The Bloomberg Mayor’s Challenge (BMC) in South Bend

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The Bloomberg Mayor’s Challenge (BMC) in South Bend

A 2016 study in St. Joseph County found the lack of reliable, affordable transportation is estimated to be a primary barrier to finding and maintaining employment for about 10,000 South Bend area residents. With support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, South Bend is currently developing a new solution to address this challenge through the Ride Guarantee program from Commuters Trust.

What is Communters Trust?

Commuters Trust is a public-private partnership developed by the City of South Bend. Commuters Trust partners with select employers to provide subsidized commute options to employees through the Ride Guarantee program.


Commuters Trust delivers commute options with the goal of reducing transportation-related separations, like tardies and absences, and the costs associated with turnover.


Commuters Trust wants to help employees get to work, increase take-home pay, and improve overall quality of life and job satisfaction.

What is Ride Guarantee and Who Qualifies?

Participants of Ride Guarantee receive subsidized commuting options each month during the program period. Starting in mid-2020, participants qualify for the following benefits for commuting to and from work:

  • Lyft - 10 discounted rides per month (2 for $1 and 8 for $5)
  • Hytch - Employees get paid to carpool by using the Hytch app (Up to 50¢ per mile for carpool drivers and up to 25¢ per mile for carpool riders)
  • Transpo - Unlimited free bus rides using a digital bus ticket from Token Transit

Select employees of partner employers are eligible for Ride Guarantee. Phase 2 of Ride Guarantee will begin in late spring or summer 2020. Participants in Phase 2 include selected locations, units, or departments at the following employers: the University of Notre Dame, FDC Films, Four Winds Casino South Bend, Oaklawn, and the South Bend Community School Corporation. Employer partners designate employees within select departments to be eligible for Ride Guarantee. Employees are contacted through their employer to join the program at the start of each phase of the program. If your employer is not on the list but you think it should be, contact Commuters Trust.

What is the difference between Commuters Trust and Ride Guarantee, and what is the City’s role?

Commuters Trust was created by the City of South Bend as a brand under which to develop the Ride Guarantee program. The program was created as a result of a transportation pilot funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Bloomberg Mayors Challenge in 2018. The brand distinguishes Commuters Trust as a unique transportation entity serving workers in South Bend. Commuters Trust operates the commuter benefit program called Ride Guarantee. The Ride Guarantee program is provided through employers and includes subsidized transportation options for participants to get to and from work.

What is the Bloomberg Mayor's Challenge?

The Bloomberg Mayors Challenge involves a yearlong competition that challenges city leaders to uncover and test bold, inventive ideas to confront the toughest problems faced by cities today. The Ride Guarantee program from South Bend’s Commuters Trust is one of the nine winning ideas of the 2018 U.S. Mayors Challenge. Winning cities are awarded a grant and programming resources to help implement their idea.

What is the history of the Bloomberg Mayors Challenge in South Bend?

In 2018, the City of South Bend conducted a pilot program in partnership with local employers and a rideshare company. The goals of the pilot were to (1) demonstrate and measure the value of reliable transportation options and (2) gather lessons about how such a program can be expanded sustainably in South Bend. After the pilot, South Bend was one of nine cities selected to receive a $1 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to continue improving, testing, and expanding its solution.

Phase 1 of the program took place from September 2019-February 2020 and included over 200 employees across three employers: The University of Notre Dame, Beacon Health System, and the City of South Bend’s Department of Venues Parks & Arts. Phase 1 included partnerships with two transportation providers: Transpo and Lyft. Program participants were provided with a limited number of discounted Lyft rides to and from work and an unlimited Transpo bus pass.

What is the future of the Bloomberg Mayors Challenge in South Bend?

Ride Guarantee plans to continue providing innovative transportation options to help ensure employees have a reliable ride to and from work. Commuters Trust provides unique solutions to the transportation barriers preventing South Bend’s residents from thriving in their jobs.

The program is slated for a multi-year, phased implementation that will run through the end of 2021. Phase 2 of Ride Guarantee is expected to serve up to 600 employees as the program expands to new employers in 2020. In addition to 10 subsidized Lyft rides and unlimited Transpo bus rides, Phase 2 will also provide new services including a mobile bus pass option called Token Transit as well as carpooling through a mobile app called Hytch. Employees who carpool to or from work can get compensated up to 25¢ per mile as riders and up to 50¢ per mile as drivers.

The City and employers will work together with transportation providers to evaluate the impact of the program and plan for future expansion. By the end of the three-year grant period, the City aims to establish a program funded by employer and employee contributions. Ideally, the program will result in many participating employers and a variety of transportation modes to significantly increase employee attendance, limit employee turnover, and improve employee quality of life.