The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) is expanding the eligibility requirements to allow more drivers to participate in the Connected Vehicle Pilot that the agency is conducting in partnership with the US Department of Transportation (USDOT).
THEA’s Connected Vehicle Pilot aims to demonstrate the safety, mobility, and environmental benefits of connected vehicle (CV) technology. The USDOT selected three agencies to be part of its Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment Program, with the other two sites being New York City and the Interstate 80 corridor in the state of Wyoming.
However, THEA’s project is unique in that it is the only one of the three USDOT CV pilots that involves local residents driving their own cars, allowing the volunteers to experience the new technology using equipment installed in private vehicles. The USDOT CV Pilot Deployment Program is trialling the benefits and applications of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications systems.
For the THEA pilot, connected vehicles can communicate with traffic signals in downtown Tampa and with each other, helping to prevent crashes and keep traffic moving. THEA has already equipped 10 buses, 10 streetcars and more than 500 participant cars with CV equipment for the pilot.
The agency is aiming for a total of 1,600 individual volunteers to trial the new technology, and has offered toll fee reductions as an incentive to encourage take-up in the pilot. Initially, THEA only offered the toll rebate to participating drivers who used the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway’s Reversible Express Lanes (REL).
Now, participants who commute downtown using the Selmon Expressway’s REL or local lanes are eligible for the rebate. Participants will receive a 50% rebate on their toll charges, up to a maximum of US$550.
Drivers must meet certain criteria in order to participate in the pilot program:
• They must be 18 years of age or older;
• Own a car that is a 1996 model or newer;
• Use the Selmon Expressway to commute into the city’s downtown region;
• Or simply drive in downtown Tampa on a regular basis.
Tampa area residents that are interested in participating or want to learn more about the Pilot project are encouraged to take the program’s online prescreening questionnaire to see if they are eligible. After confirming their eligibility, prospective participants make an appointment for equipment installation and training. The equipment and installation are free of charge, and the toll rebate will accumulate up to a maximum of US$550 until the pilot ends on January 31, 2020.