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6 Pilots the Detroit Mobility Innovation Initiative May Deploy

The Detroit Mobility Innovation Initiative launched Monday and plans to establish pilot programs addressing mobility gaps in Michigan’s largest city, a place notorious for being difficult to get around without a car. Detroit’s public transit is consistently ranked among the worst in the U.S., which was cited as a reason why the area didn’t make the cut for Amazon’s HQ2.

A public-private partnership involving both the city and state governments, the initiative aims to increase access to public transit for residents headed to work or health services, improve traffic congestion and parking, make roads safer for all travel modes and boost the use of electric vehicles.

Detroit’s central business district boasts a number of new startups the city wants to support with up to six targeted pilots, chosen from a pool of 120.

“Mobility solutions must be developed for the people that will be using them,” Mark de la Vergne, chief of mobility innovation for the Mayor’s Office, said in the announcement. “These future pilots will not only address challenges in Detroit but also improve mobility in cities across the country.”

An initial pilot will be deployed within the next six months from among: dynamic routing of shuttles and buses based on ride demand; a low-cost car-sharing program; a parking platform with real-time pricing, a public space for fast-charging EVs; a traffic management system that prioritizes transit vehicles at connected intersections; and a central intelligence hub for transportation data.

Mobility challenges were previously identified by the Boston Consulting Group during a 12-week “innovation sprint,” where stakeholders were interviewed and a board created consisting of representatives from partner organizations. Those include Detroit, PlanetM/Michigan Economic Development Corporation, General Motors and Quicken Loans Community Investment Fund among others.

“Michigan is the place where an entrepreneurial spirit and technical expertise come together to deliver a new generation of transportation solutions and opportunities for residents and businesses in Detroit and beyond,” said Trevor Pawl, PlanetM vice president, in a statement. “We have an ecosystem and collaborative mindset that is uniquely suited to bringing these concepts into the real world.”

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