COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Linden resident Marvin Williams relies on buses and bicycles to get around. He knows the struggle of inner-city transportation.
“The business that I might have to get to might be maybe 2 miles away from the bus stop, so I have to use my bike in order to get there,” Williams said
Linden is one of the areas targeted for improvement through Smart Columbus, a program to make Columbus what Mayor Andrew Ginther calls the “Silicon Valley of intelligent transportation systems.”
In June, when the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that Columbus had won the Smart Cities contest, the city had grants and local matching funds totaling $140 million.
Today Ginther announced the financial commitment to Smart Columbus from public and private sources has grown to $417 million.
One of the private partners investing heavily in Smart Columbus is AEP. CEO Nick Akins says the company sees this investment as the tip of the spear for its strategy for the future.
“When you can connect people within the community, through transportation, through communication, it’s going to be a great opportunity for Columbus to excel,” Akins said.
Smart Columbus plans include electric charging stations throughout the city, thousands of buses and cars connected through vehicle-to-vehicle communication and autonomous vehicles.
One of the ideas is for driverless shuttles at Easton that would allow employees who ride a COTA bus to the Easton transit center to then grab a shuttle to take them that last mile or so to their job.
Mayor Andrew Ginther says the goal is to use technology and innovation to improve the way residents connect to basic needs including employment, health care and quality food.
Sam Spofforth at Clean Fuels Ohio drives an electric car to and from work every day. He says adding charging stations throughout the city and educating consumers about electric vehicles has tremendous upside for Columbus.
“That’s going to help us transform our market here and as we do that we will really become a model,” Spofforth said.
Mayor Ginther said Wednesday he has now set a goal of raising $1 billion for Smart Columbus by 2020.