USDOT awards $14 million to 25 transit innovation projects

Posted: 4 September 2020 |

Grant recipients will deploy new transportation technologies and services, including microtransit, vehicle automation, integrating ride-hailing services with transit, and contactless fare payments.

USDOT awards $14 million to 25 transit innovation projects

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has announced 25 projects in 24 states and one territory will receive a share of approximately $14 million in funding through the Accelerating Innovative Mobility (AIM) initiative to support mobility and innovation in the transit industry.

“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 AIM initiative aims to support innovators testing nationwide approaches that will benefit other public transportation providers and passengers. 20 of the AIM projects are located in or benefit rural areas, consistent with the Department’s Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success (ROUTES) initiative. Six of the projects include innovations to help alleviate COVID19-related issues, including contactless payment, social distancing, innovative scheduling and real-time information to reduce crowding.

Among the projects selected to receive funding are:

  • The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Houston Metro) will receive approximately $1.5 million to develop an automated electric shuttle bus that will serve Texas Southern University, the University of Houston, and Houston’s Third Ward community. The shuttle will connect to Metro buses and light rail and be studied for potential use in urban, suburban, and rural environments
  • Western Reserve Transit Authority in Ohio will receive $2.3 million to partner with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority to deploy automated electric vehicles designed for accessibility in Mahoning Valley, Ohio, and Santa Clara Valley, California, to augment fixed-route bus and paratransit services. The two locations will test the ability of the AVs to provide more efficient and cost-effective service under different climates and operating conditions
  • The Oregon Department of Transportation will receive $480,000 to build a web-based repository of transit data, census data and open-source software. The project will build a user interface providing near-real time and historical transit network information to planners at the local, state and federal levels to support planning, investment and management of large transit networks
  • The City of Wilson in rural central North Carolina will receive $250,000 to replace its fixed-route transit service with on-demand, rural microtransit to provide more targeted service and solve first/last mile connections. The system will include accessible vehicles, phone booking, and lower fares.