DETROIT — Pointing to the critical role transportation plays in improving access to services and public life in communities across the state, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the final round of pilot projects to receive funding under the $8 million Michigan Mobility Challenge initiative this week at the North American International Auto Show.
The Michigan Mobility Challenge grants address core mobility gaps for seniors, persons with disabilities and veterans across the state, with projects in Battle Creek, Grand Rapids, the Central Upper Peninsula and Southeast Michigan receiving funding in this second round.
“We have an opportunity, and a responsibility, to advance our state’s technology and automotive landscape in a way that also improves the quality of life for countless individuals in Michigan,” Whitmer said. “The Michigan Mobility Challenge can offer a blueprint for the rest of the nation on how to look to mobility technology to improve transportation options for citizens who need access to an affordable, reliable way to go to the bank, their doctor’s appointment or the grocery store.”
Whitmer was joined at the announcement by Paul Ajegba, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation, Jeff Mason, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., Trevor Pawl, group vice president of PlanetM, and disabilities advocate Kimberly Kennedy of Grand Rapids.
“MDOT’s core mission is providing safe transportation options to all citizens,” Ajegba said. “I’m very pleased that under the leadership of Jean Ruestman, our Office of Passenger Transportation has encouraged innovative mobility projects across the state. And I want to especially thank Gov. Whitmer for supporting the Mobility Challenge.”
The four projects announced were:
- New Autonomous Mobility Vision for Michigan ($2,168,219) – an autonomous electric shuttle at the Battle Creek VA Medical Center. This will allow for extended hours of service to veterans on the hospital campus as well as an easier method for ordering and scheduling services.
- Pratt & Miller Engineering (project lead), Western Michigan University, University of Michigan, Kevadiya Inc., Robotic Research, Comet Mobility and Easterseals.
- Southeast Michigan Integrated Platform for Paratransit Services ($1,050,000) – an integrated online booking and trip management platform that can create a “one-click” experience for users of AAATA, DDOT and SMART ADA Paratransit services, making scheduling and managing paratransit trips easier for seniors and people with disabilities.
- Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan (project lead), AAATA, DDOT, SMART, SEMCOG, the Area Agency on Aging 1B and Menlo Innovations.
- Team Grand Rapids: Interurban Transit Partnership ($373,782) – utilizing a dynamic ride share app for paratransit services in Grand Rapids to improve rider experience by shortening trip duration and reservation lead time. This will allow booking trips the same day and mean users spend less time on the bus.
- The Rapid, the City of Grand Rapids, Disability Advocates of Kent County and Via.
- Michigan Universal Vehicle Ecosystem Pilot ($1,178,129) – a ride-share platform in the central UP that will focus on increasing accessible transportation options, build community and decrease isolation for those with mobility challenges.
- P3 (project lead), MUVE, Upper Peninsula Commission for Area Progress, Delta Area Transit Authority, Schoolcraft County Transit, Dickinson Iron Community Services Agency, Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Regional Commission, and Veterans Affairs.
The $8 million Michigan Mobility Challenge was designed to fund the demonstration of projects of using new technology and innovative service models to address mobility gaps for seniors, persons with disabilities and veterans in Michigan. Awarded grants will be used to subsidize a portion of the cost to plan, deliver and monitor the demonstration services for a three- to six-month period, with the remaining costs being covered from fares, local contributions and other funds. Projects will coordinate with current services to enhance the existing transportation network in an area.
The first round of nine Michigan Mobility Challenge grants were announced in October 2018. Today’s announcement brings the total number of projects funded to 13 projects in urban, rural and suburban communities of varying sizes throughout Michigan.