The premier organization for TDM professionals

Executive Spotlight: Chris Upjohn, MagicBus

Posted: 08/26/2021
Category: Member Spotlight

Our software makes vanpooling simple and flexible. We track seat inventory and make seats simple to book online. We enable vanpool for people with flexible schedules. And we help you fill more seats and add new routes. We’re easy to implement and can work with your existing systems, whether you lease or own your vehicles.

What are you and your organization seeking to achieve?

We believe vanpool is one of the best ways to reduce SOV and help with diversity, equity and inclusion. But we learned that vanpool is stuck in the past. Our mission is to make vanpool simple so that more people have access to it in a world of flexible work schedules.

How did you get to where you are today?

We started as a rideshare service in the Bay Area that served tens of thousands of riders. We fell in love with vanpool because it’s peer to peer and such a cost effective way to commute. We saw the potential in vanpool - how much more effective it could be with the right tools. In the early days of this new strategy I heard a lot of people tell me, “vanpool is like a black box”. We set out to change that by tracking van inventory and making it simple to book empty seats in real time.

How have you seen the TDM industry change?

Covid is changing everything. In the new world, work schedules are more flexible. Shared transportation has to evolve to be more flexible and real time.

Where do you see the industry going in the next 10 years?

I’m excited about driverless vehicles. Imagine a vanpool where nobody has to drive. The cost of commuting will come down and, if we plan right, equity and access will also increase. 

What brought you to ACT? What has been the most memorable part of your involvement in ACT?

We’re always looking to be around the thought leaders in the industry. We’ve really enjoyed going to the conferences, for example the last one in Orlando! It’s a great community. 

What keeps you motivated?

America has a problem with single occupancy vehicles. If we’re going to overcome this, we have to make shared and public transportation as easy as booking a rideshare. I’m motivated by the stakes if we win - the potential to make shared commuting safe and accessible for everyone.

What has been the most fulfilling moment in your career?

Every new customer I’ve brought on has been fulfilling because we are growing the network of programs who embrace the future and want to make vanpooling easier and more flexible.

What is a great piece of advice you have received? Have you put it to use?

To focus on solving real problems. In Silicon Valley sometimes technology distracts from building things people actually need, so it’s important to stay focused on customers. I’ve tried to put this to use by listening intently and learning from my peers in the TDM space. ACT conferences are great for this.

Any additional thoughts to share?

Covid has been tough for everyone, but we will get through it. Difficult times foster innovation, and this pandemic is prompting changes in the way people commute that will force TDM to adopt new approaches and become more flexible. I’m inspired by the resilience and the inventiveness of this community.

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