Green livery service PlanetTran just got a little greener, with cash. The Boston-based company, which operates fleets of hybrid vehicles for livery services, has completed its first institutional round of financing from Cue Ball Capital, a Boston-based venture and early growth equity investment firm. PlanetTran has not disclosed the amount raised, but says it will use the funding for expansion and to further develop its proprietary reservations and paperless billing system.
PlanetTran markets its services to executives and corporations and competes with fleets of luxury (and far less efficient) vehicles, such as Lincoln Town Cars. Aside from green street cred, PlanetTran customers get to enjoy an in-car wireless Internet connection as they are whisked away or toward an airport or meeting.
The company is the brainchild of 34-year-old Seth Riney, a Yale grad who started PlanetTran in 2003 and now employs around 100 people. It maintains two main fleets. One serves New England and the other is in Northern California.
PlanetTran says in a press statement that “the average cost of a PlanetTran ride is significantly less than traditional services.” That didn’t quite hold true for me when I called PlanetTran and a conventional livery to compare rates for a ride from my San Francisco home to the San Francisco airport. PlanetTran beat the conventional services’ $65 quote, but only by $2. However, the PlantTran quote included tax and the other company said tax would be extra. Neither quote included tip.
So without a huge difference in price, the question is: Will old-school executives give up the subtle leather seats of their Town Cars for the eco-conscious-soothing interior of a Prius? And also, how iron-proof is PlanetTran’s model? I found other livery services that offer both standard vehicles as well as hybrids. PlanetTran’s customer service needs to be exemplary to attract customers if it’s not the only hybrid livery game in town. And that’s not to mention the hundreds of hybrid taxis now in service in major cities.
But the more high-efficiency transportation options we have – and the fewer single-occupant cars on the roadways – the better. Speaking of which, San Francisco-based Bauer’s Intelligent Transportation has long serviced large corporations such as Google and Yahoo with high-end buses, complete with WiFi service, for its employees’ commuting needs. But it just began making this service available to the general public, as well. For about $8 each way, commuters can sit back and get some work done and even nosh on a muffin or sip coffee – both served onboard (for extra $). Like PlanetTran, Bauer’s is targeting executives with this service, hoping they’ll find a seat aboard the bus a better alternative to a long solo commute – even if that commute is in a Mercedes or Porsche.