The test program will begin in 2019 and is expected to run
for approximately three years. Exploring autonomous vehicles
is a component in TARTA’s recently introduced Move Toledo
strategic vision that outlines a variety of initiatives to
enhance public transportation in metro Toledo (www.movetoledo.com).
Originally slated to begin in a few years, this grant
expedites TARTA’s plans to investigate the use of autonomous
vehicles and electric-powered vehicles.
An autonomous shuttle bus will transport passengers along a
dedicated route in the Toledo area. The exact route is still
being determined but will likely connect several popular
destinations in downtown Toledo. While the goal is for the
vehicle to function autonomously, a driver will be in the
vehicle at all times to ensure the safety of passengers,
other drivers and pedestrians.
TARTA’s autonomous vehicle pilot program will make Toledo
one of the first cities in the nation to explore the use of
autonomous vehicles for public transit, positioning the
region as a leader in this technology. Knowledge gained from
the program will be used to improve future developments of
autonomous vehicle technologies for eventual use around the
TARTA CEO-General Manager Jim Gee said, “This grant from the
Federal Highway Administration makes it possible for Toledo
to be on the cutting edge of new technologies. TARTA is
proud to play a role in the evolution of public transit on a
national and even global scale, especially in a way that
makes significant contributions to Northwest Ohio. It is an
exciting time for TARTA and public transit in Toledo.”
This program is possible through a grant from the U.S.
Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway
Administration. TARTA secured the grant in collaboration
with the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Toledo
Metropolitan Area Council of Governments. The grant is
expected to fully fund the program; no local tax dollars
will be used.
TARTA’s autonomous vehicle pilot program was announced
Thursday during the third “Technology Takes the Wheel”
seminar at The University of Toledo. The free seminar was
focused on self-driving buses as the future of public
transportation and hosted by the UT College of Engineering
and AAA Northwest Ohio. In addition to remarks from Gee, the
event featured Chris Pauly, director of business development
in North America for NAVYA, a manufacturer of autonomous
vehicles; Lt. Col. (retired) John Tucker, sales specialist
for Path Master Inc., a traffic technology provider; Eddie
Chou, PhD, UT professor of civil and environmental
engineering and director of the Transportation Systems
Research Lab; and Bhuiyan Alam, PhD, associate professor in
the UT Department of Geography and Planning.
The Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority was formed in
1971 and is a political subdivision under Ohio law, similar
to a park district or a school district. TARTA supplies more
than 3.1 million passenger trips annually and provides
interconnected, regional service to six communities in Lucas
County – Toledo, Maumee, Waterville, Ottawa Hills, Sylvania
and Sylvania Township – and Rossford in Wood County. Visit
TARTA.com for more information.