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Traffic attack - CitiMoov app encourages carpooling

Nearly 80% of Miami commuters drive to work alone. A tech group wants to encourage them to carpool, take ride-sharing services like Lyft or Uber or use mass transit by offering rewards through an app. Users could earn cash, free parking, toll rebates or other perks for not riding alone.

The idea came out of a 16-week Miami Mobility Challenge competition organized by the Miami-based nonprofit Fastrack Institute, which aims to mobilize fast-spreading technologies to address urban problems. The winner, CitiMoov.com, believes its app concept could take at least 40,000 cars off the road at rush hour within two years.

Ride-sharers would check into the app and earn points, then invite others in the vehicle with them to do the same, with more points accruing to each individual as the vehicle group grows. Everyone who earns points would be entered into a drawing for a cash prize, perhaps $200 per day. The winners would show up in everyone’s app, “so people hear about other people winning,” says Mike Lingle, the software developer and tech entrepreneur who presented the CitiMoov plan. Users also could earn free or preferred parking at universities, toll rebates or other perks from app partners. “You need to layer incentives on top of one another” to reinforce a change in transit behavior, Lingle says.

The app would be part of a larger tech solution for transit from CitiMoov. The team also is working with a group that can analyze data from street cameras to identify dangerous intersections. It would share findings with authorities to optimize traffic signals and roads to reduce accidents and traffic jams.

Winning the competition is only the start for CitiMoov. It must now develop the app and build out its transit partnerships. The team is currently raising funds for that next step.

Fastrack, meanwhile, is looking ahead to the next technology leap. Co-founder and CEO Rodrigo Arboleda says the long-term way to reduce traffic congestion in Miami will likely include ride-sharing in self-driving vehicles, which are forecast to use less space on roads. “This is not science fiction,” he says. “It will be here much faster than you think.”

» Next page: Transportation Business Briefs

 

Virgin Cruises

Virgin Voyages, the Virgin brand cruise company [“Virgin Berths,” May 2016], opened its Plantation headquarters. It employs 80 but expects to hire 125 more this year and eventually 400 at the office. It will base its first ship, capable of carrying 2,700 passengers, at PortMiami in 2020.

‘SkyConnect’

Tampa International Airport has opened its 2.6-million-sq.- ft. rental car building, which includes counter space, vehicle parking, maintenance facilities and covered pickup and drop-off areas. The airport also unveiled its new SkyConnect shuttle, which will transport passengers more than a mile between the new facility and the main terminal. The rental car building is one of a slew of construction projects, costing as much as $2 billion.

Port Debt Upgrade

Moody’s in December raised its outlook on the Port of Palm Beach’s debt to positive from stable and continued its Baa3 rating. Moody’s says the port’s finances improved because of a successful contract renewal with its largest customer, Tropical Shipping, and improving margins. The port gets a second, Bahamas-Palm Beach cruise ship this year. A “small port” in Moody’s classification system, the port gets most of its revenue from just a few tenants and commodities and sits in the highly competitive South Florida market. Its small scale makes it vulnerable in weak economic times, Moody’s says.

Big Bridge

Construction won’t start for another two years, but plans are underway to build an eight-lane span to replace the outdated, nearly 60-year-old Howard Frankland Bridge, which connects Tampa with St. Petersburg across Tampa Bay. The new bridge is projected to open by 2024. The project’s overall cost: $750 million.

Trucker Alert

The Florida Department of Transportation plans to launch a new service that lets truckers know in real time how many open parking spots are available at rest stops. The program, rolled out near Jacksonville, will be installed statewide, making Florida the first to go statewide with the system.

See other stories from Florida Trend's May issue.

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