Within a year or so, it will be much easier to live, work and play in Hillsboro without owning a car.

Residents and visitors will simply swing by a strategically located “mobility hub” to rent a short-term bike or shared car — or to find a taxi or car pool. Some will be near the westside MAX line, allowing for easy connections from stations to homes, jobs, shopping and recreation.

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Electric vehicle charging stations are located at the Hillsboro Intermodul Transit Facility, 775 S.E. Baseline.At least, that’s the vision of Hillsboro GoPoint, a program that has been discussed within city government for several months. Although it is still in the early planning stage, GoPoint made national news on Nov. 5 when it was selected as one of 20 finalists for the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge.

The competition features a grand prize of $5 million and four additional $1 million prizes. According to Hillsboro Sustainability Manager Peter Brandom, winning a $1 million prize could assure the opening of more than a dozen GoPoint hubs.

“We’re only seeking a $1 million prize to get started. Of course, if we win the grand prize, we could a lot more,” says Brandom.

One other Oregon city, Springfield, is also a finalist.

The challenge was created by New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and funded through his charitable organization, Bloomberg Philanthropies. It was created to advance five areas — the arts, education, the environment, government innovation and public health. Bloomberg has donated $2.4 billion to a variety of organizations and causes to date, $300 million in 2011.

The challenge is intended to inspire cities to generate bold ideas to solve city challenges. More than 300 cities across the county submitted proposals this year. Hillsboro and Springfield were the only two selected from Oregon.

“We are incredibly honored and excited to be a finalist. GoPoint Hillsboro is a bold idea because it seamlessly integrates travel hubs with web, mobile and on-site applications to offer individualized travel options,” Mayor Jerry Willey said when the city was named as a finalist.

Connected to a hub

According to the city’s application, Hillsboro GoPoint is a “suburban transportation solution” that will use a multi-modul hub network to seamlessly connect public and private transportation options.

Among other things, according to the application, it is intended to offer access to “last mile” transportation options in areas served by light rail but lacking a more extensive mass transit system.

“There’s a perception that suburban communities, like Hillsboro, don’t have the transportation/land-use infrastructure necessary to sustain the use of multi-modul transportation options. Hillsboro intends to change this paradigm through a program called GoPoint,” according to the application.

City officials wrote that Internet applications would be developed to allow people to schedule bikes, cars and other transportation options before arriving at a hubs. That will allow them to confirm their schedules in advance.

But connections can also be made at the hubs without previous arrangements.

“We don’t want to exclude anyone because they don’t have a computer or smart phone. Income shouldn’t be a barrier,” Brandom says.

Going to Ideas Camp

Although there are many details yet to be worked out, the program already has the support of much of the business community, including the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce, the Westside Economic Alliance, Intel, TriQuint and Kaiser. It is also supported by representatives of the low-income community, including Open Door Counseling, and alternative transportation advocates and providers, including the Westside Transportation Alliance, RideAmigos, Getaround, Car2Go, Ride Connection and others.

According to Brandom, an example of a GoPoint hub already exists. It is the Hillsboro Intermodul Transit Facility, a joint project of the city, Tuality Healthcare and Pacific University at 775 S.E. Baseline.

A sustainably designed building along the MAX line, it houses 794 parking spaces on five floors, 13 state-of-the-art electric vehicle charging stations, and the region’s first bicycle commuter station, BikeStation Hillsboro.

The building also includes ground-floor retail space and is home to Portland Community College’s Hillsboro Education Center. It has won a number of awards for design and sustainability.

A team from Hillsboro traveled to New York this week to attend Bloomberg Ideas Camp, a two-day gathering during which city teams worked collaboratively with each other and experts to further refine their ideas.

After the camp, all teams will have access to additional technical support to prepare their ideas for final submission. Winners will be announced in spring 2013, with a total of $9 million going to five cities to jump-start implementation of their ideas.

According to Brandom, even if Hillsboro GoPoint does not win one of the cash rewards, the project will still go forward because of its potential benefits and community support.

The 20 finalists are Boston; Chicago; Cincinnati; Durham, N.C.; High Point, N.C.; Hillsboro; Houston; Indianapolis; Knoxville; Lafayette, La.; Lexington, Ky.; Milwaukee; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Providence, R.I.; Saint Paul, Minn.; San Francisco; Santa Monica; Springfield, Ore.; and Syracuse, N.Y.