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Accessible mobility app eyes more West Michigan communities, health care settings as participation grows COURTESY PHOTO

Accessible mobility app eyes more West Michigan communities, health care settings as participation grows

BY Monday, August 22, 2022 04:31pm

A mobility app for people with disabilities is experiencing strong growth since launching commercial operations in West Michigan two months ago, and now is considering expanding its services to more communities and health care providers.

Montreal-based MUVE — which developed a mobile app that allows users to book on-demand, accessible transportation — also includes a component for users to identify varying accessibility levels at businesses and public locations. App users can “tag” locations that are 100 percent wheelchair accessible, partially accessible or non-accessible.

Later this week, MUVE will hold a community-wide tagging event in Ada on Thursday, Aug. 25 as a way to continue building on its online catalog of accessible locations. (A similar event will take place in Ann Arbor a day earlier.) Users have already tagged more than 100 locations along the lakeshore and as far north as Traverse City, said Thomas Sikkema, MUVE’s Michigan representative. 

A community tagging event in downtown Grand Rapids earlier this month also produced more than 60 new tags at local establishments.

“We’ve had a really good response,” Sikkema said. “The vision is to have thousands and thousands of those pins and tags on buildings so people who have mobility challenges can make educated decisions of where to go.”

Sikkema is also the founder and CEO of Ride YourWay LLC, a wheelchair-accessible transportation provider supporting MUVE’s ride-sharing functions that mirror a similar experience to Uber or Lyft but geared toward people with disabilities.

Since MUVE went live in West Michigan in early June, the app has completed 1,154 trips and has 186 active riders, Sikkema said.

As well, Ride YourWay has five wheelchair-accessible vans with plans to soon add a sixth. Sikkema hopes to have 15 vans operating in West Michigan by the end of the year.

The company also is considering potentially partnering with local health care providers on their transportation needs, Sikkema said.

The goal: “To make things way more efficient for hospital systems, nursing homes and treatment centers in the way they schedule their rides,” he said. “The plan is to really reinvigorate and redesign how health care organizations access transportation.”

MUVE — which stands for My Universal Vision for Everyone — partnered last year with Western-Washtenaw Area Value Express (WAVE) in Southeast Michigan to create an app that books reservations online for door-to-door bus services. The app also provides real-time tracking of fixed route vehicles and an avenue for e-payment. MUVE and WAVE received a $125,000 Michigan Mobility Funding Platform grant in September 2021 to deploy their technology.

However, the company previously chose Grand Rapids to deploy its first commercial operations in Michigan.

“If we can drop an anchor in Grand Rapids, we’re going to give Grand Rapids all of our love and attention and try to build that community as thoughtfully as we can,” MUVE co-founder and President Peter Grande previously told MiBiz.

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