Mobility Hub news + FTA’s key priorities, funding for public transportation
The Mobility Hub
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SUMC News and Announcements
Up to $108 billion for transit. $91 billion guaranteed.
Here’s the plan.
On November 15, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) released key priorities and funding levels for public transportation under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). For the next five fiscal years.
The plan addresses priority areas specified in the IIJA: safety, modernization, climate, and equity. This is a historic level of investment in public transit, desperately needed for a system that has been running at a deficit for far too long.
Funding levels and program changes include:
- ~$79 billion for FTA formula and competitive grant programs for communities
- Up to $23 billion for the Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Program, with $8 billion guaranteed to invest in new high-capacity transit projects that communities choose to build
- Four new competitive grant programs
- $193 million for transit research activities and $62 million for technical assistance and workforce development activities
Just released: Enhancing Mobility Innovation FY 2021 Notice of Funding Opportunity
Last Friday, the FTA Office of Research and Innovation announced that $2 million is available through the Enhancing Mobility Innovation grant program for innovative mobility projects that center on the passenger experience and facilitate integrated demand-response services. Proposals are due January 11, 2022. The Enhancing Mobility Innovation program builds on FTA’s existing mobility innovation investments, including Mobility on Demand Sandbox, the Accelerating Innovative Mobility Initiative, and the Integrated Mobility Innovation Program. SUMC has partnered with the FTA to provide research and technical assistance for these and other programs since 2017.
New case study on the nation’s only AV Microtransit service
An exciting new case study on the SUMC Mobility Learning Center looks at the RAPID program in Arlington, TX.
RAPID, which stands for Rideshare, Automation, and Payment Integration Demonstration, has been running since March 2021. It’s surprisingly simple. If you are within a 1-square-mile area that includes the City of Arlington’s downtown core and the campus at the University of Texas at Arlington, just use your Via app to request a ride on the autonomous mobility-on-demand service.
The study provides an overview of the program, highlights lessons learned and offers key considerations for transit agencies and municipalities looking to start their own AV pilots. It also includes an interview with Ann Foss, Principal Planner at Arlington’s Office of Strategic Initiatives.
The City partnered with Via and May Mobility to develop RAPID. This project was funded by an Integrated Mobility Innovation grant from the Federal Transit Administration and is part of the Mobility Innovation Collaborative.
Courtesy of Via
As of Monday, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, officially the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, is now law. The legislation includes funding opportunities to address racial equity and environmental impacts for historically marginalized people, but it’s up to the states to determine exactly how and where the money will be spent.
On the topic of highway building, the Los Angeles Times highlights free way expansions in five states, including California, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Texas, and how nearly two-thirds of these projects were done in majority Black and Latino areas that led to demolished homes and upended neighborhood livability.
Listen to Audrey Wennink (Metropolitan Planning Council), Olatunji Oboi Reed (Equiticity), and Rochelle Jackson (The North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council) chat about the regional barriers to transportation access in Chicago’s Black and brown neighborhoods and what actions are needed to create better transit connections on WBEZ’s daily talk show, Reset.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the wait time fees charged to Uber riders discriminate against people with disabilities, who may need more time accessing the vehicle. Uber responded in part by changing policy to automatically waive fees for riders who certify they have a disability.
With so many hoops to jump through (cost being the largest) and few incentives for EVs, ridehail drivers are using combustible engines to drive 3 times as many miles per day than private car owners. How do you get them to switch? One word: incentives.
Speaking of EV incentives, the fast-charging network EVgo is letting Uber drivers of all levels access EVgo’s discounted member rates without any monthly fees. The two companies signed an MOU to accelerate rideshare electrification in 2019.
In the not-so-distant future, getting around on Getaround will be entirely fossil-fuel-free as the carshare company released a sustainability commitment pledging to make every car in the fleet green or electric by 2040.
…but we all know that electric vehicles alone are not enough to avoid the worst impacts of climate change!
Bikesharing & Micromobility
Momentous micromobility news is coming out of Europe with Berlin-based, e-scooter operator Tier acquiring the German bikesharing platform Nextbike. This acquisition expands Tier to a multi-modal micromobility company operating in over 400 cities with 250,000 vehicles (that’s a lot of ways to get around sustainably).
Micromobility merger news continues with MoGo bikeshare in Detroit integrating with scooter-company Bird to provide more micromobility options at MoGo stations and on the Bird app.
Watch out cars, e-bikes are here to replace all those 5-miles-or-less trips, as long as infrastructure allows and subsidies are put in place, according to an op-ed from Streetsblog. The authors argue e-bikes have the potential to expand the inclusivity of cycling by overcoming the trip distance, topography, time, and rider effort (and we agree).
“Did you know that the largest portion of journeys replaced by scooter trips (46%–78% depending on urban form) would have taken place in cars? Public transportation is swapped at a much lower rate (only 0.5%–10%). (Populus Groundtruth survey.)
The SUMC-led TCRP report Transit and Micromobility is one of the first in-depth explorations of what transit agencies need to know about bikesharing and scooter-sharing. You can see how these modes interact with public transportation in different environments, and how agencies can use micromobility to equitably benefit communities.”
Regardless of how you feel about the outcome of the elections around the US that took place two weeks ago, public transportation came out on top! Local transit measures in Ohio, Maine, Michigan, Arizona, and Virginia all passed during the busy election week, solidifying that people want better transit options.
There’s a growing movement to enact fare-free (or at least heavily-reduced fare) bus and train systems for cities around the US to address transit equity for riders in lower-income areas. But critics ask, how will cash-strapped transit agencies make up the loss in revenue while keeping service reliable?
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development launched a report at COP26 highlighting 9 key business and policy actions needed to accelerate the deployment of efficient EV fleets and sustainable charging infrastructure—kind of critical to support the estimated 350 million EVs on the road in 2030.
The Chicago Transit Authority turned to real-time data analysis to get ridership back after the initial onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic and recently received the IoT Deployment of the Year Award for their pilot project. You can read about (or listen) to what they did on SlateTech.
Remember when Via acquired Remix? The company is now using Remix’s collaborative mapping and transit-planning tools to help cities plan how on-demand rides and fixed-route transit can work together.
US infrastructure is in a sad state, and this will only get worse under the effects of climate change. While the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act lags in the climate change prevention category, it does allot $50 billion for climate resilience, so the country will be better prepared to address drought, heat, floods and wildfires.
Public engagement and participation aren’t what they used to be in pre-pandemic days, but firms Connect the Dots Insights, Sam Schwartz, and Nelson/Nygaard believe the transportation industry can and should engage the public by promoting inclusivity, new power dynamics, and hybrid approaches in communication.
Announced at COP26, a new study revealed that people across the world will need to shift 40% of the miles they travel from car to biking, walking, and public transit by 2030 (on top of radical electrification) to avoid the 1.5 degrees Celsius global warming limit set by nations. This goes to show mobility and walkable/bikeable communities are imperative to our environmental sustainability.
More from COP26, a group of 33 countries and 11 automakers have pledged that all cars sold worldwide will be zero emissions by 2040 (2035 for “leading markets”), a major commitment to vehicle electrification on a global level. Who was missing from this group, you ask? Just three of the largest auto markets in the world: Japan, China, and the US.
Project Funding Opportunities
RFP: Regional Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Plan
Grand Valley Metropolitan Council
Grand Rapids, MI
Deadline: November 30
RFP: Paratransit Services
Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority
Lehigh and Northampton Counties
Deadline: December 3
RFP: Pace ADA Rideshare Pilot
Pace (Regional Transportation Authority)
Deadline: December 13
RFP: Yonkers Shared Active Transportation (YSATN) Bike Share System
City of Yonkers
Deadline: May 10, 2025
Bonus! Populus: Marketing and Communications Manager
San Francisco, California
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