Ride Lake County, a program launched to provide a cost-effective and countywide transportation option for seniors (ages 60 and up) and people with disabilities, is celebrating one year of service.
The program was designed to expand transportation options for greater and easier access concerning trips to work, shopping and medical appointments. Within its first week of service in 2022, Ride Lake County provided 400 trips to residents.
Since the launch, usage has increased by 50 percent, with 10,000 rides provided in the last six months. To keep up with the demand, Pace Suburban Bus has hired additional drivers to increase the amount of rides that can be provided each day.
“We are elated to see the incredible impact that Ride Lake County is having for Lake County residents,” said Lake County Board Chair Sandy Hart. “Seniors and people with disabilities are now able to affordably travel across the county to wherever they need to go — doctor appointments, work, shopping and more.”
Nearly 31 percent of all trips in 2022 took riders to work, while 30 percent were for medical appointments.
“We are very encouraged to see that more people are using Ride Lake County since the service started just over a year ago,” said Jennifer Clark, Lake County Public Works and Transportation Committee Chair and District 15 board member. “The service is proving its value of enabling riders to get to key destinations within Lake County, and to select areas that border the county that are essential to everyday living.”
Ride Lake County was created through efforts by the Lake County Coordinated Transportation Services Committee, and various communities, townships, transit partners and community groups. Previously, there was no cohesive paratransit system available throughout the entire county.
Vehicles used in the program don’t travel in a fixed route every day. Instead, Ride Lake County is a reservation-based program with rides scheduled in advance. Vehicles provide curb-to-curb service from the rider’s desired pick-up and drop-off destinations, and all vehicles are wheelchair accessible.
Before selecting their first ride, residents must register through Pace by calling 1-800-201-6446. Residents can register as either a senior or as an individual with a disability.
Riders can schedule a trip any day of the week from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., except for certain holidays. Trips can be reserved as far as seven days in advance or as little as two hours in advance.
The Ride Lake County fare structure consists of a flat rate within distance tiers. This means that the cost of the trip depends on the length of the trip. The rates are $2 (0-5 miles); $4 (5-10 miles); and $6 (10-plus miles).
Riders can book a trip anywhere within the service area if either the pick-up or drop-off location is within Lake County. The service area includes the entirety of municipalities that extend beyond the Lake County border. Selected parts of McHenry County and Cook County are included in the service area.
Ride Lake County is sponsored by Lake County and Pace Suburban Bus. For more information, visit www.lakecountyil.gov/RLC.