Public transit is a vital part of everyday life for communities across the country, providing millions of Americans with access to jobs, health care, groceries, education, and other essentials. Transit is the backbone of the mobility ecosystem for many urbanized areas, and is a transportation lifeline in communities across the country—yet 45% of Americans do not have access to transit. Innovative public-private partnerships are beginning to reveal a range of use cases where autonomous vehicles (AVs) can augment existing transit networks.
In recent years, transit agencies and AV developers have collaborated on pilot projects to explore how AVs can enhance mobility options for transit users. Incorporating AVs into public transit can help to connect riders to more transit routes and destinations with right-sized vehicles that can increase efficiency. In order to maximize the benefits of autonomy, we must also consider how to effectively introduce AVs alongside existing mobility options, prioritize accessibility for people with disabilities and older adults, and educate riders on how to interact with these new services.