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RideTandem picks up GBP 1.75 million to fight transport poverty with shared rides in rural areas

For people in rural areas with poor public transit, not having a car can mean not being able to secure a job. To help get them to work and everywhere else they need to be, RideTandem connects passengers, employers and local transport providers.

The London-based startup matches people going the same way around the same time, enabling them to share a taxi for close to the price of a bus ride. That might be a familiar concept for city dwellers with access to shared Ubers and Lyfts, but generally isn't an option in less-densely populated regions.

To drum up enough riders to make shared taxis and mini-buses feasible, RideTandem works with employers who can't staff their operations without offering some form of transportation. Passengers book and pay for rides with an easy-to-use app, while employers have access to a personalized dashboard to track usage and costs.

On the transport end, RideTandem partners with local taxi, mini-bus and coach companies that are vetted and integrated into its booking system and that benefit from a new and reliable stream of income. RideTandem, founded in 2019, just secured GBP 1.75 million in funding. As reported by EU-Startups, the company's revenue grew 10-fold for two consecutive years.

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A lack of affordable transportation is a significant contributor to poverty around the world, made worse by the rising cost of fuel and car ownership.

RideTandem's CEO Alex Shapland-Howes illustrates the dire need for solutions in an interview with BBC Radio 4: "Transport poverty is the confluence of poverty and the lack of good value options for people. So this can have a huge impact on their lives and I think sometimes for those of us that live in big cities, it's hard to imagine quite how much that can impact one's life. I've met cleaners who are taking taxis to work every single day, using their whole first hour's wage just to get to work because there's literally no other option. I've met other people, who are turning down jobs because they literally have no way to get there because the bus route got cut a few years ago. It's not just jobs, it's healthcare, it's education, it's the affordable supermarket in the big town nearby... It's remarkable how much transport can have an impact on your everyday life."

Of course, transport poverty can't be solved by private entities alone. RideTandem needs both policy and financial support from local governments. On the flip side, small towns and villages with limited budgets can't fix the problem independently, either. In the absence of political will to fund equitable transportation, communities will rely on impact-driven entrepreneurs to take the lead in private-public partnerships.