Capital Area Transportation Authority awarded $465,000 Michigan Mobility Challenge grant

Contact: Jean Ruestman, Administrator, MDOT Office of Passenger Transportation 517-373-6625
Agency: Transportation

September 28, 2018 -- The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) announced today that the Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA) was awarded a $465,000 Michigan Mobility grant to encourage independent use of public transportation among individuals who are blind or visually impaired. The $8 Million Michigan Mobility Challenge is a grant initiative to use technology and innovation to address core mobility gaps for seniors, persons with disabilities, and veterans across the state.

CATA will use the awarded funding to collaboratively partner with LookingBus, an Ann Arbor-based technology company whose product gives a renewed sense of freedom to individuals with disabilities, a segment of riders that is traditionally limited to advance-reservation transportation services.

"LookingBus' proprietary technology not only improves safety and reliability, but customer experience as well, specifically for those who rely on fixed-route services," said CATA CEO Bradley T. Funkhouser. "It's a realistic option for mobility-challenged populations. We are eager to introduce innovative solutions like LookingBus to our riders. Our goal is to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse group of riders."

MDOT issued a Call for Projects in early June and received 43 proposals, requesting nearly $27 million in funding. Eight projects have been selected for full or partial funding in the first round, with the potential for more projects to be funded later in the year.

The Michigan Mobility Challenge grants are being awarded to fund the demonstration of projects of varying sizes using new technology and innovative service models. The 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 are located in urban, rural and suburban communities of varying sizes throughout Michigan and will be coordinated with current services to enhance the existing transportation network in an area.

"Providing equitable and accessible transportation options for all Michigan citizens to access the goods and services they need is a priority," said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. "The $8 Million Michigan Mobility Challenge allows us to better utilize the assets we have and introduce new methods for solving mobility gaps and getting travelers to their destinations as safely and efficiently as possible."

Unveiled at the 2018 Mackinac Policy Conference, the $8 Million Michigan Mobility Challenge is intended to engage the state's robust technology, startup and transportation networks, along with service providers, advocacy groups and state agencies, including MDOT, PlanetM/Michigan Economic Development Corp., the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, and the Bureau of Services to Blind Persons.

"New mobility solutions offer opportunities to make our communities safer, greener and more productive in a way that allows all people to uphold their dignity," said Trevor Pawl, group vice president of PlanetM, the State of Michigan's mobility-focused brand and business development program. "The evolution of transportation demands collaboration between state, industry, community, advocacy, and higher education leaders working together to make sure advancements in how we live, travel and use services improve that quality of life for everyone."

More information about the program is available online at www.michigan.gov/mobilitychallenge. Follow on social media with the hashtag #mimobilitychallenge.