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RIDOT Accepting Proposals for Mobility Challenge to Bring Autonomous Transit Service to Rhode Island

Pilot program to test and research a new high-tech mode of transit

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) today announced that it is accepting proposals from companies who can test and eventually deliver an automated vehicle service to fill a transportation gap between downtown Providence and Olneyville via the Woonasquatucket River corridor.

Called the Rhode Island Transportation Innovation Partnership (TRIP) Mobility Challenge, this effort would involve the creation of a public-private partnership. The company selected as part of this competitive request-for-proposals (RFP) process would work with RIDOT to identify and propose a route and schedule of operations, and plan, design, test and operate a pilot mobility service.

"While we rebuild our roads and bridges through RhodeWorks, we must be mindful of the significant advancements underway and think about how we plan to be ready for the next generation of transportation," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "We're engaging in these efforts so that we are ready to adapt to a changing world and guide Rhode Island toward economic revitalization and job creation for a better connected workforce and economy."

"Thanks to the Governor's RhodeWorks program, we finally have the plan and the funding to bring our transportation infrastructure into a state of good repair," RIDOT Director Peter Alviti, Jr. said. "But our eyes are also on the future, how to make the best decisions today to ensure Rhode Island is ready to effectively and safely embrace the vehicles and transportation systems of tomorrow."

"Providence is on the cutting edge of developing technologies that could change the way we think about transportation," said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. "We're excited to bring this project to better connect Olneyville to the rest of the city."

The RFP identifies the densely populated neighborhoods within the Woonasquatucket River Corridor as a potential location for the introduction of a service that would use connected and highly automated and/or autonomous vehicles to connect to downtown Providence. In doing so, it would fill a transportation gap in an area of burgeoning development and serve travelers affected by construction associated with the 6-10 Interchange project.

Overall, RIDOT and its partners seek to achieve the following goals:

Safer transportation: Especially during the transition period when autonomous technologies are being integrated with traditional vehicles.

Sustainability, fuel reduction, and reduced congestion: New technology has the potential to save fuel and reduce carbon emissions.

Improved and equitable mobility: Integration of new technology that adapts to the needs of a broad user base.

Economic growth and a strong workforce: Changes in technology may alter job opportunities, encourage new investment, and expand opportunities for our workforce.

Smart cities, data management, and privacy: Infrastructure can serve as a platform for information-gathering and sharing to improve our systems, expand efficiencies, and allow for connectivity while protecting the privacy of users.

The Mobility Challenge builds on a year of close collaboration among public, private, and academic partners to develop a research-based pilot program. It will be focused both on safely testing new technology and on expanding mobility options in ways that improve the economy and the environment. Among its many partners are the City of Providence, the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA), and the Quonset Development Corporation.

Running concurrently with the RFP process, RIDOT and its project partners will also be forming a research team that draws from a range of local institutions of higher education, through an upcoming call for research proposals. These efforts will build on an academic dialogue that RIDOT kicked off in 2017 at its TRIP Expo, hosted at the New England Institute of Technology.

Proposals from the RFP are due in mid-Summer. RIDOT will review and award a contract in the fall. Initial testing of a pilot mobility service could occur as soon as the end of this year. The request for research proposals also will begin this spring and will close in the summer. A copy of the RFP can be downloaded at www.ridot.net/TRIP.

Related links

  • Department or agency: Department of Transportation
  • Online: http://www.dot.ri.gov
  • Release date: 04-30-2018

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