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ComEd Launches EV Ride-sharing Pilot Program for Senior Citizens

Author: Michael Cheng   

A handful of automotive technologies being developed by businesses in the industry today are focused on senior citizens. The demographic is expected to directly benefit from autonomous driving platforms and electric vehicles (EVs), allowing such individuals to travel with more freedom around urban locations. 

In Chicago, this movement is being led by Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd). The business, which caters to over 3.8 million local residents in Illinois (a whopping 70 percent of the state's population), launched an electric ride-sharing pilot service for seniors living in Washington Park.

ComEd researchers, along with the Bronzeville Community Development Partnership, will use data from the program to examine energy consumption rates of commercial EV fleets.

Providing Mobility Services for Senior Citizens

A fleet comprised of Innova EV Dashes are being used for the project. The compact units can seat two passengers and provide a range of 150 miles per charge. This range is more than enough for doing errands around the city. Each ride costs $3 and only goes one way.

"Seniors often prefer to have familiarity before they hop in a car, and this will cater to those needs," said DePaul University transportation expert Joseph Schwieterman.

At the moment, the routes are open three days per week, with the possibility of extending the service later this year. According to Melissa Washington, ComEd's vice president of external affairs, the agency is already considering the addition of eight new EVs to its ride-sharing fleet.

It is important to note that a driver is available inside every ride. The representative ushers the passenger to his or her preferred destination, while also serving as a guide for safety and security.

Improving Transportation in Chicago

Although the pilot program is effective and in demand, ComEd will not be expanding into the highly competitive ride-hailing sector. Instead, officials from the company reiterated its role as a leading energy provider in the Chicago area. The business is particularly interested in how the EVs will utilize battery charging stations.

ComEd estimates daily EV charging rates to reach roughly $1.00 (at 40 miles per day under the company's basic residential electric rate). For optimized charging, the business suggests plugging in after 10 pm, due to decreased demand for electricity from the local grid.

To prepare for EVs and the Internet-of-Things (IoT) era, ComEd invested $2.6 billion into its ‘Smart Grid' project. The updates include the installation of new smart meters with wireless data transmission features, allowing city operators to closely monitor large-scale power distribution with ease. To date, the new smart systems have helped the city avoid 7.6 million power outages.

"Auto manufacturers are increasingly responding to the market demand and global interest of reducing oil dependency, greenhouse gases and fuel cost, by introducing a range of energy-efficient and low-emission electric-powered vehicles," said ComEd, in its website.

Other groups establishing new transportation options in Chicago includes the Boring Company. Led by Elon Musk, the business expressed its intention to build an underground ‘hyperloop' system, which will aim to connect the downtown area to O'Hare International Airport. 

Michael Cheng
Michael Cheng is a legal editor and technical writer with publications for Blackberry ISHN Magazine Houzz and Payment Week. He specializes in technology business and digesting hard data. Outside of work Michael likes to train for marathons spend time with his daughter and explore new places.
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