New Milwaukee transit system; FlexRide gets workers to the jobs

A new Milwaukee program promises to make your commute cheap and easy. But is there enough finding to keep it going long-term?

"We have a problem today," said Acting Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson.

Wisconsinites want to work. Employers need them to work. The one problem is – getting to work.

"What COVID-19 and the pandemic did was exacerbate that particular situation," said Chytania Brown, President and CEO of Employ Milwaukee.

Launch of FlexRide

Now, Milwaukee is launching a new transit service, FlexRide. The goal is to connect Milwaukee works with jobs in Menomonee Falls and Butler. 

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"As an employer we really need to engage in breaking down some of the barriers that prevent access to job opportunities and financial growth," said Craig Armstrong, President of Scan-Pac Manufacturing.

The pilot program is funding with a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation. It will operate through the fall as city leaders look to find permanent funding.

"Whether flex ride is to be sustained beyond the pilot program depends on how much support it receives and whether riders and businesses find it valuable," said Kevin Muhs of the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.

It works like Uber or Lyft – weekdays from 4:30 a.m. until 11:30 p.m You can request rides from one of five stops through an app or phone call. The cost is $1.50 or less.

"This is going to be an affordable transportation service that will connect workers in Milwaukee neighborhoods to more than 1,800 businesses located in the Menomonee Falls and Butler area," said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley.

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City leaders say of the roughly 130 eligible people, 80% of them do not have cars. The program's goal is to bridge that gap.

FlexRide advertises being accessible to all riders – including people with disabilities – those without credit of debit cars – or without a smartphone. Riders must be at least 18 years old – and living in Milwaukee.

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