FlexRide Milwaukee now serves more of the city and its suburbs
An on-demand transportation service designed to help workers get from Milwaukee to the suburbs and back home is expanding, where it will pick up people and take them.
The FlexRide Milwaukee program began as a pilot effort 18 months ago, first just picking up workers at designated spots on the north side of Milwaukee and taking them in mini-vans to jobs in Menomonee Falls and Butler. But a celebration ceremony Monday marked recent expansions of the service to pickup points on the south and west sides of Milwaukee and to drop-off at job sites in Franklin, Oak Creek and New Berlin.
The ceremony was held at Wenthe-Davidson Engineering, a metal fabricator that began in Milwaukee but moved to the New Berlin Industrial Park many years ago. Now, 42% of the firm's 215 employees are from Milwaukee zip codes served by FlexRide. Wenthe-Davidson President and CEO Fred Anderson says many of those workers currently carpool. So he says he welcomes the job ride expansion.
"We used to have bus service. They were on the bus for two and a half hours. Not sustainable. So this isn't a welfare program. This is actually one that can make people upwardly mobile, and a success to the community," Anderson says.
Milwaukee Urban League President and CEO Eve Hall says the FlexRide expansion recognizes the regional economy.
"There are still a good number of jobs in Milwaukee. This is really to me, around regionalization of options for individuals. That's how I always look at it. So, we have some jobs in the suburban area. We need to make sure people have options to take jobs out here as well, and that they have the transportation to get here," Hall says.
Hall was on the board of MobiliSE, a local transit advocacy organization, which helped create FlexRide.
FlexRide Program Manager Joy Loomis says people interested in a ride can reserve one through the system's app, or by phone call. Passes for the up to three dollar co-pay per ride can also be purchased at two Milwaukee County Transit System sites.
Loomis says FlexRide has added drivers and is ready to grow.
"We can handle the expansion, yes, and we're excited for it. We know there's been a lot of need for it," Loomis says.
$1.3 million allocated by Milwaukee County last spring is helping pay for the FlexRide expansion.