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Transit Automation Research

Strategic Transit Automation Research (STAR) Plan 2.0

FTA’s STAR Plan 2.0 highlights a multiyear research agenda on automation technologies.

Transit Bus Automation Policy FAQs

Review Key Policy Areas for Transit Bus Automation (picture taken pre-COVID-19, July 2019)

Recent Automation Awards

FTA Announces Integrated Mobility Innovation Project Selections

Transit Bus Automation Resources

Click here to view the Automation Resource Table, or contact us at transitautomation@dot.gov

What’s New

  • On May 13, 2024, FTA posted the Strategic Transit Automation Research Plan 2.0: 2023-2028 (Report 0264), a successor to the original 2018 STAR Plan published by FTA. It builds upon the work accomplished from the 2018 STAR Plan (referred to now as STAR Plan 1.0) and provides a new five-year (2024–2028) strategic research and demonstration framework to advance driving automation systems that meet public transportation needs. 
  • On May 9, 2024, FTA posted the Transit Bus Automation Quarterly Update Q1 2024 that highlights transit bus automation activities from the first quarter of calendar year 2024 (January - March).
  • FTA's Office of Research, Demonstration and Innovation hosted a convening with transit stakeholders to discuss issues and challenges related to research, planning, piloting, demonstrating, or deploying automated transit buses in revenue service. Participants shared their automation visions, including use of novel-design automated vehicles (AVs), and concerns for discussion. Participants also discussed key Federal regulatory and policy challenges related to deploying automated vehicles and explored scenarios for operating AVs on public roadways for transit service.

Overview

Advancements in technology are rapidly transforming the transportation system and provide the potential to improve transit systems. To support the development and deployment of automated bus transit services, FTA developed the five-year Strategic Transit Automation Research (STAR) Plan 2.0, an update of the 2018 STAR Plan that outlines FTA’s research agenda on transit bus automation technologies. The plan is built upon extensive stakeholder consultation and use case analysis and is informed by a rigorous literature review.

The goals of FTA's transit bus automation research are to:

  • Conduct research to achieve safe and effective transit automation deployments
  • Identify and resolve barriers to transit automation deployment
  • Leverage technologies from other sectors to advance the transit automation industry
  • Demonstrate market-ready technologies in real-world settings
  • Transfer knowledge to the transit stakeholder community

Objectives

FTA’s transit bus automation research will build upon automation research throughout the transportation industry. Through meetings with transit grantees and stakeholders, FTA identified transit bus automation research activities that address multiple technologies and use cases (e.g. transit bus advanced driver assistance systems [ADAS], automated shuttles, and automated bus rapid transit [BRT]). Ultimately, the activities highlighted in the STAR Plan will support the primary objectives of FTA’s transit bus automation research, which are to:

  • Improve safety, including the deployment of automated vehicles and integration of automated technologies
  • Increase efficiency and productivity of transit operations
  • Enhance customer experience and satisfaction through improved service frequency and flexibility

Statutory Reference

FTA Public Transportation Innovation Program (49 U.S.C. § 5312)

Featured Resources

FAQs Report Webinar
Type Title and Description
An image of an FTA research report cover.

 

Summary of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Convening on Transit Bus Automation - January 2024

FTA's Office of Research, Demonstration and Innovation hosted a convening with transit stakeholders to discuss issues and challenges related to research, planning, piloting, demonstrating, or deploying automated transit buses in revenue service. Participants shared their automation visions, including use of novel-design automated vehicles (AVs), and concerns for discussion. Participants also discussed key Federal regulatory and policy challenges related to deploying automated vehicles and explored scenarios for operating AVs on public roadways for transit service.

FTA report cover graphic

 

Lincoln Tunnel Exclusive Bus Lane Connected Automated Bus Proof-of-Concept Demonstration Project (Report 0258) - September 2023

This report presents the results of the Society of Automotive Engineers' designated Level 3 connected automated bus proof of concept demonstration project to improve the operation of the contraflow Lincoln Tunnel exclusive bus lane along NJ Route 495. 

Transit Bus Automation Market Assessment (Report 0255) – September 2023

This report details the current availability, capabilities, and limitations of automated transit bus technologies at all automation levels.

An Evaluation of the Valley Metro–Waymo Automated Vehicle RideChoice Mobility on Demand Demonstration (Report 0198) - August 2021

This report documents the evaluation of Valley Metro Regional Public Transportation Authority's (Valley Metro) pilot that used Waymo autonomous vehicles (AVs) as certified vehicles for Valley Metro’s RideChoice program, a subsidized curb-to-curb individual mobility service (via taxi or ride-hailing services) for paratransit-certified people under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and for older adults ages 65 and over living in Greater Phoenix. 

Survey Research for Automated Shuttle Pilots: Issues and Challenges - May 2021

This report reviews survey development approaches used by recent projects and provides discussion for the development of future surveys across three key areas—survey population, survey approach, and questionnaire design.

Transit Bus Automation Policy FAQs – July 2019

This document addresses numerous inquiries by the transit industry on Federal policies concerning automated transit buses.

Determining Requirements for Automation Transit Bus Test Facilities: Considerations for Practitioners (Report 0131) – February 2019

This report lists 91 requirements that provide resources and references for selecting facilities with the appropriate and necessary characteristics for the testing of automated transit buses for all levels of automation.

Transferability of Automation Technologies (Report 0125) – October 2018

This report examines the feasibility of transferring 13 current automated systems technologies from light-duty vehicles and commercial trucks to diesel transit buses.


Visit the Transit Automation Research Table for a full list of available resources.
 

To keep up to date on information related to FTA’s transit automation research program, sign up for email updates.