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LAVTA Testing Shared Autonomous Vehicles

The Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA) in Livermore, CA, began testing its new Shared Autonomous Vehicle (SAV) at a June 22 event at the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District Dublin/Pleasanton Station. Testing, anticipated to take two years, will be conducted on public roads in the city of Dublin.

Dublin Mayor and LAVTA board member David Haubert said at the event, attended by approximately 70 area business leaders, elected officials and product sponsors, “Our city traffic engineers will be among the first in the country to link a rail station to last-mile destinations by navigating complex stoplight and turning scenarios along public roads.”

The EasyMile EZ10 vehicle, which can operate for 14 hours on a single battery charge, can accommodate 12 passengers, though none will be present during the testing phase. LAVTA is partnering on the project with First Transit, which will provide staffing, maintenance and operational support, including having an operator on board the vehicle at all times during testing. The vehicle will operate at 15 mph or less during the test period, although it is capable of higher speeds.

LAVTA Executive Director Michael Tree, Dublin Mayor and LAVTA Board member David Haubert, Alameda County Supervisor and LAVTA Vice Chair Scott Haggerty, Pleasanton City Councilmember and LAVTA Board Chair Karla Brown and California Assemblymember Catharine Baker prepare to board LAVTA’s SAV for its inaugural test ride.

LAVTA Executive Director Michael Tree said he sees SAVs as an important piece of the overall mobility puzzle. “Transit agencies are facing growing public frustration with inadequate parking at major transit centers and a lack of reliable on-demand options for those all-important first- and last-mile connections,” he said. “Traditional fixed-route transit services are only an attractive option to choice riders if the route happens to travel within a reasonable walk distance of the commuter’s origin or destination.”

Alameda County Supervisor and LAVTA Vice Chair Scott Haggerty noted that “Providing a convenient and reliable first- and last-mile, zero-emission service will have a substantial environmental impact by reducing single-occupancy vehicle trips to employment, retail and residential destinations located near the Dublin/Pleasanton BART Station.”

Before entering service, the vehicles will undergo extensive testing that may take two to three years, with scenarios including infrastructure communication; interactions with others on the road such as vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians; and a variety of road and weather conditions.

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