Portland, ME, US is preparing
For most American cities, state legislatures have worked at cross purposes to municipal interests on both transit and autonomous vehicle policy. Portland, however, is providing an example of what might be possible when state and city get aligned on these key transportation issues.
According to the Portland Press-Herald, it was Portland city manager Jon Jennings’ interest in the potential of AV-based transit that set the stage for a proposed state law authorizing towns and cities to undertake pilot AV transit projects in partnership with state agencies. A bill passed in March 2018 under the sponsorship of Rep. Heather Sanborn, D-Portland, would provide a five-year window through March 2022 for municipalities to put the needed agreements in place. Meanwhile, the governor has established an Advisory Committee that also seeks to oversee AV pilots within the state.
In Portland, city officials are most interested in providing transit connections across the I-295 corridor, which cuts through the city’s historic downtown. One potential route would run between Portland’s Transportation Center to the Corridor Street Waterfront, serving both tourists and commuters.