Gilbert Wedam of Citymapper spoke exclusively to Zag Daily this week about the technology firm’s recent integrations with micromobility operators.
Citymapper now has established partnerships with dozens of micromobility providers including Lime, Dott, TIER, Bird and Spin, part of an ongoing trend among Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) apps such as Moovit.
Speaking on a range of topics, Wedam explored Citymapper’s plans for the sector, while discussing how the firm can make things easier for riders and operators.
Zag Daily: Why did Citymapper want to get involved with micromobility?
GW: “Our main mission is to ‘make cities usable’, and this means to constantly evolve with the way people are navigating cities. We’ve seen micromobility grow rapidly all over the world and we were at the forefront of recognising and integrating them from the very beginning. We’re here to champion any new mobility solution that makes cities better, more diverse, and more environmentally sustainable.”
Zag Daily: What is the extent of Citymapper’s involvement with micromobility firms?
GW: “We try and integrate every micromobility brand available in urban areas. Our cities team works hard to identify and integrate all of our partners, as we believe in giving our users a diverse range of choices to get from A to B. We have close relationships with each partner and also update the data regularly to reflect the ground truth. For example, most recently the expansion of e-scooter trial in London to two new boroughs, Camden and Hounslow.”
Zag Daily: How can the support of Citymapper help micromobility grow and benefit consumers?
GW: “Our job is to make navigating cities as easy as possible. And that extends to micromobility too. Citymapper has worked on a lot of features specifically for micromobility. From integrating all the different brands into our app and showing a combined map of all options near you including coverage areas and no-parking zones, to real-time battery levels, to finding the best routes, taking cycle paths and parking spots into account, to accurate multimodal turn-by-turn directions using our GO feature.
“We’ve recently launched Citymapper in your Ear, guiding our users with voice instructions designed specifically for each mode of transport. For example, with e-scooters, you will get walking instructions to your nearest scooter, turn-by-turn instructions during your ride and instructions for finding a parking spot.
“We are also super excited about Powered by Citymapper, where we offer components of our app (like directions or turn-by-turn navigation) as plug-and-play SDKs for other companies to use in their apps and products. Our SDKs also include micromobility, which means it will introduce more and more people to these new modes.”
Zag Daily: What role can micromobility play in the transition towards more sustainable travel?
GW: “Whatever gets people to reconsider using a car is a win in our book. We see micromobility as an important stand-alone alternative, but where it gets really interesting is when it complements public transport too, especially filling the gap to reach public transport hubs. This opens up completely new options for people, and if they are convenient, affordable, and reliable, people will use them. And consider leaving their car at home.”
Zag Daily: Have you noticed any interesting trends since partnering with micromobility firms?
GW: “More and more cities around the world are starting to introduce micromobility as a viable solution for solving the issue of congestion and pollution in urban areas. So micromobility is here to stay. But where we do see a lot of movement is on the regulation side, especially around using dedicated parking areas compared to pick-up and drop anywhere models. That is a tricky balance to get right, on one hand offering enough e-scooters and e-bikes to make them viable, but on the other hand to not overwhelm the streets. We see cities taking a more considered approach these days, from tight tenders to trial periods to regulating operations closely. But it’s the natural evolution when a new idea like micromobilty arrives. At first, it’s a bit more open to see if an idea sticks, then when it matures, work out the kinks through regulation. But the adoption and appetite are there. We are excited about the future.”
Zag Daily: Is Citympaper making progress towards paying in the app for micromobilty services so people do not have to switch to another app for the actual payment step?
GW: “Being able to book straight from our app is the last missing puzzle piece for a truly seamless experience. It’s something we’re working on solving, and we’ve also seen interest from partners as well. Watch this space.”
Zag Daily: How is the Citymapper Pass going for London and will we see other micromobility services added to it soon?
GW: “We had an incredible launch of Citymapper Pass in 2019. The concept of a simple subscription covering all modes (public transport, docked bikes, e-scooters, e-bikes, black cabs, and ride-hailing) powered by a smart travelcard that is connected to our app really resonated well. Obviously, the pandemic had an impact, but almost all our users paused the service, rather than cancelling, which speaks to the attractiveness of the offering. Now, that cities are beginning to open up again, we see a steady return of our Citymapper Pass users.
“We will keep adding more modes and micromobility services to Citymapper Pass, it is about having the flexibility and choice but without the headache. One simple subscription for all travel needs.”