Trenton, N.J. - The City of Trenton, in collaboration with Isles Inc., a nonprofit community development and environmental organization that works to foster self-reliance and healthy, sustainable communities, will soon launch a multi-service electric vehicle program to improve resident mobility and increase access to jobs, healthcare, and new opportunities while addressing public health challenges imposed by greenhouse gases and air pollution.
The program seeks to provide transportation services in three phases:
- An electric carsharing service that will allow residents to rent vehicles for designated periods.
- An electric ridesharing service that will hire local drivers, support local businesses and improve residents’ mobility and access to essential resources.
- An electric shuttle service that will connect residents to jobs and create a network of community organizations to expand social, health, and financial services.
The project includes modifying infrastructure for Trenton and installing charging stations at site locations, identified in partnership with the City of Trenton Planning Board. The installation of these charging stations also received unanimous support by City Council on April 2, 2020.
This ambitious project has been possible due to collaboration with ChargEVC, the New Jersey Clean Cities Coalition, and Environment New Jersey. These statewide organizations were awarded an opportunity to workshop an e-mobility project with Rocky Mountain Institute. The workshop brought together brainpower from all over the country to help chart a plan to make Trenton's e-mobility a reality. Today, the project is one step closer thanks to support from the Murphy Administration and the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), which recently announced awards of $883,000 to support the project.
According to the Trenton 250 Master Plan, approximately 30 percent of Trenton households are car-free, and 21 percent of residents reported relying on carpooling as a primary mode of transportation for commuting to work. While the program is open to all, its development will prioritize providing reliable and affordable transportation options to low-income residents who may not have access to a personal vehicle.
"We are thrilled to work with Isles on addressing what has historically been one of our community’s greatest challenges," said Mayor Gusciora. “Many of our residents lack reliable transportation, which prevents them from accepting employment opportunities, getting their children to school on time, or even seeing a healthcare provider. I believe this project will meaningfully address those needs and possibly serve as a model for other cities to follow. I’d like to also thank ChargEVC, the New Jersey Clean Cities Coalition, Environment New Jersey and the NJDEP for lending critical expertise and funding for the project.”
“I’m so excited to see this program launched here in Trenton; we know from many years of community meetings and engaging residents in various plans that access to transportation is a major challenge for Trentonians,” said Dan Fatton, Chair of the City of Trenton Planning Board. “This program provides one solution to that problem and the City can expand access to clean transportation options, giving people more options to get around without increasing pollution.”
Notably, the program will reduce air pollution in the city, where residents face health challenges at a higher rate than their Mercer county counterparts. “Trenton's asthma rate is three times the state average, and accounts for 76% of all asthma-related ER visits in Mercer County, despite being only 23% of the population," says Isles CEO Sean Jackson. "This program is an important step towards making Trenton's air cleaner while increasing transportation options for Trenton residents. And while this program is local to Trenton, we see this pilot as an opportunity to inform future clean transportation investments that prioritize building equity throughout the state."
The City of Trenton and Isles will issue RFPs later this month and welcome vendors to apply. While the city will own the charging infrastructure, Isles will spearhead the project's program development and operations.
To inform the development of this community-driven program, Isles has solicited feedback from residents and community organizations for the past year. “We learned that similar to our experience, many community organizations throughout the city struggle with extending their social, health, and financial services to residents due to lack of affordable and reliable transportation options,” says Katharina Miguel, Clean Energy Advocate who is leading the program at Isles. “Our goal is to close that gap and build wealth and health in the city. We encourage community organizations that believe this would be helpful for their services to reach out to us, and we will also be executing an extensive outreach plan.”
Isles also hosted the program’s first listening session earlier in January and will continue to host sessions within the upcoming months to learn how these services can best benefit Trentonians. Both Katharina Miguel and Peg Hannah from NJDEP will speak about the program at Environment New Jersey’s webinar on Wednesday, February 17 at 2 p.m. ChargeEVC, Environment New Jersey, and the New Jersey Clean Cities Coalition will continue to support the development of the project by providing technical assistance, research, and organizing expertise.
When available, RFPs will be posted on the City of Trenton website at https://www.trentonnj.org/230/Division-of-Purchasing and Isles website at https://isles.org/about-us/job-openings/.