RTD and partners launch first autonomous shuttle in Colorado

Jan. 30, 2019
The self-driving shuttle connects passengers from the 61st and Peña commuter rail station to the Panasonic and EasyMile offices.

The Regional Transportation District (RTD) of Denver and its partners held a ribbon cutting ceremony Jan. 29 to make the start of pilot project that will see Colorado's first on-road autonomous vehicle shuttle operating between RTD's 61st and Peña Park-n-Ride to the offices of Panasonic and EasyMile. 

Transdev will operate the EasyMile autonomous shuttle for the RTD in a new route called 61AV, serving people who park and live near the 61st and Peña commuter rail station free of charge. RTD explains the project’s main goal is to assess the viability of autonomous services in providing first and last mile connections to and from transit. The EasyMile shuttle is 100 percent electric and will operate along its route with four stops for the next four to six months. 

“RTD is pleased to participate in this groundbreaking partnership to explore how innovations in mobility are creating new and expanded opportunities for public transportation,” said RTD CEO and General Manager Dave Genova. “The 61AV partnership allows us to interface directly with an autonomous vehicle demonstration and assess how this technology can be applied in a transit setting to meet the future mobility needs of the people and communities we serve.”

The shuttles have air conditioning, automatic wheelchair ramps, passenger information systems, electric batteries and onboard USB chargers. Passenger feedback on all of these deployments has been extremely positive. The shuttle will run a predetermined route Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., making a complete loop every 15 minutes. Although it will not have a driver, an ambassador will be on the shuttle at all times to help answer questions and ensure safety for the passengers and operations. Transdev will also provide the ambassador for the RTD service. RTD explains that the partners in this AV demonstration project believe autonomous shuttle services will transform local communities and become an integral part of how communities are designed in the future.

EasyMile says its shuttle and operating system have been tested and verified on more than 200,000 miles in 22 counties, and have transported more than 320,000 people with no accidents or injuries. Transdev has provided more than 2 million fully autonomous passenger trips globally and the two companies have partnered on more than 50 deployments in the U.S. 

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.