Michigan Economic Development Corp. has awarded $ 4.7 million for grants to transport agencies and mobility companies to develop new transit opportunities for seniors, veterans, and disabled residents in the Detroit, Grand Rapids, and State Metro communities.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, her new transport director Paul Ajegba and MEDC officials announced the grants Tuesday morning at the North American International Car Show, which Whitmer attends for the first time as governor.
The grant is the second round of payouts from the state's $ 8 million Michigan Mobility Challenge, launched under former governments Rick Snyder, to fill gaps in mobility opportunities for people without access to personal transport.
"Often when we talk about mobility, we tend to go straight to self-driving cars and autonomous vehicles," Whitmer said. "What we really need to talk about is how this technology and innovation is happening right now can affect and improve the quality of life of people, not just here in Detroit and our city centers."
Granted grants include: [1
"These pilots will introduce some dynamic riders and autonomous technologies in places where it's a little difficult to get around," said Trevor Pawl, group vice president of mobility, supply chain, and commerce for Michigan Economic Development Corp.
Kimberly Kennedy, an American marine veteran and handicap advocate from Grand Rapids, joined Whitmer, Pawl, Mason and Ajegba on the stage of the auto show for the grant announcement in his wheelchair. She talked about the effect that the Grand Rapids project will have on her quality of life.
She said that more efficient and reliable paratransit services are essential for disabled people to come to doctors' agreements, work and leisure activities.
"Many times with Uber … (the drivers) would ride past me when they saw me sitting outside in the wheelchair," she said. "To get an app where I can just click on and (request a trip) on-demand is just amazing."
When funding expires, mobility initiatives will be funded by "local rates and local partners," Pawl said.