Government officials say they’re dramatically increasing their investment in improving transportation options for people with disabilities and other underserved groups with a new multimillion-dollar initiative.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said this week that it’s committing nearly $50 million to expand access to transportation for individuals with disabilities, older adults and low-income Americans.

“The purpose of this $50 million new initiative is to identify ways to provide more efficient, affordable and accessible transportation services for people with disabilities, older adults and other underserved communities that often face greater challenges in accessing essential services,” said Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

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Of the funds, up to $40 million will be available for communities to “showcase innovative business partnerships, technologies and practices that promote independent mobility for all,” the Transportation Department said.

Another $5 million will be offered as cash prizes for an Inclusive Design Challenge recognizing innovations that improve the accessibility of autonomous vehicles.

Meanwhile, $3.5 million will go toward projects that enhance transportation options connecting people with jobs, education and health services.

The Transportation Department said the new funds are just the latest step it has taken to grow access for people with disabilities. In the last three years alone, the agency indicated that it has increased its spending on research related to accessibility by 50 percent.

“We are focused on streamlining the multiple steps involved in traveling between locations into a smooth and seamless trip,” said K. Jane Williams, acting administrator of the Federal Transit Administration.