When technology and good causes unite
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Those participating in the Women’s March on Washington have a tall order on January 21: Defend women’s rights as human rights and make marginalized voices heard. But the biggest hurdle may involve simply getting marchers to Washington, D.C., in the first place. Skedaddle Co-founder and CEO Adam Nestler hopes to minimize this challenge by helping marchers organize bus trips that are both safe and affordable.
Skedaddle, the crowdsourcing transportation app that launched exactly two years ago, will facilitate hundreds of trips to the nation’s capital this weekend. Since initially launching on the east coast (primarily Boston and New York), Skedaddle extended the service to the entire country in April of last year. Despite being new, Nestler says they’re very well prepared for the influx of people preparing to make long trips across multiple states this weekend.
[quote position="right" is_quote="true"]More people will be marching for women’s rights than singing along with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.[/quote]
Browsing the website, you can see the dozens of trips marchers from all over the country have already booked, ranging from Connecticut to Kentucky and beyond. Though, to be clear, what’s publicly visible on the site represents a fraction of the routes the app has scheduled for inauguration weekend in total, as some of the routes are private and accessible only via access codes. As of now, says Nestler, there are about 220 buses and shuttles scheduled to head to the District for the march, carrying a total of approximately 10,000 people. Skedaddle’s fleet represents a sizeable chunk of the 1,200 buses requesting permits for the day of the march, the Washington Post reports. Compared to the mere 200 permit requests submitted for the day of the inauguration, it seems more people will be marching for women’s rights than singing along with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
“We are, as a company and me individually, huge supporters of the movement itself,” says Nestler, “It’s an amazing rally and totally grassroots driven.” He and his colleagues realized they had an opportunity to help the movement when traffic to the site started surging organically as enthusiasm for the Women’s March picked up steam. Seeing an opportunity to engage, Nestler and his colleagues did some proactive outreach and began working with organizers, nonprofits, and individual women and men looking to get to the march.
“We recognize that most people who live in urban areas today—18- to 40-year-olds, especially—don’t have cars,” says Nestler, “So, getting outside the city, whether it’s to a march or to another city or to a ski weekend, for us, became increasingly expensive or inconvenient.” In this way, Skedaddle aims to help users bypass the expense and hassle of booking a flight, taking multiple buses, or renting a car—particularly during times when demand for transportation skyrockets. To accomplish that, Skedaddle links up riders with charter buses that would otherwise go unused. The incredibly high underutilization rate in the charter bus industry means that most buses sit idle for 75 percent of their usable lives, says Nestler, which makes a service to fill in those gaps not only a no-brainer, but necessary. And an average cost of $40 per round-trip ticket puts the app in the same affordability range as other ride-sharing services.
While the practicality of using idle buses should be obvious, the human element of what’s essentially a large-scale Uber pool has the added benefit of allowing users to connect with like-minded people on the go. Nestler says that, while the sensible elements draw people to the app, it’s the human experience that makes them regular users. Like Airbnb, Skedaddle’s founders aim to provide patrons with access to new places, as well as memorable experiences. This would be the perfect place to insert “the journey vs. the destination” cliché, but ultimately, this shift toward inclusivity and active engagement seems to align neatly with the goals of the Women’s March on Washington. As consumers and citizens, we’re quickly realizing that no real progress—whether technological or social—can happen in isolation. Only by appreciating the diversity of people around us can we build a more perfect society. In that vein of thinking, better bus rides are sure to follow.