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Smart Columbus Roundup: New Plans for Electric Vehicles, Event Parking and More

Brent Warren Brent Warren Smart Columbus Roundup: New Plans for Electric Vehicles, Event Parking and MorePhoto courtesy of Smart Columbus.
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Smart Columbus opened its new Experience Center Downtown in June. Also revealed at that time was a plan to purchase a self-driving shuttle bus that will run in a loop between the new center and COSI.

That project is still on track to open before the end of the year, but there have been a series of additional updates and announcements from the Smart Columbus team in just the last two months. Read on below for the latest from the multifaceted initiative.

Last month, Smart Columbus and the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) issued a request for proposals (RFP) seeking a vendor for a trip planning app that has been touted as a key element of the overall project. The app would allow users to plan trips across multiple platforms and systems, comparing (and combining) the many different mobility options now available in Columbus, including CoGo, Lime, Bird, COTA, Lyft and Uber. A public version of the planning app could be available next summer, with plans to roll out a common payment system — a way to pay for each of those different services within the app — some time the following winter.

Also in the works is something called the Event Parking Management Project. The goal is to provide real-time information to drivers looking for parking in garages and to “use predictive analytics to show the likelihood of finding an on-street metered spot,” according to a press release. Users would also be able to reserve and pay for the parking spaces they locate in garages and lots.

A second round of incentives meant to encourage more electric vehicle charging stations in apartment buildings was announced last month. Apartment complexes that took advantage of the first round of rebates include the City View at 3rd Condominiums, River and Rich, Gravity, several Lifestyle Communities developments, and multiple garages in both the Arena District and Grandview Yard.

Six electric bicycles have been purchased for use by the Columbus Police Department using Smart Columbus funds. The e-bikes, also called pedal-assist bikes, can travel up to 28 miles per hour and will allow officers to cover more ground and respond more quickly than traditional bikes.

Last week Smart Columbus released a progress report on its goal to introduce 300 electric vehicles to the region’s public fleets by 2020. The City of Columbus purchased 93 electric vehicles in 2018 and has promised to purchase 32 more before the end of the year, bringing the total for the region past the halfway mark for the first time. That follows the recent news from the private sector side that Smart Columbus is providing rebates to Yellow Cab to help the company electrify its fleet.

Finally, a new program hopes to encourage local car dealerships to sell more electric vehicles. Eleven dealers have signed on so far, and more are expected to join in the coming months.

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