WASHINGTON D.C., DC — Ohio's NEORide, which works with governments to improve public transit services across multiple states, will receive over $1.83 million in federal grants to develop new technologies, including those that facilitate on-demand public transportation, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced today.
Two DOT agencies, the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration awarded the grants. The FHWA will give NEORide $1.49 million, while the FTA granted $338,600 to develop software supporting on-demand transport for 18 transit agencies across Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Arkansas.
“With these grants, the Biden-Harris Administration is helping communities deliver modern transportation systems that connect people to where they want to go more affordably, efficiently, and safely,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “We’re pleased to support these innovative solutions that will improve driving and public transit for Americans in urban, suburban, and rural areas alike.”
On-demand public transportation has been increasingly adopted on a trial basis across American cities. In cities offering on-demand transport, riders can use phone or internet apps to order rides to locations along fixed or flexible routes -- sometimes in smaller vehicles such as commercial vans -- at customized times more convenient than a typical bus route.
The FHWA will allocate nearly $1.5 million to develop cloud-based solutions to support NEORide's EZConnect project, which NEORide's website says "will allow transit users across multiple counties one phone number and website to schedule paratransit and microtransit trips."
The money, awarded through the FHWA's Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment grant program, will help to support EZConnect's cloud-based technologies integrating and sharing data across multiple transit agencies in Ohio. It will also help develop client management and scheduling software to "share customer profile and eligibility information, trip requests and booking confirmations, provider and vehicle information, and trip performance status," the press release said.
The DOT says the Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment grant program has awarded $45.2 million grants this year to fund "early deployments of forward-looking technologies that can serve as national models."
The FTA's on-demand transportation grant is offered through a grant program called Enhancing Mobility Innovation, which has granted $4 million to agencies developing "innovations that give people better options for how to get around and encourage people to get on board, such as integrated fare payment systems and user-friendly apps for on-demand public transportation," according to the DOT.
By improving public transit access among underserved communities and making transit more attractive for riders, the DOT says, the grants will support the Biden-Harris Administration's aim to meet climate goals and promote environmental justice.
“The EMI program provides more tools to improve mobility and make all modes of transit easier to use and more attractive to riders,” said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “This funding will help recipients test new innovations with a goal of deploying long-lasting solutions that create opportunities for people in their communities.”
EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above previously aired on 3News on Aug. 10, 2022.