RideTandem drives in £1.75 million to tackle transport poverty in the UK

The mobility startup created £10 million in new earnings for people previously cut off from jobs by expensive, infrequent, and unreliable public transport
RideTandem drives in £1.75 million to tackle transport poverty in the UK

UK-based mobility startup RideTandem has raised £1.75 million in seed funding. 1818 Venture Capital led the round, alongside Conduit ConnectLow Carbon Innovation Fund, previous investors Ascension and Seedrs, and angel investors. The extra cash will support the company’s continued hiring, particularly in product management and engineering. 

Founded in 2019 by Alex Shapland-Howes, Tatseng Chiam and Huw McLeod, the startup aims to build the next generation of mobility outside cities and towns. Working with local transport companies, it provides affordable, reliable, and sustainable shared transport solutions that connect people in transport poverty with jobs they would otherwise be unable to get to.

Talking about how it is bringing connectivity across the country significantly closer to London’s, co-founder and CEO Alex Shapland-Howes said: “Many jobs outside cities are only reliably accessible by car or taxi. Half of the lowest-earning 20 per cent don’t own a vehicle - and can’t afford to commute by cab - so rely on public transport. But almost 5,000 bus routes, more than one in four, have been axed since 2012 - and, outside cities and larger towns, services that remain are often prohibitively expensive, infrequent, and unreliable, affecting people’s job prospects and social mobility. Despite recent pledges, we’ve not seen the investment from the government that would be necessary to solve this across the country. So, our model can play a crucial part in the local transport mix.”

According to the startup, the investment follows two consecutive years of 10x growth, creating more than £10 million in new earnings for passengers on its services since launch.

The model is built on employers subsidising fares as an investment in broadening their talent pool - some even cover the entire cost, providing free transport as a benefit. The employers also get a real-time view of passenger numbers, providing early warning of potential staffing issues. Transport providers - mostly independent local businesses - get a new, reliable revenue stream.

The company operates outside of cities and urban centres, with its coverage currently strongest across the Midlands and East of England. Customers include Royal Mail, Primark, Transport for West Midlands, Direct Table Foods, Banham Poultry, and staffing agencies Manpower, Reed, First Call Contract Services, and Everest People Solutions.

Mark Smith, partner at 1818 Venture Capital, added: “Transport poverty is one of the most underappreciated social justice issues, and the RideTandem team has achieved a remarkable impact in such a short time utilising innovative technology. To have done so while building a fully self-sustainable business model and growing substantially even through the pandemic is even more impressive.”

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