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Car share company puts BMWs out for OHSU staff to get around the Hill when the Tram is not enough.

COURTESY: REACHNOW - One of the six BMW 3 series cars available for OHSU staff to use on campus starting June 4, 2019.

ReachNow on Tuesday June 4 announced a new partnership with Oregon Health & Science University to place six of its car share BMW3s on the campus for use by staff. The vehicles have dedicated parking spots in three OHSU parking garages. They can be driven off-campus but the journey can only be ended back at OHSU.

ReachNow cars cost around $15 an hour, or less if the journey is broken up by parking, which costs 10 cents a minute. Users must be OHSU-approved.

OHSU is Portland's largest employer and its campus is notoriously difficult to navigate, being split between cramped "Pill Hill" (Marquam Hill) and the South Waterfront with a freeway and several busy roads in between them. 20,000 people visit the campus every day.

Currently the waiting list for a staff parking pass is four years. One day of parking costs $15 in a garage on Marquam Hill and $9 at a lot at South Waterfront.

ReachNow already has dedicated parking spaces at Intel and Tektronix, but not a dedicated fleet. It also has three dedicated cars at an apartment building in Seattle called West Edge. Those cars only show up on the app for residents. Usage is highest on weekend and around 6 p.m. on weekdays, suggesting they are used for shopping. They have also found that ReachNow cars are often used around Bellevue for three or four hours at a time as work-from-home people go to meetings at tech companies.

COURTESY: REACHNOW - The three parking garages where ReachNow's 6 BMW fleet can be parked. The cars are just for OHSU staff and can be taken off campus but they must be returned there.

Fleet week

ReachNow head of marketing Laura Gonia said staff at OHSU do a lot of traveling between campus buildings that aren't well-served by the aerial tram. The cars are intended to be used for going to meetings and running errands during the work day. The goal is to reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicle trips coming to campus altogether.

"We share a common vision for improving mobility in Portland through access to shared-use vehicles that reduce trips with personal vehicles," said Gonia. OHSU's six cars are a "first pass" and the number may be increased once they analyze the usage data.

"We want to make sure they get driven enough, and that's there's not too many that they sit around all day."

"Making a fleet of ReachNow vehicles available will help us improve mobility between our Portland campuses and support OHSU's Transportation Demand Management goals," said Jenny Cadigan with OHSU Transportation and Parking.

IT'S COMPLICATED

ReachNow is a car-as-a-service pioneer that is now part of the new mobility services joint venture from the BMW Group and Daimler AG. These are 14 businesses they collectively own and are being formed into five new companies called REACH NOW for multimodal services, CHARGE NOW for charging, FREE NOW for taxi ride-hailing, PARK NOW for parking and SHARE NOW for car-sharing.

ReachNow is rebranding as REACH NOW and developing a global Mobility-as-a-Service platform in collaboration with moovel Group.

Moovel is the leading provider of mobile ticketing solutions in North America. It is a business-to-business operation. For example it powers the payment system behind the HOP passes on TriMet. (Moovel is also changing its name to REACH NOW.)

Two weeks ago, Portland-based Moovel bought Portland based startup Validated. The latter takes the traditional perk of retailers validating the parking of customers and turns it into a currency. Customers can use the Validated app to find partners stores. Depending on how much they spend there, they earn mobility credits to spend on car-share, ride-share, bike-share, mass transit, parking, including such brands as Lyft and Biketown.

COURTESY: MOOVEL/REACHNOW - Moovel (becoming REACHNOW) CEO Nat Parker says the deal with Validated make perfect sense for reducing congestion and enouraging multimodal travel.

Transportation credits

Moovel CEO Nat Parker said he met the Validated team in 2014 when they were called Parkt. "We had a commonality and have kept in touch ever since," Parker told the Business Tribune. "As luck would have their mission aligned with a key part of mobility vision."What moovel saw was a system that could convert different electronic "currencies" and make micropayments. Validated CTO Alex Wilhelm has been involved in bitcoin for years, even mining it in a small hydro-electric power plant operated by his father in Austria.

"Alex built a value store that allows differing modes of transportation to be redeemed," said Validated Co-Founder and CEO Tov Arneson. "We deal exclusively in transportation credits."

One area Validated has targeted in car dealerships. Instead of giving someone a rental car for a few days while theirs is being fixed, they can issue Lyft credits. This can work out cheaper for the dealer in terms of insurance and maintenance. Tesla is doing this.

"Our north star is the mobility as a service platform, getting people to use public transit and alternative transportation," says Parker. "We see Validated as a key piece, bring funding mechanisms into transportation that are powered by local businesses, employers and universities."

Validated will be a wholly owned subsidiary of REACH NOW. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The deal with OHSU is all about productivity: the hospital wants its highly-paid, highly-skilled staff to spend less time traveling.

The end of traffic jams

Validated was in the Jaguar-Land Rover incubator for a spell in Northwest Portland. More lately known as Innovation Labs, that folded in May 2019. Now they are part of Daimler, and by association, BMW.

Parker says the two companies have a similar feel for consumers.

"You need to have a B2B2C (business-to-business-to-consumer) mentality. We're constantly asking end users to come to the office and be interviewed to give feedback. That's why transit agencies trust us."

Parker added that electric scooters are a big part of Daimler and BMW's vison for multi-modal travel. "We look at them as mobility service providers, eating at those 3-to-5 mile trips that people were making. They're littering the sidewalk and breaking heads, but that's noise compared to what they're doing to reduce congestion."

Going back to OHSU, Parker adds, "Travel is about the destination, and in cities we must think about how mobility gets funded. Employers, retailers, universities and governments can all participate and subsidize mobility. If cities can drive people into modes that reduce congestion, they can also drive foot traffic to retail and create loyal customers."


Joseph Gallivan
Reporter, The Business Tribune
971-204-7874
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