Transit Automation Technologies: A Review of Transit Agency Perspective

While the automobile industry is rapidly transitioning towards automation, the transit industry in the United States has recently begun investigating automation in transit operations. Multiple U.S. transit agencies have been experimenting with various automation technologies in transit vehicles. Examples of these technologies include lane-keep assist systems, collision avoidance systems, guidance systems for precise docking in Bus Rapid Transit, driverless shuttles (such as Navya, EasyMile, etc.,), etc. With various levels of transit automation technologies currently available and more advanced versions likely to be on the market soon, it is important to identify and understand transit automation technologies in the context of transit agencies’ needs for implementing these technologies. This study initially identified various U.S. transit industry uses of automation technologies and conducted a national survey of transit agencies in rural, small-urban, and urban areas to gather input about aspects of bus transit automated technologies and their implementation. A total of 258 responses were received from U.S. transit agencies; 157 responses from rural transit agencies, 67 from small-urban transit agencies, and 34 from urban transit agencies. Transit agencies believed transit vehicles with all Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) levels (1 to 5) can promote safety. However, because safety of higher levels of automated transit vehicles (SAE levels 4 and 5) has not been extensively studied in all sizes of communities and types of environments, there were concerns and unanswered questions among some transit agency respondents about the technology’s effectiveness, reliability, and performance. While levels 4 and 5 don’t need to have a driver, transit agencies feel that the vehicles would still need an operator/agent to provide focused customer support and monitor the operating environment.

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  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This document was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation, University Transportation Centers Program.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute

    Small Urban and Rural Transit Center, North Dakota State University, P.O. Box 6050
    Fargo, ND  United States  58108-6050

    Small Urban and Rural Livability Center

    Western Transportation Institute
    Montana State University
    Bozeman, MT  United States 

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Authors:
    • Godavarthy, Ranjit
  • Publication Date: 2019-12


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 44p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01729908
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: SURLC 19-010
  • Created Date: Jan 31 2020 11:57AM