100% electric transportation alternative debuts in Scottsdale
By: Alison Bailin Batz
This month, GEST Carts – which stands for Green, Easy, Safe Transportation – will make its debut in Scottsdale.
The 100% electric carts operate similar to car transportation services like Uber or Lyft but at a local (and locally owned), micro level. Scottsdale riders can “call” a cart through the mobile app – downloadable through the Apple Store and Google Play Store – that tracks driver locations and estimated arrival times. The vehicles are able to drive on main roads, keeping with the flow of traffic – but in a much more sustainable and enjoyable way than traditional transportation.
Local business leader and active Thunderbird Jason Pritchett invested in the forward-thinking business in 2022 with a plan to bring it to the Valley in 2023.
“I learned of the business model thanks to my brother – and now business partner – Japheth, who saw the Black-owned brand explode on the scene in other markets,” says Pritchett, who is also an attorney and president of Radix Law Firm in Phoenix. “Since 2018 alone, GEST Carts debuted across Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, Denver, and Las Vegas. Given our thriving nightlife and event schedule, together we knew the Valley was ready for something like this, too.”
When researching the business, beyond the obvious environmental benefits, the Pritchett brothers loved that, though open-air, each GEST Cart offers seat belts, air conditioning, and even heat for guests – something lacking in various modes of alternative transportation in Old Town Scottsdale’s popular Entertainment District. In addition, rides on GEST Carts are 100% free to riders.
According to Pritchett, rides are free thanks to partnerships with businesses and events who advertise on the GEST Carts.
There are currently six GEST Carts in operation in Scottsdale. GEST Carts may travel up to 35 miles per hour and are currently cruising between Hayden Road to the east, 58th Street to the west, Chapparal to the north, and Osborn to the south. Pritchett expects GEST Carts to be particularly popular among those who live or are staying at hotels or rentals in the area and traveling to the ample entertainment options in the region, as well as those enjoying events around the Super Bowl, Barrett Jackson, Spring Training, and – of course – the WM Phoenix Open.
Given that passenger cars and trucks are a significant source of global warming, switching from gasoline to electricity is a vital contribution to reducing emissions and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency reports that a typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. This means that GEST Carts will eliminate nearly 30 metric tons of carbon dioxide in its first year alone, and likely more as the business expands. By year’s end, Pritchett expects to expand further into Scottsdale and into Tempe to bring safe alternative transportation options to major events, with eyes on downtown Phoenix and the East Valley, as well. He plans to make all of this happen while running his business, taking care of his family, and serving as an active Thunderbird, as well.
“One other critical element that means the world to me: while GEST Carts are both cheaper and greener than rideshare and safer and more comfortable than golf carts, we think GEST Carts can also lower the incidence of drunk driving, especially among those who incorrectly assume they ‘are fine’ to drive after a few beers,” says Pritchett. “One, as too many people find out too late, is always too many to get behind the wheel.”
While statistics are not yet available for 2022, the Arizona Department of Transportation’s most recent Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report noted that alcohol was a factor in 5,620 crashes, which was the highest number since 2009, when there were 5,905 alcohol-related collisions. Alcohol-related traffic deaths were up as well, by 6.5%, the report said, rising from 228 in 2020 to 243 in 2021.
“We hope to make a positive impact on the environment while helping folks get home safely and creating jobs for fellow Arizonans for years to come,” says Pritchett.
Like GEST Scottsdale, GEST Chicago, GEST Detroit, GEST Denver, GEST Charlotte and GEST Vegas Strip are all Black-owned, with GEST Denver being LGBTQ- and veteran-owned.