Via formed a new paratransit deployment in partnership with Michigan’s The Rapid. 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 ride-hailing 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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.