FTA Announces Integrated Mobility Innovation Grant Awards and Next Round of Transit Innovation Funding
On Monday, March 16, FTA announced 25 awards for the 2019 Innovative Mobility Initiative (IMI) grants. IMI grants are part of the mobility innovation programs and initiatives developed by the FTA Office of Research, Innovation, and Demonstration’s Mobility Innovation Division (TRI-10), which funds pilots and demonstrations of technology-based transit services. The FTA gave away a total of $20,355,847 between the 25 projects.
Seven of the IMI projects won over $1.5 million, with the largest grant of $2 million going to the Connecticut Department of Transportation for automated electric 40-foot busses along a BRT corridor with a focus on precise bus docking at the station for accessible boarding for all users including people with disabilities.
Connecticut and Ohio are the only two states that received two IMI grants, though California received one grant and is included in a grant serving rural areas of Main, Kentucky, and California as well. Eleven of the projects and 37% of the total funding went to projects serving only rural communities, while some additional projects serve rural as well as urban or suburban areas.
Ten of the projects have specific services for people with disabilities, low-income populations, students, older adults, and other disadvantaged populations, with a range of taking various populations into account minimally or focusing in on them. For example, the City of Arlington, TX states that one wheelchair accessible vehicle will be included in their entire fleet for mobility on demand (MOD) service in the City, and stipulates that UT Arlington students will ride free. Cecil Count, MD received $562,845 to fund mobility on-demand service solely for people in substance recovery, a group not often the focus of specific transit programs.
This set of IMI grants succeeded the $8 million in 2016 that was administered to 11 Mobility on Demand Sandbox projects. Tri-Met in Oregon is the only agency to receive both a MOD Sandbox grant and an IMI grant, with the IMI funding designed to further support the project developed under the MOD Sandbox. Most of the IMI projects focus on either MOD services or app development for routing, dispatching, and/or payment options. Only two IMI projects (Connecticut DOT’s automated busses and the City of Columbus’ automated shuttles) utilize automated driving systems (ADS), though the quasi-subsequent review of USDOT’s ADS grants (announced a few months after the IMI submission due date) may have led some agencies to separate technology use in transit into different proposals when applying to various funding pools.
The next round of funding of mobility innovation programs to follow the MOD Sandbox and IMI was subsequently announced on March 18. The Accelerating Innovative Mobility (AIM) will award $11 million in grants to foster technology innovation in transit in the United States. The FTA announced intent to award 50% of AIM grant funding to projects located in rural areas.
|Project Sponsor||Short Description||Amount|
|Connecticut||Urban, Suburban||Connecticut DOT||Automated, electric busses along BRT||$2,000,000|
|Ohio||Small urban||Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA)||Innovative payment for mobility, business, and other applications||$1,997,503|
|Oregon||Urban||Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon||Multi-modal integrated payments||$1,812,282|
|Ohio||Urban||Central Ohio Transit Authority||Cloud and AI development for better data management for traffic and transit||$1,725,000|
|Texas||Urban||City of Arlington||Integration of AVs into MOD fleet||$1,698,558|
|Maine, Kentucky, and California||Rural||Independent Transportation Network (ITN)||MOD scheduling and routing updates and service expansion for older adults and people with disabilities in new rural communities in three states||$1,658,025|
|Oklahoma||Rural||Grand Gateway Economic Development Association||New MOD service and transit routing and scheduling||$1,514,479|
|Minnesota||Rural||Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency||MOD and taxi FMLM access to transit with online portal||$952,807|
|New York||Rural||Tompkins County||Multi-modal trip planning platform||$820,000|
|Washington||Small urban||Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA)||Accessible van MOD service within the city for seniors, children, people with disabilities, and people with limited income||$719,388|
|Pennsylvania||Rural||Crawford Area Transportation Authority (CATA)||Multimodal mobile ticketing updates for fixed route and paratransit||$715,233|
|Connecticut||Urban, Suburban, Rural||Greater Hartford Transit District||Improved paratransit service for older adults and people with disabilities||$630,000|
|Maryland||Rural||Cecil County, Maryland||MOD for people in substance recovery||$562,845|
|Georgia||Urban, Suburban||Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) for Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority (ATL)||Multi-modal trip planning and payment integration app development||$430,400|
|South Dakota||Urban, Suburban||Coordinated Community Transportation Systems on behalf of River Cities Public Transit||Integrated payment for transportation for oncology patients||$401,760|
|Tennessee||Suburban||Memphis Area Transit Authority||MOD microtransit in an area with many older adults||$394,000|
|North Carolina||Rural||Wake County Human Services||MOD for access to jobs, school, healthcare, other services, and transit.||$393,527|
|Indiana||Urban||City of Columbus||Automated shuttle circulator with focus on low-income, seniors, disability communities||$320,620|
|California||Urban, Suburban||San Joaquin Regional Transit District||App for payment integration and trip planning across transit providers||$306,000|
|Michigan||Rural||Michigan Department of Transportation||MOD for on-emergency medical transportation||$276,499|
|Alabama||Urban, Suburban||Baldwin County Commission||New MOD platform||$260,800|
|Alaska||Rural||Matanuska-Susitna Borough||New system for flexible and integrated dispatch, fleet management, call-taking, and payment||$231,191|
|Colorado||Urban||City of Boulder, Colorado||Advancedoftware development for new WAV MOD for older adults, people with disabilities, and low-income individuals.||$224,000|
|Virginia||Rural||Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation||Demand-responsive microtransit||$160,930|
|Idaho||Urban, Suburban||Kootenai County||Development of open architecture fare payment system||$150,000|
Adapted from FTA