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The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) yesterday announced the availability of $8 million in federal funding to support research and technology deployments aimed at improving public transportation.Known as the Mobility on Demand (MOD) Sandbox, the program could fund smartphone apps, innovative fare payment and finance mechanisms, connected vehicles and infrastructure, shared-use and on-demand services, or other mobility solutions, FTA officials said in a press release.The program is part of the FTA's larger MOD research aimed at supporting transit agencies and communities as they "navigate the evolving landscape of personal mobility," FTA officials said. MOD projects and services attempt to make transportation systems more integrated, automated and accessible, while offering better connections to both existing and future infrastructure."We are excited to see the creativity that communities nationwide will use to enhance ways to improve mobility," said FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers. "We believe the latest in research and technology can help improve access and mobility for all."Existing FTA grantees, such as public transportation agencies, are eligible to receive funds under the program. Applicants are encouraged to partner with private and non-profit organizations to deliver their projects, FTA officials said. Applications are due July 5.