An Asheville company hopes to bring a new – and free – way to get around downtown Raleigh.
Michael Trambino, owner and CEO of Slidr, told the Raleigh City Council on Tuesday about the company, which offers free, short-distance rides in electric vehicles.
It’s unclear if the council will approve the idea, but members told Trambino to meet with the city’s transportation staff. The company gets money through advertising on cars, but it would also be partly funded by the city.
“This sounds pretty cool,” Mayor Nancy McFarlane said before Tuesday’s presentation.
Trambino, 26, describes Slidr as “a safe, easy, reliable, more efficient way to get around town.” The service is meant to be a happy medium between walking and taking a taxi or using an on-demand car service like Uber to go to grocery stores, restaurants or bars.
Up to five people can ride in each of Slidr’s Polaris GEM electric vehicles, which can travel about 26 miles per hour. In Asheville, the cars go within a 3-mile radius of downtown, and drivers work for tips.
“With more businesses coming to Raleigh and more traffic downtown, there’s a growing need for this kind of service,” Trambino said in an interview. “It’s intended to reduce traffic congestion and help people get around.”
Council member Kay Crowder noted that the city recently approved a bike-sharing program that will place about 300 bicycles for rent at 30 stations throughout downtown. The service is expected to begin in late 2017.
“We just approved BikeShare, and I heard BikeShare was our last mile of mobility,” Crowder said. “Would we not be in direct competition with something we just said yes to?”
Since Slidr launched in Asheville in October, Trambino said, the service has provided more than 2,000 rides. Currently, users call the company to hitch a ride, but he said a ride-request app should be available by Christmas.
Trambino said he dreamed of starting his own company for years. He graduated from Catawba College in Rowan County in 2013 with degrees in business administration and economics and finance.
After graduating, he worked for Northwestern Mutual and SmartProcure, a business management consulting company. Last January, he began the process of starting Slidr after seeing a similar idea at a trade show.
“It seemed very viable and fixed a need,” Trambino said. “There was nothing else like it.”
Madison Iszler: 919-836-4952; @madisoniszler