The University of Texas at Arlington received an Award of Excellence for Innovation from the International Parking & Mobility Institute (IPMI).
The award was for the RAPID (Rideshare, Automation and Payment Integration Demonstration) program, a self-driving shuttle system for students and the general public that started in 2021. It was originally funded through the city of Arlington and a Federal Transit Administration grant, with additional support from the North Central Texas Council of Governments. Via Transportation Inc. and May Mobility also are partners in the program.
RAPID, the first program in the United States to integrate on-demand, autonomous vehicle into existing public transportation, provided more than 28,000 trips in its first year of service to residents, University students and visitors around downtown Arlington and The University of Texas at Arlington campus. Now in its third year of continuous service, RAPID has provided more than 34,000 rides.
Sharareh (Sherri) Kermanshachi, a UT Arlington associate professor of civil engineering, ran the academic research component of the program. Greg Hladik, executive director for Auxiliary Services at UT Arlington, said the program is popular with students, who can ride for free on the service. Faculty and staff can also ride the service for free for a limited time.
“We continue to provide cutting-edge mobility services for our students,” Hladik said. “We’re happy to be partners in this technology. The pilot program showed us there is a student appetite for such a service. We can continue to grow in the programs we offer students in the way of transportation.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic in the summer of 2021, UT Arlington was the first university to offer on-street, self-driving shuttles as the only option for university transportation service.
“We were able to park our buses and just use on-demand self-driving shuttles to move students around the downtown and campus areas,” Hladik said.
Arlington Mayor Jim Ross said the city will continue to look for ways of serving its population, which includes UT Arlington students.
“The city of Arlington continues to prove itself as a national leader on autonomous vehicle testing and deployment,” Ross said. “Thanks to this technology, we were able to expand services offered to our residents and visitors.”
John Hall, UT Arlington vice president for administration and economic development, said, “The award signifies a great example of what happens when research, campus operations and the city of Arlington come together to provide innovative solutions to meet the needs of our students and the broader Arlington community.”
IPMI’s Awards of Excellence program showcases outstanding parking, mobility and transportation facilities and innovative programs to further the parking, transportation and mobility industry. Entries are reviewed by a panel of expert judges from every segment of the industry and ranked across a wide spectrum of criteria.
“The 2023 Awards of Excellence winners exemplify the standards for creativity, effectiveness and patron service in parking and mobility,” said IPMI CEO Shawn D. Conrad. “These projects, and the teams that execute them, meet the needs of the communities they serve and provide results that move the parking, transportation and mobility industry forward. We are honored to recognize them with these awards.”
This year’s award winners are featured in the June issue of Parking & Mobility magazine.
IPMI is the world’s largest association of professionals in parking, mobility, and transportation. It works to advance the parking and mobility profession through professional development, certification, research and data collection, advocacy, and community building. With experts from around the world in dozens of specialties, IPMI helps parking, mobility, and transportation function efficiently so people, businesses and communities can keep moving.