Autonomous Shuttle Proposal in Merrifield Awarded State Funding

A proposal to launch an autonomous shuttle program in Merrifield was awarded a state grant, making it the first state-funded pilot of its kind in Virginia.

The Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board approved $250,000 in grant funding for Fairfax County to test driverless technology in public transportation, according to a press release. Fairfax County will provide $50,000 in local match funding to the pilot.

The program was the topic of extensive discussion at a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors work session yesterday (Tuesday). The pilot project will have an autonomous shuttle running from the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station to the Mosaic District, closing a 1-mile transit gap between the two locations.

The project is a collaboration between Fairfax County and Dominion Energy, which would identify, select and purchase the shuttles.

The shuttle would be free to ride with no ticket or pass needed.

The work session included a discussion of safety challenges related to operating an autonomous shuttle, particularly the challenge of getting the shuttle across Lee Highway. The press release noted that the shuttles will undergo extensive testing before passenger service can begin and a safety steward will be on board to monitor operations.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is set to consider the formal partnership agreement at the Tuesday, June 25, Board of Supervisors meeting.

Rendering via Optimus Ride

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