Rural Communities Connected Through Grassroots Mobility Services
Rural residents in California’s Central Valley have long lacked access to adequate transportation, both for local travel and to reach services in larger cities in the region. Small communities in the Merced region, such as Cantua Creek, Delhi, and Planada, have started small-scale shuttle services to address the need, report Ryan Lillis and Robert Rodriguez:
And in Huron, a small city an hour southwest of Fresno surrounded by fields of almonds, cotton and lettuce, reliable and affordable transportation has been an everyday problem for decades. Those without cars have used an informal ride-sharing system operated by locals known as raiteros. With the help of a state grant worth $519,000, the mayor launched a nonprofit ride share service powered by a small fleet of electric vehicles.
While Huron has some bus service, residents traveling to cities like Bakersfield and Fresno face lengthy, time-consuming trips. The city’s program, now based on donations, is a much-needed transportation option. “The idea is to provide the residents of Huron with access to zero-emission vehicles that can shuttle them to doctor’s appointments, job interviews, or grocery stores,” according to Lillis and Rodriguez.
They say plans to address transportation issues emerged from other efforts to help low-income communities of color in the Central Valley address environmental issues, including air pollution and dirty drinking water.