Transportation is a problem. It’s also an example. It’s a problem for all of us. It’s an example of how problems today really are all of our responsibility. We no longer live in a world where we can say “that’s not my problem.” To prove this, I have been working on a solution. It’s a solution for all of us. This isn’t about any group of people, it’s about everyone, right here. And after we show everyone else how this works, then maybe they will be able to help others with their problems, too.
When we have a problem, we generally approach it in one of two ways: capitalistic and altruistic.
Capitalistic: a problem means there is a need. If there is a need, I can capitalize on that need. Uber is a perfect example: transportation is a problem, so there is a need. I will figure out a way to leverage that need to make money. The problem with this approach, is that it doesn’t fix the problem.
Altruistic: a non-profit transportation company is a great example. A system is setup to provide the people with need an important resource. The problem with this approach is that it has to find outside funding. And that creates a financially inefficient or even insolvent system. When the funding goes away, a vital system is lost.
Even working together, these two approaches do not solve the problem. And most of the time, these systems don’t actually work together at all.
I have been working for over a year on a city-wide, cooperative transportation app that is going to be like nothing else before it. It is not a capitalist approach; it is not designed to make money, and in fact will not take any money from anyone on the system, ever. It is not a traditional non-profit; it is intended to be helpful to everyone, not a subset of people. To the best of my knowledge – and believe me, I have looked – It is the first truly cooperative system of its kind.
The philosophy behind its creation and function is simple and yet very different: it is designed to connect needs with assets. The needs are you and me, anyone who wants to get somewhere. Importantly, that anyone is designed to be everyone. A transportation problem for anyone is everyone’s problem; we are not going to leave anyone behind. It’s not just ambulatory adults, it’s folks that need a bit of help, it’s people in wheelchairs, it’s kids, even people so sick they need a paramedic with them.
We have ways to move all of these people around, right now. What this is going to do is connect those assets to the needs.
This will give us a way to say what we expect from those assets. Before we allow someone to transport an elderly person who might be a bit vulnerable, we as a community are going to want to be sure they are right for the job. Before we allow someone to transport a child, you can expect some pretty significant scrutiny. And though this process is too tedious for a capitalist system, it will allow us to truly address our needs.
This is not just about moving patients to appointments. This is not just about giving us more ways to get downtown on a Friday night. This is not just about enabling a volunteer to help with a need. This is not just about increasing the effectiveness of any driver of any transportation service anywhere in our community. This is about all of those things. And more.
MoveUP will be an app for iPhone and Android smartphones that will connect riders to drivers. Ultimately, it will allow us to move people that for whatever reason don’t have a smart phone. Because no one gets left behind. And that connection, that is what this is really about. Drivers decide what kind of service they wish to provide, and how much to charge for that service. Riders will be able to chose from the available options that meet their needs.
The discussion and input that have gone into the creation of this app span our entire community. From its inception it has always been about us. Even the name: MoveUP. The first feedback I received was, “are you trying to tell me I am down?” The pressures of our society teach us to live as individuals, first. It’s not you or I that needs to MoveUP, we all need to MoveUP.
In the grand scheme of city finances, the development of this app is cheap. In the scope of one doctor’s personal finances, it is very expensive. Our city bus system has annual operating expenses exceeding six million dollars. Total development with software and all legal costs is estimated at less than $150,000.00, or 2.5%. It city terms this is small; for me, it is a serious undertaking.
Over the last few years I have developed my own litmus test regarding projects: if you aren’t willing to personally invest your own time or resources or money, why should anyone else? Despite the fact that I have been told by numerous people that I will never recoup my investment, I am wholly committed to this project. I have already invested roughly half of the money needed. I have formally asked the city, the community trust, and the healthcare system for help, but for a variety of reasons that is not happening, in part because this is a completely novel system. Frankly speaking, people have a hard time getting their heads around how this is going to work, and even why we need it. I am literally selling assets (my race car) to raise the remaining funds. In an attempt to leverage the collective assistance of the very people that this project is intended to benfit – the citizens of the City of Lynchburg – I have created a GoFundMe page. Yes, $50,000 is a huge chunk of money. But there are 85,000 people in the city of Lynchburg, and that’s 60 cents each. The money is going into the LLC created for this project – Unified Potential – and will be used to pay the software developers at Cleveroad and the legal fees at Lenhart Pettit.
Whether you know it or not, transportation is a problem for all of us. It’s time we come together and address our problems together as a community.
It’s time to MoveUP.