on the road again

Houston university partners with local traffic app to promote eco-friendly rides

ConnectSmart, which launched in Houston in 2022, is a Houston-based app that uses live data from local transportation authorities to suggest better travel times, routes and transportation methods to users. Image via houstonconnectsmart.com

Rice University has partnered up with the Texas Department of Transportation's ConnectSmart program to help students find eco-friendly travel options in the Houston area.

ConnectSmart, which launched in Houston in 2022, is a Houston-based app that uses live data from local transportation authorities to suggest better travel times, routes and transportation methods to users. It also allows users to purchase bus and METRO tickets, and find BCycle e-bikes, directly in the app.

As of April 1, Rice students and those with a Rice email address can now sign up for ConnectSmart and will receive free or subsidized Metro QCards, according to an announcement from the university.

"ConnectSmart is an app that allows Rice users and people who sign up with their Rice email address to set up carpooling groups as well as figure out alternative means of transportation to and from wherever they’re going,” Kristianna Bowles, sustainability program coordinator in the Office of Sustainability, said in the statement. “That includes access to the METRORail, bus stops and cycling routes. It’s going to be a good tool for us to promote alternative and sustainable transportation features as well as increase equity, especially around our hourly employees who come in earlier in the morning or who may not have access to a vehicle.”

Bowles adds that the university also hopes ConnectSmart will help the Rice community explore the Greater Houston Area.

“Rice’s students are located in the heart of one of the largest cities in the country, so this helps foster students’ ability to explore Houston’s culture through foods, the arts and public events,” she added.

ConnectSmart also provides users with access to Tow and Go’s no-cost emergency roadside services, helps them connect with Houston's miles of bike lanes and connect multiple modes of transportation to beat Houston traffic. The new ConnectSmart Employer Commute Suite also aims to help workplaces increase their staff’s access to affordable and sustainable transportation, while also collecting data on commuting and decarbonization initiatives to incorporate into ESG reporting.

The app is the result of a partnership between TxDOT, the Federal Highway Administration , the Houston-Galveston Area Council, City of Houston, Houston METRO, Houston TranStar, Tow and Go, BCycle, Conroe Connection, Fort Bend Transit and Harris County Transit. ConnectSmart's partnership with Rice was part of the university's Earth Month.

Last year, Houston got a break on a list of U.S. cities with the worst commutes, ranking only at No. 23.

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A View From HETI

LiNova will use the funds to advance its polymer cathode battery technology. Photo via Getty Images

A California startup that's revolutionizing polymer cathode battery technology has announced its series A round of funding with support from Houston-based energy transition leaders.

LiNova Energy Inc. closed a $15.8 million series A round led by Catalus Capital. Saft, a subsidiary of TotalEnergies, which has its US HQ in Houston, and Houston-based Chevron Technology Ventures, also participated in the round with a coalition of other investors.

LiNova will use the funds with its polymer cathode battery to advance the energy storage landscape, according to the company. The company uses a high-energy polymer battery technology that is designed to allow material replacement of the traditional cathode that is made up of cobalt, nickel, and other materials.

The joint development agreement with Saft will have them collaborate to develop the battery technology for commercialization in Saft's key markets.

“We are proud to collaborate with LiNova in scaling up its technology, leveraging the extensive experience of Saft's research teams, our newest prototype lines, and our industrial expertise in battery cell production," Cedric Duclos, CEO of Saft, says in a news release.

CTV recently announced its $500 million Future Energy Fund III, which aims to lead on emerging mobility, energy decentralization, industrial decarbonization, and the growing circular economy. Chevron has promised to spend $10 billion on lower carbon energy investments and projects by 2028.

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