The Paradox Prize enabled Akron METRO RTA to pilot a demand-response transportation service to inform development of new mobility options for Summit County. Through a collaboration with ConxusNEO, Summit County’s workforce sector partnership, the concept of a door-to-door van service was born. Called FlexRide, the program focused on worker transportation from areas of high unemployment in the city of Akron to businesses with high job needs in northern Summit County, an area difficult to serve with traditional bus service.
Once news of FlexRide spread, METRO received requests for service in additional areas, including neighboring Portage County. METRO expanded the reach of the service to include job hubs in other areas of Summit County and has successfully served a number of businesses with their workforce transportation needs. Since the program requires direct partnership with employers, METRO and ConxusNEO have learned a lot about what businesses are facing as it relates to employee attraction and retention and are striving to adapt service offerings to support these needs into the future.
“One machine left idle for a single day can cost a company thousands of dollars in lost productivity,” said Jenny Stupica, director of manufacturing engagement for ConxusNEO. “The cost to the company for an individual to participate in this pilot program is only $8.33 per day. With many manufacturing companies struggling with multiple open positions and many idle machines, this becomes a significant impact to the bottom line. FlexRide also gives companies the ability to promote their job opportunities in a larger geographic area than was previously realistic due to the length and complexity of a standard bus ride.”
Main Street Gourmet, a food manufacturer in Cuyahoga Falls that employs about 200 people, is participating in the FlexRide program. Miranda Rosado, a human resources coordinator there, said she’s noticed a big improvement in the attendance of the eight employees who use the service.