Nashville app launches 'solo hytching' to help commuters earn cash

Posted at 9:58 PM, Nov 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-15 14:02:37-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Turns out, "Hytching" a ride could save you time and money.

A Nashville-based app that launched last year is making a major change to battle Nashville's growing traffic problem.

East Nashville resident Laine Hoke runs through a pretty normal morning routine.

She gets ready in the morning, grabbing her coat, her backpack and her phone before she leaves the apartment.

But she does one thing extra when she gets outside: she activates an app to track her walk to work so she can earn cash.

"It's kind of like Fitbit for your travel," she explained.

She's describing Hytch, an app that's initial goal was to get people to carpool, partnering with employers who are willing to pay for it. And getting cars off the road by encouraging people to ride together.

"They're not only reducing traffic on the road, but if you think about parking lot congestion and if you show up late to work, you may not get a spot. So this is one way to solve that issue as well," Hoke said.

But this week Hytch launced "solo hytching," which lets people earn points without a partner or carpool buddy for things like biking, riding the bus, or walking, like she does. Any carbon neutral travel is accepted for points.

At a recent transportation meeting, the Governor brought Middle Tennessee leaders and transportation experts together to start a plan to fix the growing congestion on our roads. Hytch's CEO was part of the panel.

All involved agreed that technology will play a big role in Middle Tennessee's transportation future.

"We want to be a city that's leading on this, and we want to look at what's been done and improve on what's been done," Governor Bill Lee said.

Hoke is one of 8 Hytch employees. It's a new company so she makes cents per mile. But she says some employers are shelling out a couple of dollars per day per employee who doesn't drive to work alone, citing the City of Brentwood and City of Franklin, who are just two of dozens of local employers on board.

With large companies moving to the downtown area, bringing tens of thousands of new employees, it's a way to make people think twice about their miles and other ways to travel them.

Next year, Hytch plans to launch a market sharing program that would recruit sponsors to pay for people to earn points, and cash, even if their employer is not signed up with the app. Right now those folks can still use the app to track their travel, but cannot earn financial rewards.

Hytch says 12,000 people have downloaded the app since 2018.