Recently, following a career fair at which the RIDE Solutions brand was promoted, I had the pleasure of meeting with representatives of two staffing agencies located in the Martinsville area to make them aware of how RIDE Solutions could benefit their clients and the companies for which these clients are assigned. A common theme both agencies articulated was the need for transportation options for their associates.
As is the case throughout much of the U.S., most residents of our region drive to work alone in their personal vehicles. While the cities of Martinsville and Danville are both served by transit systems, these systems’ reach outside of the cities is limited, in some cases hours are not conducive to commuting, and many citizens reside far from the transit service areas. The figure below shows that about 83 percent of the region’s commuters drive alone, nearly 10 percent carpool, and just 0.7 percent rely on transit to get to work; in fact, nearly twice as many commuters walk to work as those who utilize transit.
According to the staffing professionals I spoke with, destinations employees needed to access for work included the Martinsville, Danville, and Ridgeway areas. Employees, I was told, lived in the Martinsville area, in Danville, Rocky Mount, and North Carolina. While some employees lived and worked in Danville, others commuted from Danville to Martinsville.
The West Piedmont Planning District offers some transportation resources that may not be well known. One example is Danville Transit’s Reserve A Ride service. When many people think of public transit, particularly in our area, a fixed-route bus comes to mind. And in Danville, this service operates from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday – Saturday, which may or may not work for commuters’ schedules. However, the transit agency’s Reserve A Ride program operates from 4 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday – Saturday. This service provides door-to-door transportation throughout the entire City of Danville, as well as to Cane Creek Centre Industrial Park. The two caveats to Reserve A Ride are that reservations must be made the day prior to travel before 11 a.m., and that the cost of each ride is $4, compared to $1 for the fixed-route transit service. Learn more about this and other services offered by Danville Transit at https://www.danville-va.gov/DocumentCenter/View/12500/Transit-Guide-Book-PDF?bidId=.
In the City of Martinsville and adjoining areas of Henry County, Piedmont Area Regional Transit (PART) operates transit service Monday – Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., at 50 cents per ride. The system operates on a deviated fixed-route basis for riders who are ADA-certified; this service element must be reserved 24 hours in advance and will transport riders up to ¾-mile off the fixed route. The transfer point for the three routes comprising this service is Wal-Mart. More information is available at http://www.martinsville-va.gov/residents/bus-system-p-a-r-t.
RIDE Solutions is an excellent resource for our region, and one many still may not be very familiar with. Given that nearly 10 percent of our region’s commuters carpool as a means to get to work, the ride-matching component of our program likely can help many people access employment and, conversely, can enable many employers to access a larger workforce than they otherwise would be able to. The service we offer is free, and all you’ll need to do is visit www.ridesolutions.org and download the free app. Once you’ve done that, just query your starting and end points, and the app will show you your matches, whom you can contact by clicking on them. You’ll earn 1,000 points just for signing up, and every time you “log” a trip, you’ll earn more points toward discounts on food, shopping, and certain recreational activities. If you currently carpool but do not use the RIDE Solutions app, you and your carpoolers can earn points toward these rewards just by doing what you’re already doing!
If you’re an employer and have employees who have difficulty getting to work because of transportation issues, or you’d like to have greater access to qualified employees, I would encourage you to promote this program to your employees. Additionally, we can work with you to set up a vanpool, which would work well particularly if you have many employees clustered in one area that need to get to work. I would be more than happy to meet with you to discuss how we can help your employees solve some of their transportation limitations. Again, all of the services we offer are free, and the only costs would be, for example, a carpool driver asking his or her passengers to chip in for gas, or the members of a vanpool sharing the cost.
You can reach me, Joe Bonanno, at (276) 638-3987 or at Jbonanno@wppdc.org. Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from you!