FlexRide Milwaukee celebrates 50,000 completed rides

Jan. 12, 2024
FlexRide delivered more than 41,000 rides in 2023 after launching in 2022.

FlexRide Milwaukee completed its 50,000th ride on Jan. 12, 2024, when the agnecy offered Milwaukee residents free rides to FlexRide employment zones in Franklin, Oak Creek, New Berlin and Menomonee Falls, Wis. Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson declared Jan. 11 “FlexRide Milwaukee Day” in the city to honor the agency's on-demand transportation services.

“The city of Milwaukee commends FlexRide Milwaukee and all of its partner organizations, employers, riders and drivers in celebrating the service’s 50,000th ride milestone and outstanding contributions to our vibrant community and wishes them continued success,” Mayor Johnson said.

FlexRide was launched in 2022 as a pilot study through a National Science Foundation grant won by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture & Urban Planning with the support of the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission. MobiliSE began leading the service in 2023, with financial support from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., Milwaukee County, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County and Bader Philanthropies. Additional community partners include Employ Milwaukee, the Milwaukee County Transit System and the Waukesha County Business Alliance.

“The lack of affordable and reliable transportation options in many suburban areas, as well as in urban areas with limited access to public transportation, acts as a barrier to employment opportunities and economic stability," said Chytania Brown, president and CEO, Employ Milwaukee. "FlexRide has provided a new option for Milwaukee workers that is convenient and reliable and we are proud to be a partner.” 

FlexRide growth

FlexRide initially began with routes that went into the north and northwest sides, connecting riders with employers in Menomonee Falls and Butler. Backed by a more than $4.2 million Wisconsin Workforce Innovation Grant and more than $1.3 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding through Milwaukee County, FlexRide was able to add south and west zones in 2023 and now offers 24/7 weekday service, using a new fleet of branded vehicles.

The additional funding will support FlexRide through 2024. MobiliSE and its partners are working to find sustainable funding for 2025 and beyond.

The new expanded service helped to increase significantly ridership in 2023, with FlexRide delivering more than 41,000 rides in 2023. More than 4,000 of those were unique riders, as the service delivered more than 200 per day at times in 2023. Nearly 200 employers were served by FlexRide. FlexRide for Working Parents also launched last fall; the partnership with Employ Milwaukee connects Milwaukeeans with free rides to qualified childcare centers and to work and back.

“We are proud of the work so many have put in to make FlexRide a reality and to see its continued growth,” said MobiliSE Executive Director Dave Steele. “We set out to help address a real problem in the region, providing affordable and reliable transportation for Milwaukee residents working or looking to work at employers beyond the reach of transit. We have delivered on that mission – and hope to for years to come.”

“FlexRide has done an excellent job of helping riders by closing the first- and last-mile gaps in transit in our region has been a partner of FlexRide from the start and congratulates them on achieving this significant milestone. We can’t wait to see what’s next as we both continue to modernize transportation in southeastern Wisconsin," said Denise Wandke, Milwaukee County Transit System president and managing director.