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Removing Barriers to Transit Bus Automation


American Government

Removing Barriers to Transit Bus Automation

K. Jane Williams
Federal Transit Administration
16 January 2018


[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 10 (Tuesday, January 16, 2018)]
[Notices]
[Pages 2323-2324]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-00617]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Transit Administration

[Docket No. FTA-2017-0025]


Removing Barriers to Transit Bus Automation

AGENCY: Federal Transit Administration (FTA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) seeks public comment 
regarding current or potential regulatory or other policy barriers to 
the development, demonstration, deployment, and evaluation of automated 
transit buses and related technologies for Society of Automotive 
Engineers (SAE) automation levels 3 through 5. For purposes of this 
notice, ``bus'' is defined broadly to consider a range of sizes, 
vehicle platforms and configurations, and passenger capacities, and 
could include both traditional and novel vehicle designs (e.g., full-
size city buses, articulated buses, small shuttles, etc.). ``Bus'' 
includes bus rapid transit.

DATES: Comments must be submitted by March 2, 2018. FTA will consider 
late-filed comments to the extent practicable.

ADDRESSES: Please submit your comments by only one of the following 
methods, identifying your submission by docket number FTA-2017-0025. 
All electronic submissions must be made to the U.S. Government 
electronic site at http://www.regulations.gov.
    (1) Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov 
and follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
    (2) Mail: Docket Management Facility: U.S. Department of 
Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building, Ground Floor, 
Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
    (3) Hand Delivery or Courier: West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-
140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern time, 
Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
    (4) Fax: 202-493-2251.
    Instructions: You must include the agency name (Federal Transit 
Administration) and Docket number (FTA-2017-0025) for this notice at 
the beginning of your comments. Submit two copies of your comments if 
you submit them by mail. For confirmation that FTA received your 
comments, include a self-addressed stamped postcard. Note that all 
comments received will be posted without change to www.regulations.gov 
including any personal information provided and will be available to 
internet users. You may review DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement 
published in the Federal Register on April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477).
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents and 
comments received, go to www.regulations.gov at any time or to the U.S. 
Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, Docket 
Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, 
DC 20590 between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except 
Federal holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For questions, contact Steve 
Mortensen, Office of Research, Demonstration and Innovation, Federal 
Transit Administration, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, Room E43-422, 
Washington, DC 20590, phone: (202) 493-0459, fax: (202) 366-3765, or 
email, Steven.Mortensen@dot.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Overview

    Transportation currently is undergoing a transformation. As 
traveler preferences and needs recently have evolved and continue to 
change, so have the capabilities of emerging transportation 
technologies and, more importantly, the operational concepts defining 
how those technologies will be deployed in our communities.
    Motor vehicle automation (both as a technology platform and service 
model) has become the most talked about development for surface 
transportation in recent times. Many industry stakeholders and 
observers anticipate and expect that public transportation will have a 
significant role in this new space, as garnered from transit 
stakeholders during FTA preliminary research on the subject. Certain 
operational applications such as circulator or first mile/last mile 
service are clear instances where the use of automated motor vehicles 
could play a very effective role, based on transit stakeholder input 
and preliminary benefit-cost information on these service types. 
Circulator service is regular service within a closed loop, typically 
on a fixed route, and may be found in business parks, retirement 
communities, college campuses, downtowns, etc. First mile/last mile 
service provides service between high-capacity fixed-route service, 
such as rail transit and bus rapid transit, and a traveler's origin 
and/or destination, usually within a radius of three miles and often in 
an area of low-density development.
    Preliminary findings from FTA research are supported by a National 
Highway Cooperative Research Program study on automated transit 
(Gettman, Douglas, et al. 2017. NCHRP Project 20-102 (02), Project 
Report Document 239, Impacts of Laws and Regulations on CV and AV 
Technology Introduction in Transit Operations.) (see also https://www.nap.edu/download/24922#) which suggest that non-technical issues 
may present challenges or barriers to the development, demonstration, 
deployment, and evaluation of automation technologies in transit bus 
applications. For example, existing National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration Federal safety requirements and vehicle test procedures 
generally do not anticipate a fully driverless vehicle, and FTA 
procurement and other requirements could limit product availability for 
automated transit buses, particularly for automation levels 3 through 
5.
    FTA seeks comments from stakeholders, including the disability 
community, to better understand regulatory and policy barriers and 
challenges to development, demonstration, deployment, and evaluation of 
automation systems in the transit industry. Information from this RFC 
will help inform FTA's approach to automated transit buses, including 
determining whether to pursue potential modifications of FTA 
regulations, guidance, and internal practices, and may also help inform 
any future legislation.
    This notice is a request for comments and information only. It is 
not a solicitation for project proposals. Submission of any information 
in response to this notice is voluntary. The

[[Page 2324]]

Government will not pay for any effort expended in responding to this 
notice.

II. Scope and Submission of Comments

    The goal of this notice is to better inform FTA regarding current 
or potential regulatory and other policy areas, and procedures or 
actions that may slow or prevent the development, demonstration, 
deployment, and evaluation of automated transit buses and related 
technologies. For purposes of this notice, ``bus'' is defined broadly 
to consider a range of sizes, vehicle platforms and configurations, and 
passenger capacities, and could include both traditional and novel 
vehicle designs (e.g., full-size city buses, articulated buses, small 
shuttles, etc.). ``Bus'' also includes bus rapid transit.
    FTA requests comments from stakeholders, including the disability 
community, concerning technologies spanning automation levels 3 through 
5 as defined in the SAE standard J3016_201609 (see http://standards.sae.org/j3016_201609/) and as used in the National Highway 
Traffic Safety Administration Automated Driving Systems (ADS): A Vision 
for Safety 2.0 guidance.
    In particular, FTA seeks comments with respect to the following 
areas of interest:
    A. Are there existing FTA statutes, regulations, or policies that 
may present a challenge or barrier to the development, demonstration, 
deployment, or evaluation of automated transit buses? If so, please 
specify or describe these challenges, and provide proposed resolution, 
if possible.
    B. Are there other Federal statutes, regulations, or policies 
(e.g., Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, etc.) that may present a 
challenge or barrier to the development, demonstration, deployment, or 
evaluation of automated transit buses? If so, please specify or 
describe these challenges, and provide proposed resolution, if 
possible.
    C. Are there any specific regulatory barriers related to small 
business that DOT/FTA should consider, specifically those that may help 
facilitate small business participation in this emerging technology?
    D. Are there other regulatory, policy, or legislative challenges or 
barriers not otherwise specified above, which may impede development, 
demonstration, deployment, or evaluation of automated transit buses? If 
so, please specify or describe these challenges, and provide proposed 
resolution, if possible.
    Where applicable, indicate the level(s) of automation impacted by 
the statute, regulation, or policy. Please note FTA is not seeking 
comments pertaining to systems without an automated driving aspect 
(e.g., driver warnings and alerts), unless the system is evolving to 
include automation levels 3 through 5 in the foreseeable future. Please 
also note that this notice is not seeking comments related to rail 
fixed guideway systems or personal rapid transit systems. Interested 
parties are requested to respond to this notice in writing as soon as 
possible but not later than March 2, 2018.
    For information about the Federal Transit Administration, please 
refer to the FTA website at https://www.transit.dot.gov/.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on January 10, 2018 under authority 
delegated in 49 CFR part 1.91.
K. Jane Williams,
Deputy Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2018-00617 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE P

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