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Ford Motor Co. plans to turn a year-old internal start-up into a national medical transport service.

The Blue Oval recently expanded its GoRide Health non-emergency medical transport business to Toledo. By the end of the year, Ford would have a fleet of Transit vans running in six cities in Michigan, Ohio and Florida, the company said Tuesday. 

The GoRide service inspired Ford X, the Dearborn-automaker's internal team that acts like a business incubator focused on developing new mobility services. The GoRide expansion moves the service into more markets as Ford experiments with how non-emergency medical transport might plug into its autonomous vehicle business expected to launch in 2021.

"GoRide Health is gaining momentum because it is a reliable, human-centered service for people whose very lives depend on making their medical appointments," said Minyang Jiang, CEO of GoRide Health, in a statement. "Despite a critical and growing need across our country, most patients are unable to find reliable transportation and drivers who understand their needs. GoRide Health can fill that gap."

GoRide Health aimed initially to help elderly people get to and from medical appointments. Jiang and Ford launched the service roughly a year ago in partnership with Beaumont Health in southeast Michigan. The service got patients to appointments on-time in 95 percent of their trips, according to a statement. 

The automaker plans to expand the Miami this year, where it's already been testing and building its autonomous vehicle business plan with Argo AI, the company building the software. In 2020, the company plans to launch GoRide in North Carolina, Louisiana, Texas and California.

Meantime, in Ohio Ford plans to use GoRide to work with city transit agencies to build solutions for people who need help getting from their homes to public transit stops, or from public transit stops to work or other places. Jiange said GoRide plans to partner with Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority to address that problem.

"What makes the partnership noteworthy is GoRide’s commitment and support of RTA’s goal to coordinate all the region’s mobility services so that through one call, or one tap of the app made to RTA, every citizen will get the ride they need," Brandon Policicchio, chief customer and business development office at the Dayton transit authority, said in a statement. 

The partnership would allow GoRide to experiment with offering its service to more than those who need medical transport.

ithibodeau@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau

 

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