Applying Innovative Transportation Technologies on Military Installations
Katie Lamoureux, Community Planner at Volpe, The National Transportation Systems Center, presented Applying Innovative Transportation Technologies on Military Installations during the NDTA-USTRANSCOM Fall Meeting on October 9, 2019, in St. Louis, Missouri.
Innovative transportation technologies are being considered as a way to reduce reliance on single-occupancy vehicles on military bases. Doing so could help remedy the top transportation-related problem on installations—traffic congestion. This issue is especially problematic at the gate and has implications for readiness and security.
Reducing the number of cars on an installation also brings with it several potential benefits: It can free up land for uses besides surface parking lots. Fewer vehicles mean fewer emissions, which can help bases meet regulatory requirements. Utilizing bikes as an alternative means of transportation can advance health and wellness goals. Reducing reliance on cars can save money for military members. It may also support recruitment and retention goals among younger service members who do not want to own a car.
The transportation technologies under consideration are ones used to move people in, out, and around an installation. Many installations are sprawling in nature. Often, personnel needs to go to various locations throughout their day. This combination makes having a car a necessity on many bases. To make the situation more challenging, at times, personnel are also carrying around heavy equipment.
Several pilot programs and much interest exists in exploring automated shuttles. These shuttles are a low-speed option. Most max out at 25mph, but in reality are operated mainly in the 7-12mph range. Still considered prototype technology, the shuttles require frequent hardware and software updates. And, despite being automated, they need an onboard attendant who may have to intervene to help the shuttle interact with its environment. Interacting with the environment, such as realizing a snowbank has formed overnight, is a challenge for the shuttles. Other challenges include ensuring adequate battery life and finding appropriate use cases for the vehicles. Clear goals and metrics are needed to evaluate pilot programs.
Rideshare is a technology that is ready to use today. Some installations have already partnered with Uber and Lyft to come on base. Drivers consist of both military and non-military members and go through the same credentialing process as taxi and bus drivers that service the base.
Some installations have also partnered with Lime Bikes or Uber Jump Bikes to provide bikeshares. Bikesharing can provide first- and last-mile connections, allow users to get around the base, and improve physical fitness.
As installations consider what technologies to implement, it is imperative to identify the problem that needs to be addressed and determine if that particular transportation solution will solve it. Valid data can provide insights on user wants and needs for issues such as getting the right stops. Finally, installations need to look at long-term funding and ways to ensure user adoption of the new transportation option.