The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) indicated that up to $1 million in funding will be available to fund the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority’s (HART) autonomous vehicle (AV) circulator service connection between Marion Transit Center (MTC) to Downtown Tampa along the low-speed, controlled access Marion Street Transitway.
The project would be one of the first of its kind in the U.S. utilizing autonomous technology and has the potential to become a genuine problem solver, according to FDOT and HART.
"FDOT is working together with our communities to promote the use of autonomous technologies," FDOT District Seven Secretary Paul Steinman said. "Our mission is to help solve the transportation needs of our area utilizing all transportation modes, while maximizing the use of the funding sources available. We are very excited about this project."
The funding gives HART the opportunity to take the first step in a major technology project and, working with third-party providers, to bring autonomous vehicle technology to the Tampa Bay region. For the next two years, HART will receive $500,000 each year from FDOT to fund the project. Funding for a third year will depend on the success of the program.
"We want to thank FDOT Secretary Paul Steinman for his leadership in helping HART receive up to $1 million in funding from the Florida Department of Transportation for this service," HART Chief Financial Officer Jeff Seward said. "We will utilize our experience in multi-modal solutions to work with our partners to provide much-needed relief to address mobility needs in Downtown Tampa."
This project is part of a larger vision that HART has to bring innovative technology to the Tampa Bay area while diversifying its array of options to deliver service to the Tampa Bay region. Autonomous vehicles can supplement the HART transit network with first-mile last-mile service, or enhance options to underserved areas.
In late November, HART plans to conduct an industry day for interested parties, which will coincide with the fourth Annual Florida Automated Vehicles Summit in Downtown Tampa, an event dedicated to highlighting Florida's progress in preparing for automated vehicles.
The Downtown Autonomous Circulator Service project will complement local service provided by existing routes.