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How driverless electric cars can be incorporated into local public transport

(TNS) – Pittsburg has adopted a tentative plan that includes a transit system that uses driverless electric cars to transport passengers to and from BART, bus and Amtrak stations in the Bay Area in East Contra Costa County.

The city council on Monday unanimously agreed to endorse a public-private partnership model that will allow Glydways Inc. to build a multimillion-dollar micro-transit network that complements current bus and rail services in the region and will be fully operational by 2030. Brentwood, Oakley, Tri-Delta Transit and the Contra Costa County Transportation Authority have also agreed to support the project.

Under the agreement, Pittsburg will work with private and public agencies to help develop the system that has been touted as convenient and affordable. Customers would call cars via a phone app or from kiosks along the routes.

The South San Francisco-based company first proposed the concept more than a year ago in East Contra Costa, Oakley. Since then, Pittsburg, Oakley, Brentwood, Antiochia Contra Costa County and the East and Contra Costa Transportation Authorities have worked together on a feasibility study to ensure the plan, which requires local funding, benefits the region.


“This project is about economic development and attracting employers as well as a transport project,” said Habib Shamskhou of the Advanced Mobility Group, which carried out the study.

The Advanced Mobility Group concluded that the proposed 28-mile transit system with 56 planned entry points between the Pittsburg / Bay Point BART station and downtown Brentwood is feasible. The daily number of drivers on weekdays was estimated at 33,559 and the daily number of drivers on weekends at 5,196.

Glydways proposes to design and build the $ 450.9 million Pittsburg-Brentwood system by working with other companies to fund it and using tariffs and other sources of income to operate. In contrast, eBART tracks and diesel engines to build for the Pittsburg-Antioch route cost $ 525 million, while the same 10-mile two-way stretch for a Glydways system cost $ 89.5 million in 2021, according to the study -Dollars would cost.

According to Glydways’ proposal, small driverless electric cars will initially operate on paved paths as needed, bringing drivers to and from points such as Los Medanos College, Amtrak station and park and ride spaces to BART, the Innovation Center @ Brentwood and The Streets connect from Brentwood Shopping Center. According to the report, the operating room can be created from converted streets, abandoned railways, closed canals or newly built elevated paths.

Shamskhou said the study concluded that Glydways’ proposal provides “a real project and transportation solution for East Contra Costa County for the next 50 years” that aims to reduce traffic congestion and recruit new employees for East Contra Costa County.

And while expanding BART or other transit systems could take more than a decade, building the micro-transit system would only take five years, Shamskhou said.

“It’s very sustainable and can be achieved in a rapid deployment with public-private partnership,” Shamskhou told the council.

“And the biggest benefit is that it improves the productivity of the Tri Delta Transit (Bus) device,” he said, noting that the system can potentially get right to customers’ doors. “This will not replace that (bus system); it will complement that. It will act like a first mile, last mile concept to get you to the bus station.”

Mayor Merl Craft, who sits on the Tri Delta Transit Board, said she was “totally impressed and very excited to see this opportunity in East Contra Costa County”.

Before a pilot program can begin in East Contra Costa, however, the autonomous pods will be subjected to a “proof of concept” test at Concord’s GoMentum Station, a test site for such cars at the former Naval Weapons Station. According to official information, the half-mile test segment should be completed by the summer of this year.

Councilor Juan Banales said he supported the project but feared cities like Pittsburg could subsidize the operation until it becomes profitable.

“There are many people who are tired of the continuous subsidies that, as you know, are required to move this forward with very mixed results,” he said. “I think when we look at future transportation systems we need to be aware of the fact that if it is publicly funded, we definitely want to make sure that it is a really good endeavor for interest payers from a fiscal sustainability standpoint.”

Alderman Jelani Killings also backed the project, but acknowledged that the system will take some time to secure funding.

“But I think this will be good for East County as a whole,” he added. “I am delighted that this technology is going online and serving as part of a solution to our traffic problems and congestion here in East County, and here in Pittsburg in particular.”

© 2021 Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, California). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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