Wheel­s2U has seen steady rid­er­ship

Ser­vice had busiest Sun­day to date last week, with 35 com­muters

The Norwalk Hour - - FRONT PAGE - By Justin Papp

NOR­WALK — A month af­ter the de­but of Wheel­s2U, Nor­walk’s first ever mi­cro­tran­sit Uber-like bus ser­vice, be­tween 60 and 80 rid­ers are us­ing the ser­vice each week­end.

“It’s shown a mi­nor im­prove­ment each week. I think a lot of it has to do with get­ting word of mouth out there about the ser­vice,” Nor­walk Tran­sit Dis­trict Chief Op­er­at­ing Of­fi­cer Britt Liotta said.

The Tran­sit Dis­trict has reached out to build­ing own­ers, res­i­dents and busi­ness own­ers in the ser­vice area — which in­cludes South Nor­walk, parts of East Nor­walk as far as the train sta­tion, and Wall Street — to ad­ver­tise Wheel­s2U, which is free for its first six months.

“Nor­walk is the first com­mu­nity in Con­necti­cut to of­fer this in­no­va­tive ap­proach to trans­porta­tion. It’s great see­ing the pub­lic use Wheel­s2U to visit a restau­rant in

SoNo, do some gro­cery shop­ping, or go to the train sta­tion,” Mayor Harry Rilling said.

Us­ing the “mi­cro­tran­sit” app, de­vel­oped by the tech­nol­ogy de­vel­oper Tran­sLoc, rid­ers can call blue city para­tran­sit vans from any­where within those bounds. They can view the es­ti­mated time of ar­rival and the an­tic­i­pated route to their re­quested des­ti­na­tion. The vans run 5 p.m. to mid­night Thurs­day through Satur­day and noon to 9 p.m. Sun­day.

“Each week we’re see­ing dif­fer­ent rid­ers us­ing it. We’re not see­ing five or 10 peo­ple con­stantly us­ing it. It seems to be chang­ing week to week,” Liotta said.

Last week, Wheel­s2U had its busiest Sun­day to date, with 35 rid­ers, up from an av­er­age of be­tween 15 to 20 the past three Sun­days.

In gen­eral, Fri­day and Satur­day nights have been the busiest, es­pe­cially in the area of South Nor­walk around Wash­ing­ton Street, though Liotta said there are many trips to and from the restau­rants around Way­pointe Apart­ments off West Av­enue. On Thurs­days, there’s been less ac­tiv­ity.

“Thurs­day has not shown a lot of in­crease yet, but I wouldn’t say it’s a dead night ei­ther. We’ve seen about 15 rides on Thurs­days,” Liotta said.

The city will con­tinue to col­lect rid­er­ship data over the course of a six­month pilot, af­ter which, plans may emerge to per­ma­nently in­state the Wheel­s2U ser­vice.

“We’ve been talk­ing with the heads at Tran­sLoc and they’ve told us it’s en­cour­ag­ing to see rid­er­ship mov­ing up week to week,” Liotta siad. “They told us don’t be dis­cour­aged by a low night. Like any true startup, you’ll have your peaks and you’ll have your val­leys.”

“Wheel­s2U helps re­duce traf­fic, free up park­ing, and best of all — it’s free,” Rilling said. “I hope more peo­ple con­tinue to take ad­van­tage of this won­der­ful new ser­vice.”

Alex von Kley­dorff / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

Nor­walk Mayor Harry Rilling steps off a Wheel­s2U bus on Sept. 10 at the Nor­walk Tran­sit Dis­trict head­quar­ters in Nor­walk.

Alex von Kley­dorff / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

The Mi­cro­Tran­sit app is opened to show the rider’s lo­ca­tion and time of pickup to the driver on the city's the new Mi­cro­Tran­sit on de­mand buses, Wheel­s2U. The ride share buses were at the Nor­walk Tran­sit Dis­trict head­quar­ters on Sept. 10.

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