Dublin has kicked off a pilot program that offers a micro-transit service to the community's senior population.

The city partnered with Columbus-headquartered transportation solution business SHARE for the service.

Joanne Shelley, an urban designer for Dublin, described the program as a ride-sharing service that is in between public transportation such as busing and individual rides offered by car services.

Dublin has set a senior circulator open house from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11, in the Dublin Community Recreation Center for those who want to learn more about the program.

As Dublin's population ages, those who desire to age in place require alternative options for transportation as they give up driving, Shelley said.

The pilot program began Jan. 2 and will run through July, Shelley said. Between May and June, the city will begin evaluating the program's effectiveness and what changes should be made in order to continue the program.

Dublin has a contract with SHARE for the pilot program that is not to exceed $50,000, Shelley said. SHARE will provide outreach and engagement for the program as well as shuttles that will run mid-day, three days per week.

Funding comes from the city's mobility capital-improvement program.

The program will initially include three loops for riders. Stops include sites such as the Dublin Community Recreation Center, Dublin's historic district and the Mall at Tuttle Crossing.

During the pilot program, the city is working with Sunrise of Dublin, Avondale Woods Senior Community, Friendship Village of Dublin and other possible partners, along with UFit, which provides physical therapy for the developmentally disabled, Shelley said.

The program will also include individuals involved with the Dublin Community Senior Citizens membership, a group housed at Dublin's Community Recreation Center.

During the pilot period, users of the program won't have to pay for the transit service, Shelley said, and the city will target residents of senior living facilities in the community.

Beyond the pilot period, Shelley said a handful of possible funding sources exist.

Federal Transit Authority grant funds are available via the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, and the city of Dublin's mobility capital- improvement program can be another source of revenue.

Advertising funding could be collected from businesses at the shuttle stop locations, and senior residential facilities could also provide some revenue for the service.

With that funding in place, users would pay possibly $1 to $2 to use the service.

Ryan McManus, founder and CEO of SHARE, said the company was founded in 2016 and works with employers, senior living communities, schools and other organizations that have security requirements that don't make rides provided by car services a good fit.

This is the first time the company will partner with a municipality, McManus said.

SHARE will use vans that hold between six and 14 passengers for Dublin's micro-transit service, and wheelchair-accessible vehicles will also be available.

Like Shelley, McManus said the service helps Dublin's residents looking to age in place.

"It's less about the rides and more about the places they get to go," he said.

For information about the program and a full list of route stops, visit ridewithshare.com.

Information about using the service can be obtained by emailing jshelly@dublin.oh.us. Reservations for the open house can be made by calling 614-410-4579.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah