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Austin "City Limits" Station Cars

Revive original BART 1990s 'station car' experiment offering access to Th!nk City-class electric commuters connected to public transit.

Photo of Bill Moore
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Several pilot "station car" programs have been tried in the United States in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The first was associated with the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, the goal being to get drivers to use BART to commute into San Francisco by using a shared electric car. The "home" driver would use it mornings and evenings, leaving the car at their nearest BART station where it would be plugged in. Other program participants could have access to the vehicle during the day for short period use, returning the car to the station before the "home" driver needed it.  The "home" driver would charge the car, if needed, overnight.  The program terminated when the NHTSA temporary use waiver expired and the cars had to be returned to Norway where they were manufactured. Ford Motor Company subsequently bought the company and developed the Th!nk City car from it.

In the early 2000s, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) planned to implement a similar station car initiative for commuters traveling into New York City.  Using the same principle as the BART program, the "home" driver used the car to commute to and from their nearest train station thus eliminating one extra car heading into and out of the city at rush hour.  The program was never fully implemented for unspecified reasons.

The proposed Austin "City Limits" station car proposal would, as currently envisioned, mirror these two prior programs, feeding outlying commuter traffic to Austin's public transit system and similarly making those cars available to other program participants when needed, with the understanding the cars must be returned to the same location as picked up and kept fully charged.  The goal of the program would be, as with BART and NYPA, to reduce inner city congestion and shift passenger travel to public transit. 

Describe who will use your solution (1,000 characters)

Commuters who typically drive daily from outlying suburbs into Austin. Instead of adding another single driver vehicle to rush hour, they would be incentivized to drive and park the car, which would be offered under a monthly subscription program. The car would be available to other program subscribers during the day. This multi-user approach would help amortize the cars more quickly and reduce the monthly subscription price.

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Initial Design - you are still exploring the idea and have not tested it with users

Insights from previous testing (500 characters)

Our experience has been limited to developing a solar-powered electric assist bicycle rental container in the spring of 2016 for the US Olympic Swim trials in Omaha, NE.

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

Our "team" consists of Bill Moore (publisher of EVWorld.Com and co-founder of Quikbyke.com), Jigar Shah (founder of SunEdison, co-founder of Generate Capital, and author of "Creating Climate Wealth: Unlocking the Impact Economy". Advisors include Dave Hemminger (agribusiness) and Tom Cosgrove (broadcast & cable media).

Size of your team or organization

  • 2-10

Team or Organization URL

http://quikbyke.com

Funding Request

  • $100,000

Rough budget (500 characters)

Start pilot with 5 (recently off-lease) electric cars with less than 30K miles and valued at total of $60,000-75,000. Remaining $40,000-25,000 for management and monitoring of trial program.

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

First, establish a good working relationship with Austin public transit and Austin Energy. Arrange for program participants to combine their subscription with monthly transit pass. Equip each car with RFID system to provide coded access and monitor the location and state of charge of the vehicle. Develop online and mobile promotion and management tools.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

Success would be based on monthly renewal rates. If the program works for the subscriber, how often and how long will they renew their subscription? Other metrics include 2nd driver use of vehicles during the day, operational transparency, vehicle reliability (are they kept charged?), vehicle ancillary uses (shopping, side trips, etc.), program participant satisfaction.

Sustainability Plan (500 characters)

The success of the program requires offering participants a more affordable transportation alternative than owning and operating their own personal vehicle. Thus pricing needs to reflect a balance between convenience and affordability vs. program profitability. The goal from the outset is to be profitable, while offering competitive value.

Social Media

@evisioneer2020 @quikbyke @papio_creek

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