Ford has partnered with mass transit service Bridj to offer on-demand shuttle service in Kansas City called Ride KC: Bridj, a direct challenge to Uber.
Customers who want to use the service can request for a shuttle with a tap on Bridj's iOS or Android mobile app, similar to Uber. Riders will have to reach the closest pick-up location of the shuttle, a Ford Transit van, and enjoy the ride. Bridj and Ford suggest that the new service is aimed at serving areas in the Kansas City region that do not have access to public transportation.
"Today, we are bringing another transit option to the region with the introduction of microtransit," says Robbie Makinen, the CEO and president of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA). "By combining the intelligence of Bridj technology with capable and flexible Ford Transit vehicles, we are creating a seamless and borderless transportation network for our residents that is easy to use, comfortable and affordable."
The collaboration with Ford and Bridj will initially include 10 Ford vehicles and will operate for one year. Initially only a few routes will be included in the service, but more will be added in the near term.
The service will operate from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Makinen says that the upcoming service will not be limited to regular commuters. People will be able to use the service for grocery shopping, going to a doctor's clinic and more. The introductory price for each ride will be $1.50.
The initiative is the first private and public collaboration, in which a technology company and an auto maker come together to enhance an existing transit system used by public.
Tony Reinhart, the regional director for government and community relations at Ford, says that the latest announcement points at Ford transforming itself from just an automotive company to an auto and mobility company, which will be aimed at making lives better for its customers.
The latest pilot program will help both Ford and Bridj to understand what works and what does not.
Matt George, the CEO of Bridj, highlights that only 18 percent of the jobs in the Kansas City region are accessible in 90 minutes using existing transit options. The latest initiative will improve job accessibility, which will result in economic growth in the region.
The initiative shows that a city can embrace technology and work along with private companies for creating a modern city.