U.S. National Science Foundation Civic Innovation Challenge Stage 2 Grant Awarded to Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, Georgia Tech, and MARTA

The U.S. National Science Foundation has awarded the Georgia Tech Research Corporation a $1 million Stage 2 Civic Innovation Challenge grant to pilot an On-Demand Multimodal Transit System Solution (ODMTS) in Atlanta. The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and MARTA are joining Georgia Tech as sub-grantees and partners on this exciting initiative. The ODMTS system aims to bring equitable and affordable transportation to all Atlanta residents, especially to those residing in underserved communities. The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition is excited to partner directly with the research team in ensuring the effective implementation of this new transit solution. 

The ODMTS combines traditional public transportation with ridesharing, optimizing to meet the needs of riders and filling in service gaps left by a fixed bus route. This system will use shuttles to solve the first/last mile problem and further enhance the rider’s optimal path to getting around the city. For example, if a user needed a ride to the grocery store, they could easily summon one via a smartphone app to a nearby location where the vehicle is also picking up other passengers close by. They will then be taken to their destination or be connected to another form of public transit. 

This system emphasizes convenience, cuts down costs by avoiding empty vehicles, and promotes equitable access to reliable transportation. Reducing the first/last mile connectivity challenges can help to reduce congestion and harmful emissions while allowing for more equitable transportation serving all Atlanta residents. 

Collaboration with community members and advocacy organizations ensures lasting changes within the improvement of public transportation. Residents in pilot communities and the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition will be collaborating closely with Georgia Tech to effectively address the real-world needs of communities in and surrounding Atlanta. Teaming up with local partners and communities will help embed local expertise into the design of the last-mile transit service in creating its intended efficacy. 

While ODMTS aims to improve the performance of public transportation for all of Atlanta, its target is to improve and increase the availability of cost-effective transportation in underserved communities. Doing so will increase critical access to jobs, healthcare, education, and healthy food. The pilot will run in MARTA’s service area: Clayton, DeKalb, and Fulton Counties, and the City of Atlanta.