Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Revisiting stories: FRED Downtown shuttle in San Diego

David Aragon, an operation manager and one of the drivers for Free Ride Everywhere Downtown (FRED) waits at a local apartment building for his next pick up in the downtown area. (Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune).


I've written about the FRED e-shuttle in Downtown San Diego as an example of creating intra-district shuttle services as a component of the "sustainable mobility platform."

More recently, I mentioned FRED in my discussion on making Fenton Street in Silver Spring a prioritized sustainable mobility corridor, within item #5, "PL #5: Creating a Silver Spring "Sustainable Mobility District" | Part 2: Program items 1 - 9," as a part of shifting Fenton Street to a sustainable mobility corridor and removing street parking by better leveraging the thousands of spaces in parking garages along the corridor.

Apparently, the FRED service, just over two years old, is quite successful and will be expanded ("Free Ride shuttle: Riders getting "busy" signal but help on way with extra funding," San Diego Union-Tribune).

From the article:
San Diego will spend up to $5.7 million over five years to help New York-based The Free Ride put more all-electric shuttles on downtown streets. The money comes from revenue from parking meters and public garages downtown. The original five-year budget was $2 million.

By 2020, there should be 30 FRED shuttles on the road, up from today’s 17. The funding includes upgrading a dozen existing cars to a longer-running lithium ion battery. ...

It landed in San Diego in July 2014 with five shuttles financed totally by the billboards they displayed while offering free rides around downtown. Around the same time, San Diego downtown stakeholders were looking for a shuttle system for the business district. The Free Ride was chosen and launched a beefed-up presence in August 2016.
Strengthen branding?  Although I will say that as a transportation/mobility service, branding is an important element of the program. 

Having the vehicles serve mostly as moving advertisements diminishes the ability to brand the service as a key mobility service within the Downtown San Diego district.

But maybe the fact that they are a small and very distinguishable vehicle regardless is enough.

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