Testing the Future of Autonomous Public Transit

With the country’s transportation infrastructure in dire need of an upgrade and congestion on the rise in most major cities, transportation and transit agencies have an  opportunity to make significant investments in cutting-edge, vehicle-to-infrastructure technology in order to vastly improve mobility. The progress made over the last decade in the realm of autonomous vehicles and integrated transit has laid a multitude of tools at the feet of local and national authorities.

Just as private groups have focused their attention on the applicability of new innovations, so too must government agencies in order to best serve the public. The 2019 Better Government Competition, which focused on transportation, heard from many public organizations seeking to harness innovation to deliver tools that meet the needs of everyday citizens.

California’s Contra Costa County Transportation Authority (CCTA) chose to showcase the progress achieved through their collaboration with a private partner, GoMentum Station, to integrate electric autonomous, shared shuttles with public transit. Founded in 2014, GoMentum Station is the product of a creative collaboration between the CCTA and the City of Concord, CA to reimagine and repurpose the decommissioned Concord Naval Weapons Station as a site for testing the next generation of autonomous and connected vehicles and smart infrastructure. The facility has grown into a leader for testing hands-off-wheel, feet-off-pedal capabilities; smart cars that communicate with each other and their surroundings; and driverless, shared electric autonomous vehicles poised to transform transportation as we know it, featuring a miniature city and tunnels to confront the AV equipment tested with real world conditions.

In March 2018 the EasyMile shuttle began traveling public streets within the Bishop Ranch Business Park, marking the first time the California Department of Motor Vehicles allowed a shared autonomous vehicle to travel on public roads in the state.  Zero-emission, low-speed autonomous shuttles have the potential to ease congestion, reduce emissions, and provide access to transportation hubs throughout Contra Costa County.

By partnering both with other transportation departments and private groups, GoMentum has allowed the CCTA to develop policy built around the real-world applicability and limits of AV technology. Its facility serves as a model for how local transit agencies can increase their knowledge base and apply it to ongoing projects. Learn more about this and other innovative Better Government Competition proposals at Pioneer’s Better Government Competition Awards Gala on Monday, Sept. 16th.

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