If you haven’t heard that Columbus won the $40 million federal Smart City grant, then you must have been living under a rock for the past week. Either that you you were still reveling in the Cav’s glory and you haven’t come back down to earth yet.
Either way, you might be wondering, “What is the Smart City grant?”
Answer: It’s money from the Federal Government meant to help one city fund and integrate innovative transportation technologies – self-driving cars, connected vehicles, and more.
At least 78 cities applied and Columbus was announced as a top 7 finalist in March of this year.
You can also find the Columbus Smart City Vision Statement here. It outlines four foundational plans:
Check out the Columbus pitch video below to see how Columbus plans on using this money.
One interesting portion of the proposal is an idea to pilot a program that would use self-driving vehicles to close the gap in providing “last mile connectivity” from park-and-ride bus transit centers. Basically the plan recommends Easton as the place to try this. Riders who use public transportation usually fall just short of their final destinations. So this plan would allow for driverless cars to get these commuters to their job centers including Huntington Bank, Lane Bryant, 31 Gifts, Express, L Brands and others.
Some of the other new programs in the proposal focus on app-based technology, such as industry-based applications that would help cargo carrying semi drivers better navigate the Rickenbacker logistics hub, and an app developed with Experience Columbus that would help convention-goers gain real-time information on local traffic, parking and transit options. The Columbus proposal also seeks funding for the continued conversion of the city’s fleet of vehicles to run on compressed natural gas and electricity, and improvements to the Cleveland Avenue Bus Rapid Transit line.
What is even more awesome about winning this grant, is that The Columbus Parntership announced in May that a wide range of corporate partners had pledged an additional $90 million to supplement the federal money. So what has begun as plans and studies and really cool research project, will officially begin to be put into action to help Columbus become the Smart City of the future in regards to public transportation.