METRO unveils autonomous shuttle and electric vehicle: 'Next phase of our strategic plan'

Elissa Rivas Image
Wednesday, December 13, 2023
METRO unveils 2 major transportation advancements
METRO Houston says the future of public transit is here, and unveiled an autonomous shuttle and electric vehicle.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- METRO Houston says the future of public transit is here. On Tuesday, it unveiled what it calls two major transportation advancements that will take the Houston area into the next generation.

First, METRO gave news reporters a look at an autonomous shuttle called FutureLink. The shuttle has been undergoing testing at the Kashmere Bus Operating Facility in northeast Houston. METRO says it is ADA-compliant and will provide efficient and convenient rides as part of the overall transit system.

FutureLink builds on a pilot project for driverless vehicles dating back several years, and you'll see it being tested on the streets of Houston next year.

METRO Board Chair Sanjay Ramabhadrun said that bringing this technology to life is a yearslong process.

"This autonomous vehicle marks the next phase of our strategic plan to integrate autonomous vehicle technology into our transit system. We had a pilot project back in 2016-2017, and this builds on that and promises to revolutionize access to public transportation," Ramabhadrun said.

METRO also introduced a new electric vehicle. The investment, it says, paves the way for METRO'S goal of only buying zero-emission vehicles by 2030.

Outgoing Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner reflected on the long road to implementing this kind of technology in Houston.

"We are a long way from where we were some 30-plus years ago, where the focus was simply on building roads for cars and trucks. That was Houston of yesterday. That will not serve us well for Houston today, going forward."

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