The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced nearly $50 million in new initiatives to expand access to transportation for people with disabilities, older adults, and individuals of low income at the “Access and Mobility for All Summit.”
At the event, Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao announced her intent to fund the new programs to develop and deploy innovations in technology and further interagency partnerships to improve mobility.
The USDOT assembled leaders from industry, academia, nonprofits, and government to participate in panel discussions and breakout sessions focused on interagency coordination, advanced vehicle technologies, and innovations in mobility services.
“We are focused on streamlining the multiple steps involved in traveling between locations into a smooth and seamless trip,” said Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams, who moderated a panel.
As part of her keynote address, Chao announced:
- A planned Complete Trip Deployment solicitation, which will make up to $40 million available to enable communities to showcase innovative business partnerships, technologies, and practices that promote independent mobility for all. “Complete Trip” means that a user can get from point A to point B seamlessly, regardless of the number of modes, transfers, and connections.
- A planned Inclusive Design Challenge, which will make up to $5 million in cash prizes available to innovators who design solutions to enable accessible automated vehicles. USDOT aims to increase availability and decrease cost of aftermarket modifiers that improve accessibility of vehicles today and spark development for future automated vehicles.
- A Notice of Funding Opportunity for FTA’s FY 2020 Mobility for All Pilot Program. The program seeks to improve mobility options and access to community services for older adults, individuals with disabilities, and people with low incomes. The $3.5 million initiative will fund projects that enhance transportation connections to jobs, education, and health services.
The USDOT and 10 other federal agencies also approved the strategic plan for the Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility (CCAM), an interagency partnership to coordinate the efforts of federal agencies funding transportation services for targeted populations. The strategic plan includes goals to improve access to jobs, health care, education, and community services by eliminating government duplication of services, reducing regulatory burden, increasing access to cost-effective transportation services, and ensuring that transportation services are centered on the citizens who depend on them as a lifeline to community participation. The strategic plan will help provide better transportation outcomes through the coordination of more than 130 government-wide programs.