Bus Automation: Cost-Effective Solutions for Transit Operators

A new WSP USA study explores what transit agencies and roadway authorities should be considering when implementing cost-effective transit solutions.
Jan 13, 2022 11:50 AM ET

In late 2017, the first publicly accessible automated transit pilot was launched in Las Vegas, capable of transporting up to eight passengers. By December 2020, the Federal Transit Administration estimated that dozens of U.S. bus automation tests were under way.  

This tremendous growth in the bus automation market is expected to quicken over the coming years. Rapid growth of the automated vehicle market may provide transit agencies with operational, financial, safety and service benefits.  

WSP USA is at the forefront of this technology evolution. 

A new whitepaper prepared by WSP will help guide and inform transit agencies, roadway authorities and other jurisdictions when considering the implementation of cost-effective transit solutions.

WSP has gained valuable insight into the benefits transit automation offers. This white paper presents expert recommendations and analysis framed around two scenarios:

  • automating the bus yard, and 
  • applying bus platooning within Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems. 

Both applications will showcase safety, operational, and financial benefits in the facility and corridor operating environments. Furthermore, critical topics such as workforce development and regulatory implications provide a holistic view of the future of transit automation.

The Automated Bus Yard

The automated bus yard involves the deployment of buses equipped with automation driving systems (ADS) equipment, programmed to safely operate within the operational design domain of the bus yard. 

WSP has strategically selected the bus yard as a starting point to introduce and demonstrate transit automation solutions to advance the evolving capabilities of the technology, increase safety within the yard and explore the many ways to increase operational efficiency by test ADS-equipped buses on private property. Furthermore, WSP has teamed with one of the leading robotic engineering firms in North America – Robotic Research – specifically to pilot the first automated yard demonstration program. 

There are five distinct operating scenarios for the automated yard that provide a competitive return-on-investment:

  • parking and recall, 
  • bus wash,
  • bus maintenance and service bays,
  • vaulting, and
  • precision docking in service bays.

This study presents four business cases for the automated yard that provide long-term cost savings and operational benefits, which include

  • increased yard capacity by 25-35 percent;
  • over one-third less overhead pantograph chargers, with an estimated savings of $12-14 million in CapEx alone;
  • a reduction of 15 minutes average from pull-in and pull-out activities per trip; and
  • an approximate 45 percent decrease in rear-end incidents.

Click here to download the whitepaper, Bus Automation: Cost Effective Solutions for Transit Operators.

For more information, contact Severin Skolrud, WSP zero emission market lead, automated vehicle program.