Ford partners with cities worldwide on new transportation options

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As part of its move to be seen as a multimodal ‘Smart Mobility’ company, and not just an auto maker, Ford is teaming up with major global cities to solve congestion issues and help people move more easily, both now, and in the future.

Ford has announced an agreement to acquire Chariot, a San Francisco-based crowdsourced shuttle service, and is collaborating with bike-sharing provider Motivate to expand its transportation solutions in city centers. Ford is also establishing a new City Solutions team to work with cities around the world on their transportation needs.

Ford’s acquisition of Chariot will serve as the cornerstone of its new global shuttle services business. The shuttle service is expected to be expanded beyond San Francisco to at least five additional markets in the next 18 months. Started in 2014, Chariot operates nearly 100 Ford Transit shuttles along 28 routes throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Currently, its routes are crowdsourced, based on rider demand. In the future, they will operate dynamically, using data algorithms to map efficient routes to best serve the real-time mobility needs of communities. The Chariot shuttles complement mass transit by filling the gap between taxi and bus services, providing an on-demand, point-to-point transportation option that is convenient, efficient and cost-effective.

Bicycles are another important mode of transportation for commuters in the Bay Area, so Ford and Motivate, the global leader in bike sharing, are working with city officials to add new stations and increase the number of bikes to 7,000 in the region by the end of 2018. When it launches next year, Ford’s GoBike will be accessed by users through the FordPass platform. Ford plans to develop technologies to use data collected from the bikes to build an interconnected mobility network, which could include real-time data, such as weather conditions, usage patterns and bike availability, to optimize commutes.

Ford is also establishing its new City Solutions team to work with cities on expanding mobility services worldwide as part of Ford Smart Mobility. John Kwant, who has worked with several global cities during his Ford career as part of the company’s government affairs and global strategy teams, has been tapped to lead the effort as its vice president.

The team will address the reality that each city’s transportation ecosystem has evolved over time, and poses a unique set of transportation challenges. Through a joint discovery process, Ford City Solutions will work with municipalities to propose, pilot, and develop mobility solutions tailored to the community. Discussions are already underway with several global cities.

“We’re expanding our business to be both an auto and a mobility company, and partnering with cities on current and future transportation needs, is the next major step,” said Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO.

“For more than 100 years, we have been part of the community and the trusted source for automotive transportation. Now, we want to work with communities to offer even more transportation choices and solutions for people, for decades to come.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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