As 2022 ends, autonomous technology which lowers the costs of and improves the quality of mobility is still just a promise. Fundamentally, technology must serve the needs of those who will use a given mobility solution. By starting with humans at the center of its efforts, Carolina RIDES+ is providing a foundation for understanding how to automate in the future while beginning to serve its goal of “providing transportation to those in need…”
With its rollout of RIDES (Real-time Integrated Data-driven Electric Shared-services), Carolina RIDES+ has begun delivering mobility to those who otherwise could not get to a job, the store, the doctor, or the other places that those of us with a car take for granted. With a goal like the TrentonMOVES effort in New Jersey, Carolina RIDES+, a 501(c)3 public benefit non-profit organization, aims to “provide mobility options, alleviate the financial burden for low-income households, reduce pollution, and boost economic development.”
In the above interview, Furman University students and Carolina RIDES+ interns, Victoria Cruz-Solano, and Whit Buchanan reflect on what they learned at Princeton’s SmartDrivingCars Summit. They also provide an overview of two of Carolina RIDES+’s initial projects.
- RideShare Pilot: A door-to-door, demand response service to residents of the greater Nicholtown community. Nicholtown is in a Qualified Opportunity Zone. QOZs are among America’s poorest census tracts.
- CarShare Pilot: A two-person, enclosed electric vehicle with a maximum speed of 25 MPH for getting around the downtown Greenville area. As Innova EV writes (PDF), this solution is about “Putting the bike-sharing model on four wheels.”
Affordable Mobility Helps Workforce Development #
Writing in the December 11th issue of the Greenville News, Fred Payne, Chair, CA4I and CA4 Innovation Charities and Coordinator, Carolina RIDES+, provides additional insight into the pilot program and the people it is serving.1
- RIDES+ provided 823 trips in approximately four months covering 5,517 miles
- Over 90% of RIDES+ trips were from housing to jobs.
- The average miles per trip was 6.7 miles and cost approximately $12.55. Note, this compares favorably to metro bus systems, such as Silicon Valley’s VTA, which had a pre-pandemic cost per ride of $16 to $20.
As Payne indicates in his article, they have learned that affordable and reliable mobility is a key element to workforce development. As such, they are reaching out to the community, including workforce and human service agencies, to help provide the funding needed to create a sustainable service. By starting, they are laying the foundation for the potential for more efficient and sustainable operations through automation and electrification.
1 Additional insight about the program is provided in Fred Payne’s August 9th submission to the Greenville News.