The organizers of Green Apple Bikes started a new downtown shuttle program called DASH (for Downtown Area Shuttle). The all-electric vehicle it’s using looks impossibly small to fit five passengers, and its rounded shape somehow makes it look like a toy, or not quite real.

But DASH certainly will become recognizable as people hail it for a ride on evenings and weekends. And we hope it will be a successful program. The low-speed vehicle is all electric, and it’s funded by donations. Furthermore, it will use volunteer drivers. And it’s free (though tipping is encouraged). Can’t complain about any of that.

The program is designed to operate in the city’s “urban core,” which basically means the areas in and between downtown and Aggieville. Those two commercial districts have competed in one way or another since they were built. Aggieville, mostly known for its bars and restaurants, has always had the advantage of being campus-adjacent. Downtown tended to have more retail stores.

And this is not the first time there’s been transportation to connect the two areas. From 1909 to 1928, the city operated a streetcar system to take people back and forth. Later, that was replaced by a bus system.

Manhattan has grown, and in the last 10 years the downtown area has seen a sort of revival. The city is clearly big enough to support both thriving districts. If this shuttle contributes to that, great. If along the way it eases parking congestion and reduces fuel emissions in some small way, even better.

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