The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the availability of $11 million in funding to support and advance innovation in the transit industry. The competitive grant funds are provided through the Accelerating Innovative Mobility (AIM) initiative. A Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) appears in the Federal Register.

The initiative was also mentioned by FTA Acting Administrator Jane Williams at the Transportation Research Board annual meeting in January.

"As we enter the next decade, we need to focus on the importance of innovation and meeting the expectations of our riders," Williams said. "We have made innovation the center of our mission to improve public transportation across America’s communities."

The AIM challenge grants are part of FTA’s ongoing effort to drive innovative transit technologies and practices that encourage travelers to choose public transportation, promote economic development in communities, and enhance mobility for all.

The AIM challenge grants will help transit agencies explore new service models that provide more efficient and frequent service, which will help retain riders. As a funding partner, FTA will help alleviate the potential risks involved in adopting new technologies and practices.

Eligible applicants under the NOFO are providers of public transportation, including public transportation agencies, state and local Departments of Transportation, and federally recognized Indian tribes. To better address the needs of rural America, which has historically been neglected, FTA intends to award 50% of AIM grant funding to projects located in rural areas that deliver positive benefits for these communities, consistent with the Department’s R.O.U.T.E.S. initiative. Applicants are encouraged to partner with other entities.

FTA has made support of the AIM’s objectives a selection factor in $624 million of funds available under all if its FY2020 competitive grant programs. This will provide applicants with an opportunity to showcase how they can incorporate new approaches to improve the rider experience.

The initiative also will establish a national network of transit agency incubators that will test and share project results and use FTA’s technical assistance centers to promote promising innovations to transit agencies and organizations in urban and rural areas across America.

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