The recently-formed Automated Bus Consortium (ABC) has held its first private industry forum in Detroit to explore the feasibility of implementing a number of test-pilot automated bus projects across the USA by 2022.
The event was hosted by infrastructure consultancy AECOM, the Consortium’s program manager, along with founding agency member, Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT)/PlanetM. Formed in May, the ABC is an association of transit and transportation agencies that has come together in a first-of-its-kind approach to accelerate the development of automated transit technologies by combining the purchasing power and collaborative decision-making of its members. The forum brought together over 100 attendees including representatives from member agencies, bus manufacturers and technology companies to unveil potential pilot projects and draft specifications for deployment of full-sized, full-speed automated, accessible buses.
Opening remarks and status updates on the program were provided by representatives of AECOM, PlanetM and MDOT. Each member agency shared their proposed pilot projects across a variety of geographies and a range of vehicle applications including: bus rapid transit (BRT), shuttle service, arterial rapid transit, express service, fixed-route service, and maintenance depot automation. AECOM presented draft automated bus specifications developed by the Consortium members for manufacturing industry representatives’ comment and discussion. The forum allowed Consortium members to solicit input directly from industry manufacturers regarding their ability to supply automated buses that could achieve the desired efficiency within each proposed pilot project.
The Consortium’s plan calls for a 12-month feasibility phase, followed by implementation within a two-year time frame, currently estimated to begin in 2022. Each agency participant will make their own independent decisions regarding future automated bus purchases and deployment following the completion of this feasibility phase. If implemented, the pilot projects will use full-sized autonomous buses and enable ABC members to collectively demonstrate and deploy automated technologies in live service environments.
The potential pilot projects presented during the event included:
- Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT);
- Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART);
- Foothill Transit;
- Long Beach Transit (LBT);
- Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro);
- MetroLINK (Moline);
- Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA);
- Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Houston);
- Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT)/Capital Area Transportation Authority/Michigan State University/Huron Transit Corporation;
- Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT)/Rochester Public Transit;
- Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA);
- Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT)/Hampton Roads Transit.