Your chariot awaits! NYC’s newest shared ride service has launched with $4 flat rate rides between the Lower East Side and Midtown in Manhattan, and between Dumbo and Greenpoint in Brooklyn, two routes where mass transit is limited and overcrowded.
Get whisked around in modern, air-conditioned 14-passenger vans with a guaranteed seat, free Wi-Fi, outlets for your electronics, and full-time staff drivers.
Chariot is operating during morning and evening rush hours, with plans to expand both hours and routes by the end of the year.
Like other car services, it works through an app, which tells you when and where you can catch the next van with a confirmed reservation, and you pay through the app.
There’s no bumping and no ridiculous budget-busting surge pricing or other surprise hidden charges, as with Uber or Lyft. Like Via, Chariot works along high-demand pre-set routes.
Unlike other shared ride and e-hailing services, Chariot drivers are on staff, not freelance or part-time, must speak fluent English, and they receive commercial driver safety training.
Also unlike other rideshare and e-hailing services, Chariot is owned by a transportation company, by Ford Smart Mobility, a division of Ford Motor Company which focuses (forgive the pun on the eco-friendly Ford Focus vehicle) on alternatives to vehicle ownership. Ford vans are used exclusively.
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Ford’s Chariot plans to add routes this fall between Williamsburg and Midtown, Bay Ridge and Midtown, Park Slope and Midtown, Downtown Brooklyn and Midtown, and between Lower Manhattan and Midtown.
One Chariot van replaces 10 cars
Chariot already operates in Austin, Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Chariot CEO Ali Vehabzadeh, a native New Yorker who moved to Silicon Valley for a tech carer, told me that in San Francisco, nearly 1/4 of riders use it to connect to such transit hubs as BART and Caltrain, or to ferry terminals. He expects many New York City users will do the same.
Besides helping us get to trains, busses or ferries, Chariot keeps people out of single-occupancy vehicles, or single-passenger taxis.
According to a study by KPMG, every Chariot van can remove 10 cars from NYC streets.
In addition to the $4 flat rate, Chariot charges $119 for an all-access 30-day monthly pass. That comes out to less than $3 per ride if you use it daily.
What’s your favorite way to get around NYC? Least favorite?