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Via Overhauls Paratransit with New On-Demand Service in Michigan

Rapid On Demand is among the first paratransit services in the United States to integrate with on-demand ridesharing technology 

August 5, 2019 (GRAND RAPIDS, MI) — Via, the world’s leading provider and developer of on-demand public mobility solutions, today announced a new paratransit deployment in partnership with The Rapid, a leading public transportation provider in the Midwest. Called “Rapid On Demand,” the new network is one of the first times an American transit agency will upgrade its paratransit service with on-demand ridehailing technology, as opposed to pre-scheduling days in advance. 

While Via already offers wheelchair-accessible vehicles nearly everywhere it operates, this will be the company’s first-ever deployment fully dedicated to overhauling a city’s vitally important paratransit services. Grand Rapids residents eligible for the city’s GO!Bus ADA paratransit program can now utilize the Rapid On Demand app, developed and powered by Via. 

“We’re delighted to be working with The Rapid and partners to provide an affordable, convenient, and comfortable transportation solution for seniors and people with disabilities,” said Daniel Ramot, co-founder and CEO of Via. “We have increasingly seen cities and towns ask how they can provide their residents with transportation that radically improves the customer experience, and yet still achieves the same environmental and congestion-reducing benefits of public transit. Via’s on-demand transit technology is that solution, and we are excited for GO!Bus to improve mobility for residents in the communities that need it most.”

Using the Rapid On Demand app, riders will be able to hail a shuttle directly from their smartphone. Via’s advanced algorithms will enable multiple riders to seamlessly share the vehicle. The powerful technology will direct passengers to a nearby virtual bus stop within a short walking distance for pick up and drop off, allowing for quick and efficient shared trips without lengthy detours, or inconvenient fixed routes and schedules.

“At The Rapid, our goal is to continuously improve mobility options in West Michigan,” said Andrew Johnson, CEO of The Rapid. “Rapid On Demand offers an exciting opportunity to provide same-day service that improves independence and customer experience to those who may not be able to utilize typical ride hailing solutions.”

Commuters can use the service by downloading the Rapid On Demand smartphone app, available on iOS and Android. Users can book rides anywhere within the service zone spanning from Downtown Grand Rapids to the southeastern portion of Kentwood. There will be no charge to use the service at launch.

“On-demand public transit is revolutionary for our area, and we couldn’t be more excited about partnering to assist with the Rapid On Demand pilot program,” said Laura St. Louis, Community Organizer with Disability Advocates of Kent County. “Riders are already sharing how easy it is to book a ride and get where they need to go with no fuss.”  

The Rapid received funding for the service through the Michigan Mobility Challenge, a grant initiative seeded with an $8 million legislative appropriation in 2018 to use technology and innovation to address core mobility gaps for seniors, persons with disabilities, and veterans across Michigan.

Via has been tapped by cities and transportation players around the world to help re-engineer public transit from a regulated system of rigid routes and schedules to a fully dynamic, on-demand network. Via now has more than 80 launched and pending deployments in nearly 20 countries, providing more than 60 million rides to date. To learn more about Via, visit www.platform.ridewithvia.com.

About Via

Via is re-engineering public transit, from a regulated system of rigid routes and schedules to a fully dynamic, on-demand network. Via’s mobile app connects multiple passengers who are headed the same way, allowing riders to seamlessly share a premium vehicle. First launched in New York City in September 2013, the Via platform operates in the United States and in Europe through its joint venture with Mercedes-Benz Vans, ViaVan. Via’s technology is also deployed worldwide through dozens of partner projects with public transportation agencies, private transit operators, taxi fleets, private companies, and universities, seamlessly integrating with public transit infrastructure to power cutting-edge on-demand mobility. For more information, visit www.platform.ridewithvia.com.

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