The Rapid and Via partner for on-demand mobility pilot

Aug. 5, 2019
The six-month pilot will examine feasibility of on-demand ridesharing for The Rapid’s senior ridership and persons with disabilities.

Riders of GO!Bus, The Rapid’s shared ride option for seniors and persons with disabilities in the Grand Rapids, Mich., area, will now be able to access on-demand transit thanks to a new partnership between Via and The Rapid.  

GO!Bus usually operates through an advanced reservation system, but the pilot project will allow riders to schedule transportation through an app with 15-minutes or less wait times along with curb-to-burb service. The pilot is scheduled to last six months and will test the feasibility of on-demand ridesharing as a public transportation solution for GO!Bus riders.

“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.”

Via has partnered with other transit systems and municipalities to offer on-demand service in the past and the company offers wheelchair-accessible vehicles nearly everywhere it operates. However, this will be the company’s first-ever deployment fully dedicated to overhauling a city’s vitally important paratransit services.

“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.”

Riders with GO!Bus eligibility can download the free Rapid On Demand app and schedule a ride within the pilot project’s service area, which spans from downtown Grand Rapids to the southeastern portion of Grand Rapids and Kentwood. Once the reservation is made, riders will be directed to a nearby virtual bus stop for pick up and drop off.

“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 pilot program is made possible with a grant through the Michigan Mobility Challenge, which awarded The Rapid funding based on the project’s aim to improve rider experience by shortening the trip duration and reservation lead time.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.