CALSTART to Explore New Automated Vehicle Technologies Aimed at Boosting Transit Ridership and Cutting Emissions

September 9, 2019

TROY, Mich. – CALSTART is launching a project to explore new automated vehicle technologies aimed at boosting transit ridership, cutting traffic and congestion, while also reducing emissions. The project’s ultimate goal will be to support the development of a next generation zero-emission autonomous transit vehicle.

CALSTART, a clean transportation accelerator with offices and member companies across the nation, will establish a coalition of at least ten transit agencies to inform the process. The agencies—of varying sizes and complexities representing diverse communities—will be asked to provide strategic guidance to develop specifications for a next generation zero-emission automated transit vehicle. Agencies will create a “wish list” of attributes that meets their performance and funding needs.

“We are excited about the opportunity to work with leading transit properties and identify how vehicle automation could be used to actually increase transit ridership and reduce the number of cars on the road. We also want to work with our member companies to be global leaders in this technology,” said John Boesel, President and CEO of CALSTART.

CALSTART has tapped national transit expert and innovator Matthew Lesh to lead this effort under its Connected and Automated Transportation Users Forum (CATUF). The CALSTART team will develop specifications for a vehicle that is:

  • Battery all-electric or hydrogen powered;
  • Autonomous to at least Level 4 SAE;
  • Buy America and ADA compliant;
  • Designed to meet all climate conditions;
  • Designed to ensure customer comfort for all.

“The current marketplace of vehicles meets some of the stated criteria, but we haven’t encountered a vehicle that meets them all. Automation can create new efficiencies for transit agencies, allowing them to expand their service areas and options while also fulfilling customers’ needs,” said transit innovator and expert Matthew Lesh.

Lesh co-created the Federal Transit Administration Mobility on Demand Program. He has led efforts for the Michigan Mobility Challenge, Local Motors’ Olli, the United States Department of Transportation Accessible Technology Transportation Research Initiative, the Federal Transit Administration Veteran’s Transportation Community Living Initiative and others. He currently serves as the vice-chair of the Transportation Research Board’s Automated Transit Systems Committee and is an active member of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

CATUF was initiated 2018 when the CALSTART team identified a gap of critical need in the transit marketplace. It is a platform for CALSTART’s members and associated stakeholders to network, create learnings around and influence the connected and automated vehicle sector. The automated vehicle sector is currently seeing marked early growth, with transit and auto companies investing. Ford and General Motors have publicly committed to spending $4 billion and $100 million respectively on the sector in the coming years. New Flyer recently launched an Autonomous Technology Program[1] and Volvo Buses showcased its first autonomous bus concept in Singapore earlier this year.[2]

Transit agencies interested in learning more about this project are encouraged to contact CALSTART.

CALSTART | Changing transportation for good

A national nonprofit consortium with offices in New York, Michigan, Colorado and California and partners world-wide, CALSTART works with 220+ member company and agency innovators to build a prosperous, efficient and clean high-tech transportation industry. We knock out barriers to modernization and the adoption of clean vehicles. CALSTART is changing transportation for good.



MEDIA CONTACT: ROXANNA SMITH, [email protected], (626)744-5609 or (510) 326-0390