Justin Coetzee is the founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the GoMetro (Pty) Ltd, a young South African company aimed at improving the way in which South Africans move, through better public transport experience by better information, better service and contribute to building a “born-free” business in South Africa through startups and mobile business.
Justin Coetzee has been putting together a Transport Technology lab for the last 5 years. He explains his vision: “Networks Improve the Way We Move. Transport Networks, Telecommunications Networks, Payment Networks, Social Networks, and soon Vehicle Networks are all converging into redefining Transportation.”
“Hundreds of cities worldwide are planning to become smart cities. But smart cities are smart because they create smart citizens – they make citizens more informed and able to achieve a better quality of life. Part of being a smart citizen is having the information you need at a glance to make better choices – so you can avoid waiting and save time. Another part of being a smart citizen is knowing what choices are available, so you can avoid falling into traps like cognitive biases. Tools like GoMetro give people the “nudge” they need to think outside their default boxes, and act more sustainably,” said Justin.
Justin is passionate about smart transport, as this is vital to the economy and the way we live. Transport also responsible for 25% of global CO2 emissions. By focusing on how to get people in cities the information they need to choose a more sustainable mode of transport, we can improve the quality of city life and the environment.
Justin is quite an advocate for alternative transport options, “We have to convince people to consider Public Transport as a practical alternative in the first place. I started GoMetro to solve this exact information problem for first-time transport system users. We use mobile apps and public screens to inform people at a glance about all their transportation choices, just when they’re making travel decisions: in lobbies, offices, on the street. A South African user needs to be shown what options are around him – he might see a bus every day but know nothing about it!,” he said.
The true impact of GoMetro can be much greater than the value of time savings. By making urban transportation work better, our company believes we can create new transit users and help convert people who drive by default into transit users, reducing pollution, CO2, and traffic, and improving quality of life in cities, all of which in turn brings additional economic benefits.
Intel are helping GoMetro make this a reality with serious support:
Justin is a qualified civil engineer, who started with GoMetro in his mid-20’s and remains brains behind the company. GoMetro started out of his previous career – building roads and highways in South Africa. However, he realized that this is part of the problem and not necessarily the solution that he was taught at University. In most SA cities and a growing number of cities worldwide, the drive-alone car is the default transport option — and the problem.
Roads are crowded with cars, 90% of which are drive-alones, and cities are crowded as cars sit vacant in parking spaces for 95% of the day. Last century’s response to this problem was to increase supply by building more roads. Building roads is incredibly expensive and unsustainable, and at this point, nearly every South African city is turning away from road-building. The new, more efficient, response is to reduce demand for driving by shifting demand to other transportation choices.
GoMetro is a high-growth business aiming at improving urban commuting using digital tools for Planners, Operators, Managers and Commuters – so that we can move more people in less space more quickly and comfortably. We have built a set of applications for the public transport sector in emerging markets – we call this the “GoMetro Flexible Mobility Platform”. GoMetro has developed a progression of products and tools that generate revenues individually, but when composed together have the prospect of building a virtual transport network – connecting the networks of demand (passengers) with a network of supply (private operators and local government transport) using an app to request and pay for transport in real-time.
What does GoMetro do? This video explains it:
Objectives of GoMetro
When asked about what drives the young entrepreneur, Justin asserts that there is a need for better public transport, by improving the public transport experience with better information, better service, closer-to-home.
Through GoMetro’s apps and services, commuters can make roads safer and curb unsafe driving and travel processes. GoMetro’s objective is to Improve the Way we Move with Smart Mobility and Connected Cars, this will also benefit the ecosystem with Greener Transport that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing car usage. Justin also wants to build a “Born-Free” Business in South Africa through creating a startup that inspires and helps other young entrepreneurs have the courage to pursue their dreams – and often mentors and coaches startups through the mLab Southern Africa.
GoMetro has its headquarters in Cape Town, Western Cape, and has a team in Gauteng. GoMetro has received support from the Innovation Hub in Gauteng, the Technology Innovation Agency, the Bandwidth Barn, the mLab Southern Africa and Silicon Cape Initiative, as a supporter of tech businesses in Western Cape. GoMetro was also a recipient of the Premier’s Entrepreneurship Award for an Emerging Enterprise in 2013.
Justin wants to Improve the Way you Move
GoMetro provides a mobility technology platform solution with associated services to governments, cities, institutions, companies and startups looking to add or enable transport applications to their existing operations and business – to meet their users and customers expectations of new mobility. The fact that that the developing world is urbanizing at an unprecedented rate has placed enormous strain on aged and limited public transport systems in South Africa.
Justin mentions that commuter rail or bus services – when they do operate – are crowded, prone to being late, highly disrupted by poor maintenance and underfunded. Smart City Technology seems an irrelevant luxury to the management teams of these systems, as they are facing core operational issues – such as lack of adequate funding, lack of skills, labour disputes and conflict with the informal transport sector.
“Commuters in South Africa have not always waited the years it takes for public transport operations to be planned, designed, procured, constructed and finally operated. Entrepreneurial individuals have filled the gap left by a lack of formal transport provision with para-transit operations. Minibus-taxis, matatus, trotros, jitneys, angkots – these informal transport systems go by many names in different parts of the world. They are a critical part of the transport mix, and need to be considered in the design of Smart Transport Solutions – which is a real challenge,” said Justin.