With limited parking spaces, unreliable Uber drivers, and confusing public transit schedules, transportation around USC and the greater Los Angeles area is often a difficult task. The URB-E Mobility Hub, set to open in the USC Village this summer, aims to provide students and faculty with the information and tools to help make their commutes and travel times a little easier.
Evan Saunders, URB-E’s head of sales and marketing, hoped that the mobility hub would transform the way USC students think about transportation and equip them with the necessary information to get the most out of their own commutes.
“We’ve been working with USC for about 15, 16 months now on the planning and execution,” Saunders said. “The mobility hub is all about providing visitors with transportation options that really help them efficiently commute, both in and around and outside of the USC campus. We understand that people have commutes of all shapes and sizes. The mobility hub is a resource, an innovation center, to help empower students and faculty with transportation options that help save time and money.”
According to Saunders, URB-E is the first and only manufacturer of light, foldable electric vehicles, and is a more efficient and compact alternative to a bicycle. URB-E’s CEO and cofounder, Peter Lee, graduated with a master’s from the Marshall School of Business. When offered the opportunity to set up a space in the USC Village, Lee jumped at the chance to work in conjunction with his alma mater.
“The school came to us because URB-E is an expert in urban mobility: getting around places and relieving congestion,” Lee said. “USC came to us and asked if they could create a partnership to develop a mobility hub that would allow students and faculty to get around the University and the city more efficiently.”
But the mobility hub won’t solely be dedicated to showcasing the URB-E vehicles. The sleek, high-tech space will employ TVs and tablets that will allow visitors to learn more about people’s individual commutes as well as gather information for reducing their own commute time. URB-E also plans to employ USC students to assist with potential customers.
“The vision was to create a warm and exciting space,” Saunders said. “We have a very forward thinking space. We’ll showcase transportation around campus via videos, photos, big monitors, iPads Pros that are interactive, that you can take off the wall. We’ll have URB-Es there that people can test ride and purchase.”
Sophia Greenberg, a junior majoring in economics, is an intern for URB-E. When tasked with doing research on all the different transportation options that the University has to offer, Greenberg was surprised to find just how numerous they were.
“I was in charge of looking up everything USC has to offer, and I was surprised to learn so many things that I didn’t know,” Greenberg said. “For example, that there’s an Enterprise Rent-a-Car on campus, and they’ll waive your minor status as a renter on campus. They’ll waive that fee, and I wish more people knew that.”
Greenberg hoped that the URB-E mobility hub would become a valuable resource for the student body. She believed that arming students with such information would push them to explore beyond campus and more easily take advantage of everything Los Angeles has to offer.
“I really hope that students will be able to take advantage of it,” Greenberg said. “I’m so happy that it’s in the [USC] Village, right in the middle of everything. I think it will serve as a good starting point for people who are interested in what L.A. is all about.”