From Portland Afoot
Moovit, known in Israel as TranzMate, is a free mobile transit app for iPhone, Android and Windows 8 smartphones that launched in North American cities, including Portland, in January 2013. The app uses crowdsourced contributions from its own users to determine the location of a bus, the number of people on it and the speed at which it is moving.
 Differences from other transit apps
TranzMate was developed in Tel Aviv, Israel. At the time of its launch, Tel Aviv's transit agencies did not release their real-time arrival data in a standard public format. TranzMate gathered its data by first scraping the data from text files on the agencies' websites, then by gathering real-time data directly from its users.
For example, if the app detects that a user at a bus station is accelerating, it sends a push notification to the user, asking him or her whether he or she is on a bus and the approximate number of other people on board.
TranzMate then uses that location and usage information to approximate buses' exact locations and expected speeds.
"The general trip planning that you get in all other public transportation applications gives you a static trip plan," co-founder and CEO Nir Erez said in an August 2012 phone interview with Portland Afoot. "If we already know that a bus line is late, we're not going to give you that trip plan."
 Immediate popularity
According to Erez, the CEO, TranzMate launched in March 2012 and took off almost immediately, despite zero money invested in marketing or promotion.
"We've sent about 100 to 200 emails to our friends saying, 'This is our application, it's available, it's free, and tell us if you think it's worth it,'" Erez said. "About five months later, we have over 100,000 users."
Of those, he said, about 45% to 50% were using TranzMate at least once per week.
"The potential of public transit users in the Tel Aviv metro area using smartphones is about half a million," Erez said in an August 2012 phone interview. "So very soon we're going to get to 40% of the market."
In August, he said, the main transit agency in Tel Aviv began unilaterally running ads for the app, telling riders it was the best way to get information about their buses' locations.
 Revenue plan
Erez, the CEO, said in August 2012 that he expected the app would always be free and that he hoped to keep it ad-free, in part to maintain the goodwill of the transit riders it relies upon for data.
"You will be amazed how much people are willing to contribute when it is free and it is considered to be a community tool," Erez said. "We do not interrupt with any commercial or advertising or anything. ... They are paying us back very generously."
Erez said the company, which as of August 2012 employed 14 people and was funded by venture capital, is hoping that its revenue will come from reselling information about its users' travel behavior.
"I think that the data that we generate is worth way more than any advertisement," Erez said. "It's the fact that today in Israel, I know exactly where 100,000 people will be in about half an hour from now. ... Looking at how we can influence traffic jams, how we can influence traffic lights, how we can influence the goal of transporting people and not cars, became much more important than any advertisement."
 Expansion to Europe and the United States
Erez, the CEO, said in August 2012 that the company is planning to expand its service rapidly outside Tel Aviv, and that its "first target market is Europe."
The U.S. version of the app launched in December 2012 under the new brand name Moovit. As of January 2013, it listed Portland as one of eight U.S. metro areas in which it was available. At the time, its North American service cities included Vancouver BC, Boston, Chicago, Washington DC, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Toronto and Montreal.
- official Moovit website (English, French, Italian, Spanish and Portugese)
- official TranzMate website (Hebrew)
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