Wake Board Approves Fare-Free Service for GoWake SmartRide NE

Wake SmartRide van drives down a city street.

The Wake County Board of Commissioners is ensuring anyone who needs a ride in Northeast Wake County can get one no matter their financial circumstances. On Monday, the board unanimously approved providing fare-free service for GoWake SmartRide NE.

Starting in 2022, GoWake SmartRide NE will offer on-demand, same-day rides to anyone needing to get somewhere in Zebulon, Wendell, Rolesville and the surrounding unincorporated communities. Each ride would have previously cost $2, but thanks to the board’s actions, they will now be available at no cost to residents.

“This will be a game changer for those who need public transportation in Northeast Wake County, an area that is currently underserved,” said Wake County Board of Commissioners Chair Sig Hutchinson. “Going fare free will attract new riders, save families who already rely on our services money, and help residents reach places like the grocery store, their workplace or their doctor’s office more efficiently.”

The one-year investment will allow Wake County to measure the benefits of fare-free service, ensure that word spreads across neighborhoods and provide the opportunity for riders to integrate fare-free trips into their daily routines.

The cost of operating fare free for one year is $308,959, and the funding comes from the Fiscal Year 2021 Transportation Fund budget. At the end of 2022, the county will evaluate whether to continue offering rides at no cost.

The service aligns with the board’s 2021 Growth & Sustainability goal to expand opportunities and implement strategies to address affordability of transit services and the needs in vulnerable communities and rural areas.

About GoWake SmartRide NE
GoWake SmartRide NE is an on-demand public transit service that allows riders to schedule same-day trips within the northeastern region of Wake County through a mobile app or phone call. Those in Northeast Wake County can use SmartRide NE to travel to any location within the designated areas of:

  • Zebulon,
  • Rolesville,
  • Wendell,
  • Riley Hill,
  • Hopkins,
  • Lizard Lick, and
  • Eagle Hill.

Once the program launches, SmartRide NE will have vans in service Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

SmartRide NE is funded through the Federal Transit Administration Integrated Mobility Innovations (IMI) Grant awarded to Wake County in 2020. GoWake SmartRide NE was one of 25 projects in 23 states to receive IMI funding. The purpose of the grant is to support innovative technologies that improve access to public transportation, increase efficiency and enhance the overall rider experience.

More information and updates for GoWake SmartRide NE can be found at wakegov.com/smartride.

Press Release