW is sponsored by WW. The event continues today and Friday at Portland State University.

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