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Ford and Bridj team up to bring a new type of mobility to Kansas City

Ride KC: Bridj will mark the first public-private partnership between a US transit agency and an automaker.

KCATA Wrapped Ford Transit Van photographed Feb. 10, 2016 in front of Kansas City's Union Station. Dave Kaup Photography 913-219-3569 davekaup.photo@gmail.com www.davekaup.com
Dave Kaup

Ford is getting ready to use its Transit cargo van for a purpose other than hauling pallets and paint cans. It's partnering with Missouri's Kansas City Area Transportation Authority and urban tech company Bridj to introduce what it calls "microtransit."

Using Bridj's mobile app, Kansas City residents can request on-demand Ford Transit shuttles that can be found at various "pop-up" shuttle stations around town, many of which will be located near other transit options like bike-sharing and public transportation stations. Ride KC: Bridj will exist as a one-year pilot program to gauge its efficacy.

While Bridj already operates in other cities, this is the first time that its system is being implemented with both an exclusive vehicle provider and the city's transit agency. Ford will be supplying 10 Transit cargo vans specially outfitted with seating for 14 passengers and extended running boards for ease of ingress and egress. Ford is offering financing for these vehicles through its municipal lease program.

The goal here is simple -- connect folks to jobs. Not every job is near housing, and not all affordable housing is near jobs. Using data from the Brookings Institute, Bridj estimates that only 18 percent of Kansas City-area jobs are accessible within 90 minutes by way of conventional public transportation. Thus, Ride KC: Bridj hopes to solve that problem by providing yet another method of getting around town.