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Transit App Gets $17.5M to Help Drivers Move Beyond Cars

Transit, a startup based in Canada, wants users to find all their car-free travel options in one place. Now they've got a big chunk of money to continue that work, and a lot of it came from car companies.

Transit, a Montreal-based mobile app for finding urban transportation options, is getting investors on board with its vision of a future with fewer cars — investors that include automakers, in fact. The company announced Monday that it had raised $17.5 million to continue building its app, specifically to integrate as many different companies and modes of transportation as possible into its platform.

According to a news release from the company, much of the new money came from auto manufacturers. The lead investor is Alliance Ventures, a joint investment arm of Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi. Other backers include Jaguar Land Rover’s venture capital fund InMotion Ventures and two of Transit’s past investors, Accel and Real Ventures.

Serving more than 175 cities worldwide, Transit gives users real-time information about what buses, trains, scooters, bikes and other transportation options are available near them. The app launched in 2012 as a way for people to check bus and train schedules, but has since expanded to include newer options like ride-share and bike-share, as well as ways to request and pay for these services from competing providers.

Transit said it has partnered with dozens of public agencies to become their official or endorsed multimodal app, including Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), the Maryland Department of Transportation's Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), the Santa Clara, Calif., Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), Tampa Bay’s Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), and Montreal’s Société de transport de Montréal (STM). By working closely with these operators, Transit said it saves them the time and money they would require to develop and maintain their own apps, while providing accurate real-time information and multimodal connections to more people.

Similar work has been done by others with a more local focus, such as OurBus in Florida and the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) in New York.

François Dossa, vice president of ventures and open innovation for Alliance Global, said his company invested in Transit to participate in the future of public transportation.

“Our partnership, which will advance Transit’s efforts to make mobility … seamless and accessible in cities, fits with the Alliance 2022 strategy to become a leader in robovehicle ridehailing mobility services and a provider of vehicles for public transit use and carsharing,” he said in a statement.