The US Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has announced the opportunity for public transport providers across the country to apply for US$15m in new research funding to help advance the introduction of new and innovative mobility options.
The new finance is available through the FTA’s new Integrated Mobility Innovation (IMI) Demonstration program that will support new ideas and concepts in public transportation service models, payment systems, and automation applications to improve mobility for all citizens. The funding is available to all providers of public transport, including public transit agencies, state/local government departments of transportation (DOTs), and federally-recognized Indian tribes. The FTA says eligible applicants must identify one or more strategic project partner(s) with a substantial interest and involvement in the project. Projects will be evaluated and selected based on criteria outlined in the Notice of Funding Opportunity, including the project’s potential impact, innovativeness, and transferability to other communities, with applications accepted until August 6.
The IMI program brings together three areas of high interest to the transit industry and traveling public: Mobility on Demand (MOD), Strategic Transit Automation Research (STAR), and Mobility Payment Integration (MPI). Applicants can propose projects that involve one or multiple areas. Submitted schemes should:
- Explore new business approaches and technology solutions that support mobility;
- Enable communities to adopt innovative mobility solutions that enhance transportation efficiency and effectiveness;
- Facilitate the widespread deployment of proven mobility solutions that expand personal mobility.
The three main areas covered by the research funding are:
- Mobility on demand (MOD), with US$8m available – Building on the FTA’s successful initial round of MOD projects, these projects will deploy new tools and service models, such as mobile applications or on-demand microtransit, that make transit more convenient and accessible. Focus areas include projects that provide first-mile/last-mile connections to transit hubs; improve mobility for those with limited transportation choices; and involve targeted, reproducible approaches to data sharing and collection.
- Strategic transit automation research (STAR), with US$5m available – The FTA developed the five-year STAR Plan to explore the use of vehicle automation technologies in bus transit operations. This grant opportunity is specifically soliciting automation projects identified in the STAR Plan roadmap, including automated advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) for transit buses and automated shuttles.
- Mobility payment integration (MPI), with US$2m available – This research area was developed from the FTA’s recognition of the importance of the evolving mobility payment marketplace in managing and integrating mobility. Payment integration can allow seamless, complete trip planning among a range of public and private operators, enhancing regional mobility.
“We are committed to advancing US Transportation Secretary, Elaine L. Chao’s strategic goal of innovation, which is key to improving safety and reliability in our transportation system,” said the FTA’s acting administrator, K Jane Williams. “As public transportation continues to experience a period of rapid change, these grant funds are designed to help public transit providers throughout the country develop and deploy emerging technologies to better serve their customers.”