Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment Program Independent Evaluation: Stakeholder Acceptance and User Satisfaction Evaluation— Tampa (THEA)
Connected vehicle (CV) technologies utilize advanced mobile communications to share information between transportation system users and the infrastructure and offer a great potential for safety improvements and mobility enhancements. The Tampa CV Pilot Deployment (CVPD) aimed to improve the safety and mobility of automobile drivers, transit riders, and pedestrians in downtown Tampa through crash prevention and enhanced traffic flow. The pilot equipped privately owned vehicles, buses, streetcars, and pedestrians with onboard CV technology. An independent evaluation was performed to assess stakeholder acceptance and user satisfaction for the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Agency (THEA) CVPD. Specifically, the stakeholder acceptance evaluation sought to solicit observations, experiences, potential challenges, adopted solutions, and lessons learned from deployment managers and team members, operating agencies, fleet operators, policy makers and supporting agencies, and users of the THEA CVPD, including drivers of passenger vehicles, bus operators, and streetcar operators. Benefits presented here were based on the data from surveys administered with the users of the THEA CVPD.
- Educate the public on the CV technology’s capabilities and highlight the difference between connected vehicles and autonomous vehicle operations. There was confusion between the public’s thoughts on what the technology could do. Most of the public believed that CV and automated vehicle operations were synonymous. Therefore, managing public expectations should be considered as part of the project.
- Prepare for additional work needed to readily prepare applications for deployment. Although the Tampa deployment had been an overall positive experience, many applications were not ready at the start of the project (despite this project being branded a "deployment" project and not an "R&D" project). There was an immense amount of fine-tuning, troubleshooting, and integration work to allow the applications to be ready for deployment. Technical issues regarding the installation of the equipment were also apparent which technicians needed to overcome, including the use of power over ethernet, grounding, and the corrosive effects of salt in the air.
- Hold off on scheduling equipment installations in the vehicles until after the system has been
fully deployed and tested. Leaping from a small-scale research project to a full-scale deployment-imposed challenges that could not be identified in the laboratory. Resultant delays in getting the application operations caused participants to lose interest in the project overtime.
- Be mindful of national policy changes which may cause a wide shift in the market. During the pilot, national policy changes caused a substantial shift in the market. Challenges appeared when some companies abandoned the hardware business but stayed in the business of producing applications. This change in market made it difficult for stakeholders to secure vendors to support their hardware.