Kansas City commuters will be first in the nation to test a unique solution for increased urban mobility.
Urban technology company Bridj is teaming up with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) to launch Ride KC: Bridj – a pilot program using a network of locally built Ford Transit vans to provide a new way for residents here to access jobs and housing in Kansas City.
Ford reports that this is the first U.S. public-private partnership that brings together a major U.S. transit agency, an automaker and an urban technology company with the aim of enhancing Kansas City’s existing mass transit system by providing greater access and mobility to residents.
“Today, we are bringing another transit option to the region with the introduction of microtransit,” said Robbie Makinen, KCATA president and CEO. “By combining the intelligence of Bridj technology with capable and flexible Ford Transit vehicles, we are creating a seamless and borderless transportation network for our residents that is easy to use, comfortable and affordable.”
Ride KC: Bridj is scheduled to launch in early March. Powered by billions of data points, Bridj’s platform determines where riders want to go and how to get them there most efficiently. Using the Bridj mobile app, riders can request on-demand shuttle service that they can access via pop-up shuttle stations.
“Bridj is thrilled to be the urban technology platform for Ride KC: Bridj,” said Matt George, CEO of Bridj. “Modernizing urban infrastructure will be the single greatest technology challenge of our time, and this pilot is part of the solution by significantly extending the current capabilities of Kansas City’s mass transit system.”
Ford is the exclusive vehicle provider for Ride KC: Bridj and considers the partnership part of its commitment to enabling urban mobility through its Ford Smart Mobility plan.
“Our goal is to make people’s lives better by changing the way the world moves,” said Erica Klampfl, global mobility solutions manager, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. “The Ford Smart Mobility plan supports our commitment to innovation, and is aimed specifically at developing smarter mobility services. We are excited that Ford Transit was selected for Ride KC: Bridj because this is one of many projects that will help us gain insights into what works and develop smarter, more connected mobility solutions and service-oriented products.”
Ten Ford Transit passenger vans built at Kansas City Assembly Plant will stay close to home, becoming the network of shuttles in the pilot program. The fleet of high-roof, long-wheelbase Transit vans with 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost engines will be modified with a custom 14-passenger seating layout and custom-installed large running board for passenger convenience. Bright logos on the sides are designed to increase visibility.
Ford Transit is America’s best-selling commercial van, offering 58 configurations from the factory and even more customization potential through a network of upfitters, many of which are located near Kansas City Assembly Plant. Ford Motor Credit Company is supporting the one-year pilot with financing through its municipal lease finance program.