The U.S. DOT’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recently announced the opportunity to apply for $15 million in research funds through the new Integrated Mobility Innovation (IMI) Demonstration program, which will support innovations in public transportation service models, payment systems, and automation applications to improve mobility across the nation.
“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,” FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams said in a release.
The Integrated Mobility Innovation 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.
Building on 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.
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.
The MPI research area was developed from 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.