By Dan Grossman, CEO, Chariot
When it comes to making traffic less of a nightmare, the goal has become increasingly straightforward: Change the one person to one car culture. Especially during rush hour, reducing the number of single-occupancy cars can go a long way to improving commutes for everyone.
As you can imagine, that’s easier said than done.
At Chariot, we’re committed to reducing congestion with a comfortable shuttle service that provides another way to improve access to jobs and bring groups of people to the public transit stations that serve their communities. Using mostly our 14-passenger Ford Transit vans, we’re already operating commuter services in various cities and serving businesses looking for reliable ways to transport employees. We’ve also established an experienced team focused on developing contracts with city and public transit agencies.
But this challenge will not be solved by simply targeting cities alone. To truly make an impact on congestion, we need participation from all sectors — and the good news is that participation is building. Increasingly, we’re hearing from companies, universities and others that are interested in dependable, convenient transportation services for their employees and residents. As a result of this demand, we are sharpening our focus on our enterprise division at Chariot, which develops custom microtransit routes that serve public and private entities such as corporate campuses, hospitals, universities, business parks and residential developments.
Working directly with these types of organizations will help us keep delivering on our goal of providing a shared, high-occupancy transportation option that complements public transit while decreasing congestion. It’s not always easy convincing someone to start sharing their commute, so we’re committed to making that idea appealing with great vehicles and great service.
More and more, businesses are looking to improve commuting times — not to mention the commuting experience as a whole — for their employees. At Chariot, we’re perfecting the ability to provide that higher level of service. Our Chariot vans are operated by full-time, fully trained employee drivers who reliably get their riders where they need to be — in safe, comfortable, Wi-Fi-enabled vehicles that regularly undergo the maintenance necessary to keep them in top shape.
We’re already doing this across the United States. In California, we recently launched routes serving employees of the University of California at its San Francisco Mission Bay Campus. As part of a grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, our service is designed for university employees, while supporting the commission’s mission to reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicles traveling across the Bay Bridge and decrease congestion during peak commute times. We’re also working with Mastercard in the Bay Area to provide its employees an easy way to travel between their office and multiple local rail stations.
Of course, our enterprise services don’t have to be limited to serving a single organization’s employees. In most cities, transit is essentially fixed in terms of light rail and core bus routes, but residential and commercial development is increasingly occurring outside the area served by those systems. That means there’s a need to connect those developments — whether people own their own vehicles or not — to existing transit options. That’s where Chariot can play a role, moving groups of people in a single vehicle and getting them around campuses or to public transit stations.
In Chicago’s western suburbs, we recently launched a new route that serves the Oak Brook business community by connecting employees and the general public between the district and the nearby transit station. This is a two-year pilot in partnership with the Regional Transportation Authority of Northeastern Illinois, the Village of Oak Brook and the Greater Oak Brook Chamber of Commerce. In Denver, meanwhile, our new Chariot service connects students, faculty and staff at the University of Denver to a nearby light rail station, all with the goals of decreasing congestion and continuing the university’s commitment to sustainability.
Our commitment to this service extends beyond North America. In London, Chariot’s first international market, we are looking at ways to work with businesses and other organizations to improve the commutes of employees and visitors, while continuing to serve the public via our four commuter routes.
To support our increased focus on enterprise and our continued growth, we’ve welcomed Kari Novatney as our new chief operating officer. Novatney brings valuable experience in two important areas — driving growth for companies, including Sony and JustAnswer, and helping to deliver smart transportation initiatives with Caltrans and University of California, Berkeley. Greg Jorgensen also joined Chariot as chief financial officer after 18 years in various finance roles at Ford and after working as chief financial officer for Quick Lane.
Additionally, we’ve brought onboard our first vice president of markets in Kate Roberts, who led strategic partnerships for Zipcar and will now oversee existing and emerging markets for Chariot. And to oversee our human resources and recruiting teams, Michelle Streicher joins us from Ford as our new vice president of human resources.
These additions to Chariot are already making an impact, aiding the development of our latest launches and helping to move us into the future. We know every city is different, but encouraging people to share their commute and ease the burden on our roadways is crucial to ensuring our communities have the capacity to improve their residents’ quality of life and set them up for a prosperous future. We’re committed to understanding what city leaders, businesses and residents need to make traveling more efficient. By providing the right services to those who live and work there every day, we can start reducing the number of vehicles on our roadways and work to improve everyone’s daily commute and overall quality of life.