A new ride share program is bringing the convenience of services like Uber and Lyft to rural valley communities. The service known “Van y Vienen” is aiming to help residents who lack easy transportation options.
The program launched Wednesday in Cantua Creek and El Porvenir, two unincorporated communities in western Fresno County. Both lack grocery stores and medical clinics and have little cell phone service. Until recently, locals without cars have relied on neighbors to get around.
Now, says Erica Fernandez with the Leadership Counsel for Social Justice and Accountability, residents will be able to call and reserve rides in an all-electric 7-seat Tesla van.
"It’s very special in the sense that it's empowering communities that have usually been neglected," she says. "Because they are unincorporated, they've been struggling to make sure they fulfill their basic needs."
Amanda Monaco, also of the Leadership Counsel, says these communities developed the program themselves, with technical support from local non-profits and a grant from the 11th Hour Project.
"As soon as the Tesla van pulled up, everyone started cheering and clapping," she says. "It's going to be really exciting to see residents really take ownership of this program."
A 90-mile roundtrip ride to Fresno will cost $10. Shorter trips will cost even less.