By Princess Safiya Byers Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service Published Mar 19, 2024 at 12:01 PM

FlexRide celebrated its 50,000th ride in January. But although the program continues to be in high demand, its future is unclear. 

Launched in 2022, FlexRide Milwaukee is an on-demand transportation service that provides affordable transportation to inner-city residents who work in Franklin, Oak Creek, New Berlin or Menomonee Falls.

After serving only 11 riders in its first month, FlexRide now averages 4,000 rides each month, said Dave Steele, executive director of MobiliSE, which operates FlexRide with financial support from various city, county and state agencies. 

“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,” Steele said.

“We have delivered on that mission – and hope to for years to come."

The program also is supported by a $4.2 million Wisconsin Workforce Innovation Grant and $1.3 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds through Milwaukee County.

However, according to Kathy Ehley, the chair of MobiliSE’s board, sustainable funding is only available through 2024.

MobiliSE and its partners are working to find long-term funding for 2025 and beyond.

Ehley said for FlexRide Milwaukee to continue to thrive, state legislators and business leaders need greater awareness of the importance of giving people multiple options to get to work.

Ehley urged Milwaukeeans to consider how different modes of transportation will affect those who can’t or don’t drive, as transportation is an issue that affects everyone in the region. 

“Good transportation services have a positive impact on those using them, the jobs (employers) filling positions and the region as a whole,” she said.

Finding and retaining drivers is a challenge

Rhonda Lewis was one of FlexRide’s original drivers, but she quit because she found the job overwhelming.

“It’s a beautiful program, but drivers aren’t treated well,” Lewis said. “I felt like I was being worked like a dog because we didn’t have enough drivers to fulfill the need.”

Steele confirmed that drivers were stretched thin during the early days of the program, but said he feels FlexRide is now able to meet the challenge.

Fred Anderson, the president and CEO of Wenthe-Davidson Engineering Co., based in New Berlin, promoted the program to his employees.

“When we initially heard of the program, we thought it was perfect,” he said. “It gets people here and back home and they have a viable way to make a living.”

In the past two years, FlexRide has added its South and West zones and now offers 24/7, weekday service, using a new fleet of branded vehicles.

FlexRide also operates a program for working parents through a partnership with Employ Milwaukee that connects Milwaukeeans with free rides to qualified child care centers and to work and back home.

Lisa Jackson started driving for FlexRide Milwaukee eight months ago and said it has been one of the easiest and most rewarding job experiences she has had.

“I enjoy just being able to ride and chat with riders,” she said. “And you’ll notice someone was able to move into a better situation or dress nicer and just look like they are doing better after starting these jobs.”

"A reliable ride to and from work"

West Milwaukee residents Burt C. and Rick R., who requested that their last names not be mentioned, have both used the service.

Rick R. said the program was a lifesaver when his car broke down on Christmas Eve.

“I was out of options and even with Uber or Lyft, it’s difficult to find a ride when you have to be at work by 4:30 a.m.,” he said.

Burt C. said knowing the program is there gives him peace of mind.

“I can often find a ride with a coworker but when I can’t, I know I have a reliable ride to and from work,” he said.

For more information

FlexRide is an app that works like Uber or Lyft. You pay by adding a credit or debit card to your account in the FlexRide app. If a user does not have a smartphone, they can dial (414) 667-7433 to request a ride.

Rides cost $3 and additional passengers can be added for $1.50. Rides are available from 4:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

Riders within a specific work zone can ride to the employer in that area. FlexRide connects employees from one of its three neighborhood zones to that zone’s specific employment zone.   

People don’t have to live in a neighborhood zone to use the FlexRide app; they just have to be in the zone when ordering the ride. 

You can visit for more information.