After acquiring the Michigan Central Station in the summer of 2018, Ford partnered with Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s mobility initiative, PlanetM, to organize the City:One Michigan Central Station Challenge. The contest urged local residents and entrepreneurs to come forward with mobility problems and propose their own solutions to the problem for the chance to win $250,000 to implement their transportation proposals.


After hearing from over 2,000 local residents and receiving over 164 unique proposals, the steering committee, composed of industry experts, partner representatives, and local stakeholders, selected 12 finalists. Each finalist was awarded the opportunity to work with mentors as they polished their proposal and prepared a pitch presentation. After listening to each finalist, three winners were selected to split the $250,000: Mercy Education Project, AbleLink Smart Living Technologies, and a group project by Downtown Detroit Partnership, DTE, and local artists.


“The quality of the proposals submitted for the City:One Challenge was simply outstanding,” said Mark de la Vergne, chief of mobility innovation for the city of Detroit. “We are truly appreciative for all the time and energy spent in understanding mobility in the area of Michigan Central Station and proposing solutions. The fact that two of the three winners are local residents demonstrates the creativity and passion that Detroiters have for mobility.”


Contestants were encouraged to promote solutions that would improve access to mobility information, make mobility more affordable, and build a safer and more inviting environment. Mercy Education Project created a solution that would improve access to mobility while also promoting more affordable options. They wish to implement Rock City Mobility Stations with kiosks that offered bus schedules, maps, and other signage. Each mobility station would also be centered around ride-sharing platforms such as scooter and bike-sharing.


AbleLink proposed a solution to improve mobility for those with cognitive disabilities, special needs, or low English proficiency. Their proposal will create a customizable WayFinder app that can be downloaded and access instructions via cloud-based WayFinder SMART Route Library.


The group project by the Downtown Detroit Partnership, DTE, and local artists aimed to increase the walkability of the Michigan Avenue Bridge over the Lodge Freeway. To improve walkability and make the bridge more inviting, they will commission street artwork by two local artists and install street furniture and amenities.


“The City:One Challenge builds on our commitment to advance the state’s robust mobility landscape while providing greater access to transportation solutions for residents in the Corktown community and beyond,” said Amanda Roraff, managing director of PlanetM, the mobility initiative of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “We’re excited to welcome these pilots to Michigan’s mobility ecosystem, and to learn from them to develop better mobility solutions in the future.”

AT&T, Dell Technologies, and Microsoft also helped fund the City:One Challenge program.

“A key goal for the City:One Challenge is to help preserve the unique fabric of the communities surrounding Michigan Central Station, even as the area sees expanded development,” said Jeff Jones, vice president, Ford City Solutions. “By reaching out to residents, businesses and community groups through this program, we can better understand the issues people face on a daily basis and support ideas that will have a direct impact on their lives.”

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