Student’s Corner

Green Raiteros: Bringing Sustainable Mobility Justice to Low-Income Communities

In Huron, California, a remarkable initiative is taking place that aims to address the lack of access to zero-emission vehicles in low-income communities. The Green Raiteros, an electric vehicle (EV) ride-sharing program, provides free transportation to medical appointments for low-income residents, many of whom are elderly. This innovative project not only tackles transportation barriers but also confronts environmental injustices faced by marginalized communities. By offering clean and convenient transportation options, the Green Raiteros exemplify the concept of “mobility justice.”

Huron is a small agricultural city with a predominantly Latino population, located in California’s Central Valley. Despite being close to Fresno, one of the state’s major cities, Huron is too remote for popular ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. The lack of public transit options has significantly affected the community’s mobility, particularly for those who cannot afford private vehicles. Moreover, the prevalence of diesel trucks and other sources of pollution in the area has disproportionately impacted low-income residents.

The Green Raiteros program was launched in 2018 by the Latino Equity Advocacy & Policy Institute, a nonprofit founded by Rey León, the mayor of Huron. Inspired by the tradition of ride-sharing in Latino communities, Mr. León sought to provide accessible and eco-friendly transportation options to the city’s residents. With funding from private foundations, settlements, and grants, the program acquired EVs, including Teslas, Chevys, Volkswagens, and BMWs.

Green Raiteros has transformed mobility in Huron. The program strategically placed 30 charging stations throughout the city, allowing residents to conveniently charge the EVs. For individuals who previously relied on expensive and unreliable gas-powered vehicles, this initiative has been life-changing. With improved air quality and reduced transportation costs, the program has empowered residents to prioritize their health and well-being.

Similar efforts to increase access to cleaner transportation options are taking place across California, New York, and other regions. The federal government has allocated $700 million in grants to local governments for setting up charging infrastructure in underserved areas as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This growing momentum and support reflect society’s recognition of the importance of mobility justice and environmental equity.

Nonprofit EV ride-sharing programs face challenges regarding long-term financial sustainability and scalability. While subsidies and grants have supported initiatives like Green Raiteros, securing ongoing funding and insurance coverage can be daunting. However, recent developments, such as legislative changes in New York allowing nonprofit car-sharing programs to pool insurance, indicate progress in overcoming these obstacles.

The Green Raiteros program in Huron, California, represents a beacon of hope for low-income communities seeking cleaner transportation alternatives. By providing free rides to medical appointments using EVs, the initiative promotes mobility justice and addresses the environmental disparities experienced by marginalized populations. As similar programs emerge across the country, supported by government grants and community collaboration, the vision of equitable access to clean transportation for all is becoming a reality. Through initiatives like the Green Raiteros, we can work towards a future where transportation is not a luxury but a fundamental right for everyone.


Photo by Stephen Mease on Unsplash

Written by Carole Wilay ’25