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Electric Car-Share Program Coming Soon to Rural Oregon

The small town of Hood River, Ore., has decided that it will participate in a new pilot project that will launch a plug-in electric car-share program, which is a relatively unusual thing for rural jurisdictions.

Hood River, Ore. will soon take part in an electric vehicle car-share program, where EVs will be placed around town, easily rented for minutes or hours via an app.

The project, known as the Clean Rural Shared Electric Mobility Project (CRuSE), is a collective effort by the U.S. Department of Energy; Hood River; Envoy, an electric vehicle car-share platform; Hood River Columbia Area Transit; and Port of Hood River and Forth, an Oregon-based nonprofit advocating for “clean, electric and shared mobility.”

“I believe that if we’re going to clean up the transportation sector, then it has to start everywhere. We can’t rely on early adopters anymore,” said Kelly Yearick, program manager at Forth. “And I think rural communities have just as much, if not more, to benefit from electric transportation."

The plug-in electric cars will be managed and operated by Envoy, which will locate them strategically around town, targeting areas like multi-family affordable housing, where residents may not have ready and available access to cars.

Part of the goal here is to provide access to transportation for residents who otherwise might not have it.

“We’re really hopeful that this will provide an opportunity for families living in affordable housing units in Hood River to have access to transportation, and therefore really access to social mobility that maybe they didn’t have before,” Yearick said.

Costs for the car-share have not been set, but Forth officials are lobbying for the service to be used by the affordable housing community to get set at a below-market rate, making it more accessible for lower-income residents.