Free shuttles to take riders around downtown - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Free shuttles to take riders around downtown

August 6th, 2018 SanTan Sun News
Free shuttles to take riders around downtown

By Colleen Sparks, Managing Editor


People who go to downtown Chandler to sample restaurants, shops or other offerings soon will be able to get back and forth without their vehicles.

The Chandler City Council last month approved an agreement with Electric Cab North America for free downtown circulator and ride services, including parking garage shuttle services. The agreement, which runs through next June 14, is not to cost more than $120,000 and could be extended for up to two years.

Visitors and residents will be able to catch an electric cab at any downtown parking garage, according to Kim Moyers, city downtown redevelopment manager.

They also will be able to shuttle between downtown businesses by either calling for a shuttle or hailing one that passes by.

The city wants to help people get around downtown because the empty property known as Site 6 – where people have been parking for free across from City Hall – no longer will be available.

Construction of the New Square Development is beginning on Site 6. One parcel west of Oregon Street will be closed this month, costing 200 public parking spaces. The parking area west of Oregon will be closed in October.

The first phase of New Square is expected to be done in the late fall of 2019.

“We are seeing some exciting projects come to fruition in Downtown Chandler, and construction on the New Square development will make on-street parking a premium resource,” Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny said, adding:

“But there are several nearby garages offering hundreds of free covered public parking spaces in downtown Chandler. Our new shuttle service will help make those parking areas attractive, convenient options for visitors.”

Moyers said the electric shuttles seat up to five passengers and one driver.

“They’re larger, bigger and a little faster than what you would think of as a golf cart, but (have) sort of that feel to it,” she said. “Drivers will be knowledgeable about the downtown and able to help people with food choices.”

Based in Austin, Texas, Electric Cab North America also has operations in Dallas, as well as in St. Louis and the Kirkwood, Missouri area.

The GEM e6 shuttles have LED turn signals and LED brake lights and can move about 25 miles an hour, said Steve Perkinson, director of project development for Electric Cab North America, adding that the company offers “microtransit” – specializing in “first-mile and last-mile services.”

For example, people might fly to a city, take a regional train or bus service from the airport to the general area they need to be, but then need to travel another five blocks to reach their hotel.

Uber and Lyft typically want to provide longer rides, while Electric Cab North America specializes in the shorter journeys, Perkinson said.

The company partners with governments, developers, businesses, universities and nonprofit organizations that pay for the services.

“Our mission is to provide urban mobility that’s seamless when it’s paired with mass transit providers,” Perkinson said. “It’s a free ride so drivers are all trained by us. It’s a turnkey service; we provide the shuttle, operators, management and insurance.”

Thee shuttles have three-point lap and shoulder seatbelts. They have many other safety measures including automotive glass windshields and high-back, forward-facing seats, Perkinson said. The shuttles have passed the SAE roof crush test.

Moyers said Chandler will be the first city in Arizona to sign a contract with Electric Cab North America.

The free shuttle service will be available 4-9 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays starting Sept. 6. with the option of expanding the hours if needed.

“I think that what has happened over the years is people have gotten very accustomed to parking in Site 6,” Moyers said. “That’s become habit for them.

“As we’ve continued to grow our downtown, we’re attracting more into the downtown. This is a way to educate people, moving them to the parking garages like they do in other cities. We want to give people an option during this transition. There’s a perception that some of the walking is too long. Once they start doing it, they’ll see that it’s shorter than going into the mall or other places.”

Downtown Chandler has several parking garages downtown now and plans are underway for more.

One garage is on the southeast corner of Chicago Street and Arizona Avenue. Others are at the northeast corner of Arizona Avenue and Boston Street and southeast corner of Buffalo Street and Arizona Avenue.

They provide a total 1,500 parking spots.

A fourth downtown parking garage with 350 spots as part of the Overstreet development is expected to open at the end of this month at the northwest corner of Oregon and Buffalo streets.

New Square will provide a 930-stall parking garage at Chicago and Oregon streets by the fall of 2019.

“We’ve looked at lots of options to bring to the downtown,” Moyers said. “This company was unique in that they provide the vehicle and they provide the employee with all the training, of the insurance.

“We’re just very much looking forward to eCab coming into the state and helping us, helping the visitors of the downtown get around in a safe manner. They have been extremely easy to work with.”

Electric Cab North America started in 2008 when the founders said they discovered a market need for intra-urban, short mobility.


Special to SanTan Sun News

An example of one of the electric shuttles that will be running in Chandler starting Sept. 6 is pictured here.