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Companies get innovative to fill in urban transportation gaps

AVs with a safety attendant will shuttle NY commuters. Photo: Optimus Ride
Autonomous vehicles with a safety attendant will shuttle NY commuters. Photo: Optimus Ride

A flurry of recent developments shows how innovative companies are targeting real transportation problems in American cities.

Driving the news: Optimus Ride begins automated-vehicle service Wednesday at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a 300-acre industrial park.

  • 6 automated electric shuttles will carry passengers on a closed, 1-mile loop throughout the campus that includes a new ferry stop and the Yard's Cumberland Gate at Flushing Avenue.
  • With no other public transit on the site, the shuttles are a vital cog for some New Yorkers' multimodal commute.

Details: In Grand Rapids, Michigan, Via is launching an on-demand paratransit service in partnership with the city's public transit system, The Rapid.

  • The 6-month pilot will offer seniors and persons with disabilities on-demand transportation service, with 15 minutes or less wait time.
  • The app-based service is intended to replace the city's current paratransit system, which requires reservations up to 4 days ahead.

Also in Grand Rapids (a new hotbed of mobility innovation), May Mobility recently launched its driverless shuttles on a 3.2-mile downtown bus route in the city.

  • The 6-passenger shuttles are staffed by a safety attendant in the driver's seat and have a top speed of 25 mph.
  • The program, funded by a public-private partnership, aims to address congestion issues in the city and introduce alternative modes of transportation.

Go deeper: Women are less trusting of self-driving cars