A new kind of local transit service: convenient, safe, quiet, zero emissions and accessible

The City of Toronto, Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), and Metrolinx are launching a short-term trial of a shuttle service using a low-speed automated vehicle. The shuttle will connect Rouge Hill GO Station to both the West Rouge community and Rouge National Urban Park. Work is currently underway to install stop platforms and signage, plan the service and prepare the shuttle vehicle to operate smoothly and safely on its designated route. Residents will begin to see the automated vehicle operating in the area in September, with passenger service to begin in fall 2021.

The goal of this trial is to demonstrate the future opportunity for a safe, green, accessible and convenient transit technology to support local travel needs. It is an opportunity for Torontonians to experience first-hand how it feels to ride on an automated vehicle, and to interact with it on public roads.

The temporary service will be provided using one Local Motors Olli 2.0 shuttle with eight seats, running a route set through residential streets not currently served by conventional transit. The shuttle is an automated vehicle (AV) that is mostly self-driving and will have an on-board human attendant at all times. The City of Toronto’s agreement with Local Motors was announced on October 14, 2020.

Public feedback is an important part of the project, and we invite you to get involved by clicking on “Get Involved” below.

Service Plan

  • The temporary shuttle service will travel to and from Rouge Hill GO station during morning and evening rush hours. Planned routes are illustrated below.
  • Passengers will ride for free. Fixed-location stops will provide access to the West Rouge neighbourhood, West Rouge Community Centre and Rouge National Urban Park.
  • It is expected that validation and testing of the vehicle without passengers will take place in Summer 2021, and the service will be launched in Fall 2021. Updates will be provided as they become available.
  • The Local Motors Olli 2.0 shuttle is a zero-emissions electric automated vehicle (AV), that will quietly and safely operate at low speeds.
Automated Shuttle Trial – Weekday RouteMap of Automated Shuttle routes on the weekday
Automated Shuttle Trial – Weekend RouteMap of Automated Shuttle routes on the weekend

The West Rouge neighbourhood is located in the south-east corner of Scarborough, roughly bounded by Lake Ontario to the south, the Rouge River to the east, Port Union Road to the west and Kingston Road to the north.

See why West Rouge community was selected for this trial under the “More Details” tab.

The project team is connecting with local residents to determine the project details and make sure this plan can work for the neighbourhood.

Upcoming Engagement

  • A virtual open-house will be held in July to provide full details on the service and answer any local resident questions. Subscribe below for electronic updates about timing of the open-house and other project information.
  • Feedback is important to us. Surveys of community members and shuttle riders will be open throughout the project period.

Survey Panel Recruitment

  • We are recruiting a panel of people willing to complete surveys before, during and after the shuttle trial to help us understand perceptions among people who share the road with the shuttle as well as those who ride it one or more times.
  • To sign up to be on the survey panel, please email automatedvehicles@toronto.ca

Completed Engagements

An online survey was shared via drop-mail and online communications from September 13 to October 31, 2019. More than 400 responses, including 134 from residents who live in the West Rouge neighbourhood, were received.

A public consultation drop-in event was hosted on October 2, 2019, in the West Rouge Community Centre, where 39 residents attended and discussed the project with team members.


If you require assistance in accessing any materials on this page, please contact Jason Diceman.

An overview of the project is provided in the information panels. The content of this page is intended to provide additional details.

Project Rationale

Automated vehicles offer exciting opportunities for transit providers and transit users. The City of Toronto, TTC and Metrolinx are working together to explore and understand how this technology can make it easier for people to access transit.

The project partners want to understand the value of an automated shuttle service in the transit and transportation system so that they can make decisions about the use of this and similar technologies in the future. The project partners also want to understand how users and community members respond to this type of service, and provide an opportunity for the public to learn more about automated vehicles.

There is currently no intention to make this project permanent.

Business Case

The trial is intended for research purposes and not designed for cost-recovery. The trial is intended to generate knowledge about the potential for this kind of technology to be integrated into the transit system over the long term.

Project Partners

The Automated Shuttle Trial is jointly delivered by the City of Toronto, TTC and Metrolinx. The City, TTC and Metrolinx make decisions together about the design and implementation of the temporary trial.

Shuttle Provider

The successful vendor to deliver the shuttle is Local Motors by LM Industries, selected through a competitive process. Local Motors is partnering with Ontario-based AutoGuardian by SmartCone to operate the service.

Defining Success

For the City of Toronto, TTC and Metrolinx, successful outcomes of the project include:

  • Developing a greater understanding of:
    • The automated shuttle technology and its application in “first-mile, last-mile” applications and other use cases,
    • The potential for integration of this type of service to fill gaps in the existing transit system, and
    • Whether this type of service could offer a benefit to customers in the long term.
  • Generating regular use of the shuttle by residents and gathering feedback on customer experiences
  • Encouraging increased public awareness in the use of automation
  • Making Toronto even more attractive for economic activity in the area of automated transit vehicle technology

We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on travel patterns, particularly the commute to work and the use of public transit. This impact will be taken into consideration when assessing the success of the shuttle trial. Regardless of the number of passengers, the project partners will still gain valuable insight into the technology and this potential use-case.

Funding

The trial is funded by a contribution from Transport Canada through the Program to Advance Connectivity and Automation in the Transportation System (ACATS), as well as funding from the City of Toronto. The project partners (City of Toronto, TTC and Metrolinx) are also contributing in-kind support, such as staff time and other resources.

Transport Canada is providing a contribution of $365,000 for service preparation, delivery and evaluation. Total value of the project including in-kind support is estimated to be $1.153 million.

Previous AV Shuttle Projects in Canada

There have been hundreds of other shuttle demonstrations and trials around the world and in Canada (including in Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Candiac, and Montreal). However, this will be the first for Toronto and the only trial in Canada that has been conducted in partnership with transit agencies and which seeks to understand the specific potential of automated shuttles in the transit system.

Automated Vehicles in the City of Toronto Streets

Through the Ontario Automated Vehicle Pilot program, administered by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, organizations can apply for a permit to test automated vehicles on Ontario public roads, including in the City of Toronto. This program has been in effect since 2016. The selected service provider will be responsible for ensuring that a permit is obtained under this program.

Defining Success

For the City and its partner agencies, success would include:

  • Developing a greater understanding of:
    • The automated shuttle technology and its application in “first-mile, last-mile” applications and other use cases,
    • The potential for integration of this type of service to fill gaps in the existing transit system
    • Whether this type of service could offer a benefit to customers in the long term.
  • Generating regular use of the shuttle by residents and gathering feedback on customer experiences
  • Encouraging increased public awareness in the use of automation
  • Making Toronto even more attractive for economic activity in the area of automated transit vehicle technology

We look forward to hearing from the public about other measures of success.

Beyond the Trial

At this time, there is no intention to make this temporary trial permanent, nor to scale up automated shuttle services across the transit system without further analysis. During and after the trial, the City and its partners will conduct a full evaluation of the technology and its potential for integration into the transit system and other possible applications. This will include identifying future work and research that needs to be completed to continue preparing for this technology. More information on the City’s  Automated Vehicles Tactical Plan.

The City, TTC and Metrolinx have no intention of purchasing the shuttle vehicle.

Why We Chose West Rouge Neighbourhood

To select the preferred location, the City, TTC and Metrolinx began by developing selection criteria. They were:

  1. Route fills a current unmet need in the transit system
    • Outside of the existing TTC 400-metre service area
    • Close proximity to a major transit hub
  1. Route is able to meet the technological limitations of the anticipated shuttle technology
    • Acceptable grade, no rail crossings, pick-up/drop-off areas available, storage/charging areas available
    • Total route distance <5km (allows approximately 30-min headways with 1 shuttle)
    • Mixed-traffic environment with low traffic volume
  1. Route possesses preferred location characteristics
    • Identify whether in a Neighbourhood Improvement Area
    • Avoid School Zones
    • Ability to avoid or coordinate with planned capital projects/road works
    • Ability to clearly communicate to potential customers

Using these criteria, the team generated a list of potential locations within the City of Toronto and evaluated them against the criteria. West Rouge was the best candidate for meeting the project needs, and we hope residents will welcome this trial public service in their neighbourhood.

Defining “Outside of the existing 400-metre TTC service area”

The TTC has a service coverage standard that states: “The base network of transit services is designed so that 90% of the population and employment is within a 400 metre (5 minute) walk of transit service, seven days a week.” There are small pockets of the City that fall outside of this standard. For this trial, we wanted to target these geographical gaps.

No Changes to Existing Bus Transit Service in the Area

No changes will be made to existing TTC bus services connecting to Rouge Hill GO.

Privacy and Cybersecurity

Automated vehicles use sensors for navigation and data collection, which means they need close scrutiny for risks to privacy and cybersecurity. The City of Toronto is conducting a Privacy Impact Assessment and a Cybersecurity Threat and Risk Assessment to identify the mitigation actions necessary to ensure that the project protects privacy and is secure. Local Motors is participating fully in these assessments.

Emergency Preparedness

As part of the agreement with the City of Toronto, Local Motors is responsible for training local First Responders to be able to respond in the unlikely event of an incident relating to the Automated Shuttle. This training will help the City, TTC, Metrolinx, and first responder agencies get ready for service launch, while also helping learn about how to prepare for a future where there may be more automated vehicles on the road.

Automated Shuttle and COVID-19

When launched, the service will comply with all applicable TTC safety, cleaning and disinfecting protocols in place at the time. An on-line booking service is being established to ensure each trip is limited to individuals in a single household and to guarantee seats in the small vehicle. This restriction on household bookings may be reconsidered as pandemic conditions evolve in Greater Toronto.

The Selected Shuttle Model

Local Motors has been selected by the City to provide this service using Olli 2.0, the latest iteration of its 3D-printed, electric, self-driving shuttle. With a seating capacity of up to eight passengers, Olli is equipped with an accessibility ramp and a wheelchair securement system, along with audio and visual announcements and other features for rider information.

shuttle model by olli alpha

Shuttle Route Decision-Making

The City of Toronto, TTC and Metrolinx make decisions together about design and implementation via a Steering Committee. Public consultation activities have included door-to-door visits in the neighbourhood, a website and survey, and a public drop-in event in September 2019. Final route and stop selections are now completed based on consultation with community members, Councillor McKelvie and the West Rouge Community Centre staff.

How the Shuttle Sees Its Surroundings

Automated shuttles on the market today are equipped with LiDAR, radar and external cameras to sense and respond to their environment. Paired with digital mapping of the route, they use these tools to navigate their environment along a “virtual track” that is pre-programmed.

Weather Conditions

One of the objectives of the trial is to learn about the vehicle’s performance in a range of weather conditions. The trial will start passenger service in fall 2021 and may run as long as end of February, 2022, depending on weather conditions and the vehicle’s performance.

Based on our current knowledge, the selected Local Motors Olli 2.0 automated shuttle can operate in different weather conditions, including some snow conditions. It has limitations operating in heavy rain, fog, or on icy roads. Local Motors has developed an operational plan based on the vehicle’s capabilities to ensure safety at all times.

Shuttle Speed

The shuttle will have a maximum speed of approximately 20 km/h, and may travel more slowly in some circumstances.

Role of the Attendant in the Shuttle

At least one fully trained attendant will be on board at all times to monitor vehicle performance, conduct any necessary manual overrides, assist users including those with disabilities, and answer questions about the trial project.

Use by People with Disabilities

The Olli 2.0 shuttle vehicle selected for the trial is fully compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), the Highway Traffic Act (HTA), the TTC Accessible Customer Service Policy, and the Metrolinx Accessibility Policy.

An attendant will always be on board to provide assistance as needed. Technical limitations of the vehicle prevented an automatic ramp. The on-board attendant will manually deploy a ramp for any passengers who require it.

The shuttle also offers on-board information screens with both visual and audible alerts.

No Fares (Ride for Free)

There will be no fare to board the shuttle, but users will have to pay the fare when boarding GO, TTC or Durham Region Transit (DRT) services at the transit hub (Rouge Hill GO Station).

Anyone Can Ride

As a public transit service, everyone will be welcome to ride the automated shuttle.

Where to Find the Shuttle Schedule and Route

The shuttle trial has both a weekday route and a weekend route. See routes below:

Stop locations were selected based on a combination of criteria including user need, key destinations, appropriate lighting, sufficient space for a 4m platform to accommodate both passengers and the shuttle’s ramp.

As a precaution due to COVID-19 conditions, passengers will be required to book their trip ahead of time. A link for the on-line booking service will be prominently displayed on this project website once the final start date of the passenger service is confirmed.  Booking enables the trial to limit each trip to only passengers from a single household, and to enable contact tracing. Due to the limited frequency of the service, booking ahead also provides a way to inform passengers of delays or service interruptions.

Stop Locations

The automated shuttle service will have fixed stops throughout the neighbourhood for convenient access by users. Once a launch date is established, the locations for the stops will be determined after further public consultation and in collaboration with the service provider.

The criteria for locating stops will include: user need, accessible waiting area, safety, and appropriate spacing for transit service, in consultation with the local community.

Service Frequency

The automated shuttle will provide service on weekdays approximately every 20-30 minutes, during rush hours only (approximately 6:30-9:30 a.m. and 4-7 p.m.). To the extent possible, the service will be coordinated with GO Train arrival and departure times.

No WIFI on the Shuttle

For this trial project, we do not anticipate offering WIFI onboard the vehicle.

Attendant on Board to Help

The attendant will be on board at all times to provide information and assistance to users.

Data Collection Related to the Shuttle Use

Some data such as operating statistics, vehicle performance, ridership, and impact on the traffic system may be collected by the service provider and/or the City and its partners. Only that data required to evaluate the trial results against the stated objectives will be collected.

Some optional, in-person surveys of community members and shuttle users will be conducted anonymously.

The City will be partnering with researchers at the University of Toronto to measure and evaluate the project and may share select information with the University for those purposes.

No Connectivity

Currently, there are no plans for the automated shuttle to be connected to, or communicate with, local infrastructure or vehicles via wireless technology in this trial.

In the future, automated vehicles could also be “connected vehicles,” meaning that they could communicate in real time with traffic lights, other infrastructure, or other vehicles through wireless technologies such as DSRC and 5G. This “connected” feature of some vehicles is related to, but separate from, automation.

See the Olli 2.0 in action:

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Funded by Transport Canada, TTC, Metrolinx and the City of Toronto

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