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Transit Automation Research

What’s New

  • FTA posted Insurance and Liability for Automated Transit Buses: State of the Practice Review in April 2021, which provides an overview of the state of the practice related to insurance and liability for automated transit buses. The report discusses the options available and the process to secure a policy, based on interviews with and information from insurance industry representatives and stakeholders.
  • FTA posted Assessing Transit Providers’ Internal Business Case for Transit Bus Automation in February 2021, which explores how transit providers make decisions and assess their internal business case for transit bus automation investments. The report outlines the process for analyzing the internal business case (and/or benefit-cost analysis) for transit bus automation and combines it with information on transit agency decision-making processes for capital investments.
  • FTA posted the Transit Bus Automation Update December 2020, providing information on transit bus automation pilot projects, demonstrations and tests domestically and internationally. This resource is provided on a recurring basis to ensure the most up-to-date information is readily available.


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 has developed a five-year Strategic Transit Automation Research (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


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
Transit Bus Automation Market Assessment (Report 0144) – April 2020
This report details the current availability, capabilities and limitations of automated transit bus technologies at all automation levels.
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 a resource and reference 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.