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Mountain View, Calif., Studies Automated Transportation System to Relieve Congestion

Automated guideway transportation might be part of a “solution to improve the last-mile connectivity and other mobility challenges,” according to the city.

(TNS) -- With ongoing development in the North Bayshore area of Mountain View, city officials are worried about adding to already congested traffic between North Bayshore and the city’s transit hub at Castro Street and Central Expressway.

That has led to ideation to deal with the problem, including something called “automated guideway transportation” (AGT).

AGT might be part of a “solution to improve the last-mile connectivity and other mobility challenges,” according to the city.

City documents describe AGT as “a category of advanced transportation technology that is primarily characterized by being both fully automated and driverless. This technology is often found at airports to get people between terminals.”

AGT might be a way around adding road capacity, which “is neither practical nor preferred to address the increasing traffic congestion that undermines the continued economic growth and vitality of the city,” according to city documents.

A study is underway to determine if such a system would be worthwhile.

“It’s good to look at it,” said the city’s public works director, Mike Fuller, on Wednesday. “Some are people having trouble imagining how it might be feasible, but the city council really wanted to look at it, to look at things that have been done before.”

Fuller said two basic corridors have been discussed — along Shoreline Boulevard, or along Moffett Boulevard, either of which would connect the North Bayshore area with the city’s transit hub.

The study, run by Jim Lightbody of the firm Nelson/Nygaard in San Francisco, is looking at several forms of transportation, from self-guided electric buses running on rubber tires to monorail systems and even elevated cable cars.

Seattle has had a monorail that has run since it was built for a world’s fair in 1962. It’s not driverless, though. Moscow, Russia, also has a monorail system, which also uses drivers, and that faces frequent criticism from the press and public officials, although other public officials stress the need for it to continue operating.

For the study, AGT technologies are defined broadly to include those that require grade-separation and/or exclusive rights-of-way (which can only operate while physically separated from normal vehicular and other traffic), but also those that do not require grade-separation or exclusive right-of-way (which can operate in rights-of-way shared with other modes of traffic).

The study began gathering data and developing study assumptions in January. The first community outreach meeting was held April 3, followed by a council study session on May 23.

Another community meeting is planned for 6 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 25, to present information about AGT, and to get community feedback. The meeting will take place at the Historic Adobe Building, 157 Moffett Blvd., Mountain View.

Fuller said his department expects to deliver the study report to the city council at its Oct. 17 meeting.

©2017 the Palo Alto Daily News (Menlo Park, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.