Shalaby: Autonomous shuttles could solve “last mile” problem

July 3, 2018

Professor Amer Shalaby was quoted in the Toronto Star today in Toronto plans to test driverless vehicles for trips to and from transit stations. The article by Ben Spurr outlines a City of Toronto proposal to test driverless shuttles operating to and from transit stops in a pilot project. If approved, the project would begin in 2020.

The report suggests autonomous shuttles could provide a solution to the so-called “last mile” problem, a term used to describe the difficulty of finding efficient ways to transport people between their homes and transit stations in areas where ridership demand doesn’t meet the threshold that would necessitate conventional transit service.

“The problem really exists, and it’s been a challenging one because it’s not really very cost effective to operate conventional transit with a driver … when you don’t really have the demand for it,” said Amer Shalaby, a professor and member of the University of Toronto’s Transportation Research Institute, which will help monitor the project.

“I think (autonomous shuttle technology) presents an opportunity to solve that problem.”

Shalaby in front of bookcase
Professor Amer Shalaby

Professor Shalaby is an expert on urban transit planning and operations, intelligent transportation systems, transportation planning for large-scale events and mega cities, and transportation systems safety analysis. He is Associate Director of the U of T iCity Centre for Automated and Transformative Transportation Systems (iCity-CATTS) launched in 2017. Shalaby will be teaching summer professional development courses in August as part of the Short Courses on Public Transit, which are designed to provide participants – professionals, consultants, or those with a keen interest – with knowledge of key concepts and best practices related to public transit service planning and technology.