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EV Companies Race to Los Angeles for Low-Income Passengers

Four pilot projects in the Los Angeles region have been awarded $500,000 to grow zero-emission transportation efforts. Part of their focus will be connecting underserved communities to new travel opportunities.

Downtown Los Angeles
Downtown Los Angeles
Several new transportation pilots in the Los Angeles region are attempting to expand mobility options for low-income communities, while at the same time introducing electric vehicles.

As part of that mission, the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) will award $500,000 toward the Zero Emissions Mobility and Community Pilot Project Fund to fund four pilots focused on growing car-share, bike-share and emissions-free delivery opportunities.

“When we went to the state Legislature and said, can you provide us more funding to do workplace development, to get more people into the green economy, as well as provide funding for pilots, we really saw that as a great opportunity to deliver the benefit of the green economy to low-income neighborhoods,” said Matt Petersen, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator.

The pilots include projects like a solar-powered e-bike-share program in Huntington Park led by environmental justice organization Communities for a Better Environment. Another will develop a zero-emission e-cargo bike operation along the Los Angeles River led by the Conservation Corps of Long Beach. For its part, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) is developing a car-share pilot project in San Pedro in partnership with the car-share company Envoy. 

And LACI will work with companies like Envoy and Pick My Solar to better understand payment and other barriers to EV adoption in low-income neighborhoods. That effort is being led by San Fernando Valley-based environmental justice organization Pacoima Beautiful.

Combating air pollution is a major aim for projects like these and others targeting the transportation sector.

“Zero emissions transportation solutions exist today to help solve these problems and our community is poised to take advantage of them. We can’t wait to begin developing and deploying our EV car share program with our partners at LACI,” said Veronica Padilla, executive director of Pacoima Beautiful, in a statement. 

The pilots also targeted locations where transit and transportation options are few.

“You have neighborhoods where families just don’t have access to a car, or not adequate access for when they do need a car,” Petersen said.

“While there’s $120 billion being invested in transit in the region, it’s going to take time… how do we provide solutions for people who need to get to the doctor, or to a job interview, or get their child to school, or whatever it might be?” he added.

These four pilots are part of a larger LACI strategy to accelerate the deployment of zero-emission vehicles. Known as Zero Emissions 2028 Roadmap 2.0, members of the Transportation Electrification Partnership have pledged to have electric vehicles account for 30 percent of all cars on the road and 80 percent of new vehicles sold in the region by 2028, when Los Angeles is due to host the summer Olympic Games. The road map also aims to have 20 percent of all single-occupancy trips shift to a zero-emission transportation option by that time.

“We can’t turn the tide on the climate crisis until we work across sectors and city limits to put the brakes on dangerous pollution and kick our zero-emissions transportation future into high gear,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. “Our Roadmap 2.0 charts a course toward a healthier region with a cleaner transit network — and draws up a blueprint for cities worldwide to follow, so all of us can invest in the smart policies and green energy that will strengthen our families’ well-being and quality of life for generations to come.”

Government Technology is Governing's sister e.Republic publication, offering in-depth coverage of IT case studies, emerging technologies and the implications of digital technology on the policies and management of public sector organizations.
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