The Ride KC: Bridj pilot program will use a fleet of Ford Transit vans to augment and serve as a gateway to other forms of transit. Many pick-up locations will be at bus stops and areas served by existing Kansas City transit and bike-share systems. Photo credit: Ford Motor Company
Urban technology company Bridj is teaming up with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority to launch Ride KC: Bridj — a pilot program using a network of locally built Ford Transit vans to provide a new way to access areas of Kansas City that are rich in jobs and housing.
This transformative program 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 KCATA President/CEO Robbie Makinen. “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.”
Photo credit: Ford Motor Company
Ford is the exclusive vehicle provider for Ride KC: Bridj because 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 available 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 will make for easy visibility.
After an extensive review process, KCATA was chosen by Bridj as the first transit agency to participate in the pilot. KCATA is an attractive partner due to its commitment to innovation and to establishing collaborations that connect people to opportunities. Kansas City is frequently found on “best of” lists for technology, arts, entrepreneurship and places for young people to live.
Bridj also operates in Boston and Washington, D.C. However, Ride KC: Bridj is the first program being implemented in direct collaboration with a transit agency and with Ford as exclusive vehicle provider.