A team from The University of Texas at Arlington’s Parking and Transportation Services (PATS) and Department of Civil Engineering received an award for its work on RAPID (Rideshare, Automation, and Payment Integration Demonstration), the on-demand, self-driving shuttle service.
Funded through a $1.8 million Federal Transit Administration grant, the RAPID project implemented self-driving shuttles for the public in Arlington, including free rides for UTA students from March 2021 to March 2022. Team leaders Greg Hladik, executive director for Auxiliary Services, and Sharareh “Sherri” Kermanshachi, associate professor of civil engineering, worked with the city of Arlington, Via and May Mobility on the program.
The Texas Parking and Transportation Association bestowed its Excellence Award on the UTA team at a conference in San Antonio, where Kermanshachi and Hladik delivered a presentation sharing the lessons learned and findings of successful RAPID implementation. The award recognized the RAPID program for the transportation improvements, efficiencies and high service levels it provided to the UTA community.
“We were happy to offer our students a cutting-edge mobility service that met their needs,” Hladik said. “The program taught us that students will adapt to the services available to them. They embraced this alternative method of transportation wholeheartedly. We continue to look for innovative ways to improve the parking and mobility experience for the UTA community.”
Kermanshachi noted that despite its launch early in the pandemic, the RAPID program still saw significant use. Students were excited to learn more about autonomous vehicles and how the service works.
“It’s critical to study and determine who are the users of the program so we can better plan and tailor the transportation needs of our students, faculty and staff, as well as for the public and individuals with disabilities,” she said.
City of Arlington officials said they were pleased with the program in its first year. Ann Foss, principal planner with the city’s Office of Strategic Initiatives, said UT Arlington students represented a perfect test group.
“We look forward to continuing to provide students, residents and visitors with innovative mobility that fits their needs and schedules,” Foss said.
The RAPID project recently won funding for its next phase from the North Texas Council of Governments and the city of Arlington to provide an additional two years of operation.
This year’s Excellence Award is the fourth PATS has received from the Texas Parking and Transportation Association since 2018. Hladik credits the work and commitment of the 14 full-time and 35 student staff members who make up the PATS department for its continued success.
Other department initiatives receiving the award include:
- The West Campus Garage construction project, which was completed in 18 months
- Reviving the Transportation Network through improved vehicles, technology and service levels
- Balancing robust enforcement strategies with managing event and visitor parking needs
Further, as a result of the department's consistent work providing innovative services for the UTA community, UT Arlington was named the host site for the 2025 College Parking & Transportation Association's annual conference.