The Delaware Transit Corporation was named by the Federal Transit Administration as one of 25 recipients for a highly competitive Accelerating Innovative Mobility grant award. In all, 75 eligible grant proposals were submitted from 33 states and territories.
The awarded grant totaling $317,692 will be used to pilot innovative software in DTC’s existing fixed-route and paratransit vehicles, along with vehicles of other participating service providers that contract with DTC, that will expand limited bus service and create more efficient transportation to jobs and healthcare in rural Sussex County.
The pilot will be launched in Georgetown, a key employment and health service hub also designated as a federal opportunity zone. DTC will partner with Via Transportation Inc., which develops and operates the most advanced public mobility systems in the world, powering fleets of dynamic on-demand shuttles, paratransit vehicles, school buses and autonomous vehicles.
“This pilot will expand transit options in Georgetown for thousands of residents and employees. As a key manufacturing and agricultural hub in a rural part of the state, it is important to provide many mobility options to get around Georgetown, especially for those dependent on DART bus services,” said Jennifer Cohan, Delaware Department of Transportation secretary.
“A partnership with Via Transportation Inc. shows the innovative approaches being explored in Delaware to make it easier for users to take public transit to work, medical appointments and local stores,” said John Sisson, Delaware Transit Corporation CEO. “The mobility needs in rural communities can be challenging to meet with traditional transit. This grant will help DTC improve options cost effectively.”
DTC’s grant application included eight letters of support from a variety of partners along with a letter of support from Delaware’s congressional delegation members, Sen. Thomas R. Carper, Sen. Christopher Coons and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester.
The pilot will use software to integrate trip planning, schedules, booking and vehicle tracking into one application accessible via smartphone or phone call. The software would convert paratransit, local taxis and other mobility providers such as nonemergency transportation operators, to microtransit. Microtransit allows transit trips going in the same direction to be combined on small vehicles on demand. Key benefits of microtransit include flexibility, increased frequency, affordability and first-last mile solutions in areas and during times of day not well served by transit.
“We are very proud to have been selected as recipients of FTA AIM funding in partnership with the Delaware Department of Transportation to introduce the first full-scale, integrated mobility solution in the United States,” said Daniel Ramot, Via CEO and co-founder. “With support from the FTA, Via's technology will integrate fixed-route bus service, paratransit, and microtransit into a single dynamic and flexible platform, expanding access to affordable, efficient, and convenient mobility for residents of Georgetown."
The partnership between DTC and Via Transportation Inc. is the first of its kind to pilot an integrated mobility solution. The pilot is expected to launch in 2021.
The service is also Via’s first in Delaware. Via has been tapped by cities and transportation operators around the world, including Seattle, Berlin, Birmingham and Abu Dhabi, to help re-engineer public transit from a regulated system of rigid routes and schedules to a fully dynamic network. Via now has over 100 launched partnerships in more than 20 countries.