Micro-transit firm Chariot to join Seattle market

The latest transportation option in busy Seattle will be Chariot, 14-seat minibuses for direct commuting and last-mile employee shuttles.

The private micro-transit company Chariot will announce Wednesday it has entered the busy Seattle market, starting with shuttle routes arranged by local employers.

Chariot is a division of Ford Smart Mobility. It operates in Austin and San Francisco and is recruiting drivers for Seattle and New York.

Its 14-seat van appeared, with a bicycle, in an unorthodox Super Bowl adwhere Ford promoted holistic mobility, rather than its latest auto design.

CEO Ali Vahabzadeh said his first phase is the enterprise market, where businesses, hospitals and nonprofits arrange and pay for “first- and last-mile” routes. Possibilities include shuttles to Colman Dock or King Street Station.

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Chariot will eventually invite commuters to campaign online for routes, a form of crowdsourcing. A group in Renton might request a direct trip to Seattle, he said.

“As soon as we get a critical mass of people, we launch a twice-daily service during commuter hours. We’re providing service where people want us.”

Chariot is vertically integrated — from Ford-supplied vans to the employee drivers, to phone apps — so it can carry people inexpensively, at a typical fare near $4, he said. Vans here will be wheelchair accessible.

Chariot would both supplement and compete with…

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