NANJING, Jiangsu – Ford Motor Co. on May 11 signed a letter of intent with the Nanjing Jiangning Economic and Technological Development Zone (JETDZ) Administrative Committee and the Nanjing Jiangning Public Transportation Group Ltd. (JPTG) for a pilot project aimed at reducing travel times for daily commuters.
The project, which kicks off in the third quarter of this year, creates a new shuttle system for employees of companies within JETDZ and will be the first public-private collaboration of its kind in Jiangning. The project aims to gain insights during the pilot phase, which could lead to expanding the concept on a larger scale.
During the trial period, shuttle routes will be optimized along employees commuting routes using an existing shuttle fleet. As the technology partner, Ford will provide an algorithm that optimizes the routes in order to ensure the most efficient use of the vehicles and passengers’ time, as well as providing a user and driver interface that allows employees to find out in real-time if there are any delays with their shuttle.
“Ford’s vision is to make people’s lives better by changing the way the world moves. This exciting partnership in Nanjing, a vibrant but increasingly congested city, is a great example of how we can work with governments to achieve this vision,” said Dave Schoch, president, Ford Asia Pacific and chairman, Ford China. “We want to not only provide great vehicles but also serve as a leading technology provider to offer unique and innovative mobility solutions for consumers.”
The partners are hopeful that the trial will ultimately lead to a more dynamic, on-demand shuttle experience on a broader scale in the future.
In this partnership, Ford will provide the technology platform, algorithm and data analytics necessary to run the service, while JPTG will supply the vehicles and manage operations. Through its experience with the Chariot shuttle service in San Francisco and its recent on-demand shuttle experiment in Shanghai, Ford has built a solid foundation of designing and refining such optimization algorithms to improve transportation efficiency.
Nanjing is one of the most congested major cities in China, with residents spending an average of 65 minutes traveling from work to home. Shared mobility solutions such as the shuttle service can go a long way in helping alleviate this problem. A 2016 report for Ford USA by KPMG estimated that for every shuttle in operation, there will be an average of 25 fewer cars on the road, helping reduce urban congestion.
The new shuttle program is the first step toward easing congestion in the city and making life easier for the residents of JETDZ, which is home to more than 2,000 companies and 1.2 million residents.