Understanding the economics of Clever Commute


Summary: I try to be fair. I love running Clever. It’s passion of mine…but I need your help covering the costs.

If you are having second thoughts about the actual dollar cost of subscribing to the Premium version of Clever Commute, please read this and consider upgrading by using the Premium feature of the free app.
More info: Overview and Feature List

The Clever Commute guy is an everyday NJT rider, who has been running this service for 14 years, using his own funds. See the table below to understand the costs to design, build and maintain a scalable app/service such as this.

Back-of-the-envelop math will show you that simply selling the app for $1.99 (or $2.99, or even more) is not a tenable model…especially when you remember that Apple/Google keep 30% of that right off the top.

Regarding banner ads: I have previously said they are a way to make nickles and dimes. Trust me: that statement is only a slight exaggeration. Therefore, a subscription model is the only way to build and maintain a scalable robust solution. I’ve been doing this since 2006. Yes, I am in this for the long haul 🙂

Summing it up: I am a 5-day-a-week commuter. I have a full-time job in NYC. I run Clever as a passion project.
Your financial support helps to defray the costs of running this service. I really appreciate each and every subscriber.


Start by recognizing that the App Stores take 30% of revenue right off the top.

But with all that being said, here are other things to think about

  • I personally spend over $400 a month on my commute. How about you?
    The $3.33 for Premium won’t “move the needle” on that monthly cost we all have …but it will help you and reduce your stress.
    Click here to see what other commuters say.
  • We give you 30 days of Premium when you first sign up. That’s a promotion.
    But we also give you another month free when you convert to Premium.
    (Note that any grace period for other apps is rarely a full month. Most do 7 days…maybe 14)
  • We give away free memberships as a matter of practice
    (our policy covers the unemployed, students, recent grads, people returning to the workforce, military, senior citizens, people who are disabled, pregnant or have any kind of mobility or material health issue)
  • We regularly donate Clever Commute subscriptions to charity
  • We take down our paywall as needed to ensure all commuters have a safe trip home
    (e.g., due to weather and other emergencies)

My point: I try to be fair. I’m OK to run Clever as a public service…so I need your help covering the costs. Please consider upgrading by using the Premium feature of the free app. Overview and Feature List.

Look at the Complexity Understand the Dollar Costs
Technical integration with at least 5 transit providers

We provide solutions for iOS as well as Android

We offer paid as well as free versions

We support 5 categories of data (not just crowdsourced)

Maintaining a presence for the app in 2 app stores

Our app communicates/publishes via e-mail, push notifications, SMS/text, web, and Twitter.

We also manage a presence on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

It starts with the cost to build and maintain all these features. But it also includes the cost of vendors/providers I pay for …

  • Sending mails
  • Sending texts/SMS
  • Sending push notifications
  • Web/App Hosting
  • Backups
  • Data storage
  • Geolocation/Mapping license
  • Security tools
  • App Store-related APIs
  • Automation/Scheduling
  • Uptime monitoring