FTA Awards $14M in Grants for 25 ‘Innovative Mobility’ Projects

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recently announced that 25 projects in 24 states, plus the territory of Guam, would share approximately $14 million in funding through its Accelerating Innovative Mobility (AIM) initiative.

Launched in early 2020, AIM’s objective is to “drive innovation by promoting forward-thinking approaches to improve financing, system design and service.” Some of the selected projects will also help alleviate COVID-19-related issues, including scheduling and real-time information to reduce crowding, according to FTA.

“As we face this public health emergency, investments in innovation are critical for transit agencies to better meet rider expectations and adapt to changes in our transportation system,” said FTA Deputy Administrator K. Jane Williams. “We are pleased to collaborate with these grant recipients to develop new service methods to improve safety, increase access, develop more efficient operations, and enhance the transit experience for all.”

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and Regional Transportation District (RTD) in Denver are among the transit agencies whose projects will receive funding. (For the complete list, click here.)

The MTA will use its $180,000 grant to partner with Prover Technology, Inc. to “demonstrate the benefits of integrating new technology into communications-based train control.” According to FTA, “the project will illustrate the potential benefits of an innovative service delivery model for train control systems and result in improved safety, cost savings and expedited project delivery.”

Awarded a $700,000 grant, Metro will work with the Harvard School of Business, the Duke Center for Advanced Hindsight, and private-sector technology and mobility firms to identify and test incentives to encourage transit use, ridesharing, walking, bicycling or telecommuting. It is part of an approximately $1.3 million Travel Rewards Research Pilot Project to help solve traffic problems in L.A. County. The project budget includes $412,000 of in-kind development from private firms.

(In related news: As part of its COVID-19 recovery effort, Metro has formed a task force that is developing recommendations “to ensure a clean and safe return for riders, contribute to an equitable economic recovery for L.A. County, and to preserve mobility without congestion.” The task force expects to release draft recommendations and seek further input from the public this fall.)

A $687,000 grant will help RTD and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) work with their mobile ticketing provider, Masabi, and app partner, Transit, to develop a multimodal trip planning and payment integration feature in the Transit app.

The project, slated to cost just over $1.02 million, is expected to start soon and roll out by 2022. In addition to AIM grant funding, the project includes $336,000 in matching funds: $30,000 in cash from RTD; $10,000 in cash from the Denver South Transportation Management Association; and the balance in in-kind development, product management and program management expenses from RTD, CDOT, Transit and Masabi. Mobility provider Via will also take part.

FTA received 75 eligible proposals by its May 18 deadline—totaling some $62.3 million in funding requests from 33 states and territories. Project proposals were evaluated based on criteria outlined in the AIM Notice of Funding Opportunity.

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