The City of Anaheim, California and Anaheim Resort Transportation have launched  a unique app-based, microtransit system using electric vehicles.  Photo: City of Anaheim

The City of Anaheim, California and Anaheim Resort Transportation have launched  a unique app-based, microtransit system using electric vehicles.  Photo: City of Anaheim

The City of Anaheim, California and Anaheim Resort Transportation have launched  a unique app-based, microtransit system using electric vehicles. The Free Ride Around (the) Neighborhood (FRAN) fleet of 10 all-electric Polaris GEM cars connects popular destinations in Anaheim's Center City area.

The shared vehicles arrive on demand via FRAN's smartphone application. The app contains points-of-interest information, and future editions will update driving visitors in real time on where to park near FRAN pick-up spots.

FRAN is distinct from other microtransit systems: It is a free, electric-vehicle service accessed through app technology and operated by a public transportation agency, not by a private company.

While FRAN is an acronym for Free Ride Around (the) Neighborhood, its identity is inspired by Francisca Avila Rimpau, a founding mother of the historic Anaheim Colony, and of the entire Southern California region.

FRAN does not follow fixed routes but rather visits several fixed stops based on riders' pick-up and destination requests within the Center City area. The service is wheelchair accessible, and two vehicles will be retrofitted with a wheelchair-accessible ramp. The 10 Polaris GEM e6 vehicles accommodate a driver and five passengers, and its drivers are knowledgeable docents of the Center City area, much like travel guides (see more on the Polaris GEM vehicles below).

Photo: City of Anaheim

Photo: City of Anaheim

The FRAN fleet consists of 10 new Polaris GEM e6 vehicles. Polaris GEM is the first commercially produced street-legal, low-speed vehicle in the U.S. Its passenger and utility electric vehicles are sustainable and economical, with zero emissions and low operating costs. GEM vehicles save significant amounts of carbon dioxide, and save costs to the City over the vehicles' lifespans compared to other vehicles, according to the company.

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