Automated Bus
VTA and Partners Receive Lion's Share of FTA Grant; Added to Bus Automation Community of Practice
08/31/2020
Ken Blackstone

Editor's note: This article has been updated since it was originally posted.

VTA is the recipient of a multi-million dollar federal grant to help deploy automated electric vehicles designed for accessibility. The vehicle will help improve first- and last-mile solutions and paratransit services.

In partnership with Western Reserve Transit Authority (WRTA) in Ohio, and CALSTART, a national non-profit focused on innovation in transportation, VTA's accessible automated project will receive $2.3 million in funding from the Federal Transit Administration. The award is the largest share of the $14 million overall grant from the FTA's Accelerating Innovative Mobility initiative. 

In addition, VTA was recently selected to be one of 13 agencies in the country to participate in the FTA Transit Bus Automation Community of Practice. The selection stems from VTA’s active work with innovative partners to develop and test an electric accessible automated transit shuttle.

This initiative will encourage collaboration and sharing among transit agencies and others working in the transit bus automation space and is designed to foster a community of innovative practices that will advance transit bus automation into a viable public transportation option across the United States.

As part of the community of practice, VTA will benefit from shared lessons learned from bus automation demonstrations and pilots among participants that will help encourage innovation and advancement of this effort across the United States. For its part, VTA will share results from its ADA assessment, system design and lessons learned in developing and testing the shuttle. 

The community of practice hosts virtual, bimonthly meetings that began in August and will run through December 2021. At these meetings, participants will share project updates, hear presentations from members and invited speakers, and engage in focused discussion on shared topics of interest. This will allow for a broad range of collaboration as the 13 agencies each have different funding sources, types of vehicles, service models and varying levels of expertise.

Members include transit agencies, cities, state departments of transportation, and universities who have received U.S. Department of Transportation funding to demonstrate or pilot a transit bus automation project.

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