The Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) – the public transit system in Chattanooga, Tennessee – was recently chosen by the US Department of Energy (DOE) to receive a grant for advanced vehicle technologies research. The research project will be co-funded between DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) and the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA).
CARTA will develop a software platform that uses artificial intelligence to enhance mobility and energy efficiency by designing a holistic transit system that includes fixed-route public transportation, micro mobility and car-sharing, and paratransit systems. By integrating on-demand operations with fixed-route public transportation service, and using the available capacity in paratransit services, the project aims to improve public transportation accessibility in Chattanooga from 41% – 73%. Public transportation accessibility is defined as the availability of frequent public transportation service within ¼ mile (~ 0.4 km) of residents’ homes.
The three-year project will receive just over $1.75 million, which includes $320,000 from FTA. It is expected that the software developed by the project will be transferable to other communities and have the potential to improve public transportation systems nationwide. CARTA is partnering with Vanderbilt University and the agency hopes to have actionable insights from its AI platform by early 2021.
“We’re trying to understand how best we can provide useful transit to the broadest popular area and number of people,” Philip Pugliese, CARTA’s transportation system planner, said. “Having dynamically routed transit opportunities and being able to optimize that service, that’s the direction where we think we might need to go in order to service the needs of everyone.”