Description: Kent County has a population of 653,786, with 13.7% being older adults. While Kent County’s metropolitan hub, Grand Rapids, offers fixed route services, these services do not run throughout all of Kent County, limiting options of where older adults can go if they live outside of the immediate Grand Rapids area.
RideLink is a network of five area transportation providers that together provide older adults (age 60+) with door-to-door transportation as a complement to the fixed route bus. RideLink can be utilized for medical appointments, shopping trips, and recreational trips, which sets it apart from other options in the area that limit rides for older adults for specific purposes. RideLink’s providers have multiple types of vehicles that provide service to those who use a wheelchair accessible, and also accommodate service animals and caregivers.
Riders who wish to contribute to the cost of the service can pay a suggested $2 donation each way. If a client is unable to pay the suggested donation, they will not be denied a ride. Donations go back into the RideLink program to provide more rides for older adults throughout Kent County.
As of June 2021, RideLink uses Ecolane software to schedule trips in real-time and optimize routes. Instead of creating daily paper manifests for each driver and route, this software allows for the service to be more efficient as cancellations and additions to a route happen in real-time. Drivers are equipped with tablets that provide the route schedule, client information, a map system that provides directions, as well as platform for drivers to message dispatch when needed.
Impact: In 2021, the RideLink call center averaged 142 calls per day, showing a high demand among the target audience of older adults. In all, 1,033 individuals used RideLink in 2021, totaling 33,627 trips, an 18% increase from 2020. The top destination was doctors’ appointments (13,326 trips); an additional 2,786 trips were recorded as going to senior centers for nutrition and recreational needs.
Recently, RideLink dispatch sent an email out with shout outs to RideLink drivers and partners. The email read, “I got a call today from a client who took her first trip with Ridelink earlier this week. She called in to give praise and commendations to her driver, Joel who helped her to not be nervous about using public transportation for the first time. She could not say enough about his behavior, his driving, etc. She wants to receive rides only from him if we can help it.” While this outcome isn’t in the form of data, it speaks to how great the service we provide is.