A pilot program set in underserved and low-income communities in Stockton has begun placing electric cars and bikes in the city in an attempt to increase transportation equity, according to the San Joaquin Council of Governments.

The Stockton Mobility Collective pilot program, which debuted in August, consists of e-bike sharing, car sharing services, and an app that connects people to affordable and sustainable transportation options in the county, according to the SJCOG.

Additionally, the program includes a mobility incentive program where a monthly stipend is given to qualifying residents to pay for transit use as well as a workforce development part that will focus on creating jobs in shared mobility operations, according to the SJCOG.

“This is an exciting opportunity that is a first-ever deployment in San Joaquin County … specifically talking about electric car share, and electric bike share,” said Diane Nguyen, executive director for the San Joaquin Council of Governments.

Partners for the program include the Housing Authority of the County of San Joaquin, San Joaquin Regional Transit District, Institute for Local Government, Míocar, Mobility Development Group, Sigala Inc., and the UC Davis Institute for Transportation Studies.

Nguyen said the goal for the project is to bring transit and transportation options for people in disadvantaged communities so they may travel throughout the region to doctor appointments, work, school, and grocery stores.

As of this month, there were three Nissan Leaf cars at Conway Homes, located at 741 Flint Ave., and one Chevrolet Bolt vehicle at Grand Canal located at March Lane near the county’s housing authority.

Drivers with a clean driving record can either rent the electric cars for $4 an hour or $35 for the entire day using the Míocar app and are not restricted to staying inside the county, according to the SJCOG.

Rates for the weekend would increase to $45 a day to rent the cars.

An introduction to the Míocar car sharing program in San Joaquin County. (Video courtesy of Míocar/YouTube)

When signing up, users will be charged a $20 membership fee that covers insurance, car charging, maintenance and roadside assistance.

However, the money will be given back to users to use as driving credit, according to Christine Corrales, the senior regional planner for SJCOG.

Surpassing expectations

Data showed that last month, 91 trips were made utilizing the car sharing app, according to the director of administration for the county’s housing authority, Tom Gerber.

Gerber said the utilization has surpassed what the housing authority had anticipated and has provided transportation that helps build self-sufficiency for residents.

Next year in March the pilot program will make 100 electric-assist smart bikes available for people to use at multiple locations throughout Stockton.

Nguyen said the bikes are a transportation system to address first and last mile for transit, meaning that it will find choices of transportation for residents to use the bike when riding to a bus stop and giving them an opportunity to get another bike after the bus ride to reach their destination.

Corrales said residents could use the mobility incentive program stipend to pay for their transit use with the bus, bike sharing and car sharing to help alleviate some of the transportation costs.

Vehicle booking information is displayed on the Míocar networks smartphone app. The Stockton Mobility Collective pilot program is using the app to connect people to affordable and sustainable transportation options in San Joaquin County. (Photo by Harika Maddala/Bay City News/Catchlight Local)

Funding from the program, which will end in 2025, was given by the Sustainable Transportation Equity Project Implementation Grant from the California Air Resources Board for a total of $7.4 million.

Nguyen said because only three agencies statewide were funded the pilot program is the only one of its kind in Northern California.

Peter Ragsdale, executive director of the county housing authority, said they helped pursue some of the funding for the project and have residents who will benefit from using the program.

“We know that transportation connects us all and transportation gets us to work, school, doctor’s visits, shopping, and everybody needs to get to where they need to go in some manner,” said Nguyen. “By providing these options in disadvantaged communities, we are hoping that it can grow beyond this grant beyond 2025.”

Victoria Franco is a reporter based in Stockton covering San Joaquin County for Bay City News Foundation and its nonprofit news site Local News Matters. She is a Report for America corps member.