AUSTIN, Texas–Commuting by public or private transportation sucks up untold billions of hours annually. According to the American Public Transportation Association, Americans took 10.4 billion rides on public transportation in 2011. At the same time, nine out of 10 American drive to work and about 76 percent drive alone, crowding roads.
That same year, recently retired Army Lt. Col. Joseph Kopser came up with the idea to group all modes of transportation on a smart phone app. “One of the nation’s largest problems is inefficient use of transportation,” he says.
The transportation iPhone app idea started as a result of Kopser’s long commute to the Pentagon in Washington D.C. “What should have been a five-minute commute would become a traffic nightmare depending on the day,” he says. While sitting on his porch in Arlington, Va., with friends he thought about his messy commute and ways to solve the problem. “I told them that I had the solution and turned an idea and PowerPoint into what RideScout is today,” he says.
He created RideScout with his Army friend Craig Cumming. RideScout guides or shows transportation options in real time, including taxis, buses, pedicabs, and rideshare options with friends, family or strangers. “People waste a lot of time in traffic and millions of fuel wasted. I’m making it easier and safer for people and get them out of their cars to other existing transportation,” he added.
It took Kopser, a 20-year veteran and graduate of West Point and Harvard’s Kennedy School, two years to launch the app, which will work later on Android and the web. “It was during my time in the Army that I saw how we use energy efficiently and that’s where I started thinking of ways we can be more efficient,” he says. He hopes one day people leave their cars at home and use public transportation.
Kopser pitched the idea at South By Southwest and won second place in 2012 at the Hatch Pitch competition. The app options are organized by arrival time and cost and users can link up via Facebook to seek rides. RideScout is currently available in Austin, and Kopser says they plan to expand to other cities next.
A message to veterans from Joseph Kopser.
If you need to solve a problem a hard problem, go find a veteran. We now have confidence a sense of ability is still embedded and still in us in combat that allow us to know that we can accomplish whatever is set before us. So whether is a non-profit, whether you’re serving your company in a desk job or whether you’re an entrepreneur like myself and others like us, there’s nothing that stops you from achieving your dreams if you work hard towards it.
Second Tour is an ABC News digital series profiling the lives of military veterans who are doing unique things in the civilian world, including vets who took on an entrepreneurial venture to create a business, grassroots organization or a second career.