RideTandem fights transport poverty in the UK

ridetandem transport

The cost of living is hitting hard in many European countries. The situation seems quite difficult in the United Kingdom, where a startup is trying to address the issue of “transport poverty”.

Transport Poverty is the lack of access to public transport, either because it is too expensive, unreliable or, in the worst cases, just absent. It is therefore the outcome of two different and intertwined phenomena: the rising cost of living and its impact on the budget of families; and the cuts to public transport service.

Transport Poverty in the UK

68% of low earners in the UK are concerned about bus services cuts limiting their ability to go to work and earn a living. The decline of public transport in many areas of the country is also a concern for 71% of people without a car.

The lack of access to convenient transport may hinder people from getting a job, or erode their purchasing power, for example forcing them to go to work by car, instead of using a bus.

According to Alex Shapland-Howes, co-founder and CEO of the startup RideTandem, “even before the cost-of-living crisis hit, public transport outside of big cities was broken: expensive, unreliable, or simply not there for people who need it. Almost 5,000 bus services, more than one in four, were axed between 2012 and 2022. Many that remain, especially outside cities and large towns, are under threat from the recent end of the Bus Recovery Grant. Too many people are left with a stark choice: car ownership, which is itself increasingly prohibitively expensive, or simply not working. That’s not right. It’s not good for individuals and their families, and their social mobility and mental health, or for communities more broadly, and it’s not good for the economy.”

RideTandem’s Story

The need to grant an alternative to people who are let down by expensive, unreliable, or absent public transport is the purpose of RideTandem. They define themselves as a “mobility as a service company, providing sustainable transport for all”.

RideTandem is an app-based service that partners with local taxi, minicab, and coach companies to provide shared commuter services to employers. So if a company’s staff is unable to work due to the cost, inconvenience, or absence of public transport options, RideTandem kicks in to offer an alternative.

Passengers can use a mobile app that includes live location features for vehicle tracking, easy block-booking, and flexibility about when payments are taken. This payment flexibility distinguishes RideTandem from other competitors in the ride-hailing and mobility sector.

According to the data provided by the company, the average passenger rides 20 or more times per month, generating a high and consistent recurring revenue.

The platform runs a proprietary dispatch system with driver and fleet management features that can integrate with the existing systems of transport partners. It also includes a support for digital ticketing, a feature that could be something completely new for many partners.

RideTandem operates in areas across the United Kingdom where the problem of transport poverty has the strongest economic and social effects.

A recently acquired customer is DPD, that is seeing a 50% reduction in per-passenger transportation costs, and a 38% reduction in the total cost of its employee transport division.

According to the startup, its services have helped avoid more than 8k metric tonnes of CO2 emissions. On average, a RideTandem vehicle carries more than 20 passengers, compared to 1.14 for the average commuter car. Vehicle operate at more than 70% capacity.

Employers can also purchase carbon credits to offset emission from their workers’ commutes.

In July 2023, RideTandem raised 2.3 million pounds in a new funding round led by the Gloucester-based investment firm Blackfinch Ventures, after a previous seed round in May 2022. The total raised to date is 5 million pounds.