An association of transit and transportation agencies has formed the Automated Bus Consortium, a collaboration designed to investigate the feasibility of implementing pilot automated bus projects across the U.S. Created by AECOM, a fully integrated infrastructure firm, the consortium is aiming to accelerate the deployment of automated transit technologies and will combine the purchasing power and collaborative decision-making of these founding transit agencies nationwide. The pilot projects will use full-sized, full-speed buses and enable consortium members to collectively demonstrate and deploy automated technologies in live service environments.

The consortium’s founding members include the following U.S. transit and transportation agencies: 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); 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.

Consortium members will define candidate deployment routes and locations, operating plans, automated bus specifications, financial plans, and deployment strategies. AECOM will manage the planning, assessment, implementation, and evaluation of the program’s rollout in all locations. The consortium will make an expected initial purchase of 75 to 100 full-sized, automated buses. By joining the consortium, the cost of conducting local automated bus projects should be reduced for each agency. Lessons learned and best practices from each pilot project will be shared among member agencies to promote better and faster learning and adoption of safety protocols and operational insights. The consortium’s plan calls for a 12-month feasibility phase followed by implementation within a two-year timeframe, currently estimated to begin between 2021 and 2022. Each agency will make its own decisions regarding future additional automated bus purchases and deployment following the completion of the feasibility phase.

AECOM will host an industry forum in Detroit on September 12, 2019, to create and facilitate opportunities for consortium members to meet technology companies and bus manufacturers to discuss the development of program specifications for automated buses for each region’s pilot project. 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.