At Forth’s last spring networking event in Seattle, we discussed the need for transportation equity for all communities, highlighting recent pilot projects aiming to bring clean transportation options to traditionally underserved communities. Our guest speakers were Jose Chi, associate at Environmental Coalition of South Seattle (ECOSS) and Forth’s own Catherine Teebay.
Jessica Finn Coven, Director of the the City of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment, joined us to give the opening remarks, citing the city’s commitment to clean transportation. The city’s Climate Strategy includes a provision for transportation electrification and calls for the city fleet to be fossil-fuel free by 2030. Jessica closed by stating that it’s important to ask a community first about it’s wants and needs is a must to building equity.
The mission of ECOSS is to educate and empower businesses and diverse communities focusing on environmental equity, stormwater solutions, and resource conservation. Guest speaker Jose Chi outlined ECOSS’s recent partnership with Forth, a series of outreach efforts to solicit feedback from underserved communities on their opinions and perceptions of electric vehicles. ECOSS is hosting listening sessions, focus groups, tabling at community events, and sharing informational fliers about EVs in five languages: Spanish, Somali, Vietnamese, Amharic, and Mandarin. Much of the outreach will be completed this month, and Jose shared some of the early results from the completed focus groups: most participants were not very familiar with EVs, (with the exception of popular makes and models like Tesla and the Nissan Leaf), many cited cost as their biggest concern and a number wanted to know more information about the lifespan of batteries and what to do if you live in a multi-unit dwelling.
You can view Jose’s presentation here:
In the last year Forth launched two pilot programs designed to bring clean transportation options to communities that have less ease of access to public transportation options. We partnered with the Hacienda Community Development Corporation on a community electric car sharing program, designed to support both Hacienda staff and the entire NE Cully neighborhood by providing three all-electric vehicles and chargers. Hacienda staff used one Fit as the company car, saving over $1,000 in mileage reimbursement, and two Fits were available for the community to rent by the day through Turo. Over 9 months, 45 rentals were completed, ranging from 1-5 days. The program was overall a success, though the primary barriers to individuals using the Fits were a lack of driver’s licenses, credit and debit cards and technology – not everyone had access to the Turo app. Partnering with the Community Cycling Center 10 electric bikes were provided to three cohorts (10 individuals) who do not have or cannot obtain driver’s licenses. Each cohort had the bike for 10 weeks and were supplied with helmets, lights, reflectors racks, and panniers. Overall the feedback was positive and a couple individuals noted that this program helped decrease their commute time to work.
You can view Catherine’s presentation here: