A new on-demand shuttle service connecting Milwaukee residents with jobs in the city’s northern suburbs is set to launch next month.
FlexRide Milwaukee will deploy 15 vehicles – one of which will be a Via-owned accessible passenger van – to transport passengers from five city locations served by the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) to employers located on the outskirts of the city.
The pilot, set to run until autumn, is aimed at closing first- and last-mile transit gaps for local workers.
“We are excited to be collaborating with our partners on a technology-driven solution to a longstanding problem for our region – access to jobs,” said Kevin Muhs, Executive Director of the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.
“Lack of transportation is too often a barrier for workers wanting to get to jobs and employers wanting to attract new employees, made worse during the pandemic. This is one step toward closing that gap and making us stronger as a region.”
The scheme is funded by a US$1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.
Trips from two of the five stops will be free, while journeys from the other three stops will cost US$1.50 for a one-way ride, increasing to US$3 later in the pilot.
Transit tech firm Via will power the service using its on-demand platform to create flexible shared trips.
Riders – who must be at least 18 years old, City of Milwaukee residents, and working or willing to work within the service areas – need to register to use the service, and can request pick-ups using a smartphone app or by phone.
“We’re promoting the service heavily in local media and through partnerships with community-based organisations in the city,” Dave Steele, Executive Director of the regional transit leadership council MobiliSE, told capitaltribunenews.com.
“Riders will sign up through Employ Milwaukee, a workforce placement organisation that serves tens of thousands of job seekers across the city.”
The FlexRide Milwaukee pilot is funded by one of 17 Civic Innovation Challenge grants from the National Science Foundation and the US Departments of Energy and Homeland Security.
Six of the grants were awarded to projects that sought to deliver community-based solutions to close gaps in transportation equity.
“We encourage anyone who currently works in one of the service areas – or is hoping to – to consider signing up for FlexRide,” said Chytania Brown, President and CEO of Employ Milwaukee.
“As Milwaukee County’s workforce development board, we work every day to develop workforce solutions that promote regional economic growth and employment opportunity for all job-seekers.
“FlexRide Milwaukee does just that.”
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