The market for personal mobility is changing rapidly due to changing social and cultural trends, as well as technological advances such as smart phones, information processing, and widespread data connectivity. New mobility concepts and solutions, from bike- and car-sharing systems to demand-responsive bus services, are providing travelers with flexible and convenient transportation options. These developments are impacting the traditional transit market, and could also disrupt current business and funding models.
FTA is conducting research on new service options in combination with available technologies that allow for greater individual mobility. Goals include:
- Improve transportation efficiency by promoting agile, responsive, accessible and seamless multimodal service inclusive of transit through enabling technologies and innovative partnerships.
- Increase transportation effectiveness by ensuring that transit is fully integrated and a vital element of a regional transport network that provides consistent, reliable and accessible service to every traveler.
- Enhance the customer experience by providing each individual equitable, accessible, traveler-centric service leveraging public transportation’s long-standing capability and traditional role in this respect.
FTA developed the MOD initiative to envision a multimodal, integrated, automated, accessible, and connected transportation system in which personalized mobility is a key feature. MOD allows for the use of on-demand information, real-time data, and predictive analysis to provide travelers with transportation choices that best serve their needs and circumstances. MOD leverages technologies that allow for a traveler-centric approach that provides better mobility options for everyone.
FTA’s MOD Sandbox Demonstration Program provides a venue through which integrated MOD concepts and solutions – supported through local partnerships – are demonstrated in real-world settings. FTA seeks to fund project teams to innovate, explore partnerships, develop new business models, integrate transit and MOD solutions, and investigate new, enabling technical capabilities such as integrated payment systems, decision support, and incentives for traveler choices.
Importantly, the MOD Sandbox also provides FTA the opportunity to measure project impacts and assess how existing FTA policies and regulations may support or impede these new service transportation models through evaluation of all project efforts.
- Enhance transit industry preparedness for MOD
- Assist the transit industry to develop the ability to integrate MOD practices with existing transit service
- Validate the technical and institutional feasibility of innovative MOD business models, and document MOD best practices that may emerge from the demonstrations
- Measure the impacts of MOD on travelers and transportation systems
- Examine relevant public sector and federal requirements, regulations and policies that may support or impede transit sector adoption of MOD
Eligible activities include all activities leading to the demonstration of the innovative MOD and transit integration concept, such as planning and developing business models, obtaining equipment and service, acquiring/developing software and hardware interfaces to implement the project, and operating the demonstration.
Eligible recipients are providers of public transportation, including public transit agencies, state/local government DOTs, and federally recognized Indian tribes. Each recipient must identify one or more strategic project partner(s) with a substantial interest and involvement in the project.
Eligible project partners may include, but are not limited to:
- Private for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, including shared use mobility providers, and technology system suppliers;
- Operators of transportation services, such as employee shuttle services, airport connector services, university transportation systems, or parking and tolling authorities;
- State or local government entities;
- Other organizations that may contribute to the success of the project team including consultants, research consortia or not-for-profit industry organizations, and institutions of higher education.
49 U.S.C. Section 5312
Allocation of Funding
The MOD Sandbox projects are funded under FTA’s Research, Development, Demonstration and Deployment program authority. A total of $8 million was allocated in October 2016.
In June 2018, the National Transportation Library released plans for how independent researchers will evaluate Mobility on Demand public transportation projects, including:
- Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Integrated Carpool to Transit Access Program
- The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) OpenTripPlanner
- Pierce Transit (PT) Limited Access Connections
- Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) First and Last Mile Solution
Researchers will assess each of the 11 MOD Sandbox Program projects based on performance measures provided by the project partners, as well as an independent evaluation. Each report will address the project evaluation approach and process and data collection and analyses.
The federal share of project costs under this program is limited to 80 percent. Proposers may seek a lower federal contribution. The applicant must provide the local share of the net project cost in cash, or in-kind, and must document in its application the source of the local match.
Project selections were announced in October 2016.