City of Wilson debuts new transit system

Wilson’s new transit system debuted Tuesday with free rides during launch
Wilson brings new RIDE transit to residents
Wilson brings new RIDE transit to residents(Wilson, NC)
Published: Sep. 2, 2020 at 10:08 PM EDT
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WILSON, N.C. (WITN) - Wilson’s new transit system debuted this week. It’s called RIDE and city leaders say it brings new options for Wilson’s public transit needs. Transportation leaders said it gives Wilsonians a new way to get to work, school, and just about anywhere in Wilson.

They say it improves the flexibility and convenience of using public transportation in Wilson. Pre-launch estimates say riders’ time could be cut in half or more with a vastly expanded service territory.

RIDE is a partnership between Via, a global transportation company, and the City of Wilson. It allows residents to request a ride from a smartphone app or by phone, walk to a nearby “virtual bus stop,” and be driven to their destination in a standard vehicle, rather than a city bus.

The service will include wheelchair-accessible vehicles, with curb-to-curb rides for those with limited mobility.

The City Council approved the transition from Wilson’s current, fixed-route transit system to RIDE this past June, after considering the system for several months. Wilson is one of the smallest cities in the state to offer a public transit system.

“The City Council has consistently demonstrated a willingness to try new approaches to better serve our community,” said Wilson City Manager Grant Goings. “Our existing bus system is outdated and inconvenient for most citizens. We believe RIDE will not only provide a better service for current transit riders, it creates a new, convenient and modern transportation option anyone can access. We may be the first community of our size to attempt this conversion, but Wilson is not afraid to lead.”

According to Goings, transportation issues have consistently been ranked as one of the biggest barriers to people finding and keeping employment in Wilson. He added, several major employers in the area have expressed concern about transportation options available to employees without a vehicle.

“Mobility opens doors of opportunity, and we believe such an expanded service will not only benefit riders, but employers, retailers, education and healthcare providers as well,” said Goings when the proposal was initially considered by the City Council in March.

“RIDE represents an opportunity for the City of Wilson to set an example for the way that towns across the country can use technology to provide residents with unparalleled access to public transit,” said Daniel Ramot, Via CEO and co-founder. “We are proud to partner with the City to demonstrate how flexible and dynamic transit solutions can support the community with affordable, efficient and convenient mobility options.”

While new to North Carolina, Via operates systems in several major metropolitan areas in the United States and serves communities in 20+ countries.

The service enhancements with RIDE are being accomplished with the same budget used for the fixed route bus system that only covered a portion of the city.

The on-demand service will be available citywide from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday thru Saturday. Each ride will have a $1.50 flat fare with discounts for multi-ride bundles and multiple riders on the same trip.

To encourage residents to try RIDE, all passengers can receive 10 free rides during the launch, and can pre-register for accounts online, or by downloading the app in advance for  iOS and Android devices.

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