A New Vehicle Concept to Provide Better Rapid Transit at Reduced Cost (Phase 1)

A bus rapid transit (BRT) system is a mass transit system that uses rubber-tired vehicles operating in dedicated guideways, high-occupancy vehicle lanes, and/or mixed traffic. These systems typically also have a limited number of stops and use signal priority queue jumper lanes in order to increase operational efficiency and reliability. However, a cost-benefit analysis of a BRT system, in its present form, is not unequivocally favorable. To tilt such analysis more in its favor, this paper describes the proposed Slim Modular Flexible Electric Bus Rapid Transit (SMFe-BRT) system concept, which improves upon the existing BRT concept in several key areas. Firstly, the SMFe-BRT vehicle will comprise a lead module, with a human driver, plus one or more physically separate follower modules that track the lead module’s movements in an autonomous fashion. Secondly, the bodies of these modules will be slimmer, which allow the vehicles to operate in narrower lanes, thereby yielding substantial cost savings in its implementation and operation. This report presents details regarding the design and prototyping of this SMFe-BRT vehicle’s key subsystems, resulting in a prototype lead module and a prototype follower module that can each travel at straight-line speeds exceeding 15 mph and cornering speeds exceeding 4 mph. In addition, this report describes the development of a leader-follower control algorithm that works properly in an indoor environment, demonstrating module straight-line tracking up to 4 mph for time intervals of several seconds long. However, the researchers encountered some challenges demonstrating proper module following in the outdoor tests. Finally, this report presents a feasibility study evaluating SMFe-BRT against the traditional BRT based on multiple criteria, including transport efficiency, environmental impacts, and finances. The study shows that the SMFe-BRT offers additional benefits in the context of both freeway and arterial operations, and is generally preferred to the traditional BRT.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Maps; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 189p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01688520
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: FHWA-GA-RP-16-13, RP 16-13
  • Contract Numbers: 0015121
  • Created Date: Dec 7 2018 3:01PM