An innovative electric car program in a small Central Valley town provides much-needed rides to low-income migrant workers.
The mayor of a small Central Valley town has transformed the overlooked community into the country's greenest migrant farmworker community through a revolutionary electric vehicle program, reports Evan Halper for The Los Angeles Times.
Located more than 50 miles from Fresno, Huron has struggled to provide adequate transportation for its population. Now, a program known as the Green Raiteros—a Spanglish term used to refer to migrant workers informally giving or receiving rides—makes transportation available free of charge to local residents using a fleet of nine electric cars, which the mayor hopes can grow. The program is funded through state grants and provides unlimited rides to residents, many of whom need transportation to nearby cities for medical appointments or other errands.
The town has also invested in charging infrastructure, with 30 stations already installed. As Halper writes, "It is a notable distinction when environmental justice groups are otherwise exasperated by the concentration of electric vehicle infrastructure in the wealthiest ZIP Codes." Mayor León hopes to make the city a model of electric vehicle innovation that, unlike most EV incentive programs, focuses on low-income households that can't afford car ownership.
The article goes on to describe Rancho San Pedro, another low-income community near the Port of Los Angeles experimenting with electric car share. The Huron and Rancho San Pedro programs highlight the impact that electric vehicles can have on low-income and rural communities, particularly those with low car ownership and lacking robust public transit networks.
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