$50M available through SMART for innovative transportation projects, including microtransit• 2 min read
This week, the Biden Administration announced the release of the second round of the Stage 1 Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) program, providing $50M in planning and prototyping funding for innovative transportation programs.
Congress created the SMART program as part of the recent Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). SMART provides grants to states, political subdivisions including transit agencies or MPOs, tribal governments, and groupings of the above entities for demonstration projects implementing advanced technology to improve the safety, and efficiency of transportation systems. Such technologies include autonomous and connected vehicles, smart traffic signals, intelligent sensor-based infrastructure, the integration of intelligent transportation systems with other systems, advanced logistics solutions, and smart grid technologies.
SMART grants will be awarded through a two-stage process. Stage 1 grants are up to $2M, with no match, and will be used to partner with community stakeholders, conduct research, and prototype and refine grant concepts over 18 months into a full implementation plan. Stage 2 grants of up to $15m will build on these implementation plans to conduct scaled-up demonstration projects. Only recipients of Stage 1 grants may apply for Stage 2 grants. The currently released NOFO is for Stage 1 grants only, with Stage 2 expected to open in 2024.
As outlined in the BIL, projects should address the following transportation priorities: safety and reliability, resiliency, equity and access, climate sustainability, partnerships, and systems integration. In addition, USDOT will prioritize the following project characteristics: fit, scale, and adoption; data sharing, cybersecurity, and privacy; workforce development; and measurement and validation. For more information on these priorities, please consult the SMART NOFO.
In 2022, USDOT awarded $94M in Stage 1 SMART grants to 59 projects in 33 states. Projects covered nine themes identified retrospectively by USDOT, including transit innovation, smart traffic signals, connected vehicles, sensors, and smart grid. Many projects involved intermodal elements, interoperable ticketing and sensor technology, and other uses of technology to provide more seamless mobility. For example, the Charlotte Area Transit System received an award to fund an EV microtransit project, while the Connecticut Department of Transportation received an award to develop a statewide multimodal fare payment application.
Via’s mission is to harness the power of technological innovation to improve transit for all. Given the broad reach of these programs, we believe this is an extremely unique opportunity to be creative and groundbreaking in the next phase of your region’s transportation innovation. We’d love to partner with you on potential projects for SMART including:
- Launching an innovative on-demand service;
- Deploying shared autonomous vehicles;
- Developing innovative ticketing and wayfinding applications
If you’re interested, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications for SMART are due October 10, 2023.
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