By Shirley Hawkins
LEIMERT PARK — Residents can now access a fun and alternative way to travel throughout the city.
Circuit, an electric shuttle bus service funded by the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, has been providing rides for the public at little or no cost in the city and county of Los Angeles since November 2020.
“Circuit was selected by the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator and the community to operate the service,” said Alyssa Haerle, director of transit development at Circuit.
The pilot program is an attempt to bring the benefits of the green economy to disadvantaged communities, promote better air quality and reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.
The service, which is 100% electric and eco-friendly, is particularly helpful for local residents who may not own a car but still need a method of transportation to meet appointments or run errands in an area underserved by public transportation. By downloading and accessing the Circuit app, residents can either flag down a Circuit shuttle or request a ride on-demand.
“We have found that many of our riders use the service to get food at grocery stores, restaurants and farmers markets and do local shopping,” Haerle said. “They can also use our service to get to health care, vaccine appointments, and local events, such as Juneteenth.
“We also have riders that regularly use our service to connect to transit to get to work in Santa Monica, Marina del Rey or Venice. This saves them money compared to using Uber or Lyft, or their own vehicle.”
“The issues of racial, economic and climate justice are inextricably linked,” said Matt Petersen, president and CEO of Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator. “Working hand-in-hand with one of Los Angeles’ historically Black communities, it’s our goal to create an inclusive green economy. Launching this fourth community pilot in Leimert Park was quite special, especially because of the extraordinary input we got from so many community leaders who we are proud to call partners.”
“It’s indisputable that the impacts of pollution are profound and that we need to move with a sense of urgency in our transition to cleaner, greener mobility solutions,” said L.A. City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas.
“I’m proud that not only are we piloting this potentially impactful initiative in Leimert Park with LACI, but that we’re doing it in a way that engages our entrepreneurs and supports our local workforce. We don’t have to choose between a healthy environment and good jobs. We can and we must have both.”
With the pandemic still a concern for many across the country, the colorful buses follow strict COVID-19 guidelines. All shuttles are professionally managed and cleaned, partitions have been placed between seating rows and riders can enter through their own door and access their own window.
Ben Caldwell, the CEO of the artist enclave KAOS Network, was one of the lead artists who helped to design the Circuit shuttle as part of Sankofa City, an Afrocentric art community that is currently being planned for Leimert Park.
Caldwell said that the Circuit shuttle is the first step in Sankofa City providing first and last mile transportation to the Leimert Park area.
“I have ridden in the Circuit shuttle and it provides curb-to-curb service,” Caldwell said. “For those in our community who don’t have cars, this helps to provide transportation from their home to the grocery store and hospitals and back home again. We designed the colorful exterior of the Circuit shuttles to have the color similarities to African Kente cloth.
“We are talking about the future transportation and ownership of our neighborhood,” Caldwell added. “You can call this vehicle and it can take you to the future [rail line] stop that will be opening within the year.”
Leimert Park service hours for the Circuit are Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p. m.; Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.;
Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Residents can text ahead for a ride at (310) 737-2299 and access the website at www.ridecircuit.com.
Shirley Hawkins is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.