Ford, Detroit and PlanetM Launch community challenge to improve mobility at Michigan Central Station

The City: One Challenge will provide up to $250,000 for pilot solutions

Michigan Central Station on June 19, 2018. (Amber Ainsworth/ClickOnDetroit)
Michigan Central Station on June 19, 2018. (Amber Ainsworth/ClickOnDetroit)

Thursday marks the launch of a new crowdsourcing program by Ford, the city of Detroit and PlanetM, where residents, businesses and community groups can offer suggestions and generate solutions to improve mobility in the neighborhoods surrounding the historic train station. 

The goal of the eight-month program is to help improve the quality of life for people living, working and visiting the community surrounding Michigan Central Station. To do this, the companies believe the best method is through grass roots efforts.

Local residents have the opportunity to share their personal experiences and brainstorm ideas on how to overcome barriers to transportation, make biking and walking more inviting and helping residents move to and from the neighborhoods around the train station to destinations through Detroit. Furthermore, the challenge asks residents to prospect how to bring important daily services to residents who may not have easy access to transportation.

In October, a committee of city officials, community stakeholders and corporate collaborators will select the best submissions. A total of $250,000 will be provided for solutions chosen for pilot projects, funded by Ford and PlanetM. An additional 12 finalists will receive $78,000 in stipends to grow and create their pilot projects. Further supports for the program is provided by sponsors Microsoft, Dell Technolgies and AT&T.

In addition to the City: One Challenge, Ford is investing $740 million to restore Central Station to its original design and create a new destination that will bring together other civic organizations and companies to build a better future for mobility.

"As the city that put the world on wheels, innovation is in the DNA of all Detroiters," said Mark de la Vergne, chief of mobility innovation for the city of Detroit.

"I’m certain that the City: One Challenge collaboration between Ford and the residents around Michigan Central Station will result in a number of unique ideas that will make it easier, safer, and more affordable to get around the area,” de la Vergne said. 

The City: One Challenge will also collaborate with Greater Corktown Neighborhood Framework Plan, the Michigan Department of Transportation’s Planning and Environmental Linkages Study for Michigan Avenue to support their broader transportation planning efforts. 

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist commented on the potential impact the pilot program could have on the city of Detroit.

"We have an opportunity, and a responsibility, to advance our state’s technology and automotive landscape in a way that also makes communities safer, greener and more productive,” Gilchrist said. “Today’s announcement of the City: One Michigan Central Station Challenge, reconfirms Michigan’s commitment to maintaining our edge in mobility, while improving the lives and safety of residents here in Detroit, and across the state.”

The resounding impact, global lead for the project Aniela Kuzon said, will be what current residents do for future Detroit citizens. 

"We strongly believe that the residents and business owners in the neighborhoods surrounding Michigan Central Station are critical partners in ensuring the community can meet the needs of all its residents,”  Kuzon said. “That’s why we’re directly involving the community in our City: One Challenge. Improving mobility for current and future residents will be crucial to preserving the unique fabric of the entire community.”

Starting Thursday, residents with ideas on how to alleviate mobility restrictions can submit their experiences and proposals online and sign up for the first series of workshop sessions, where residents can come together to share their stories and invent unique resolutions as a team. The first workshop will take place on Wednesday, June 26, from 5:30 to 8 p.m., at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center.