Wellington County ridesharing service reaches new heights

·2 min read

WELLINGTON COUNTY – The county’s rideshare service hit new highs for ridership in March.

Crystal Ellis, county director of economic development, told the economic development committee at a Tuesday morning meeting Ride Well had a large increase in rides coming out of the winter lockdown.

Ride Well is the county’s publicly funded rideshare service that takes customers to and from locations in Wellington County. Rides can also start or finish in Guelph.

March 2021 saw 393 total rides completed, over 100 rides more than in any other month since the service launched in Fall 2019.

“Data indicates that we had an increase of unique new users — new people using the program — as well as those who were already using the program, they were using it a little more,” Ellis said to the committee, adding people were out a bit more in March because restrictions were eased.

In an email after the meeting, Ellis didn't indicate any specific reason to why there were more riders besides what was said at the meeting.

Ellis said they expect numbers to dip in April because of the renewed stay-at-home order but not the levels of last spring where ridership stayed around 100 in total.

The province has directed the county to ensure they are pushing rides to be for essential use only during this time.

“We don’t expect we’re going to be hitting below that 200 mark like we had previously but time will tell,” Ellis said.

Ride Well attracted the attention of the federal government and Ellis said they were invited to be part of a federal rural transit solutions fund announcement in March.

The feds announced $250 million over the next five years to improve rural transportation options but Ellis said details were sparse and they’re waiting to see how that will benefit Ride Well.

Committee chair George Bridge added he spoke with MP Maryam Monsef, Minister of Rural Economic Development, at an FCM meeting last week.

He said from that discussion he is positive there is room in that funding for Ride Well.

“Our Ride Well program fits nicely into what they’re thinking with that rural transportation fund,” Bridge said. “It would be nice if we could get some money from them to expand or strengthen our program. It fits all the boxes they’re looking at.”

Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com