Aug 7, 2019

Companies get innovative to fill in urban transportation gaps

Autonomous vehicles with a safety attendant will shuttle NY commuters. Photo: Optimus Ride

A flurry of recent developments shows how innovative companies are targeting real transportation problems in American cities.

Driving the news: Optimus Ride begins automated-vehicle service Wednesday at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a 300-acre industrial park.

  • 6 automated electric shuttles will carry passengers on a closed, 1-mile loop throughout the campus that includes a new ferry stop and the Yard's Cumberland Gate at Flushing Avenue.
  • With no other public transit on the site, the shuttles are a vital cog for some New Yorkers' multimodal commute.

Details: In Grand Rapids, Michigan, Via is launching an on-demand paratransit service in partnership with the city's public transit system, The Rapid.

  • The 6-month pilot will offer seniors and persons with disabilities on-demand transportation service, with 15 minutes or less wait time.
  • The app-based service is intended to replace the city's current paratransit system, which requires reservations up to 4 days ahead.

Also in Grand Rapids (a new hotbed of mobility innovation), May Mobility recently launched its driverless shuttles on a 3.2-mile downtown bus route in the city.

  • The 6-passenger shuttles are staffed by a safety attendant in the driver's seat and have a top speed of 25 mph.
  • The program, funded by a public-private partnership, aims to address congestion issues in the city and introduce alternative modes of transportation.

Go deeper: Women are less trusting of self-driving cars

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Mobility data could give cities new tools to improve equity

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As mobility data is amassed from ride-hailing, dockless bikes and e-scooters, cities need tools to responsibly track, store, and analyze it.

The big picture: With cities collecting that mobility data, in some cases as a condition for transportation companies to operate, they are facing a new challenge: how to be responsible stewards of this influx of data.

Go deeperArrowAug 14, 2019

Debates ensue over congestion pricing

Morning commute on a busy Manhattan street. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

How much cities should charge vehicles to drive on city streets and who should have to pay is the center of political debates, Chris Teale writes for Smart Cities Dive.

Driving the news: New York City is about to become the first to charge Manhattan drivers a congestion toll. Fees collected would fund public transit and infrastructure improvements.

Go deeperArrowAug 21, 2019

Cities are rewriting zoning and land use rules to usher in AVs

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

A growing number of U.S. cities, including Las Vegas, Minneapolis and Chandler, Arizona, are re-examining their zoning, land use, and transportation regulations to ease the way forward for AVs.

Why it matters: Cities are exploring changes to decades-old laws in the hopes of attracting new technologies and investment as well as the economic and quality-of-life gains that come with them.

Go deeperArrowAug 21, 2019