Transportation is one of the biggest advantages anyone can have, and getting it when unable to drive is a big plus. Recognizing the need for affordable and reliable transportation, organizations like WeCAB have been hard at work helping those who can’t drive in Western Hennepin County, as well as Watertown, Mayer, and New Germany. Now more than ever, WeCAB is helping people get where they need to be, and they are always looking for more drivers to help.
“We’re in great need for volunteers, especially with all that has happened with COVID,” said Katie Boller Gosewisch, executive director of WeCAB.
WeCAB is based in Mound, providing transport throughout the Westonka area was well as some of Carver County. The idea is fairly simple; anyone in need of cab service, whether it’s for going to the grocery stores or even to the Mayo Clinic(though this is rare, according to Boller Gosewisch). The rides are provided entirely by volunteers, and riders are clients of WeCAB specifically.
There are a few requirements to being a rider in WeCAB. First, you have to live in a city where the service is provided. Unfortunately, since they currently only server Watertown, Mayer, New Germany, as well as East Carver County, WeCAB cannot accept residents of Norwood Young America, Cologne, and Hamburg.
“When we first came to Carver County, there were talks with Norwood Young America and Cologne, but that never came to fruition,” said Boller Gosewisch. “It was certainly discussed and we’re open to the idea of expansion, but we have to have strong community partners.”
For the most part, WeCAB drivers will take riders anywhere, and anytime.
“So long as there’s a willing volunteer, they get a ride,” said Boller Gosewisch. “There are two exceptions: we don’t go to the bar or airport, since there are services already in place for those.”
Other than that, the options aren’t limited. Nearly anywhere you need to go is an option, so long as there’s a volunteer willing to make the trip. Riders also have to register with WeCAB through their website or phone in order to become a client. Once registered, all the client has to do is call the dispatch line to request a ride. The dispatcher then puts out the request to the drivers, who can take up the request. The rider is then called back once a driver is found.
Each client gets two hours’ worth of drive time, and drives are considered one way. However, that doesn’t mean you have to set up two rides for a short errand.
“If you want go to Walgreens to buy some items, we count it was two one-way rides,” said Boller Gosewisch. “Now, if you had to go somewhere for several hours, we break up the ride, and more often than not the same driver does the ride.”
In other words, though they are one-way, that wording is fairly flexible depending on the trip. The factors are more on who’s available and what the rider needs to do at their destination. So long as all parties are available, riders will likely get the ride they need.
And WeCAB is very, very good at filling ride requests. Over 95 percent of request that come in are filled. They have provided over 18,000 rides and driven over 229,000 miles in their time. And the numbers are going up for need, especially with COVID limited public transport. According to Boller Gosewisch, usage is up 20 percent.
“A lot of our drivers fall into that high-risk category for COVID, and we’re working on getting PPE and dividers,” said Boller Gosewisch. “We have several that just can’t drive right now.”
What helps is that volunteers are not limited to WeCAB coverage. Cologne residents can volunteer to be drivers for riders, for example. To become a volunteer is a fairly similar process to becoming a rider. Volunteers have to apply online or via phone, and they have to approve of a background check. Once those are passed, they start to get riders. And there’s always room for more.
Whether you’re looking to help or in need of a ride, visit https://wecab.org/ to register. They accept all forms of help, whether volunteer drivers, dispatchers, or sponsors. To get a ride, call 844-743-3932 from 9am-1pm Monday thru Friday to schedule a ride. Rides are low cost, starting at $2.50 and going max to $10 depending on the distance of the ride. And no matter what you need or how you can help, WeCAB is here to help you get where you need to be.