Urban mobility is an extremely important topic for towns and cities around the world. Cities are filled with traffic congestion, noise pollution, and most importantly a deterioration of urban air quality. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), transportation in the U.S. generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) (28%)[i], while it represents almost a quarter of Europe’s related GHG emissions[ii].
Town and cities are already undergoing considerable changes in their architectural and urban strategic planning to make urban spaces more livable and more resilient in general. In 2014 I was the expert on the Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on the Commission’s Communication: Together towards competitive and resource-efficient urban mobility[iii]. The EESC’s opinion emphasized the strategic role of urban mobility in the drive toward smart cities, and reinforced the points in the Communication, in particular the importance of sharing experiences and exchange of best practices. With this respect, it is essential to look beyond Europe’s best practices to include those from other countries.
Sprynt is in an innovative startup that provides 100% free transportation to the passengers. It started its operation in June 2017 in the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor in Arlington, Virginia (United States), thus covering five different neighborhoods[iv]. This original business model includes highly targeted and customized advertising solutions to local businesses and national brand, while keeping the rides 100% free of charge for the passengers. Sprynt is an on-demand transportation mode, similar to Uber and Lyft, where passengers request the service through an app on their phone. Different than the others on-demand ride services, Sprynt is 100% free of charge and is 100% electric.
The company not only contributes to sustainable urban mobility, but also to the economic development of the area in which it operates, by creating local jobs, and fostering the sales of local businesses, including restaurants and shops. The company currently employs ten people and is planning to hire more in the future. With 13,000 mobile app downloads, Sprynt connects residents to local businesses with an average of 5,000 rides per month, with both recurrent passengers and new ones.
Digital marketing solutions include push notifications, and deals and specials via Sprynt in-app coupon platform, which attracts new and existing customers to the businesses. According to the company, millennials check their phones an average of once every six minutes, making push notifications an effective and powerful channel to engage customers. The company also offers micro-transit solutions to companies’ employees, for lunchtime food alternatives or as a last-mile solution to the nearest metro, an option that, according to Sprynt, contribute to retaining talent while reinforcing the organization’s commitment to environmental sustainability.
Sprynt by Numbers
The figure below illustrates the results Sprynt achieved in 2017 in only six months of operations in terms of the number of passengers transported, miles and km driven, and CO2 emissions avoided (pounds and tons).
Sprynt success is due to its reliable, efficient and exciting service. People are extremely happy with this innovative way of transportation. Everyone enjoy free rides with Sprynt simply because it’s unique. The 100% electric exclusive golf cart can transport up to 5 passengers for every ride and currently operates five vehicles.
With transport being the main cause of air pollution in towns and cities, there is a growing demand for alternative transportation in urban areas and Sprynt is definitely contributing to this trend. Sprynt’s business model is a mix of information technology and local urban innovation that is successful and is improving urban mobility while making the city more livable and resilient. The company supports sustainable urban mobility solutions while providing for social, economic and environmental development at the local level, and is indeed important to share this best practice more globally.
About the Author: Silvia Zinetti, a regular contributor to EiD, is a sustainable energy expert and policy advisor, based in Arlington, Virginia.
[iii] Opinion on the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Together towards competitive and resource-efficient urban mobility https://www.eesc.europa.eu/en/our-work/opinions-information-reports/opinions/competitive-and-resource-efficient-urban-mobility