May Mobility and Via recently announced they are taking the next step to expand the public deployment of autonomous vehicles across the U.S.
Under a new agreement, the companies plan to deploy more AVs globally for public transit in the next three years.
Come What May
As part of the expanded agreement, May Mobility will have access to Via’s Remix software. With Remix, May Mobility will further optimize its AV routes and advance sustainability and equity goals by using proprietary data from over 200 Via deployments and 100 million shared Via rides.
“This partnership will further enable us to transform transportation, scaling our work to give more people access to accessible, equitable, and sustainable mobility options,” said Brittany Lockard of May Mobility. “We design customized AV services with Via that efficiently group riders heading in the same direction together and we consider the ridership requirements of each area we serve, including wheelchair-accessible vehicles equipped with an ADA-compliant ramping system, both of which further our joint commitments to sustainability and equity.”
Powered by Via’s AI-based booking and intelligent routing algorithms, on-demand rides are available to anyone through a Via-powered app, which matches riders headed in the same direction into one vehicle to create efficient shared trips.
Meghan Grela, AV strategy lead at Via, added that the companies anticipate challenges along the way.
“One of the main challenges is just continuing to help communities, organizations, and governments around the globe understand that AVs reach their highest potential when they are shared, dynamically routed, long-term fixtures of a public transit network, and don’t have to be confined to private, single-use ownership,” Grela said.
Lockard said the services are “meant to complement existing public transportation infrastructure.” May Mobility works with partners and the communities where it operates to identify gaps in existing transit options and to fill those needs.
“Our hope with this partnership is to make transit more accessible, equitable, and sustainable, allowing more people to get where they need to be when they need to be there,” said Lockard.
Years in the Making
May Mobility and Via have partnered since March 2021, as the companies launched Arlington RAPID, an on-demand public AV service, in partnership with the City of Arlington, Texas.
The partnership was made possible through a $1.7 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration’s Integrated Mobility Innovation Program.
“Just months later, our companies deployed two more similar programs in Ann Arbor, Michigan (A2GO) and Grand Rapids, Michigan (AVGR) — ultimately launching three public AV services in an impressive timeline of just eight months,” Grela said. “Since day one of our partnership together, May and Via have both shared the vision that AVs can best serve our communities when they are deployed as shared public transportation.”
In September 2022, Via launched goMARTI in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, which was the country’s first rural transit program to use wheelchair-accessible autonomous vehicles with ADA-compliant ramps.
To date, May Mobility and Via have together served around 50,000 AV rides.
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