Transportation deserts get a lift from collaboration between NYU Tandon and Dollaride

NYU Tandon’s C2SMART Center supports Urban Future Lab member Dollaride in collecting and analyzing data as part of $10 million grant

a white van with a gas nozzle in tank

BROOKLYN, New York, January 24, 2023 – Millions of New Yorkers live in “transit deserts” — areas in which public transportation is not easily accessed — but a major grant from New York State means Dollaride, in collaboration with Tandon’s C2SMART Center (the Connected Cities for Smart Mobility Toward Accessible and Resilient Transportation), will help fill that gap with environmentally-friendly electric vehicles.

In November 2022, Dollaride was awarded $10 million for its Clean Transit Access Program (CTAP) under the $85 million New York Clean Transportation Prizes program at the culmination of a state-wide competition to find and launch programs that address air pollution and deliver new clean transportation solutions to New York communities with few transit options.

Founded at NYU Tandon’s Urban Future Lab (UFL) in 2017, Dollaride is a technology platform that efficiently connects “dollar vans” — unofficial shuttles that have long served New York City neighborhoods with minimal subway, bus or other public transportation —  and their drivers with riders who rely on them.

The New York Clean Transportation Prizes program, administered by the New York State Energy Research Development Authority (NYSERDA), funds the electrification of these fleets, accelerating the transition away from polluting gas-powered vehicles. C2SMART will work with Dollaride to collect and analyze data necessary to shape the program and measure its impact.

Since being designated as a Tier 1 University Transportation Center by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2016, C2SMART has collaborated with companies on new products and services that make transportation more efficient and environmentally friendly.

Its work with Dollaride is the latest example of C2SMART leveraging its cutting-edge research capabilities to help improve public transportation and reduce its environmental impact. It runs the Network of Living Labs to evaluate new technologies and policies in New York City and other cities, and has conducted research supporting NYC Clean Fleetelectric car sharing in New York City, Brooklyn’s public bus system, and “micro-transit” — minibuses serving passengers on demand.  

“Our track record helping solve problems related to modern urban transportation challenges is excellent preparation for our Dollaride work,” said Joseph Chow, Associate Professor in the NYU Tandon Department of Civil & Urban Engineering and the Deputy Director at the C2SMART. “Our teams have long been focused on unearthing new ways that transportation can improve cities’ infrastructure and the lives of people who live there. We’re so pleased to continue that commitment through our Dollaride collaboration.”

“Tandon has been instrumental in Dollaride’s growth and success, and we are thrilled that it is among the coalition that will make CTAP a reality,” said Su Sanni, Co-founder and CEO, Dollaride. While at UFL, Sanni said Chow and other CSMART resources helped to accelerate the company’s growth. “The team at C2Smart is uniquely positioned to give us crucial data and measurement tools critical to building and developing the program.”

NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, “New York Clean Transportation Prize winner Dollaride’s partnership with NYU Tandon will provide the data needed to connect more New Yorkers to essential transit services. Their innovative all-electric shuttle service is a model that can be replicated and scaled across the state—helping to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and improving local air quality while supporting clean transportation solutions for underserved communities.”

Situating UFL within NYU Tandon allows for Tandon’s areas of research excellence to help fuel the creation and innovation of new products and services being brought to market.  In addition, ACRE, the cleantech incubator within the UFL, brings together various start-ups that allows for synergies among them that further discovery.

HEVO, a wireless charging equipment and software company and a Future Labs alumni, will power the CTAP’s charging infrastructure.  BlocPower, another alum of the Future Labs, is providing financing. Build Edison is project managing the program. All of the companies involved are New York City-based, and minority-, veteran- or woman-owned, representing a unique collaboration that, said Sanni, is relevant and inspiring to underserved communities.

The first electric fleets and EV charging stations are planned for delivery to Brooklyn and Queens in late 2023. The program will then expand to other NYC transit deserts in 2024 and 2025, with a long-term goal of expanding this highly scalable model of clean mobility to other cities in New York State and around the world.


About Dollaride

Dollaride optimizes existing dollar van networks and enables drivers and riders to connect and transact via smartphones.


About the New York University Tandon School of Engineering

The NYU Tandon School of Engineering dates to 1854, the founding date for both the New York University School of Civil Engineering and Architecture and the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute. A January 2014 merger created a comprehensive school of education and research in engineering and applied sciences as part of a global university, with close connections to engineering programs at NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai. NYU Tandon is rooted in a vibrant tradition of entrepreneurship, intellectual curiosity, and innovative solutions to humanity’s most pressing global challenges. Research at Tandon focuses on vital intersections between communications/IT, cybersecurity, and data science/AI/robotics systems and tools and critical areas of society that they influence, including emerging media, health, sustainability, and urban living. We believe diversity is integral to excellence, and are creating a vibrant, inclusive, and equitable environment for all of our students, faculty and staff. For more information, visit