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QUICKRIDE: A small, half-sized shuttle fleet that can provide increased access to downtown Austin, reduce congestion, and operate green.

Our company has been researching smart mobility transportation options since winning a National Science Foundation grant in 2018.

Photo of Lynn Riley
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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. 

Describe who will use your solution (1,000 characters)

An east Austin resident living on a now-defunct bus route, waits at a neighborhood collector hub stop for an EV shuttle. It picks them up, travels over to 12th street, staggered next to another EV from a different street, and then straight west to drop them off in front of the Capitol Building, where they work. In the afternoon, the shuttle picks them up at the same location, travels down Congress Avenue to 11th street, and then straight east back across IH-35, dropping them at the same neighborhood hub stop. Our system will be purchased by CapMetro and or the Austin Department of Transportation and used by the citizens of East Austin working downtown, who’ve lost flexibility in transportation options when the bus routes changed in June, those with accessibility issues, and those who can’t afford the fees. Another potential customer would be real estate developers who have to foot the bill for road improvements on and around their property and might want this service.

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Initial Design - you are still exploring the idea and have not tested it with users

Insights from previous testing (500 characters)

We previously researched the use case of May Mobility’s shuttles providing options for parking by meeting with Kevin Rupp and Alisyn Malek of that company. The success of their shuttles shows a demand for neighborhood collector vehicles, since they went beyond pilot status. Our idea differs in that we’re using half-lane EVs in a staggered fleet formation with our tamper-proof software.

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

Our team holds many years of experience in technology and business. CEO Karen Kilroy’s background includes many years working as an open source software engineer and professional dragon boat coach. CTO Deepak Bhatta is an award-winning technology leader with 12 years in open source software development. CIO Lynn Riley has 25 years in business development, project management, and semiconductor manufacturing. COO Kara Williams came to us with a background in finance and business.

Size of your team or organization

  • 2-10

Team or Organization URL

Funding Request

  • $100,000

Rough budget (500 characters)

Budget: our request is for $100,000 - $15,000 for software usage training. - $50,000 on the simulation purchase (or subscription) and run hours. - $5,000 to create the hardware that allows the car to consume the roadway assets. - $15,000 to purchase two low speed cars to install the hardware to run our software. - $15,000 for the engineering for hardware/software building and interfacing on the cars.

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

In our pilot simulation we will recreate downtown Austin traffic in peak and off-peak hours: Step 1: Two EVs in staggered formation can be deployed at each of the following streets: Cesar Chavez, 2nd 4th, 6th, 8th, 10th and 12th streets, travel west to Congress Avenue. Pause to drop off passengers. Step 2: Test where to stop west of Congress. Use bus stops. Step 3: Test encounters at intersections with cars and pedestrians. Test encounter with road construction zone. Step 4: Test internal exceptions, such as a passenger request to stop. Step 5: Test turning around to go back to east Austin.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

Success is measured by how much congestion is reduced for a group of 1,000 commuter vehicles per set of 7 EVs once they’re out in traffic. Profitability will occur once the number of passengers taking the shuttle adds revenue to CapMetro. Technical success includes measuring: -time to complete route -ability to travel in staggered formation -V2V communication is not interrupted. -demonstrate ability to stop and start along current traffic patterns (peak and off-peak) using preloaded roadway assets. -demonstrate ability to figure out lane changing and merging. Myers EV has agreed to let us to test our software on their half-lane shuttles once their prototype has been built. We’ll then study how many passengers the EV can accommodate per hour and create a stop/start schedule that will coincide with hourly passenger volume shifts, allowing the EVs to arrive at collector hubs at staggered times. From there we will decide on the placement of the passenger stops around East Austin.

Sustainability Plan (500 characters)

This would be initially financed by the city. Riders would purchase single-use, week-long or month-long passes through the app like they currently do for CapMetro bus or light rail. Private and public companies providing remote parking for employees would also purchase a subscription to the shuttles.

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