Connected transit: a big step toward safer streets

Better traffic management, reduced congestion and improved traffic safety are key targets for cities, particularly those with growing populations. Connected vehicle technologies are expected to help deliver all three. A recent live demonstration of vehicle-to-everything technology (V2X) in Tampa, Florida successfully illustrated how effective the technology can be, and why other cities should consider if it could be a good fit for their transportation plans. — Doug Peeples


In what is described as a first, V2X technology was demonstrated recently in three mass transit scenarios that commonly occur on city streets.

The Tampa demonstration project, a joint effort between the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) and the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART), is supported by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment Program.

Tampa and locations in Wyoming and New York City were chosen as pilot project sites and shared in $45 million in USDOT funding to develop and implement connected vehicle applications that meet their unique transportation needs.

The THEA Connected Vehicle Pilot has already deployed 1,600 cars, 10 buses and eight streetcars with V2X technology to help ensure safe mobility in the downtown Tampa area as part of what has been a long-term development and deployment project. The V2X-equipped vehicles are able to communicate with each other and with traffic signals, crosswalks equipped with lidar pedestrian detection and roadside communications devices, pedestrians and additional infrastructure.

Successful demonstrations
The three controlled Tampa demonstrations, according to a Traffic Technology Today report, were a benchmark for the project.

During the streetcar safety demonstration a car attempting to turn in front of the streetcar received an audible warning and a visual warning in the rear view mirror as did the streetcar operator. As a result, the operator successfully stopped the streetcar before a collision occurred. Collisions also were avoided in very similar bus safety and pedestrian safety demonstrations.

In addition to preventing accidents, THEA says the technology can also contribute to improved traffic flow and fuel efficiency.

The tested vehicles will be operating for a minimum of 18 months. During that time, they will be monitored for their impact on the transportation network and on key performance measures.