Ohio’s Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA) was awarded a $1.9 million Integrated Mobility Innovation grant by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The multi-year grant, which will be shared with 10 other transit providers, will fund the purchase and installation of validators for use with the EZfare mobile ticketing platform and ticketing integration with Transit app, data collection, and survey research, and the development of an innovative alternative payment application that will enable users to pay for transit and other transportation services using their phone or a "smart card" rather than cash.
In addition to SARTA, NEORide transit providers who will also receive grant funding, include Butler County Regional Transit Authority, Laketran, Western Reserve Transit Authority, Sandusky Public Transit, Medina County Public Transit, Metro RTA, Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, Lancaster-Fairfield Public Transit, Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky, and South East Area Transit.
SARTA’s President/CEO Kirt Conrad said the IMI project was conceived and will be carried out by an impressive consortium that includes NEORide, a council of governments comprised of 15 transit agencies; Calstart, a non-profit that works with businesses and government to create transportation solutions, Masabi, a fare payments-as-a-service and mobile ticketing provider; and Cleveland State University.
The FTA’s IMI program funds projects that demonstrate innovative and effective practices, partnerships, and technologies to enhance public transportation effectiveness, increase efficiency, expand quality, promote safety, and improve the traveler experience. Competition for funding is incredibly fierce: only 20 of the 104 proposals submitted won approval.
Conrad said letters of commitment to the project submitted by numerous agencies and organizations as well as enthusiastic letters of support from local, state, and federal officeholders and officials including 16th District Congressman Anthony Gonzalez undoubtedly influenced the FTA’s decision-making process. “We’re grateful that so many community and civic leaders grasp the importance of public transit in general and this project in particular,” he said. “They played an indispensable role in our success.”