FlexRide Expanding Service April 17
Transit service connecting city residents to suburban jobs adding new pickup and employment zones.
A city-to-suburbs transit service, called FlexRide, will soft-launch an expansion on Monday, April 17.
FlexRide provides an on-demand taxi service that operates between specific pickup zones in the city of Milwaukee and employment centers that can’t be reached by bus routes operated by the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS). For this reason, it is considered a “last-mile” transit service connecting Milwaukee residents to jobs that would otherwise be out of their reach.
The expansion, which begins Monday, will bring with it a new pickup zone on the South Side and a new drop-off area that will connect to jobs in Fraklin. It will also include new pickup locations called “transit hubs” that offer free rides and are intended to encourage ride-sharing and a per-ride fare increase from $1.50 to $3. FlexRide also offers free “late-night” rides, and weekly and monthly passes at $20 and $70, respectively.
FlexRide was created in partnership between the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission and MobiliSE, a non-profit and transit advocate. It launched in early 2022 as a pilot program, and since then the service has recorded month-over-month growth in the number of riders using the service and the number of individual rides. In March, the service saw ridership jump from 2,154 individual rides to 3,377. It also saw the addition of 132 new riders, which is the largest one-month increase in riders in the past six months.
“FlexRide is a service that’s filling in a gap in transportation that’s been there a long time,” Joy Loomis, program manager for FlexRide, told Urban Milwaukee.
Last year, FlexRide received a $4.2 million Workforce Innovation Grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). Those funds will be used to launch this expansion and will support the service through the end of 2024. FlexRide also received $1.3 million from Milwaukee County’s allocation of federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, but it is still working with county officials on how exactly it can use the funds, Loomis said.
MobiliSE contracts with Via, a transportation company headquartered in New York City, to provide the drivers and vehicles for FlexRide.
South Side Pickup Zone
The first phase of the FlexRide expansion will include a new, substantial pickup zone on the south side of Milwaukee County. The area stretches from National Avenue in the north to Drexel Avenue in the south. It’s eastern boundary runs along I-94 and it’s western boundary largely runs along S. 60th St. and S. 43rd St.
This south side zone will serve a new employment zone in Franklin at the Franklin Business Park, a 425-acre business park at 5100 West Ryan Road with corporate and light industrial businesses.
A new addition to the pick-up zones, both north and south, are five transit hubs that are located at or near Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) bus stops. The idea, Loomis explained, is that riders coming into a pickup zone on an MCTS bus have already paid a fare, and so riders that access the service from one of the five transit hubs won’t have to pay an additional FlexRide Fare.
South Side Transit Hubs:
- Intersection of S. 60th St. and W. National Ave. Served by MCTS Routes 18, 54, & 60.
- Intersection of S. 35th St. and W. National Ave. Served by MCTS Routes 18 & 35.
- El Rey (916 S Cesar E Chavez Dr.) Served by MCTS Routes 14 & 18.
- Intersection of S. 27th and W. Oklahoma Ave. Served by MCTS PurpleLine & Route 51.
- Walmart (6701 S 27th St., near the intersection of S. 27th St. & W. Rawson Ave.) Served by MCTS PurpleLine & Route 20.
North Side Transit Hubs:
- Sam’s Club (8050 N 124th St. Near the intersection of N. 124th St. and W. Bradley Rd.) Served by MCTS BlueLine and Route 88.
- Intersection of N. Lovers Lane Rd. & W. Silver Spring Rd. Served by MCTS Routes 28, 57, 58, and 63.
- Silver Spring Neighborhood Center (5460 N 64th St.) Served by MCTS BlueLine & Routes 60 and 63.
- Midtown Center (5700 W Capitol Dr.). Served by MCTS BlueLine, RedLine, and Routes 34 and 60.
- Sherman Phoenix (3536 W Fond Du Lac Ave.). Served by MCTS BlueLine, and Routes 35 and 66.
Full Expansion Planned for May
The additions to FlexRide service in April are considered a soft-launch of the full expansion, which is planned for mid-May, Loomis said. At which time, FlexRide plans to roll out additional transit hubs at childcare centers.
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