- Columbus, OH and the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) have an open request for proposals (RFP) for a company to create a multimodal transportation smartphone app for the city, according to The Columbus Dispatch and others.
- The vision for the trip-planning app is to allow users to enter a destination and compare trips using different transportation options. The city and COTA want other transportation partners included the system, such as bike-share and ride-share companies.
- The app also will be designed so customers can use it to pay for their transportation. Proposals are due at the end of this month and a vendor is expected to be under contract by November.
Mobility apps that provide different routes and transportation methods when a user types in a destination are not a new concept. Quite a few exist from private companies, including Citymapper and even Google Maps. But it's unique for a municipality to launch its own version of such an app — and provide in-app payment options. Austin, TX is one city that Columbus can look to, as it recently launched a similar app, and Los Angeles is working on one as well.
Truth be told, a lot of the major mobility apps only cover the largest U.S. and global cities. Citymapper, for example, only works in eight U.S. cities. Other apps like Google Maps or Apple Maps don't always accurately pinpoint transit stops or give real-time schedules, particularly for smaller cities.
The new mobility app will give Columbus the opportunity to design a city-centric option that fills others' design gaps. However it will have to secure mobility partners to reach its full potential; the app will be incomplete if it doesn't show all regional options including ride-share, taxis, bike-share and even dockless bike-share or scooters.
The city will not provide a projected cost for app development so as not to influence proposals.