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Metro Mobility, the public transportation service for people with disabilities, is now delivering groceries to its clients.

Customers in the Twin Cities who have disabilities and are certified to use the on-demand ride service can now place an order for groceries and household essentials with a local store by phone or online, and have a bus driver bring them to their door — at no charge.

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The Met Council's launched its "Goods and Grocery Delivery" service Sunday as a way to help meet the needs of those who are "vulnerable and susceptible to getting the virus," said Nick Thompson, Transportation Service director for the Met Council, which provides the Metro Mobility service.

Maple Grove Transit also announced that starting Frday its on-demand ride service, My Ride, is available to pick up and deliver groceries at no charge from Maple Grove stores that offer pick-up service. Metro Mobility had already advised riders to book essential trips only amid concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. Since COVID-19's outbreak, Metro Mobility, which normally provides about 8,000 rides a day to grocery stores, medical appointments and other places, had seen a sharp drop off in ride requests. With idle buses and drivers available, the Met Council jumped in, Thompson said.

Customers place orders with grocery stores, food banks and even pet stores and let the outlet know that Metro Mobility will pick up the order. Customers then call Metro Mobility to schedule a same day or future pickup date just like they do when scheduling a ride.

Customers should provide an order number or other proof of purchase to Metro Mobility when requesting a pickup. Customers will get a confirmation and a driver will bring items to their door within a 60-minute window of the scheduled pickup time. Drivers will ask for a photo ID at drop-off. No fares or fees are charged.

The delivery service is also provided for users of Transit Link, which provides public transportation in areas where regular bus service is infrequent or unavailable.

Few people had taken advantage of the "Goods and Grocery Delivery" program as of Thursday, but Thompson expects requests to increase, especially after Gov. Tim Walz issued a "Stay At Home" directive that takes effect Friday night.

Metro Mobility has 40,000 registered customers and about half use the service to schedule rides. Metro Mobility has 600 buses and 1,000 drivers, so "we have capacity to meet the demand," Thompson said. "We encourage you to use it."

Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768