FTA Announces Integrated Mobility Innovation Grant Awards and Next Round of Transit Innovation Funding

FTA Announces Integrated Mobility Innovation Grant Awards and Next Round of Transit Innovation Funding

March 20, 2020  | Alice Grossman

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.

Implementation State Urban/

Suburban/

Rural

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

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