Arlington RAPID's autonomous vehicle pilot program will expand service later this year and continue to provide public transportation in Texas through 2024 courtesy of additional grant support from the North Central Texas Council of Governments.
In its first year, Arllington RAPID has provided more than 28,000 trips in its first year to residents, university students, and visitors around downtown and The University of Texas at Arlington campus.
Since March 2021, the City has operated Arlington RAPID (Rideshare, Automation, and Payment Integration Demonstration) in partnership with Via, May Mobility, and UT Arlington through a grant provided by the Federal Transit Administration.
The pilot program offers shared rides in autonomous vehicles, operated by May Mobility, through Arlington’s on-demand public transit system, Via Arlington.
Arlington RAPID was one of only 25 projects to receive funding in 2020 through the FTA’s Integrated Mobility Innovation Program. Deployment funded by the grant ended March 18.
“The City of Arlington continues to prove itself as a national leader on autonomous vehicle testing and deployment,” said Arlington Mayor Jim Ross. “Thanks to the FTA’s Integrated Mobility Innovation grant, the City and its partners were able to build upon the country’s vital autonomous vehicle research and improve access to school, work and every day needs for thousands of people, including those who require mobility assistance, through on-demand public transportation access.”
Arlington RAPID’s fleet of autonomous vehicles, including the wheelchair-accessible vehicle, will continue to be available to riders through the Via app or by calling Via’s customer service line at 817- 784-7382.
Beginning Monday, March 21, the new hours will be noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. The service was previously available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Arlington said the original goal of the RAPID project was to provide a blueprint for combining on-demand public transit and autonomous technologies to develop effective, efficient, safe and accessible transportation for all riders.
The RAPID service area is currently bounded by Division Street to the north, Mary Street to the east, Mitchell Street to the south, and Davis Drive to the west. In all, more than 18 miles of Downtown streets have been mapped for the vehicles to take the path to pick up and drop off riders.
During the first year of service, Arlington RAPID reported a 99% on-time performance and the vehicles were able to operate fully autonomously 80% of the time.
First year results show that more than 60% of riders use RAPID to access essential destinations like medical facilities, school or employment opportunities.
“Arlington RAPID demonstrates how innovation and investment in the future of public transit are critical to advance equity in our communities,” said Daniel Ramot, co-founder/CEO of Via. “We are proud to continue our long-term relationship with the City of Arlington in the next phase of the RAPID program, and to be a model for other municipalities as they consider autonomous vehicles as a new option to improve public transportation access.”
The grant from the North Central Texas Council of Governments seeks to support and expand AV planning, testing, and deployment in the region. Arlington’s project is one of four selected for funding in the program’s second round. The grant will allow RAPID to operate for two additional years.
“May Mobility and Arlington share a commitment to creating great transit through shared, on-demand autonomous vehicles,” said Edwin Olson, CEO of May Mobility. “May is excited to continue serving the Arlington community, and the learnings from this successful deployment will not only help advance our AV technology, but also enhance our service offerings at future sites around the world.”