A Californian startup is providing an on-demand bus service designed to enable company employees to make the most of their daily commute.
By Eliane HONG January 12, 2015
“100 million Americans waste 50 minutes every day in their cars travelling to work.” So says Ray Wu, who founded MagicBus along with two specialists in data management and transport with the aim of “taking the hassle out of the daily commute”. The San Francisco-based startup team are highly critical of conditions on public transport, which they say is usually very crowded and not always reliable.
The on-demand bus service will take bookings for a place on a bus up to two weeks in advance, but you can also make a reservation the previous evening for the following day. You give your home address and work address and the time you wish to arrive at work and MagicBus will tell you when and where – i.e. at a public meeting point near your home – the bus will pick you up. “Our first customers already think of us as the Lyft or Uber of business shuttles,” claims Ray Wu. But the startup’s bus fares are lower than the fees charged by these two car service providers.
In addition to the clear advantages of saving time and knowing that you will get to work on time, the MagicBus service helps you to get the very best out of your journey. Its buses are WiFi-equipped so that if you do not wish to simply sit back and relax in comfort, you can use the time to finish off that piece of work. The startup does not see itself as being in competition with other shuttle services such as those provided by companies like Google and Yahoo!. Nevertheless, Ray Wu points out that some staff from these companies prefer to use MagicBus as their own company’s shuttle buses do not serve all areas.
Since launching in beta last summer MagicBus has been running two buses and has conveyed several hundred customers to their destinations in the San Francisco Bay area. The company is now planning to raise further funds so that it can equip more vehicles and expand the service to other major cities including Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston and Minneapolis. For the moment, MagicBus operates through a website but is planning to launch a smartphone app shortly.