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2 Box 1: TRAC Statement of Task TRAC, an interdisciplinary committee of experts from industry, academia, and the private and public sectors, will examine and recommend actions FTA can take to ensure that its research and innovation program is relevant, timely, and effective in meeting the diverse and changing needs of the public transportation community. To do so, TRAC will review the programâs â¢ Latest Section 5312 Research Report that highlights program activities and accomplishments; â¢ Strategic planning process, including approaches for setting research priorities and identifying research needs and opportunities; â¢ Procedures for obtaining and evaluating stakeholder input; and â¢ Means for evaluating research results, furthering their use, and understanding their value to the transit industry and broader public. TRAC will identify candidate areas of emphasis for FTA-sponsored research that are consistent with the stated goals of the U.S. Department of Transportation and with the Fixing Americaâs Surface Transportation (FAST) Actâs emphasis on improving mobility and infrastructure durability, reducing congestion, promoting safety, and preserving the transportation system and environment. Drawing on its interdisciplinary knowledge and experience, TRAC will assist FTA in identifying and examining emerging trends affecting the public transportation sector as well as transferable practices from outside the sector that can benefit public transportation. TRAC will make recommendations to FTA on research and innovation program strategies intended to strengthen the public transportation industryâs adaptation to new circumstances and adoption of new practices. TRAC will issue its findings and recommendations in biannual consensus letter reports but with the option, per request of FTA and subject to funding availability, to issue a longer consensus report that addresses elements of the task statement in more depth and over a longer time horizon. This letter report begins with a summary of the STAR Plan and then turns to TRACâs recommendations in response to your request for feedback on the plan and its implementation. SUMMARY OF THE STRATEGIC TRANSIT AUTOMATION RESEARCH PLAN The STAR Plan was described to us as follows. The five-year STAR Plan is part of the STAR Program, which was launched in the summer of 2016. The programâs goal is to encourage the application of automation technologies on buses and other on-road transit vehicles with a range of vehicle sizes, platforms, configurations, and passenger capacities. The Plan is organized around three work areas: enabling research, integrated demonstrations, and strategic partnerships. Enabling research addresses questions the transit industry must answer before automation technologies can be more widely accepted and used. Integrated demonstrations place automation technology in real-world settings and evaluate the results and
3 lessons learned. Strategic partnerships leverage the research projects and investments led by other agencies. The Plan calls for ongoing stakeholder engagement and knowledge transfer activities with a focus on non-technical challenges. TRI believes that many technical challenges remain, but that its limited resources are best spent on deployment and evaluation, leaving the technical questions to others. The Plan is also based on the USDOT policy document Automated Driving Systems 2.0: A Vision for Safety, and will be updated to include future versions of that document. Transit automation use cases form the basis of the research plan. Fourteen cases are grouped into technology packages that reflect the levels of automated driving as defined by SAE International. The cases and technology packages are shown in the figure below. â¢ Smooth Acceleration and Deceleration â¢ Automatic Emergency Braking and Pedestrian Collision Avoidance â¢ Curb Avoidance â¢ Precision Docking â¢ Narrow Lane/Shoulder Operations â¢ Platooning Transit Bus Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) (L1-2) â¢ Circulator Bus Service â¢ Feeder Bus Service Automated Shuttle (L4) â¢ Precision Movement for Fueling, Service Bays, and Bus Wash â¢ Automated Parking and Recall Maintenance, Yard, Parking Operations (L4) â¢ Automated First/Last Mile â¢ Automated ADA Paratransit â¢ On-Demand Shared Ride Mobility-on-Demand (MOD) Service (L5) â¢ Automated BRT Automated Bus Rapid Transit (L4) You indicated that fiscal year 2018 appropriations are included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act passed in March 2018. The act provided $100 million to the USDOT for automation research. Of this amount, $60 million is to be spent on demonstrations with a requirement that a plan for spending the demonstration money be developed within 120 days of the passage of the act or in July 2018. We understand that only some of the appropriated funds will go toward transit projects, but FTA and TRI staff have been working closely with other USDOT offices to prioritize the spending. Key needs in furthering this automation research, as conveyed by your team to the committee, include a clearer nomenclature and definitions of automation concepts, a greater understanding of automated shuttle reliability, and the development of partnerships among various levels of government. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center staff provided TRAC with an overview of transit automation research that is under way internationally.
4 FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS You asked for TRACâs advice on FTAâs efforts to develop a roadmap for transit automation research. The findings and recommendations that follow are in the form of a SWOT analysis, as requested. Strengths Committee members found many strengths in the STAR Plan, most notably the Planâs emphasis on buses and the acknowledgment that levels of automation will differ among the modes. Among transit modes, rail has advanced the furthest into automated operation, but buses now offer the greatest opportunity for various automation capabilities. The Planâs emphasis on user acceptance and human factors research is also a strength, as is the inclusion of research on infrastructure needs, as opposed to only vehicle technologies. Committee members also appreciate the transparency of the methodologies in the Plan and its thoroughness, characteristics not always present in research plans. Weaknesses The committee finds three primary weaknesses in the STAR Plan. First, the Plan does not identify current or planned research on level 3 automation. While this automation level can be challenging because of the degree of interactions needed between the human operator and the technology, its absence from the taxonomy implies that no research is desirable or feasible at this time. TRI should state that there is no current or planned research on level 3 autonomy, assuming this is the case, but should reintroduce it to the taxonomy. Doing so will provide you with the flexibility to address this level in the future, perhaps in response to the interests of stakeholders. Second, the Planâs costâbenefit analyses use simplistic calculations of prospective costs and benefits. The analyses include use cases such as smoother acceleration and deceleration, pedestrian collision avoidance, precision docking and curb avoidance, and many others, determining a benefit/cost ratio for each of them. The committee recognizes that these calculations may stem from FTAâs need to follow a set of requirements, but the results should be put in context. There are many reasons to support transit and automation that are not considered in the analyses, and these reasons should be identified and discussed, even when they cannot be quantified. Third, the STAR Plan appears to have been developed with little, if any, coordination with U.S. bus manufacturers. It would seem desirable that TRI engage with transit manufacturers, perhaps through the creation of an ongoing working group, in addition to considering other possible partnerships with private industry partners. Opportunities TRI should review the results of all of the projects in the STAR Plan, especially the demonstration projects, with an eye toward developing a more complete research and development (R&D) framework. Each funded project should have a well-defined purpose to identify gaps in knowledge, inform policy choices, and identify follow-on R&D needs. A synthesis of the outcomes of various demonstrations, as well as any related projects that are part of the $60 million demonstration program, would be a useful effort. As the demonstration projects are under way, TRI should make data and results available to interested parties rather than wait for each projectâs completion. In this regard, the Mobility on
5 Demand Sandbox initiative is a useful model. Its efforts to ensure regular communication and information sharing among participating agencies and industry partners should be replicated. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is also devoting research to vehicle automation technologies. TRI and DOE should coordinate their related research, along with that of other USDOT offices and agencies and research being undertaken at the state level. TRI should consider coordinating with the USDOTâs Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Discretionary Grants program to provide additional funding opportunities for research and demonstration projects. To overcome the first of the Planâs weaknesses noted above, TRI has the opportunity to expand and make its use cases more inclusive of different automation levels. Some of the cases are listed as only being possible in automation levels 4 and 5, but could be applicable to lower levels. Automation levels that are less rigidly assigned will increase the flexibility of analysis, which is particularly important in an era where future use scenarios are so uncertain. TRI should consider creating three tiers of automation scenarios, with a low tier encompassing levels 0 through 2, a middle tier for level 3, and a high tier with levels 4 and 5. Several of the transit service categories could also be consolidated to help clarify the Plan. The categories of circulator, feeder bus, first/last mile, paratransit, and on-demand shared rides are highly specific, and perhaps overly so. If TRI prefers to keep each of these categories, it should clarify why the distinction is necessary, especially in light of the evolving nature of several of the services that is shifting the boundaries among categories. Threats The STAR Plan, and your description of it, placed an emphasis on demonstration projects. These projects are each informative to review, but represent largely independent deployments without clear meaning for other cities and transit agencies. If the information gleaned from each project is not transferable or made transferable, the committee questions the usefulness of each demonstration. Equity concerns are a significant issue for many automation projects, and if these concerns are not addressed, transit agencies risk lawsuits. However, if FTA and transit agencies wait to launch any new projects or technologies until all equity issues are addressed, the pace of innovation will be dramatically slowed. The transit industry is taking steps to address the challenge of ensuring patrons without bank accounts and/or smartphones can still take advantage of the innovations. These are key equity issues, but there are many others. FTA and TRI should monitor the demonstration projects to determine which equity issues will need to be given greater attention in current and future projects and to assess which agency actions to address them are most effective. The STAR Plan is light on cybersecurity. While this is not an area of deep expertise for FTA, consideration should be given to how other agencies in the United States and abroad have addressed it. This concern may fall primarily under the domain of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), but TRI should keep abreast of DHSâs efforts to address cybersecurity issues that may affect transit systems. TRI may also be able to leverage the work that is already underway in research on connected and automated passenger vehicles. Plan Implementation Clarity about FTAâs position on issues relevant to many aspects of the Plan would be helpful to stakeholders. For example, TRAC members are aware that transit agencies have questions
6 about Buy America and the insurance requirements that apply to automation projects. The sooner FTA can provide certainty about these issues, the faster transit agencies can proceed with projects. Ideally, FTAâs positions would be uniform across its district offices. While FTA cannot fund all of the needed research, it can serve as a clearinghouse by undertaking frequent technology scans similar to the international one performed by Volpe. FTA can also identify gaps in research and understanding, even if it is not in a position to fill them. CONCLUDING COMMENTS Once again, the members of TRAC and I appreciate your teamâs thorough and effective explanation of TRIâs efforts to further the state of automation in the transit industry and to seek our feedback on strengthening these efforts. The opportunities for and implications of such automation are growing every day and your commitment to remaining at the forefront of this topic is critical. In keeping with your desire for timely and constructive advice, this letter report is brief and focused. On behalf of TRACâs members, I thank you and your staff for providing a high-level set of program presentations and for so ably and patiently responding to the many questions we asked before offering this advice. I look forward to consulting with you about the next TRAC meeting in December, to be held in coordination with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and TRBâs Research and Technology Coordinating Committee, which advises FHWA on its research program in the same manner as TRAC. Sincerely, Anna M. Barry, Chair Attachment
Transit Research Analysis Committee Meeting Agenda: May 31 and June 1, 2018 Keck Center (Room 207) of the National Academies 500 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001 Thursday, May 31, 2018 CLOSED SESSION 8:45 am Welcome and updates: Katherine Kortum, Senior Program Officer, TRB OPEN SESSION 9:00 Introduction: Vincent Valdes, Associate Administrator, FTA Office of Research, Demonstration, and Innovation 9:30 FTA discussion on transit bus automation research 9:30â9:50 Introduction of USDOT automation activities: Gwo-Wei Torng, Director, Office of Mobility Innovation, FTA Office of Research, Demonstration, and Innovation 9:50â10:15 Summary of FTA requests for comments on automation readiness and barriers to automation: Steve Mortensen, Senior Intelligent Transportation Systems Engineer, Office of Mobility Innovation, FTA Office of Research, Demonstration, and Innovation Break around 10:15â10:30 10:30â11:30 FTA Strategic Transit Automation Research Plan: Danyell Diggs, Senior Transportation Program Analyst, Office of Mobility Innovation, FTA Office of Research, Demonstration, and Innovation Steve Mortensen, Senior Intelligent Transportation Systems Engineer, Office of Mobility Innovation, FTA Office of Research, Demonstration, and Innovation 11:30â12:00 pm International Transit Bus Automation Research: Eli Machek, Community Planner, Volpe National Transportation Systems Center 12:00 pm Lunch 1:00 Open session adjourns CLOSED SESSION 1:00 Committee discussion: impressions of FTA transit automation efforts 5:00 Committee adjourns
Friday, June 1, 2018 OPEN SESSION 8:30 am FTA discussion with committee members Vincent Valdes 10:00 Open session adjourns CLOSED SESSION 10:00 Committee discussion: outline of letter report 12:00 pm Lunch 1:00 Meeting adjourns
PARTICIPANT LIST Committee Anna M. Barry, Deputy Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Transportation, Chair J. Barry Barker, Executive Director, Transit Authority of River City Ron Brooks, Manager of Accessible Transit Services, Valley Metro Charles Carr, Director, Office of Intermodal Planning, Mississippi Department of Transportation Adib Kanafani, Professor of the Graduate School, University of California, Berkeley* Nadine Lee, Deputy Chief Innovation Officer, Office of Extraordinary Innovation, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Carol Abel Lewis, Professor and Director, Center for Transportation Training and Research, Texas Southern University John Lewis, Chief Executive Officer, Charlotte Area Transit System Angela Miller, Director, Cubic Transportation Systems* Brad Miller, Chief Executive Officer, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority Macy Neshati, Senior Vice President, BYD Heavy Industries* Ed Watt, Director of Special Projects, Amalgamated Transit Union *Not in attendance. Speakers and Discussants Danyell Diggs, Senior Transportation Program Analyst, Office of Mobility Innovation, FTA Office of Research, Demonstration, and Innovation Faith Hall, TRAC Program Manager, Office of Research Management, Innovation, and Outreach Mary Leary, Acting Deputy Associate Administrator, FTA Office of Research, Demonstration, and Innovation Eli Machek, Community Planner, Volpe National Transportation Systems Center Steve Mortensen, Senior Intelligent Transportation Systems Engineer, Office of Mobility Innovation, FTA Office of Research, Demonstration, and Innovation Gwo-Wei Torng, Director, Office of Mobility Innovation, FTA Office of Research, Demonstration, and Innovation Vincent Valdes, Associate Administrator, FTA Office of Research, Demonstration, and Innovation TRB Staff Michael Covington Katherine Kortum
U.S. Department Headquarters Of Transportation Federal Transit Administration May 11, 2018 Ms. Anna M. Barry Deputy Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Transportation Chair, Transit Research Analysis Committee Dear Ms. Barry and Members of the Transit Research Analysis Committee, We look forward to our next Transit Research Analysis Committee (TRAC) meeting on May 31, and June 1, 2018 in Washington, DC. For this next meeting, we will build on last Fallâs automation discussion. Transit agencies are beginning to explore the potential of automation to transform public transportation services. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is supporting a robust research agenda to provide critical information to help transit agencies harness the power of transit automation. In fact, transportation automation is a major part of Secy. Chaoâs innovation goal. The Department of Transportation (DOT) is building a strong, multi-modal focus in this area, and doing extensive outreach to gather stakeholder input. To help DOT develop a roadmap for automation research, DOT hosted a high-level listening session in March. Additionally, FTA released two requests for comments to: 1. gauge the state of the transit industry in relation to automated vehicle technology to inform future areas of research; and 2. identify current or potential regulatory or other policy barriers to automated transit buses and related technologies. The comments FTA received echoed TRACâs Letter Report feedback. We see a convergence of interests across topics such as: the ADA and accessibility; workforce and labor; funding and procurement. Overall, feedback was positive regarding the potential of automation to enhance bus transit. FTA just released a comprehensive transit automation research strategic plan (STAR), and this STAR plan is now posted on our website: Strategic Transit Automation Research (STAR) Plan. The Plan outlines FTAâs research agenda to advance transit automation over the next five years. This STAR plan is a dynamic document, and will evolve over time. Thus, given the importance and nascent aspect of transit automation, we want to dedicate our next meeting to exploring this area; sharing where we are, and gathering TRAC input/perspectives. 1200 New Jersey Avenue S.E. Washington DC 20590