Metro, Newton

NewMo Offers Free Rides to Mark Ridership Milestone

To commemorate reaching 100,000 all-time rides, NewMo—Newton’s low-cost rideshare service—is offering Newton residents a free ride until Feb. 15. 

“It’s been a tremendous program to particularly help people who have limited transportation options,” Nicole Freedman, part-time transportation coordinator of Newton, said.

NewMo was created as a transportation service for seniors in 2019 but has since expanded to serve all Newton residents. Last year it expanded its service to rotate nine cars instead of eight.

The expansion helped the company reach 100,000 rides, according to Mike Vaccarino, head of partnerships at Via Transportation, NewMo’s TransitTech software and operations company. 

“Adding in that ninth vehicle added in a lot more capacity into the system, which allows us to carry more riders and increase the efficiency of the service overall as well,” Vaccarino said. “Yeah, definitely contributed to the milestone.” 

The city hopes to see NewMo transition to a fully electric fleet, according to Freedman. 

“I hope we are able to transition vehicles to electric vehicles to lower our carbon footprint,” Freedman said. 

NewMo shares this goal, although there are some obstacles in the way of achieving a fully electric fleet, according to Vaccarino. 

“Electric car manufacturers only manufacture sedans at the moment,” Vaccarino said. “In a shared ride service like NewMo, you know, we want to maximize the seat availability to carry as many passengers as possible. So we’re being calculated about incorporating electric vehicles. Once there are larger capacity fully electric vehicles, we will be the first to acquire those and build them into the service.”

Newton is also analyzing the feasibility of expanding NewMo outside of Newton’s limits. 

“We are looking to expansion to key centers in Watertown and Waltham, to help people get transportation to other areas,” Freedman said. 

Via is looking for federal funding from programs like the community transit grant program, the congestion relief program, and the carbon reduction program, according to Vaccarino.

“For all those programs, NewMo is technically eligible, so we’ll be pursuing those funding streams to hopefully grow the program as well,” Vaccarino said. 

This funding could help NewMo reach its next ride milestone, according to Vaccarino.

“Right now, we’re serving about 1,500 riders per week, and we just hit the 100,000 ride milestone,” said Vaccarino. “Achieving 200,000, 500,000, a million, is certainly on the horizon as ridership increases, and receiving funding from the federal or state government will help accelerate that process quite substantially.”

February 5, 2023