Autonomous Buses Are Coming To Austin. Here’s How To Ride Them.

Autonomous Shuttle
An autonomous shuttle tested out in partnership with Cap Metro at SXSW 2017. Although the shuttles for this pilot project won't be exactly the same, they'll look similar.
 It’s happening. Autonomous buses are coming to Austin… and you might be able to use them as soon as this fall.

Late last month, Capital Metro announced that it is partnering with the City of Austin and RATP Dev USA to run a pilot autonomous shuttle bus program in downtown Austin.

Here’s how it will work – 
An initial testing phase begins today. Autonomous buses from a few different companies will be evaluated for street performance, safety, and efficiency along 3rd Street downtown. Autonomous vehicle manufacturers will then be able to submit proposals for CapMetro to lease six vehicles for the pilot program.

Here’s how you can ride one – 
CapMetro expects the pilot program to begin in late fall and to last for a year. The buses will be electric-powered, carry up to 15 passengers each, and be ADA accessible. Although an exact route has not been announced, the buses will likely circulate between the MetroRail station at the Convention Center, City Hall, the new Austin Central Library, and Republic Square Park. The buses will likely run every five to seven minutes. 

During the pilot, CapMetro will be collecting data about customer experience, safety, and the public’s perception of autonomous vehicles. It’s all part of a larger effort aimed at making Austin a leader in the adoption of shared, electric, and autonomous vehicles.

“Capital Metro wants to lead the charge – to be among the first transit agencies in the United States to showcase this technology to our ‘smart’ city. I believe this will be the largest public AV bus pilot in the country.” said Randy Clarke, Capital Metro’s president/CEO, in a press release. “This is an amazing opportunity to better connect our customers and community while also shaping the future of transportation.”

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