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New Tech Will Expedite Bus Trips Through Lincoln Tunnel

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has just approved a demonstration program to test connected, autonomous vehicle technology in the Lincoln Tunnel’s Exclusive Bus Lane to expedite bus trips.

by Erik Bascome, Staten Island Advance / December 18, 2019
Shutterstock

(TNS) — The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has approved an 18-month, $4.8 million demonstration program to test connected, autonomous vehicle technology in the Lincoln Tunnel’s Exclusive Bus Lane (XBL).

Once fully deployed, the technology is projected to increase morning peak-hour bus capacity by 30%, allowing an additional 200 buses and 10,000 passengers during the morning peak.

“The Lincoln Tunnel’s Exclusive Bus Lane was a groundbreaking innovation when it first opened in 1971 and it remains a key element of the trans-Hudson transit network,” said Port Authority chairman Kevin O’Toole. “The XBL is the most productive highway lane in the nation in terms of the passenger trips it carries, but the lane’s popularity has made it a victim of its own success."

“Today’s demand in the XBL far exceeds the bus capacity it can accommodate. This demonstration program will begin to explore how technology can maintain this lane as a reliable mass transit operation into the future,” O’Toole continued.

The XBL, a 2.5-mile contraflow lane connecting the New Jersey Turnpike and Route 3 to the Lincoln Tunnel and Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan, handles 1,850 buses and 70,000 passengers from 6 to 10 a.m. each weekday, including the following eight Staten Island express bus lines:

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The demonstration program will take place in phases beginning next month, with approximately half of the 18-month window comprised of system design and integration on a fleet of test buses. The technology will then be tested on closed test tracks before being tested on the closed XBL during weekend morning hours, as to not interfere with weekday commutes. Following the completion of the demonstration program in 2021, the Port Authority will consider an official pilot program.

The autonomous technology does not replace bus drivers, instead providing driver assistance capabilities that allow operators to shorten the distance between buses, drive at higher speeds and reduce collisions.

“One of this agency’s top priorities is to explore emerging technologies that can enhance trans-Hudson commuting at a time when regional commuting growth has placed extreme strain on many of our legacy facilities,” said Port Authority vice chairman Jeffrey Lynford. “This upcoming demonstration program is a perfect example of seeking out 21st century technology to improve our capabilities, and gives us hope that the Exclusive Bus Lane will continue to be a critical mass transit facility for many years to come.”

©2019 Staten Island Advance, N.Y. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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