CENTRE WELLINGTON – A new county-wide rideshare program, Ride Well, was unveiled at an open house July 9 at Aboyne Hall, Wellington County Museum and Archive.
Ride Well is a publicly-funded program paid for through a provincial government, community transportation grant of $500,000.
Ride Well is a four-year pilot project that is set to officially launch on Oct. 1.
The program was developed by the County of Wellington in partnership with consulting firm Dillon Consulting Limited and technology startup RideCo, which specializes in dynamic transit and is based out of Waterloo. The Ride Well app was designed to use the RideCo platform.
According to speakers at the open house, Wellington County will be the first rural municipality to provide an on-demand transit service with dedicated drivers in the province.
Centre Wellington Mayor and county Warden Kelly Linton called the open house an “exciting day.”
“It’s important that we aren’t only dependent on cars here in the county and as we move ahead and build the communities that we want to build in the county it is important that we have good transportation options,” said Linton.
Minto Mayor and chair of the county’s economic development committee, George Bridge told the packed hall, “We’ve heard for years that we have a rural transit need in our community. As a rural community with a challenge attracting young people and new workers for our businesses … we needed to try to come up with something more creative.”
When it is launched Ride Well will offer residents on-demand transportation in four full-size sedan and/or minivans that will transport up to four or five customers at one time.
The service can be booked using either the Ride Well app or online through a Ride Well website or using through a toll-free number.
Fares for the program are set to cost 60 cents per kilometre.
The Ride Well service will differ from other ridesharing applications and services in a number of ways.
Many of the challenges with implementing a transportation service in Wellington County according to the speakers included providing a cost-effective program that covered a large spread out area with low densities.
“We had to think outside the box and think of some creative ways of providing that mobility that is being requested and needed within the county,” said Dillon Consulting Limited partner and transit planner Dennis Kar.
When the service is launched in the fall, Ride Well will only operate Monday to Friday between the hours of 6am to 7pm. The service will not be provided outside of those hours or on the weekends.
Customers will need to be 18 years old or older to ride alone or, between the ages of 13 and 17, with a waiver signed by a parent or guardian.
The service will also have a minimum service fee of $5 and a maximum charge of $40.
Service users will be able to pre-book batches of rides at one time to allow the users to schedule the service to get them to their weekly appointments.
Developers are recommending that customers book a vehicle at least three hours before their trip to secure a spot in a vehicle.
Ride Well accessible will require a more detailed registration.
One of the other main differences about Ride Well is that it is designed to optimize the number of passengers in a vehicle. Service users will not have an option as to whether they will share a ride with others and the route the drivers take may not be direct, though the program will still prioritize getting users to their destinations on time.
Currently the program does not facilitate booking round trips. Each trip must be booked separately.
However, as Ride Well will operate as a pilot project there is opportunity for some of these service elements to change and for the service to expand.
More information about Ride Well can be found https://www.wellington.ca/en/business/edridewell.aspx.