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Bus consortium formed to evaluate autonomous technology

A group of 11 transit and transportation agencies have joined forces to collaborate and investigate the use of automated bus projects across the United States.

AECOM created the Automated Bus Consortium, which includes members Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART); Foothill Transit; Long Beach Transit (LBT); Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro); MetroLINK (Moline, Ill.); Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA); Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT)/Michigan’s mobility initiative, PlanetM; Minnesota Department of Transportation/Rochester Public Transit (MnDOT); Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), and Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT)/Hampton Roads Transit.

The consortium is being described as a collaboration designed to accelerate the deployment of automated transit technologies and will combine the purchasing power and collaborative decision-making of its member transit agencies nationwide. Consortium members will define candidate deployment routes and locations, operating plans, automated bus specifications, financial plans and deployment strategies. The consortium expects to purchase 75 to 100 full-sized, automated buses for use on pilot projects where the buses will operate at full-speed and enable consortium members to collectively demonstrate and deploy automated technologies in live service environments. AECOM will manage the planning, assessment, implementation and evaluation of the program’s rollout in all locations.

The consortium’s plan calls for a 12-month feasibility phase, followed by implementation within a two-year time frame, currently estimated to begin between 2021 and 2022. Each agency will make their own decisions regarding future additional automated bus purchases and deployment following the completion of the feasibility phase.

The joint effort is expected to reduce the cost of local automated bus projects, as well as provided a shared knowledge environment in which to provide lessons learned and best practices among consortium members.

Technology companies and bus manufacturers will have a chance to discuss the program's plans with members at an AECOM-hosted event to be held in Detroit, Mich., on Sept. 12.

"By bringing together transit and transportation agencies, technology partners and bus manufacturers, the consortium looks to shape the future of commuter bus transportation and be in a position to leverage and validate the technologies and protocols needed to improve safety, reliability, operating efficiency and rider experience," the group said in a press release.

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