Free Cape May County ride service launches Uber-style app

By KYW Newsradio 1060

OCEAN CITY, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — Just like you’d order an Uber or Lyft, a similar service just launched down the shore for essential destinations only. But unlike those other ride-hailing services, this one won’t cost you a dime.

The Cape May County Fare-Free Transportation is a paratransit service that shuttles residents to essential destinations at no cost to them.

“We transport senior citizens, we transport individuals of low-income, we transport veterans, we transport disabled residents and then the general public on a first-come, first-served basis after that,” explained director Daniel Mulraney.

There are 40 buses that make about 500 trips a day. Each shuttle is equipped with lifts to allow for two wheelchairs and can take up to 16 passengers.

The buses go all over Cape May County and can take people to Camden County, Philadelphia and Delaware.

But there is one part of the service Mulraney is not fond of — that residents would have to call for their ride three days in advance, and then call back the night before the trip to get a pick up time.

“I always felt like that was a bit of a cumbersome process,” he said, “and that’s something we wanted to change and that’s why we began this pilot program.”

The pilot program is an app that’s currently only live in Ocean City for now. The app allows people to schedule a ride the same way you would an Uber or a Lyft.

“You can go right on that app, book a trip right on there, you would know right when that bus was coming, you could see that bus on a map right on your phone. You could cancel it if you needed to and it will tell you the duration of your trip.” explained Mulraney, who is happy to be giving riders what he knows they want.

“In this day and age people want instant gratification,” he added. “If they want to go to a doctor they want to go now. If they want groceries they want to go right now. They don’t want to go three days from now.”

Mulraney said the app is easy to use and is “much more palatable to the rider.” He also said this should help them reduce their costs.

It’s still early in the pilot, but Mulraney believes this will be a success.

Assuming he’s right, this app can be expected to be available to all Cape May County residents by Jan. 1.