Können autonome Fahrzeuge auch den öffentlichen Nahverkehr verbessern? Waymo könnte eine Antwort darauf haben.
Last week, autonomous car developer Waymo (a subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet) announced plans to conduct a two-stage experiment in Phoenix, AZ, by teaming up with Valley Metro, the region’s public transit system.
The goal: figure out if Waymo’s autonomous cars can increase access to public transportation. If people have a low-cost way to hail a ride to a bus/light rail station that is maybe a bit too far to walk to, they’ll be more inclined to use public transportation (rather than just making sure they have their own car to drive to work or wherever). Autonomous ride-hailing is expected to cost less than today’s ride hailing (since companies won’t have to pay a driver). This experiment could help us figure out if people might embrace the service.
A TWO-PART PLAN. Public transit in Phoenix isn’t awful, but it’s not great, either — it’s ranked 38th nationwide.
Both stages of Waymo’s public transportation experiment focus on first- and last-mile travel — the distance between a person’s home or work and the nearest public transportation option.
In the first stage of the experiment, which will begin in August, 30 to 50 Valley Metro workers will have the opportunity to make this journey in one of Waymo’s autonomous vehicles. All they have to do is simply hail a ride via the company’s app (whether or not riders will have to pay is not clear).
In the second stage of Waymo’s public transportation experiment, the company will open up this service to Valley Metro RideChoice travelers, typically seniors and people with disabilities for whom using the standard public transportation system might be too expensive or impractical.