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Call for Proposals

Proposals Due: 11:59 p.m. EDT April 14, 2024

Background

The State of Michigan is launching the $15 Million Equitable Mobility Challenge to improve equitable access for all. The goals include:

  1. Expand transit service to areas that currently have no service or service that’s available only during limited hours or days of the week.
  2. Provide service(s) to mitigate mobility gaps and improve access to social determinants of health, such as education, jobs, health care, nutritious food, and socialization opportunities.
  3. Provide new service or mobility technology to address the unique needs of seniors, persons with disabilities and veterans.
  4. Increase the interoperability of transit services.

This challenge is a collaborative effort of the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification (OFME) and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) utilizing additional funding allotted to the MDOT Office of Passenger Transportation (OPT) to address mobility gaps across the state.

Challenge

MDOT and OFME are soliciting grant proposals for new projects to improve equitable access to mobility services and to solve existing mobility gaps (e.g., access to services, jobs, and destinations that improve their quality of life). 

This Call for Proposals includes two separate programs:

  1. Specialized Services Expansion
  2. Solving Mobility Gaps

Applicants must identify which program they’re applying for; however, MDOT/OFME may elect to move awarded projects into a different program, if appropriate.

For both programs, start-up capital expenses would be funded at 100 percent during the first year. Operating expenses would be funded at decreasing levels over the first three years of the project (100 percent, 85 percent, 70 percent).

Projects are expected to continue past the initial three-year project period.

  • For those applying to the Specialized Services Expansion Program, beginning in the fourth year, projects will roll into the existing Specialized Services Program at the funding level in effect for the program at that time. Specialized Services Program funds typically do not cover the full operational cost, so local funds might be necessary. Additional Information about the Specialized Services Program can be found in the Annual Application for Funding and the Specialized Services Manual.
  • For those applying to the Solving Mobility Gaps Program, current Act 51 transit agencies may be able to use Local Bus Operating (LBO) assistance toward the continuation costs associated with the project.
  • Those who are not eligible for either the Specialized Service Program or LBO will need to provide 100 percent locally generated funding for the continuation of services.

Continued funding after the first year may depend on successful completion of implementation tasks and meeting program metrics. Projects will be reviewed annually to determine continued funding.

Eligible Applicants

  • For Specialized Services Expansion: The applicant must be the existing Specialized Services Program recipient for the county or multicounty region, if one exists. If there is no current Specialized Services Program recipient, one coordinating entity per county or region that represents the transit interests of seniors and individuals with disabilities is eligible to receive funding. That entity shall be the applicant for all Specialized Services funding requests in that county or region, regardless of who provides the specialized transit services. In order of priority, the coordinating entity must be one of the following:
  • A public transit agency
  • A governmental agency
  • An existing Section 5310 agency
  • A nonprofit corporation representing specialized services interest

Therefore, an interested applicant must work with the appropriate eligible coordinating entity to submit a proposal. If more than one public transit agency exists in the county or multicounty region (as approved by MDOT), selection of the applicant will be decided by the parties involved.

  • For Solving Mobility Gaps: Any entity eligible to receive state funding, including but not limited to public or private transportation providers, human service agencies, technology providers.

Minimum Requirements

The proposed projects must:

  • Be Coordinated: All proposals should be coordinated with the local public transit provider(s) to ensure efficient service that does not duplicate existing service. Applicants for Specialized Services Expansion must also follow Michigan Public Act 51 of 1951’s requirements for the Specialized Services Program, with the proposal being developed jointly between existing eligible authorities or eligible governmental agencies that provide public transportation services and the area agencies on aging or any other organization representing specialized services interests.
  • Be Equitable and Accessible: Applicants must consider equity and accessibility in the design of their project, and invest in associated community education, engagement and outreach to better understand stakeholder needs.
  • Be Easy to Use: The project(s) must be easy for users and transit providers to access and understand. Applicants should consider the needs and abilities (physical, economic, technological) of all potential users.
  • Support State Goals

Selection/Scoring

Proposals will be evaluated and scored by MDOT and OFME on a best value basis, using the following criteria:

  • Understanding of mobility gap(s) and how they will be addressed by the proposed project
  • Description of proposed project
  • Partnerships with tech providers, mobility service providers and human service agencies
  • Alignment with state goals (outlined above)
  • Capacity and experience of the team
  • Project evaluation plan/metrics
  • Financial sustainability of the project after the demonstration period
  • Interoperability with other technologies
  • Overall quality of the proposal
  • Cost of the proposed project

All evaluation factors other than cost, when combined, are significantly more important than cost. 

Application Instructions

Proposals must be submitted electronically to the application portal by 11:59 p.m. EDT April 14, 2024, to be considered.

Applicant Information

  • Name and contact information for project lead
  • Name of eligible Act 51 applicant (for the Specialized Services Expansion Program)
  • Information for each project partner, including transportation providers. Include agency/company name, their capacity/experience and their role in the project.
  • Letter of commitment from each partner identified above, demonstrating an understanding of their role and contributions to the project.

Description of Proposed Services

Describe the mobility gap and service that will be provided to address that gap(s), including the following elements:

  • Details of the mobility gap: who is impacted, the impacts and reasons for the gap (if any).
  • Details of the program/service that will be implemented, including service area, schedule, type of service, and any capital needs required to launch the service.
  • Approach to coordinate the new service with any existing mobility services in the area.
  • Describe training efforts relating to boarding equipment/assistance, sensitivity, etc. for staff and volunteer drivers (for the Specialized Services Expansion Program).

Coordination

Provide a list of organizations with which you coordinated for this proposal. Specialized Services Expansion applications must include their current coordination committee.

If you are interested in including disadvantaged business enterprises or veteran-owned small businesses in your application, please reference MDOT DBE and Veteran Small Business Certification.

Approach to Equity and Accessibility

Describe how the proposed project will address equity and accessibility.

Implementation Plan

Describe the process and timeline for planning and implementing the project.

Sustainability Plan

As state funding for these projects will decrease annually during the three-year demonstration period and then transition to funding through the regular Specialized Services Program, LBO and/or fully local funding, some amount of local funding will be necessary to sustain the service. Provide your financial plan to identify sources and amounts of local funding, including letters of commitment if funding is expected to come from another entity.

Evaluation Plan

Criteria (metrics) that will be used to determine if the service is effective and successful, including the data needed and methods for collection.

Project Budget

Separate budgets should be included for each element, such as planning/start-up, capital equipment, service operations. The operating budget should include all expected revenues (e.g., passenger and/or contract fares; funding from local, state or federal entities or programs; funding from any other sources) and expenses (as applicable: labor and fringe benefits; services, materials and supplies; insurance; contracted transportation service; leases and rentals; depreciation and amortization; all other). Please indicate which elements of your project are scalable.

Alignment with State Goals

Describe how your proposal is in alignment with state goals (see list included above).

Questions? E-mail MDOT-EquitableMobility@Michigan.gov until April 14, 2024, for clarification on the application requirements.