FTA Launches Innovation Initiative, Issues New Round of Tribal Grants

The Federal Transit Administration launched a new initiative to “support and advance” innovation in the transit industry at the Transportation Research Board annual meeting in Washington D.C. on January 14.

[Above photo by the FTA.]

FTA’s new Accelerating Innovative Mobility or AIM initiative includes $11 million in challenge grants to help transit agencies experiment with “new ways” of doing business, such as exploring new service models that provide more efficient and frequent service – with the goal to encourage more travelers to choose transit.

Photo by the FTA

K. Jane Williams, FTA’s acting administrator, said during a panel discussion at TRB that the AIM program will also support outreach to both urban and rural areas in order to ensure “widespread exposure” to transit projects.

“Innovation has never been more important than it is today,” she explained in her remarks. “We need to continue to innovate to keep pace with today’s fast-changing transportation network.”

Williams added that AIM challenge grants will be detailed in an upcoming notice of funding opportunity and that the FTA’s fiscal year 2020 competitive grant programs, which will total $615 million, will highlight innovation as part the selection criteria.

“This will provide applicants with an opportunity to showcase how they can incorporate new approaches to improve the rider experience,” she said.

Photo via the FTA

The agency also issued $5 million in grants to American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments under its Tribal Transit Program on January 15; fiscal year 2019 grants that will support 39 projects in 20 states aimed at helping connect tribal residents with jobs, healthcare and other essential services.

FTA added in a statement that in addition to that $5 million in competitive funding, some $30 million in formula funding is provided to tribes each fiscal year as authorized by the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation or FAST Act.

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