The West Rouge Automated Shuttle Trial has concluded following 2 months of on-road testing in Fall of 2021. See full details.

The West Rouge Automated Shuttle Trial was a collaboration between the City of Toronto, Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and Metrolinx. The goal was to test a low-speed, electric, automated shuttle vehicle that would connect Rouge Hill GO Station to destinations in the West Rouge community in south-east Scarborough. The trial was an opportunity:

  • To learn how a small neighbourhood shuttle might serve to connect residents to rapid transit;
  • To understand the procurement and planning considerations for automated vehicle technology in Toronto so we can further our goals of safe, green, accessible and convenient transportation for all; and
  • For Torontonians to experience first-hand how it feels to ride on an automated vehicle, and to interact with it on public roads.

Following a competitive bidding process, the City contracted Local Motors by LM Industries in October 2020 to use Olli 2.0, the latest iteration of the company’s electric, self-driving shuttle. Starting in September 2021, the shuttle vehicle underwent testing in mixed traffic on local and arterial roads, experiencing a variety of weather conditions including rain and snow. The free, public service was supposed to launch in 2021 but was delayed as the project team continued evaluation of the shuttle’s performance.

In January 2022, the City, TTC and Metrolinx jointly agreed to conclude the trial due to several reasons that were expected to continue delaying service to the public past the February 28, 2022 planned end date. Local Motors ceased operations in January 2022 so was no longer available to provide technical and operational support. In addition, the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario had suspended its approval to operate the trial in Toronto due to an unrelated incident with a Local Motors shuttle in December 2021.

Despite not offering service to the public, the two months of on-road testing in the fall of 2021 did gather valuable data about how automated vehicle technologies operate, their different requirements when compared to conventional transit vehicles, the current limitations of the technology. The procurement process that led to vendor selection provided insight into the range of automated shuttle solutions available in the market at the time. The insights gained from the trial will support future decision-making and planning for automated vehicles in transit and the broader transportation system.

The City and its partners are conducting a full evaluation of the trial and the potential for integrating automated technology into the transit system and other possible applications. At this time, there are no plans to add any automated shuttle services across the transit system without further analysis and consultation with the public and other stakeholders.

The City, TTC and Metrolinx remain committed to finding innovative, accessible and sustainable transit solutions, including automated vehicle technology, to fulfill the future transportation needs of Torontonians.

The Trial was 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, TTC and Metrolinx.

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

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

2. 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

3. 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. There was found to be community support for the trial based on consultation with neighbourhood residents and consultation with the local community.

Automated vehicles have the potential to reshape and define our transportation network, and the City, TTC and Metrolinx are already working together to plan and take action.

The project partners wanted to learn about the value of an automated shuttle service in the transit and transportation system to help inform decisions about the use of this and similar technologies in the future. The project partners also wanted to learn 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 was never an intention to make this project permanent, and there are no plans to scale up the use of automated shuttles at this time.

The goal of this trial was to demonstrate the future opportunity for a safe, green, accessible and convenient transit technology to support local travel needs. The partner agencies learned a lot through this process that will help inform future planning for:

  • future design and procurement of partially or fully automated vehicles
  • designing neighbourhood-based transit services
  • road design, maintenance, signage and transportation policy to safely incorporate automated vehicle use in the City.

The trial was also an opportunity to increase public awareness about the use of automation in transportation systems, and make Toronto even more attractive for economic activity in the area of automated transit vehicle technology.

This shuttle trial took place with approval of the Ontario Automated Vehicle Pilot program, administered by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.

The trial was 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) contributed in-kind support, such as staff time and other resources.

Transport Canada provided 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.

The West Rouge Automated Shuttle Trial provided a lot of valuable information and experience for the project partners. This includes:

Increased knowledge of technology and services available in the market, a competitive procurement process, planning activities to implement the service, and community surveys were all part of the shuttle trial, in addition to the planned service to the public. On-road testing was conducted with the Olli 2.0 shuttle from September to November, 2021. The free, public service was supposed to launch in 2021 but was delayed as the project team continued evaluation of the shuttle’s performance. In January 2022, the project partners jointly agreed to conclude the trial in Toronto due to several reasons that were expected to continue delaying service to the public past the February 28, 2022 planned end date. Local Motors ceased operations in January and is no longer available to provide technical and operational support. In addition, the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario suspended its approval to operate the trial in Toronto due to an unrelated incident with a different Local Motors shuttle in December 2021.

Despite not offering service to the public, the two months of on-road testing allowed the City and its partners to gather data about how automated vehicle technologies operate, their different requirements when compared to conventional transit vehicles, the current limitations of the technology and the range of solutions available in the market. The insights gained from the trial will support future decision-making and planning for automated vehicles in transit and the broader transportation system.

There was never an intention to make this temporary trial permanent, nor to scale up automated shuttle services across the transit system without further analysis. The City and its partners are using information gathered during the trial for 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 remain committed to finding innovative, accessible and sustainable transit solutions, including automated vehicle technology, to fulfill the future transportation needs of Torontonians.

Beyond the Trial

The West Rouge Automated Shuttle was a trial, always with the intention of being temporary and for learning purposes. The City and its partners are conducting a full evaluation of lessons learned about the technology and its potential for integration into the transit system and other possible applications. The City will continue to identify future work and research that needs to be completed to prepare for this emerging technology.

More information on the City’s Automated Vehicles Tactical Plan.