This former Google Maps exec is now in charge of growing a public transport app which has raised $80 million

A tram passes Flinders Street Station in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour / Getty Images)

Public transport can be a pain in the neck, but now there’s an app that wants to fix that.

With former Google Maps exec Alex Torres leading growth at San Francisco startup Moovit, the company has expanded from its Israeli base into 500 cities across the world, adding Australia’s capital cities this week.

Moovit exec Alex Torres. Image: Supplied.

Moovit was launched in March 2012 and has since raised more than $80 million from a number of investors, including heavy weight VC firm Sequoia Capital and corporates Nokia and BMW.

After running beta trials in Australia, Moovit claims it has already got more than 200,000 local users. Unlike other public transport apps, Moovit allows users to share live information as they travel — so the community knows what’s going on as it happens.

Moovit crowd-sources information from users who can send reports about their travel experience, such as whether a service is busy, clean, cancelled or delayed. It also collates information about bus, train, ferry and tram timetables and locations.

Screenshot of the app.

“People who travel on public transport have typically had to rely on information by seeking out various authority sites, media news updates, and word of mouth from other frustrated commuters. With Moovit, users feed data into a centralised app, helping fellow travellers plan their journey better. As a user generated platform, the more people that use it the better the Moovit’s live data gets,” Torres said.

In three years Moovit has grown to be used by more than 15 million people across 500 cities in 45 countries.

Torres, who spent nine years in senior roles at Google on products like Google Maps, said Australia will be used as a launching pad as the company eyes off expansion into the Asia-Pacific.

“Moovit is different to other transport apps, like Google Maps, because it adds real-time information from users whilst they are on the move,” he said.

“By getting live updates on current travel times, service delays, station conditions and congested areas, users get valuable insights that make travel easier, faster and more precise.”

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