CALSTART And Transit Partners Among Grant Recipients For SMART Rider Proposal

CALSTART – Changing Transportation for Good

CALSTART, a global clean transportation nonprofit, has been selected as one of the 34 grant awardees in the Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grants Program released by the U.S. Department of Transportation for its proposal SMART Rider: Advanced Safety Technologies for Transit. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law established the SMART program with $100 million appropriated annually for fiscal years 2022-2026. CALSTART and partners will receive $1.98 million in federal funds for the SMART Rider project.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 94 percent of serious crashes are due to human error, and an estimated 60 percent of crashes resulting in injury or death could have been avoided with the use of advanced vehicle safety technologies according to the National Safety Council. Today, the technologies are not yet available as standard features in transit vehicles, but if they were, more than 4,320 transit-related injuries could have been prevented across the United States (2022 Federal Transit Administration’s National Transit Database).

SMART Rider will be a six-month pilot project (launch date: Q3 2024) that will focus on retrofitting buses with anti-collision technology to reduce the number of bus-related accidents. The primary goal of the demonstration project is to evaluate the effectiveness of transit-integrated safety technologies to prevent injuries and deaths in real-world applications and create a safer rider experience.

The Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA), of Canton, OH, is leading the project and states that funding will be used to install the TONY AV Kit from Perrone Robotics on three of its buses, using light detection and ranging (lidar), radar, cameras, and other sensors to detect risks and alert drivers in potentially dangerous driving conditions. The TONY AV Kit advanced vehicle safety system technology includes data logging and telematics features to address the need for collision avoidance on operating fleet vehicles. The system is expected to reduce at least 60 percent of annual transit incidents.

CALSTART is pleased to work in partnership alongside SARTA and the other partners that include Butler County Regional Transit Authority (BCRTA), Western Reserve Transit Authority (WRTA), NEORide, and the Ohio Transit Risk Pool (OTRP), along with industry partners Perrone Robotics and the International Transportation Learning Center (ITLC). All three transit agencies are partners of NEORide, a Council of Governments consisting of 25 transit agencies across five states.

The project will be conducted as a regional partnership with the three NEORide transit agencies that are all operating in areas that contain partially disadvantaged communities across Ohio, spanning 92 disadvantaged census tracts (approximately 88 percent). The primary location for the project is at SARTA in Canton; other locations include Butler County (BCRTA) and Mahoning County (WRTA).

“The deployment of advanced vehicle safety technologies will result in measurable improvements for transit safety and help to reduce accidents,” according to a press release. “The communities will benefit with safer modes of transportation, better air quality due to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from traditional buses and workforce development opportunities in transit-related jobs.”

“Safety is the No.1 priority for transits across the U.S. This regional partnership provides investments in commercially available technologies focused on increasing safety and the public’s trust in transit, which helps to further the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through increased ridership and reduction in single occupant vehicle use,” Maureen Marshall, Senior Director, Midwest Region, CALSTART, said. “With the support of our project partners, CALSTART is changing the transportation narrative for commuters across Ohio.”

For more information on CALSTART’s current and upcoming initiatives, visit the website.

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