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State of Michigan announces Mobility Wallet Challenge partners to improve equity and access to public transit
March 29, 2023
LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification (OFME) announce Michigan Mobility Wallet Challenge awards under the mobility wallet pilot program, which aims to increase the interoperability of transit services and create greater access and equity to personal mobility for Michigan residents. These selections are Ecolane Inc., Feonix – Mobility Rising, and the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan (RTA).
The program’s goal is to simplify the transit payment process by allowing riders or third-party stakeholders to load funds and/or connect bank accounts to a single platform and create a streamlined mechanism for fare payment and collection, thereby increasing access to vital mobility services in Michigan. The Michigan Mobility Wallet Challenge is a collaborative effort, including MDOT, OFME, the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO), and the Michigan Poverty Task Force (PTF).
“Michigan is on the forefront of innovations in developing new technologies for public transit users, Acting State Transportation Director Brad Wieferich said. “These mobility wallet solutions will help provide easy and equitable access to various transportation providers across the state.”
Ecolane Inc. will develop a mobility wallet solution using their X4MaaS platform that enables transportation providers to integrate all their modes (fixed route, ADA, micro-transit, demand-response, rideshare, and bikeshare) into a single mobile app for a unified rider experience. The mobility wallet solution will integrate ZIG, a sensor technology developed by ZED Digital, which lets public transit users pay from their smart phone without removing the device from their pocket, or by using a smart card if they do not have a smart phone. The platform also includes carbon footprint information for the various transportation options. X4MaaS integrates with one of the first hands-free mobile wallet solutions to beintroduced in the U.S. market, an internet of things-based sensor technology that is fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A video demonstrates ADA compliant ticketing for ZIG Super Wallet technology. Awarded $888,800 for this project, Ecolane’s mobility wallet will be deployed to nine transit agencies in Michigan.
“We are honored to have been selected by the Michigan Department of Transportation for this opportunity to offer our mobility wallet to agencies across the state," said Spiro Gjorgjievski, president of Ecolane. "Ecolane's focus with the Mobility Wallet will be to ensure an integrated customer experience through our single mobility as a service platform X4MaaS, which unifies all mobility modes - including fixed route, ADA, paratransit, microtransit, scooters, bike rentals, and others - operated by an agency for trip planning, booking, and payment while empowering riders to achieve all of that through their mobile devices."
Active in Michigan since 2018, Feonix - Mobility Rising is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to providing mobility solutions for the health and well-being of every person in every community. The mobility wallet that Feonix will deploy will support Detroit, Grand Rapids, Jackson, and surrounding areas. The initial focus will be on meeting the needs of veterans, with the project launch planned for Aug. 7, recognizing Purple Heart Day. In January 2024, Feonix will use the mobility wallet to fill transportation gaps for families and individuals experiencing poverty. Development partners of the mobility wallet technology and deployment include SkedGo, MoCaFi, Metro Strategies, Menlo Innovations, Sundberg Ferar, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Uber, and Token Transit.
Michigan community partners and transportation partners joining Feonix include: West Michigan Veterans Coalition, Disability Advocates of Kent County, Mobile GR-City of Grand Rapids, HOPE Network, Kent County Essential Needs Task Force, Metro Detroit Council - Navy League of United States, The Welcome Home Organization, Michigan Works Southeast, Region 2 Area Agency on Aging, Western Washtenaw Area Value Express (WAVE), City of Hillsdale, Key Opportunities, Jackson County Military Coalition, The Rapid, Jackson Area Transportation Authority, Lenawee Public Transportation Authority, Ride Your Way, Care on Wheels, Superpedestrian, Lime, and Boaz Bikes. Feonix – Mobility Rising was awarded $1.5 million for this project.
“Feonix is honored by the opportunity to work alongside such incredible partners and advocates in urban and rural communities to break down critical transportation barriers in accessing healthcare, employment, and essential needs for Michigan veterans and individuals and families experiencing poverty,” said Valerie Lefler, executive director and chief executive officer (CEO) of Feonix – Mobility Rising. “The benefits of mobility to public health as well as the broader economy cannot be understated.”
The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan is responsible for developing a regional master transit plan, coordinating regional transit projects and programs, and distributing federal and state transit formula funds in the four-county region of Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties. The RTA in partnership with regional mobility providers, including the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Detroit at Work, and Downtown Detroit Partnership developed a mobility wallet pilot and project development approach focused on the principles of universal basic mobility.
The pilot program will deliver an account-based mobility wallet that meets the five key functions established by ITS America. The mobility wallet will have the capability to access multiple transportation services, including DDOT, SMART, QLine, People Mover, MoGo, and at least one scooter company. In addition, the mobility wallet pilot will seek to test methods for deploying fare-capping across multiple providers and subsidy programs with a focus on equity and access for a largely cash-based transit rider population.
The unique element of this project is that the partners have decided to take a phased human-centered design approach to this challenge due to the diversity of mobility options that are being integrated, the existing fare technology involved, and the scale of the mobility equity issues for potential wallet users. The RTA was awarded $1 million for this project.
“The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan is thrilled to receive a grant to be the lead agency coordinating efforts for the Michigan Mobility Wallet Challenge in our region. We look forward to collaborating with our partners from MDOT, MEDC, and the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification on this project,” said Ben Stupka, interim general manager of the RTA. “This initiative will help transform the transit landscape in Southeast Michigan by using this innovative technology to simplify the transit payment process. We hope the knowledge gained during this pilot program can be used as a blueprint that can be replicated and introduced across the state. Creating a streamlined mechanism for fare payment is a significant step toward improving the transit experience for Michiganders."To learn more about how Michigan is leading in transportation mobility and electrification visit www.michiganbusiness.org/mobility. For more information about the Michigan Mobility Wallet Challenge, email MobilityWalletChallenge@Michigan.gov.