HART, PSTA expand and extend AV pilots

Feb. 25, 2021
HART SMART AV will operate an extra five hours every day, while PSTA’s AVA shuttle has been approved to operate until late March.

Two Florida autonomous shuttle pilots have extended their operations.

In Tampa, the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) added five hours of operation per day to its electric automated vehicle pilot, HART SMART AV. The autonomous shuttle, which is operated by HART and BEEP, will operate from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. daily.

The added service is possible with the addition of a second shuttle. This allows for one vehicle to charge while the other is operating.

HART partnered with Beep to launch the one-year autonomous shuttle pilot last October. The pilot, which is funded by the Florida Department of Transportation, costs less than $30 per month to charge and offers people traversing downtown Tampa a mobility option without the worry of having to search for parking.

"HART is proud to be the regional leader in a new era of transportation innovation in Tampa Bay," said HART CEO Adelee Le Grand. "We are looking at HART SMART AV to provide valuable data and insight to assist decision-making in the delivery of transit service in the future."

Another AV shuttle pilot project just across Tampa Bay in St. Petersburg also will see a service extension. Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) Board of Directors approved the operation of Autonomous Vehicle Advantage (AVA) through March 28, 2021.

AVA was launched in November and was originally only scheduled to operate until February 2021. While PSTA’s Board has approved the free service’s extension, the decision will require approval of the St. Petersburg City Council, which is expected to review the item at its March 4 meeting.

“Over the last three months, AVA has been a great success along the waterfront in downtown St. Petersburg,” said PSTA CEO Brad Miller. “Once approved, we are excited to have AVA continue bringing smiles and rides to residents in the Sunshine City.”

AVA is also operated in partnership with Beep and both HART SMART AV and AVA have an on-board shuttle attendant who serves as an ambassador for riders to learn more about the technology being used, as well as to oversee the passenger experience.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group 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.