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By Jenna Ross
As the community of Rancho Mission Viejo (RMV) has continued to grow, the need for accessible public transportation has become necessary.
RanchRide, a community benefit program, stepped up to meet the demand with a shuttle and transportation service, and it has continued to grow as the community of RMV has expanded.
RanchRide began as a pilot program in 2014 geared toward residents of Ladera Ranch and Rancho Mission Viejo to test a new shuttle program and shuttle routes with families and residents of all ages. After a trial-and-error period, the program was relaunched in 2016 as a shuttle transportation system with refined routes and added destinations throughout the community.
RanchRide, a 501c4, was set up as a transportation management association to benefit the community of RMV. The program was created through partnerships with the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) and the County of Orange. It provides residents of Rancho Mission Viejo with access to events around Rancho Mission Viejo and in the South Orange County area.
“We consider RanchRide to be a wonderful community benefit. It not only gets riders from point A to point B, (but it also) encourages ride-sharing and it helps develop sustainable mobility habits,” said Amaya Genaro, RMV’s Director of Community Services.
Using the service is free of charge to Rancho Mission Viejo residents, and the current routes include a weekend service that gives residents access to surrounding South Orange County cities, a shuttle service with stops at shopping centers and amenities throughout RMV, as well as a service for special events in the community.
The program has shown growth over the past year, with a 40 percent increase in event ridership and a 25 percent increase in weekend ridership in 2018, according to Genaro. A total of about 3,000 riders used the program last year for access to local events and as transportation on the weekends.
The RanchRide shuttle service is only one component of a much larger transportation plan for Rancho Mission Viejo. The program puts a large emphasis on “multimodal pathways,” or roads that are accessible throughout the community to connect residents to neighboring communities and cities. These pathways are accessible to walkers, cyclists and neighborhood electric vehicles, or small electric vehicles with a maximum speed of 25 mph, similar to a golf cart.
“Our main goals are alleviating traffic congestion, developing sustainable habits and helping residents explore different mobility options,” Genaro said.
RanchRide continues to expand by adding new routes, such as shuttle services to the Swallows Day Parade and the Festival of Whales this year, and exploring opportunities for transportation alternatives. For more information about routes and schedules, visit ranchride.net.