Monday, July 31, 2017

Easing NYC Commute: Ford Partners with Chariot

NYC commuters, your Chariot awaits

According to today's New York Times, more New Yorkers are commuting by bicycle. I am all for this, and am, in fact, running the NYC Marathon again as a member of the Transportation Alternatives team.

But not everyone can or wants to bike to work. I get it. I am also rather fed up with the NYC subways this summer. I've been stuck in more stalled trains, or behind sick passengers, or delayed because of signal problems or police incidents or train traffic than cumulatively over the last decade.  The subways are so horrible that Governor Cuomo has declared a state of emergency.

Ford partnered with Chariot
This is on top of construction at Penn Station, which many subways traverse, which is undergoing its summer of hell.

So I was intrigued when I heard about a new transit option, Chariot. Chariot, a crowd-sourced shuttle service, partnered with Ford to help commuters in New York City. This is part of Ford Motor Company's smart mobility plan to innovate beyond private car ownership.

Chariot already operates in San Francisco, Seattle and Austin, and launches in NYC in August. The service is designed to address transportation deserts and fill in gaps in transportation. When Chariot launches, it will have two routes, Greenpoint, Brooklyn to Dumbo, and the Lower East Side to midtown.

The old (cab) and the new (Chariot) alternatives to crowded subways
Chariot CEO Ali Vahabzadeh said the 'micro transit' is entirely crowd sourced; by fall, Chariot plans to have 60 shuttles running throughout the city, with routes determined by users who make suggestions.

What is great about Chariot, as opposed to other app-based transportation services, is that each shuttle  fits 14 people. Vahabzadeh said at Chariot takes at least 10 people off the road. If you have sat in traffic, you know that having fewer cars on the streets is critical.

The Chariot service costs $4 per ride, with no surge pricing. Riders are guaranteed a seat. And since this is a sustainable mass transit option, it qualifies for TransitChek reimbursement.

And, just to reinforce the idea that Chariot is needed: on my way to the launch meeting, my subway inexplicably stopped moving for a good 17 minutes. I would love to ditch the Metrocard.

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