ABC updates automated bus RFP

  • August 15, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson

The Automated Bus Consortium (ABC), a collective of US transit agencies and several state transportation departments, is updating its request for proposals (RFP) to procure full-size highly automated transit buses.

This will update an RFP first issued in January 2022. Updates will be based on lessons learned and the latest automation advancements. The goal is to release the updated RFP early next year.

The RFP represents the first-ever carbon neutral automated bus procurement and large-scale deployment for full-sized buses. The state of Michigan is serving as the lead procurement agency on behalf of the consortium agencies.

Formed by Aecom, the ABC is an approach to investigate the feasibility of pilot automated bus projects and accelerate the deployment of automated transit technologies.

The highly automated buses will operate in pre-determined environments and still have drivers, steering wheels and pedals. Based on agency procurement decisions, these vehicles would be placed into service on pilot routes selected by each participating agency, resulting in advancements in understanding the impacts of automation. Pilot routes for these vehicles would include rural and urban deployments, bus rapid transit, bus yards, and local bus services.

Participants in this programme include member agencies city of Detroit, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, MetroLink, Michigan Department of Transportation, Capital Area Transportation Authority, Michigan State University, Huron Transit, NJ Transit, Trinity Metro and RATP Dev USA.

“Our initial RFP was successful in further advancing the automated transit industry and generated much interest from industry partners,” said Jean Ruestman from the Michigan Department of Transportation. “We can now apply lessons learned from the last several years, incorporate current priorities and integrate updated automation requirements to better meet agency needs.”

By combining the purchasing power of multiple agencies across the USA, the ABC aims to accelerate the adoption of modern, safety-focused automated features not yet available to the US industry. These features are designed to assist the bus operator in manoeuvring the vehicle safely and improve service reliability.

Consortium members are gathering input from the bus and automation industry. This input will be considered as they look to make updates to the RFP requirements.

With rapid advancement of automated technologies and the urgent need to improve mobility options while safely and effectively mitigating congestion in cities across the USA, the consortium’s collaborative effort hopes to leverage its combined resources and launch its pilot deployment programme of full-sized carbon neutral highly automated buses.