HOUSTON (March 15, 2021) – AECOM, the world’s premier infrastructure consulting firm, has partnered with Houston METRO, the region’s largest public transit provider, to accelerate deployment of automated technology in transit vehicles. Funded through a $1.5 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the team will pilot one of the nation’s first automated electric shuttle buses that will serve Texas Southern University, University of Houston, and Houston’s Third Ward neighborhood.
AECOM worked with METRO to develop the grant application, which was awarded through the FTA’s Accelerating Innovative Mobility (AIM) initiative to support transit mobility and innovation. The project, which is expected to be fully operational in spring 2022, was one of only 25 initiatives across the U.S. to receive FTA funding.
“We’re thrilled to work with our longtime partner, METRO, on this exciting AIM initiative and to further progress mobility and innovation in the transit industry while helping our clients achieve their sustainability goals,” said Andrew Bui, AECOM’s vice president of global transportation electrification.
The shuttle bus will be the first transit vehicle with automation deployed in real-life traffic conditions that meets FTA guidelines. These guidelines include the Americans with Disabilities Act and Buy America requirements.
“The shuttle will connect to METRO buses and light rail and be studied for potential use in urban, suburban, and rural environments,” said Kim Williams, METRO’s Chief Innovation Officer. “Our industry continues to evolve with new technology that prioritizes clean air quality.”
AECOM will provide management, planning, and engineering services for the project. METRO is also a founding member of AECOM’s Automated Bus Consortium, which investigates the feasibility of implementing pilot automated bus projects across the U.S. “This project will strengthen our ongoing efforts through our Automated Bus Consortium and contribute to Houston’s already expansive work in deploying emerging technologies,” Bui added.
Additional partners on the project include Phoenix Motorcars, the leading developer of zero emission, all-electric vehicles, which will deliver the pilot vehicle utilizing software from EasyMile, a leader in cutting-edge autonomous technology.
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Rachel Weiss, Senior Communications Manager