The program launched in March of 2022 and was conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission. The pilot program received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation.
“What we’re doing here with FlexRide Milwaukee is we brought in an entirely new form of transportation to the Milwaukee area and that is microtransit,” Steele said.
Steele explained that microtransit is a hybrid of traditional bus and on-demand services, like Uber. It is a ride that an individual can call on their phone, but the ride is shared with other riders. Riders aren’t necessarily picked up at their front door, Steele said, they might need to go a few blocks down the road to a coffee shop or hop on a city bus for a few miles to get to a collection point.
“What that encourages is shared rides, because the shared ride aspect of it is huge for the cost effectiveness of the program,” Steele said.
Riders can travel between Zone 1 or Zone 2 and the Employment Zone. Depending on where you’re traveling to or from, rides are free or $1.50 each. FlexRide Milwaukee operates only during the weekdays.
The research period of the pilot ended at the end of October 2022 and they expect to launch FlexRide Milwaukee 2.0 in April. The program received a $4.2 million grant from the state of Wisconsin to extend FlexRide Milwaukee services through 2024 and allow FlexRide to expand to other communities in the region.
Steele said this spring they hope to expand pick up zones to include both the north side and south side of the city of Milwaukee and to launch service to Franklin and New Berlin. Later in 2023, he said they are looking to potentially expand to Brookfield and Oak Creek. At this time they would consider other areas like Ozaukee County as well.
Steele reported that ridership in the program continues to grow. He added that at any given point, there are 200 individuals participating in the program, with one-third of that using it every day, twice a day and another one-third using it about four to five times a week.
Ozaukee County is holding an open house from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 7 to discuss potential Flex-Bus routes that would run on Port Washington Road from Bayshore Mall to northern Port Washington and along Cedarburg and Green Bay roads from northern Milwaukee County to Saukville.
To view a map of the routes being considered, visit www.ozaukeetransit.com/ozaukee-flex-bus. The event will take place at the Frank L. Weyenberg Library in the Tolzman Community Room, 11345 N. Cedarburg Road, Mequon. To learn more about FlexRide Milwaukee, go to www.flexridemke.com. For more information about MobiliSE, visit www.mobilisewi.org.https://www.gmtoday.com/news_graphic/news/ozaukee-county-officials-consider-new-on-demand-transit-service/article_8106742c-b37b-11ed-9119-8ff412df1f57.html