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Neighborhood electric vehicle car-sharing and ride-sharing service

Deploy final mile micro-EV car-share/ride-share service for workforce development, equity, zero emissions, efficiency and affordability.

Photo of Benjamin Meza-Wilson
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People need transportation. Most importantly in order to get access to a job. Right now people have two less than desirable choices: a bus journey that takes hours or by car which is very expensive and you end up getting stuck in traffic with the rest of the commuters. At the root of the problem is favoring a primarily point-to-point transportation network over hub-and-spoke. When vehicles attempt to take people their entire journey, they end up clogging up the arterial parts of the routes. Imagine if every package UPS, Fedex or the postal service delivered went directly from the person sending it to the person receiving it? How much additional, uncoordinated traffic would result? The US postal service and others take mail and packages to a central station to mitigate this traffic. The same can be done with our transportation system. The first step is providing neighborhoods with their local vehicles. These vehicles always stay in the neighborhood under regular circumstances. Studying Uber and Lyft driver logs, the vast majority of rides are 5 miles in distance or less. A low-speed microtransit electric vehicle in the neighborhood is one solution that is comfortable for riders and environmentally friendly. This vehicle could take residents to the grocery store, to doctor's appointments or to the bus station if they need to go further, on-demand. There are car-sharing apps that can be used for renting cars by the day. A person who cannot afford to buy their own car (and/or insurance), can rent one daily and use it for selling rides and deliveries. These sole proprietors avoid not only the initial capital expense of buying a car, but also depreciation, maintenance and repairs. The fleet owners' daily rental fees more than cover their costs, making it an attractive investment due to the rate of return. In addition it can help public transit (bus) operators improve their financial standing by eliminating underperforming routes and/or service hours, redeploying buses to decrease headway time (wait time between each bus) on the busier arterial routes, leading to increased ridership.

How will your solution benefit residents, workers, or visitors in the Michigan Central Station impact area? (1,000 characters)

Southwestern Detroit residents are among the most enterprising around. Entrepreneurship is an integral part of their culture. By enabling them with opportunity, they will flourish. This will have a tremendous positive economic effect for the entire city. Right now ride-sharing from Uber or Lyft is available, but you never know who the driver will be and because of the nature of point-to-point transportation, they are making traffic in cities worse. A neighborhood vehicle, like the microbuses or peseros in Mexico (or jitneys and dollar buses in the U.S.), mitigates these issues with ride-sharing. The driver is a community member, known to everyone in the neighborhood and safe. He or she drives only in the neighborhood district, giving rides to nearby destinations.

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Ready to Scale - you have completed and expanded your pilot and are seeing adoption of your solution by your intended user

Insights from previous testing (500 characters)

Auto insurance carriers are still getting up to speed on the innovative services of car-sharing and ride-sharing. There are companies that specialize in this type of coverage, but it's very new. Property damage of the car is a considerable risk.

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

Ben Meza-Wilson - 2019 transportation planning graduate and operations manager. Audi Berzinskas - Investor and fleet owner. Uber and Lyft driver for several years. Idea/business development architect.

Size of your team or organization

  • 2-10

Are you submitting as a student team?

  • No

Are you submitting as a team from the Impact Area?

  • No

Funding Request

  • $50,000

Rough Budget (500 characters)

Just need it to scale, purchase additional vehicles. The service generates it's own income. $50,000 purchase (10) additional cars (down payment for lease).

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

Purchase the vehicles and post them on the car-sharing app. Let drivers rent them and collect the daily fees.

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

Needing to purchase additional vehicles if all the existing ones were rented out and generating income.

Sustainability Plan (500 characters)

Yes. The rental fees are sufficient, but additional money can be made from advertising on the outside of the vehicles. Also since we are going to be using a pre-automated platform vehicle (retrofit ready for autonomous) when funds sufficient for that investment are available (Roughly $200,000 per vehicle, plus the infrastructure devices) and city planning gets the road for the route ready, they can be made self-driving. This will save hundreds of thousands in driver's compensation.

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Mackenzie Fankell

Benjamin Meza-Wilson Hello! Thank you for posting this proposal! I am familiar with a similar concept that exists in Chile called 'Collectivos'. It sounds like this solution would make transportation more affordable and convenient in Detroit without causing as much congestion. And zero-emissions is always a plus! Have you thought about how you would want to pilot this solution and how you would incorporate the impact area? Look forward to hearing more!