The service will operate through the fall of 2022. The project team aims to leverage the pilot to identify funding to continue the service beyond this time. - Photo: Via

The service will operate through the fall of 2022. The project team aims to leverage the pilot to identify funding to continue the service beyond this time.

Photo: Via

City of Milwaukee residents have a new way to get to jobs in the northwest suburbs with FlexRide Milwaukee.

FlexRide Milwaukee launches in early February, with riders picked up from one of five stops served by the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) in and around Milwaukee’s north and northwest sides and dropped off at any employer within the Menomonee Falls and Butler service areas.

Riders must be at least 18 years old. City of Milwaukee residents, working or willing to work within the service areas, can request pickups using a smartphone app or by phone.

Riders must register to use the service. To do so, they can fill out this form to determine eligibility and share basic information with the FlexRide team.

While registration is not required for employers, businesses and organizations with more than 10 employees in Menomonee Falls and Butler that employ or intend to employ City of Milwaukee residents are also encouraged to sign up for FlexRide.

FlexRide’s goal is to use technology to close Milwaukee’s first- and last-mile transit gaps (the distance between an existing bus stop and one’s ultimate destination). Closing transit gaps can expand access to transportation for local workers, ultimately fostering opportunities for economic mobility.

The service is a pilot funded by a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, received in the fall of 2021.

Via will power the service using its technology platform. Via’s algorithms create shared trips, which have fixed routes and schedules.

“We are excited to be collaborating with our partners on a technology-driven solution to a longstanding problem for our region – access to jobs,” Kevin Muhs, executive director of the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, said. “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 service will operate through the fall of 2022. The project team aims to leverage the pilot to identify funding to continue the service beyond this time.

“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/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.”

Employee and employer participants will be asked to take part in surveys throughout the pilot to evaluate the program and to help shape potential long-term transportation investments.

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