Pointing to the critical role transportation plays in improving access to services and public life in communities across the state, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced today at the North American International Auto Show that a project team called the Michigan Universal Vehicle Ecosystem Pilot was awarded a $1.2 million Michigan Mobility grant for developing a rideshare platform in the central Upper Peninsula.

This is the final round of pilot projects under the Michigan Mobility Challenge, a grant initiative seeded with an $8 million legislative appropriation in 2018 to use technology and innovation to address core mobility gaps for seniors, persons with disabilities, and veterans across the state.

The project team consisting of P3 (project lead), MUVE, Upper Peninsula Commission for Area Progress, Delta Area Transit Authority, Schoolcraft County Transit, Dickinson Iron Community Services Agency, Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Regional Commission, and Veterans Affairs will use the grant to develop the rideshare platform that will focus on increasing accessible transportation options while building community and decreasing isolation for those with mobility challenges.

"We have an opportunity, and a responsibility, to advance our state's technology and automotive landscape in a way that also improves the quality of life for countless individuals in Michigan," said Gov. Whitmer. "The Michigan Mobility Challenge can offer a blueprint for the rest of the nation on how to look to mobility technology to improve transportation options for citizens who need access to an affordable, reliable way to go to the bank, their doctor's appointment or the grocery store."

Whitmer was joined at the announcement by Paul C. Ajegba, state transportation director; Jeff Mason, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp.; Trevor Pawl, group vice president of PlanetM; and disabilities advocate Dr. Kimberly Kennedy of Grand Rapids.

"The Michigan Department of Transportation's (MDOT) core mission is providing safe transportation options to all citizens," Ajegba said. "I'm very pleased that under the leadership of Jean Ruestman, our Office of Passenger Transportation has encouraged innovative mobility projects across the state. And I want to especially thank Gov. Whitmer for supporting the Mobility Challenge."

The $8 Million Michigan Mobility Challenge was designed to fund the demonstration of projects using new technology and innovative service models to address mobility gaps for seniors, persons with disabilities and veterans in Michigan. Awarded grants will be used to subsidize a portion of the cost to plan, deliver and monitor the demonstration services for a three- to six-month period, with the remaining costs being covered from fares, local contributions and other funds. Projects will be coordinated with current services to enhance the existing transportation network in an area.

"Besides making communities safer, greener and more productive, we believe a new mobility solution should also be a way to uphold a person's dignity," said Trevor Pawl, group vice president of PlanetM, the State of Michigan's mobility-focused brand and business development program. "This project illustrates the impact of Michigan's leadership in technology testing and commitment to quality of life here in the state."

The first round of nine grants were announced in October 2018. Today's announcement brings the total number of projects funded to 13 in urban, rural and suburban communities of varying sizes throughout Michigan. The $8 Million Michigan Mobility Challenge is intended to engage the state's robust technology, startup and transportation networks, along with service providers, advocacy groups and state agencies, including MDOT, PlanetM/Michigan Economic Development Corp., Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, and Bureau of Services to Blind Persons.

More information about the program is available online at https://www.michigan.gov/mdot/0,4616,7-151-9621_17216_86614---,00.html.