Su Sanni and Chris Coles, advised by Professor Eric Goldwyn ’17GSAPP PhD ’12GSAPP


Venture Type: 

What is the social or environmental issue being addressed?

In cities all around the world, residents do not have equitable access to public transit. Depending on where residents live and their socioeconomic status, daily transportation may be inaccessible, unreliable, or expensive, occupying up to 20 percent of monthly income as estimated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

According to the University of Texas's Urban Innovation Lab, 4.5 million Americans live in transit deserts where they cannot access public transit. However, in NYC and in many others around the United States, “dollar vans” successfully yet secretly bridge the gaps left by public transit.

Most New Yorkers have never heard of dollar vans, which exemplifies the charm and challenges of this hidden transit system. Nonetheless, dollar vans represent NYC’s original ride-sharing service, which also removes 150 million pounds of carbon emissions from our environment.


Dollaride is a mobility company that provides a unique transportation service for people living in transit deserts. Because millions of Americans do not have equitable access to public transit, Dollaride uses technology to bridge the transit gaps in underserved communities. They provide all of the technical resources for people to create and participate in sustainable ride-sharing services in any city. Dollaride’s mission is to strengthen and expand the dollar van micro-transit system as a solution to public transit inequity.

Specifically, Dollaride's technology creates new transit routes that are optimized for sustainable ridership and operated by commercial drivers who traditionally work in the informal economy (i.e. "dollar vans," "jitneys," "tro tros," "matatus," etc). Their technology service identifies unmet consumer demand in local transit deserts and incentivizes local drivers to grow their ridership by expanding their service territory.

The end result is that drivers earn more income using Dollaride, and riders are presented an attractive alternative to commuting in a single occupancy vehicle or expensive taxi service.

For the NYC "dollar van" market, their mobile app helps riders find dollar van drivers, and it also enables drivers to accept all forms of payment (cash, credit card, ACH) without any additional hardware. Dollaride also serves enterprise clients seeking corporate shuttle service for their employees and residents of the communities where they work. In this case, local drivers earn additional income to operate new routes that are financed by enterprise contracts with corporate clients.

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