In recent years, a grassroots initiative has made a difference in California’s Central Valley. The Green Raiteros program provides free and discounted rides to farm workers and other low-income workers in the area. The Latino Equity Advocacy & Policy (LEAP) Institute started the service in 2018 and has since grown to become an important part of the community’s transportation network.
Green Raiteros, named after the slang term “raite,” meaning to give someone a ride, has grown to become an integral part of the transportation network in the area.
The leader behind the initiative is Rey León, the founder of the LEAP Institute and Huron’s mayor, who recognized the need for a reliable transportation system in his city in 2018. The result has successfully provided transportation to those who most need it.
Launch of service expansion
In March 2023, Green Raiteros launched their newest set of electric vehicles for rides and presented Green Cruisers, adding tricycles and shuffle scooters as a new clean mobility option. The community could test-ride all vehicles before they could officially use the service.
The Clean Mobility Options (CMO) voucher allowed the program to increase its fleet with zero-emission vehicles and become a model for popular transportation in the state. The California State supports Green Raiteros and other community-led initiatives through a statewide public program funded by the California Air Resources Board and administered by CALSTART, the Shared-Use Mobility Center, and CivicWell.
CMO is a statewide public program that empowers under-resourced communities across California to better understand and overcome mobility obstacles with vouchers for funding community needs assessments and clean, shared zero-emission transportation projects.
How does Green Raiteros serve the community?
Green Raiteros continues to serve the community by improving access to grocery stores, work, school, and medical facilities in the areas surrounding Huron, Parlier, and Mendota. The service remains sustainable, free, and low-cost as it is driven by a mix of paid drivers and volunteers, often retired or semi-retired community members.
The service has made a real difference in people’s lives, including Don Goyo, a retired driver for the program who now uses it to get to his medical appointments. The elderly couple’s experience highlights the impact of Green Raiteros on people’s quality of life and underscores the importance of economic support for community-led initiatives.
SUMC’s team testing Green Cruisers’ tricycles and shuffle scooters.