The proposal, Ulster Connect, has been awarded a Phase One grant through the New York Clean Transportation Prizes’ “Clean Neighborhoods Challenge.” Ulster County would be one of the only Counties in the State to offer on-demand, electric microtransit.
March 14, 2022 (Ulster County, NY) — Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan announced today that a proposal to bring affordable, convenient, electric microtransit, on-demand through a mobile app, to Kingston and Ellenville has been selected as a Phase One Awardee in a statewide grant program. The proposal, Ulster Connect, has been awarded a Phase One grant through the New York Clean Transportation Prizes’ “Clean Neighborhoods Challenge.” The proposal is a joint initiative between Ulster County, Sustainable Hudson Valley, Family of Woodstock, and Via, the global leader in TransitTech, and will be the first mobility service of its kind in the county.
“Ulster County is excited to partner with Via to provide residents of the county access to clean, on-demand, electric transit,” County Executive Pat Ryan said. “Our innovative proposal has moved to the next round and we are one step closer to providing quick, efficient, and energy-smart transit to residents in the Kingston and Ellenville areas.”
"Via is proud to partner with Ulster County, a recognized leader for sustainability in New York State, to use our TransitTech software to expand access to mobility in underserved communities,” Head of Public Policy at Via Andrei Greenawalt said. “Via will work with Ulster County and community partners to ensure clean, affordable, and convenient transportation is available to those who need it most.”
Within the Ulster Connect microtransit app, Via’s intelligent algorithms will enable riders to book a ride to a location within the Kingston and Ellenville region, and then direct them to a “virtual bus stop” within a short walking distance – allowing for quick, efficient shared trips that provide more flexibility than traditional public transit fixed routes and schedules. To underscore Ulster County’s commitment to accessibility, riders without smartphones will be able to book a ride through phoning a call center.
In addition to the electrified microtransit service, the Ulster Connect program will also leverage community perspectives to inform the development of a smartphone app to make it easier for residents to plan and book efficient travel itineraries that use multiple modes of sustainable transportation (such as Ulster Connect, bikeshare, and existing electrified buses).
The Clean Transportation Prizes is supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and aims to fund programs that electrify transportation, reduce air pollution, and enhance clean mobility for disadvantaged communities in New York State. As one of 17 projects announced through Phase One of the competition, Ulster Connect is eligible to compete for up to $85 million in grand prizes under Phase Two. The project proposal will receive a Phase One award package of up to $200,000, including a $100,000 planning grant for further proposal development, up to $50,000 in funding for community partners, and up to $50,000 in in-kind support from technical experts.
Ulster Connect will be able to compete for a final grand prize for the Clean Neighborhoods Challenge, which will award up to three $10 million grand prizes through Phase Two to innovative projects that address air pollution reduction at scale in underserved communities. As selected project teams finalize their proposals, they will prepare for a pitch competition to be held in the summer of 2022 with grand prize winners expected to be announced in late summer 2022.
Last month, Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan announced that Ulster County Area Transit (UCAT) put its first three electric buses on the road, which were purchased with funding from the New York Truck Voucher Incentive Program (NYTVIP), administered by New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA). The addition of three electric buses brings the number of green vehicles in Ulster County’s fleet to approximately 9% - major progress towards the County’s aggressive Green Fleet policy goal of 20% green by 2025 - with nine more buses scheduled to be replaced with electric buses in the coming years.
About Ulster County
Ulster County is geographically about the size of the state of Rhode Island. It’s 90 miles north of Manhattan, between the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountains. We have 180,000 full-time residents plus an influx of visitors on the weekends. Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan, who is serving his third year in office, is a fifth-generation Ulster County resident. After graduating from Kingston High School, Pat attended West Point and served two combat tours in Iraq as an Army intelligence officer. After leaving the military, he founded a small technology company, which he grew to over 150 employees. Pat lives in Gardiner with his wife, Rebecca, and their two sons, Theo and Cameron, and their two rescue cats.
Via builds innovative software to enable our customers—cities, transit agencies, transport operators, school districts, universities, and corporations—to transform their legacy transportation systems into advanced digital networks. As pioneers of the TransitTech category, Via’s mission is to expand access to efficient, affordable, and sustainable transportation. Via’s software enables organizations to digitize their existing transportation networks and launch new and innovative services, simultaneously lowering operating costs and increasing quality of service. Our software is used in over 500 communities in more than 35 countries around the world.