Transportation

City of Houston to expand ride-share program in Third Ward to Second Ward, other neighborhoods

Community members are provided free rides to places like the grocery store, doctor’s appointments, pharmacies, and other locations. About 30% of households in Third Ward do not have a vehicle. 

Ryde Third Ward
Ryde
An electric vehicle operated by Ryde transports passengers in Houston’s Third Ward neighborhood.

More free ride-share services are coming to some of Houston’s most under-served communities after the success of a pilot program. Houston City Council approved $281,000 Wednesday to expand Ryde, a free on-demand electric shuttle service.

The program started in Third Ward this summer, where around 3,000 residents used the service each month, the city said. Ryde was awarded an E Mobility grant for four weeks by Evolve Houston, a nonprofit that focuses on improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by increasing the use of electric vehicles. With the help of additional funding from Council Member Carolyn Evans-Shabazz’s office, the program was expanded for an additional 12 weeks.

Community members were provided free rides to places like the grocery store, doctor’s appointments, pharmacies, and other locations. About 30% of households in Third Ward do not have a vehicle.

"It's exciting to see a Mayor and City Council get behind a true eco-friendly initiative aimed at providing critical transportation needs for underserved communities," said Evolve Houston President and Executive Director Casey Brown in a statement. "The program has seen amazing success in the Third Ward and now another historically underserved community will be able to benefit from a service that gets residents to and from in-town destinations for free."

The service will expand into Houston's ten complete communities, an initiative launched in 2017 to provide more equity and access to resources to neighborhoods often under-resourced. Second Ward in District H, will be the next community to receive two shuttles, in addition to the two in Third Ward. The program will be funded starting December 1, 2023 through July 31, 2024.

While the shuttle has been a great benefit to seniors, District D Council Member Carolyn Evans-Shazbazz said it's helped everyone in need of transportation.

"It’s been a tremendous help to the students at Texas Southern, the University of Houston as well," she said. “That’s the beauty of it is that it serves all of the community."

The shuttles can fit up to five passengers, traveling up to 25 mph. Seats are equipped with personal fans and cargo space in the back. The service will operate Monday – Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

To request a ride, residents have to download the Ryde Circuit app.

"The positive aspects of expanding RYDE's EV transportation initiative beyond Third Ward are twofold," said Mayor Turner in a statement. "The environmental impact of the low-emission vehicles coupled with the vital service it provides to underserved neighborhoods makes this a win-win decision for the City of Houston and its residents who are faced with transportation challenges."