Ford’s Chariot shared commuter shuttle service is expanding to its latest new market: Columbus, Ohio. The Columbus launch is in partnership with JPMorgan Chase, and initial service in the area will be specifically a shuttle for the company’s 400 Corporate Center employees located within the city.
Chariot will operate daily shuttles for these employees starting on January 22, and they’ll provide both morning and evening commute options using Wi-Fi equipped, 14-seat Ford Transit vans. The vans will have service between 6 AM and 10 AM daily, and also between 4 PM and 8 PM, which is a big range for both getting in and leaving the office. It’ll offer six different routes to cover different residential areas for employees.
This is specifically part of the growing Enterprise segment of Chariot’s business, which serves corporate customers with employee transit. That business has increased considerably from its inception, going from just 10 routes at the start of last year to now 80 in total. Overall, Chariot operates 108 daily routes across all of its markets, the company says, which is the first time it’s revealed the full scope of its operation.
Chariot’s Columbus operation is also part of Ohio’s “Smart Columbus” program, which won the Department of Transportation’s $40 million Smart City Challenge two years ago. The program is intended to demonstrate how integrated technologies, including connected infrastructure, autonomous cars, smart mobility services and more can work together to build a better transportation network.
Chariot, which was acquired by Ford in September 2016, now operates in five cities in total, including San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Austin and now Columbus. The company started out providing shared on-demand first/last mile transit solutions in SF, and has since experimented with a number of different other commuter services models, including shared ski resort transit.
Ford recently announced a commitment to build an open smart city platform for connecting various transportation services, and it’s also working on its autonomous vehicle platform, which will make its self-driving cars available to partners, including Lyft, Postmates and more. Clearly, the automaker is interested in exploring a macro approach to solving the problem of getting around increasingly busy cities, and Chariot and its various commuter service incarnations is part of that, too.