Michigan DOT Grants Help Improve Transit Access

The Michigan Department of Transportation is making it easier for Michigan residents to catch a ride on a bus, rideshare, bicycle, or scooter through its Michigan Mobility Wallet Challenge, a pilot grant program to open up transit options to everyone.

[Above photo by Michigan DOT]

The goal of the program is to make transit services more affordable and simpler for all citizens, including the disabled, poor, veterans and seniors. The idea of the “mobility wallet” is to create an app or smart card that can be used for multiple transit options in a community.

On a recent episode of its podcast series “Talking Michigan Transportation,” the Michigan DOT highlighted one of its non-profit grant recipients, Feonix–Mobility Rising.

Feonix developed a mobility wallet to allow veterans in the Detroit, Grand Rapids, Jackson, and surrounding areas greater access to transit services. The organization added that it plans to expand the program by January 2024 to include individuals and families experiencing poverty.

Feonix CEO Valerie Lefler explained how the company’s program works by using the example of a veteran who has cancer and no nearby family to drive him to his chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The veteran can use the mobility wallet to take the bus until he needs more assistance. The wallet then can be used for an Uber or taxi or an Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA-compliant paratransit vehicle.

Lefler cited a 2018 Veterans Administration study concerning the challenges veterans have in securing adequate transportation. One veteran in that study talked about why his war-induced post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD prevented him from taking a bus to his medical appointments because of the shaking and jostling.

“If we can spend $30 million to equip him with gear and ammunition and all the things that they need in warfare, why can we not give these men and women an Uber or a taxi or a service when they’re seeking treatment, trying to recover from those experiences?” Lefler said on the podcast.

Ecolane Inc., also received a grant to develop a multimodal mobile transit application and smart card that uses Zig, a sensory technology that allows users to pay without having the remove their smart phone or card from their wallet. The technology, demonstrated in this video, is fully compliant with the ADA. Ecolane’s app will be available for nine transit agencies in Michigan.

Michigan DOT Director Brad Wieferich said in a news release that the mobility wallet program demonstrates that “Michigan is on the forefront of innovations in developing new technologies for public transit users.”

Federal Funds Helps Wisconsin DOT Create Tribal Center

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation noted that federal funding is helping it create a Tribal Technical Assistance Program or TTAP Center for 65 tribal nations across 30 states.

[Above photo by Wisconsin DOT]

The Traffic Operations and Safety Laboratory or TOPS Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison recently received a two-year $625,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation and Wisconsin DOT said it will work with the school to create a TTAP Center to support transportation investments on tribal lands and other tribal initiatives related to training, technical assistance and technology services.

Upon renewal by the FHWA, the TOPS Lab could receive $300,000 each year for three years to continue the work of the TTAP Center. Due to the large geographic service area, the TOPS Lab has partnered with Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe University and New York State Local Technical Assistance Program Center housed at Cornell University.

“Wisconsin has the highest concentration of tribal communities in any state east of the Mississippi River,” noted Wisconsin DOT Secretary Craig Thompson in a statement.

“We are proud of our government-to-government relationships with the 11 federally recognized tribes in Wisconsin. This federal grant will help strengthen those partnerships and allow us to continue making strategic transportation investments on tribal lands,” he said.

“We’re excited to see how this federal funding can leverage Wisconsin as a leader to implement solutions to roadway safety on tribal lands not only in our state, but across 30 states,” Thompson added.

“This really underscores that we’re not just working within university or state boundaries but across the United States,” emphasized Andi Bill, manager of the TOPS Lab research program.

“We’re bringing high-quality research to the local level, and we’re very excited to work with our partners across the Tribal communities,” Bill said. “Wisconsin DOT has been an active leader in tribal coordination and we’re ready to add to some of the wonderful work that they’ve done.”

Environmental News Highlights – September 6, 2023


Biden admin limits water protections after Supreme Court ruling –Reuters

Growth in the Number of Vehicles in the U.S. Outpaced Growth in Population and Licensed Drivers from 1960 to 2021 -USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

How a South Carolina faith leader and a California congressman are fighting for environmental justice -The Hill (opinion)

How the Clean Air Act paves the road to expanding electric vehicle chargers -The Hill (opinion)



Taking Sidewalks Seriously –Governing

Airport Infrastructure: Selected Airports’ Efforts to Enhance Electrical Resilience –GAO

New gates set to help traffic control on weekend nights in Downtown Albuquerque -KRQE-TV

Registration surcharge coming for owners of electric vehicles, hybrids in NH -WMUR-TV

The Kingdom of Golf Carts – CityLab


Burning tires and bridges: US residents ‘shocked’ by firm’s bitcoin-mining plan -The Guardian

AI And Mobility Data May Improve Air Pollution Exposure Models -Penn State University



WisDOT wants public feedback to make state roads more accessible -WMTV-TV

California will invest $750M to add housing, clean transportation in ‘jobs-rich’ areas -KTLA-TV

PA governor expands Environmental Justice protections -The Bradford Era

Advancing Net-Zero Goals to Achieve Environmental Justice -Natural Resources & Environment



Bees and Butterflies in Roadside Habitats: Identifying Patterns, Protecting Monarchs, and Informing Management -Idaho Transportation Department (pdf)


Michigan’s innovative mobility solution for national parks -Rapid Growth

The USGS Invests $1.5M in Local Partnerships to Improve Urban WaterwaysUSGS (media release)


Funds for graffiti removal exhausted, Oregon DOT says -KPTV-TV


Want Your Kid To Do Better In School? Bike Or Walk There –Fatherly

New bike trail in New Castle County, Delaware funded with federal infrastructure dollars –WHYY

Cohas Brook Trestle work complete, will open to pedestrians on Granite State Rail Trail later this year -WMUR-TV

Transit permits for Chicago seniors and people with disabilities drop sharply -Chicago Tribune

Electric bicycles (e-bikes) are an increasingly common pediatric public health problem -Surgery Open Science

MU researchers study barriers and facilitators to accessing health care in rural Missouri -University of Missouri

The making of the longest rail trail in New England: the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail -Burlington Free Press

Some US airports strive to make flying more inclusive for those with dementia –AP

NJTPA Releases Active Transportation Plan -North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (media release)


Integrating Freight Movement into Twenty-First-Century Communities’ Land Use, Design, and Transportation Systems –NCHRP

Can You See Me? Testing Pedestrian and Bicycle Conspicuity Assumptions -TRB (webinar)

Improving MPO and SHSO Coordination on Behavioral Traffic Safety: Guide and Toolkit -Behavioral Traffic Safety Cooperative Research Program

Embedding Equity in Project Delivery -USDOT Volpe Center (webinar)


Hazardous Materials: Suspension of HMR Amendments Authorizing Transportation of Liquefied Natural Gas by Rail -Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (Final rule)

Local Government Advisory Committee: Request for Nominations -EPA (Notice of request for Nominations)

U.S. Maritime Transportation System National Advisory Committee; Notice of Public Meeting -Maritime Administration (Notice)