Ford's Transit vans, which are typically used to haul equipment and supplies, will soon be shuttling people around in Kansas City. The automaker's teaming up with ride provider Bridj and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority to boost public transportation in KC as part of its Smart Mobility plan. When the project called "Ride KC: Bridj" launches in early March, residents will be able to hail on-demand shuttles using Bridj's mobile app. They'll then have to meet their rides at one of the pick-up locations, mostly bus stops and similar locations.
Bridj has ongoing shuttle services in Boston and Washington, DC, but this is the first time it's teaming up with a single automaker. Ford is setting aside 10 vans manufactured at its Kansas City Assembly Plant for the project and is even modifying them to accommodate 14 passengers. Back in December, the company also turned a few Transit vans into passenger shuttles for employees as a test run for what could become an Uber rival.
Upon launch of the one-year pilot program, Ride KC: Bridj will include downtown Kansas City, the near east and west sides, Hospital Hill, Crown Center, portions of Midtown, University of Kansas Medical Center and the Historic 18th and Vine Jazz district. It will evolve to include more locations, though, depending on rider demand. Matt George, Bridj's CEO, says "only 18 percent of jobs in the Kansas City region are accessible within 90 minutes when using existing mass transit options." The group is hoping that the project can create more "social and economic opportunities" for everyone in the area.