GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — May Mobility’s free autonomous shuttle service will soon again be rolling down the streets of downtown Grand Rapids, with some changes.
City officials halted the service in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. During that time, city employees involved in the autonomous vehicle initiative have been working with May Mobility to retrofit the city’s eight shuttles for a cleaner, safer ride.
When the service restarts Aug. 31, passengers will notice the shuttles have a partition separating the shuttle’s attendant and the passenger area. The air conditioning system is also split between both zones and features a new filtration system typically found in hospital settings.
While the shuttles can carry up to four people, rides will be limited to a single passenger or group of riders from the same household or party. Everyone on board must wear a face covering, including the shuttle attendant.
In between each trip, a UV-C light treatment system created by Holland-based GHSP and installed in each shuttle will disinfect the interior. Each vehicle will be dry fogged daily to disinfect all surfaces.
May Mobility launched the shuttle service in Grand Rapids in July 2019 as part of a one-year pilot program. City spokesman Steve Guitar says the restarted service is still part of the original initiative and city officials are still discussing whether to extend the program beyond one year.
The free shuttles follow a 3.2-mile DASH West bus route through Grand Rapids’ downtown, West Side and Heartside areas, stopping at 20 places along the way.