The increasing cost of living has led to a higher demand for reliable transportation as many people are facing financial difficulties. This has been made worse by the long-term decline of public transport services in many areas of the UK. A recent survey found that 68% of low-income earners and 71% of individuals without a car are worried about how cuts to bus services will affect their ability to work.
This is where RideTandem comes into the picture. Based out of London, the startup is building the next generation of mobility outside cities and towns. Working with local transport companies, RideTandem provides high-quality, affordable, reliable, and sustainable shared transport solutions that connect people in transport poverty with jobs they would otherwise be unable to get to.
Growth beyond the UK
In a recent development, the London startup has raised £2.3 million in new funding. The round was led by Blackfinch Ventures (which backed Futr and Currensea) and included participation from other new investors FirstMonday VC and Rainmaking Impact, as well as additional backers through Seedrs. Existing investors 1818 Venture Capital, Ascension, and Low Carbon Innovation Fund also followed.
This follows the seed round of £1.75 million that RideTandem raised back in 2022 and brings the total funding to date to £5 million. The company will use the new funding to enable people to get to work and support businesses with recruitment and retention, both in the UK and overseas later this year.
Reflecting on the new investment and RideTandem’s progress since closing its previous funding round in May 2022, Shapland-Howes added: “It’s been an incredible year of growth for us, serving new customers, putting on routes in a wider range of regions across the UK, and moving into white-collar use cases alongside our core blue-collar business. We’re proud of the impact we’re making for our passengers and partners – with an NPS score of 81 in our most recent survey the proof of the pudding – but conscious that there is much more to do as the cost-of-living crisis shows no sign of abating.”
Enables sustainable transport for all
RideTandem was cofounded in 2019 by Alex Shapland-Howes, a previous MD of education charity Future First alongside former Global Innovation Fund investment director Tatseng Chiam and previous Hireup CTO Huw McLeod. The trio met through the impact-focused venture builder programme Zinc, as part of a team examining means of supporting communities underserved by globalisation and automation.
RideTandem works with local cabs, minicabs and coach companies alongside employers to provide shared commuter services for low-income workers in areas with poor public transport connectivity outside major towns and cities. Such workers can now get jobs they were previously cut off from by the cost, inconvenience or complete lack of public transport options.
Passengers use a mobile app designed to make block-booking easy with flexible payment options. These features were in the past missing in most ride-hailing and mobility apps but are critical for low-income workers. Live location tracking is also possible via the app. RideTandem operates both seasonal and year-round routes, linking workers with jobs they would otherwise have had no feasible way of getting to.
Speaking about the problem, RideTandem co-founder and CEO Alex Shapland-Howes said: “Even before the cost-of-living crisis hit, public transport outside of big cities was broken – expensive, unreliable, or simply not there for people who need it. Almost 5,000 bus services – more than one in four – were axed between 2012 and 2022. Many that remain, especially outside cities and large towns, are under threat from the recent end of the Bus Recovery Grant. Too many people are left with a stark choice – car ownership, which is itself increasingly prohibitively expensive, or simply not working.”