The city has entered into an agreement with a San Francisco-based company to explore the development of an on-demand personal mass transit system in the city.
Wayfarer (doing business as Glydways Inc.) hopes to roll out its technology, which involves personal-sized private autonomous electric vehicles that shuttle riders nonstop from one location to another on a track-like system.
The potential pilot system could ultimately run between the future Oakley Amtrak Station — North of Main Street, between Second Street and O’Hara Avenue — and the Antioch BART Station, with intermediate stations in between, according to city documents.
“It’s exciting to be on the ground floor developing a new transportation system with Glydways,” said Mayor Kevin Romick. “The ultimate goal is to use the system ... to shuttle people to other locations throughout East Contra Costa. That will include the Contra Costa Logistics Center and BART.”
Oakley City Manager Bryan Montgomery acknowledged that the project is ambitious and that grants and assistance from other entities will be required, although the city’s current obligation is only “staff time involved in the ongoing research and implementation of the pilot.”
It’s possible the city could be presented with grants that require a match in the future, depending on what project financing mechanisms materialize. But the council would need to enter into grant agreements if such options emerged.
“That would be a decision for a later date, whether there would be any financial commitment (from the city), and of course, (the council) can say no if it doesn’t make sense,” Montgomery said.
Glydways, which has been working on such a project for about three years, is currently collaborating with the Contra Costa Transportation Authority to further their concepts at GoMentum Station, a testing ground for connected and autonomous vehicles in Concord.
The Oakley initiative could be used as a public demonstration project, said Lynn Tao, Glydways head of commercial operations.
She declined to put a timeline on such a project but noted that Oakley is an intriguing location, given its need for enhanced transit connections to the greater Bay Area and the city’s future logistics center, expected to generate 2,800 jobs.
“If you look at where Oakley is and the economic drivers that are already in place (logistics center) and where those jobs could be coming from, transit and connectivity will go a long way in unlocking those economic opportunities presented by the logistics center — not to mention where Oakley is situated in Contra Costa County, as well as the entire Bay Area region and greater Northern California region. I think Oakley is in a spot where it can be a transit hub to connect all those regions.”
Tao said ideally the next step with the city involves diving into the plan’s feasibility in hopes of carrying it out in a way that benefits the community.
She added that the company is convinced the technology has great potential.
Glydways systems can be built above or below ground or at-grade, but they are always separate from conventional vehicle traffic.
Prospective riders reserve on-demand rides via an app or at a boarding station, with personal-sized vehicles arriving in seconds, Tao said.
The private cars are narrower than an average vehicle, but large enough to accommodate one or two riders (if desired) and everything that comes with them, such a wheelchair, children’s stroller, bike or scooter.
“If one rider at a station needs a ride, you don’t need to dispatch an entire train,” Tao said. “It’s on-demand. You’d reserve it and it comes to you within seconds, not minutes. You get on and you area able to get on your way as opposed to waiting for enough people to depart.”
The technology can handle up to 10,000 passengers per hour per direction, given that the system is built to accommodate it, Tao said.
For more information on the potential project, visit https://go.aws/2XML1yC