Ford is now ready to roll out its “Chariot” shuttle service in Seattle, Washington, following its acquisition of the service in September of last year and subsequent expansion to Austin, Texas.
Chariot is among the first services to be offered under Ford’s Smart Mobility initiative. It uses crowd-sourced data to plot efficient shuttle routes around those points where demand is highest, and the automaker expects that it and services like it could take a bite out of urban traffic congestion – a problem likely to grow worse as more people worldwide come to occupy major cities. According to a study by KPMG, each Chariot shuttle sent out during peak traffic hours could reduce the number of cars on the road by up to twenty-five.
In a Medium post about Chariot’s roll-out in Seattle, Ford City Solutions Vice President John Kwant lays out the reasons why the Emerald City makes for a good market. “Residents have chosen to move away from the solo commute, with ridership on King County’s Metro system growing,” he writes. “In 2016, the system ferried passengers on a record 122 million trips,” while “all transit agencies in the county serviced 163 million trips, marking a 17 percent increase since 2010.”
And even still, Seattle is ranked tenth-worst in the United States for traffic, he says, “with residents stuck on the road for nearly 55 hours a year.”
Over the next year or so, Ford is expected to introduce its Chariot service to at least another three markets, bringing the total number of cities in which the service operates to six. Other mobility services, like bike-share and car-share fleets, are also on the rise.