When CapMetro reduced bus routes in June 2019, Austin east side residents on those former routes who relied on the service were left to fend for themselves. The east side has only two light rail stops (Plaza Saltillo and MLK) that can move people to and from the main business area downtown. That means people who are nowhere near those stops nor on a bus route are left hanging. We saw a scalable, uncomplicated way to help Austin meet some of its smart mobility goals for reducing congestion and accidents while dealing with a growing population with shifting residential centers.
Our solution: provide half-lane electric shuttle cars (EVs) that collect riders at light rail stops and other designated neighborhood collector hubs in the east side, and carry them over to Congress Avenue and points west as far as Guadalupe Street on west-bound, even-numbered streets. The cars travel coupled together in fleet formation, and our software provides tamper-proof navigational data for the cars’ drivers to correctly read roadway markers such as lights, signs, and road striping locations, even if one is missing due to damage. This solution fits with the City of Austin’s plan of creating mass transit arteries with neighborhood collectors, since the vehicles travel a specified road as a fleet, then break off into individually controlled cars as necessary. It’s non-air polluting, dynamic mass transit, scaling up quickly to meet commuter demand and shifting residential hubs. Our solution can easily service residents who cannot afford the transit fee and those who need a door-to-door transportation option.