Politics & society, Research, Technology & engineering

Transportation experts pitch San Francisco as nation’s first ‘smart transit’ city

UC Berkeley experts joined San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee this week in an attempt to convince U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx that the city is the best place to invest $40 million to pioneer a 21st-century smart urban transportation system.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx meets with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and transportation experts from the city and UC Berkeley. (UC Berkeley video by Roxanne Makasdjian and Stephen McNally)

San Francisco is one of seven cities vying for the money from the Department of Transportation, plus at least $10 million more from companies interested in integrated urban transit. UC Berkeley is a key part of the city’s team, providing the research muscle behind the innovative transit schemes — such as self-driving cars, connected vehicles and smart sensors — planned by San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency.

“What UC Berkeley is bringing to the table is something that is sorely needed in transportation, which is a very rigorous set of eyes on the research and data and analytics … around how various proposed solutions to mobility challenges actually work,” Foxx said at a media conference following the meeting.

Among those joining Lee and the city’s transportation experts were Susan Shaheen, co-director of UC Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center, and Alexander Bayen, director of the Institute for Transportation Studies.

“We have designed metrics to test every hypothesis, and we have assembled a massive set of data sources, including sensor data, transit data, focus group data and survey data, that will all be warehoused and managed,” Shaheen said. “Our vision is to make that a common data platform.”

Foxx will decide which city gets the funding sometime in early summer.