Valley Metro and self-driving technology company, Waymo are joining forces to pilot autonomous vehicle (AV) for first- and last-mile transit trips next month. This collaboration will generate ideas and different testing strategies to collect, share and innovate using data and experience.
“This is the first partnership between a public transit system and a private autonomous vehicle company that will provide a mobility service outside of a controlled environment,” said Scott Smith, Valley Metro CEO. “Think of it as the start of mobility on demand or mobility as a service.”
An exploration of using AVs as another mode of transportation for public transit, as well as the potential of expanding public/private transit partnerships. Valley Metro and Waymo believe that transportation and mobility on demand will be transformed through these types of partnerships.
The Pilot Project
The pilot will support first and last-mile connections to transit stops, centers and park-and-rides and could evolve into augmenting some of Valley Metro’s more on-demand services. Test groups will also have the opportunity to travel using AV to local destinations to support the collection of additional data.
The pilot self-driving vehicle service sets up the potential to safely and cost-effectively serve travelers who may not have walkable access or vehicle options to reach public transit. A self-driving vehicle does not travel on a specific route, so it will attract riders located beyond walkable distances to transit stops.
How it Works
The pilot begins in August. A two-year pilot to expand the test group is planned after an evaluation of an initial three months of service experienced by public transportation professionals.
Waymo self-driving vehicles will arrive “on demand” through an app that’s available to test groups provided by Valley Metro.
The pilot will be focused in the southeast Valley where Waymo vehicles have been
gathering travel data. Additionally, the agency will be collecting trip information including travel patterns, ease of access and user satisfaction and feedback.