Ford has clearly read the writing on the wall about the future of transport. In addition to buying a shuttle service and investing in a bicycle-sharing company, Ford’s CEO says the company is going into the municipal mobility solutions advisory business, according to The Verge.
Ford is buying Chariot, a San Francisco-based shuttle service. Chariot has been in business since 2014 and, unlike city bus systems, uses algorithms to determine routes based on demand. Chariot rides in San Francisco cost about $4 per trip. Ford CEO Mark Fields told The Verge the plan is to expand Chariot to five more unspecified cities within the next 18 months, including one international city. Current Chariot leadership will work on the expansion as part of Ford.
Ford’s investment in Motivate, the Bay Area Bike Share program operator, includes adding 7,000 “Ford GoBikes” to the sharing infrastructure. People will be able to use the FordPass app to access the bikes.
Fields’ vision of municipal mobility solutions includes different forms of transport available as needed. So, for example, someone might choose to ride a bike to work and take a shuttle home. The synergy between transportation options can enrich each of them.
Ford’s Smart Mobility division focuses on helping cities plan for “mobility solutions,” Fields said.
Ford Smart Mobility LLC‘s Jim Hackett said, “… users have the opportunity to shift back and forth for all kinds of different reasons, if [the] weather changes their priorities or we have different incentives if we want to move people in the system differently.”
“If you think of mass transit on the left hand of the page, and private car ownership on the right, you know the livery systems, the Lyfts [and] the Ubers, are more expensive to operate per mile than your own personal car, and mass transit is the cheapest,” he said. “This shuttle is next-in-line as the most efficient to mass transit. Cities are going to love this because it’s going to be highly accessible based on pricing.”