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How TransitTech is a mobility game-changer in Wilson, North Carolina

Rodger Lentz, Chief Planning and Development Officer for Wilson, N.C., walks us through why RIDE, the city’s tech-enabled transit service, is a masterclass in making on-demand mobility work for lower-income, transit-dependent communities.

Via Transportation •

On January 20, 2022, Rodger Lentz took to the stage at the 2022 North Carolina Transportation Summit to shine a light on RIDE, the City of Wilson’s popular on-demand microtransit service. Lentz outlines the daily struggle of a transit-dependent resident in the pre-RIDE era, when local buses only ran once an hour and operated with limited transparency and reliability. “Can we do better for that individual? I think that’s where RIDE comes in.” — Rodger Lentz Powered by Via’s dynamic routing technology, RIDE launched in September 2020, replacing all existing fixed routes with an on-demand service to better meet the community's diverse traveling needs. Whether a RIDE is booked through an app or a dedicated dispatch phone number, Wilsonians are able to enjoy city-wide rides for as low as $0.75 for senior citizens and students, or a standard fare of just $1.50.

Lentz demonstrates how this accessible, affordable mobility option is positively impacting residents — the majority of whom make less than $25K a year and do not own a private vehicle. 74% of riders say the money they saved by using RIDE is one of its biggest benefits, and 48% agree that the service has enabled them to access or maintain employment.

“We were able to cover — not 40% of the city — but 100% of the city with transit service. And we’re able to do that with 15-minute average wait times,” Lentz says. “And the fact that we were able then to take the same resources that we had for fixed route and cover an entire city. Now [we’re] connecting people to jobs that were out of reach for them.” RIDE’s performance is the gold standard of how public transit can rebound when executed smartly — even in the midst of a global pandemic. “Our transit ridership went up 140% over fixed route, so it’s been a real game-changer in Wilson and we’re very proud of it.”