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UPDATE! RFI Responses DUE by 2/16/24 at 5pm EST

All questions and answers will be communicated on this website.



 Who is eligible to respond to the RFI? Any organization or partnership entity that is working in this space and able to provide current guidance. 

Will we need to register for the upcoming webinar? Details on the webinar will be available before Jan 10, 2024. 

There is another (AECOM) Automated Bus consortium also working on a similar project. Is there overlap or a connection with project and their activities?  CALSTART is not working in participation with the other consortium. Their focus is on a 40’ automated bus. The projects are completely separate and the 2 organizations are supportive of each other’s efforts, as we share a common goal.

There are state and local regulations that prevent deployment (i.e., California not allowing testing of vehicles over 10,000 lbs.). How will CALSTART work to unblock some of those hurdles?   CALSTART recognizes that there are local and regional needs that affect deployment and testing. The KPPs are designed for addressing the needs of the 20+ transits involved in the cohort. The local and regional cases in the areas for those transits have been identified, such as California requiring a steering wheel. Of note, there will be a driver/safety operator/concierge onboard at all times for these deployments. CALSTART will work with the DOT and NHTSA to help shape the future, policy, and regulations to get these vehicles on the road.

Is it the intention of the RFI to result in procurement or an RFP/RFQ? In order to get to a procurement, we will have to go through the RFI process. When the right funding opportunity becomes available we would like to enter into an RFP(s).

What is the role of CALSTART in the administration of any programs that may be deployed from this RFI? CALSTART is currently leading and administering this activity through the CATUF cohort. CALSTART will continue to lead and support this effort going forward and expects to be in the project management role and oversight through these deployments while working through the RFI.

Does CALSTART operate as a purchasing cooperative? In other words, would member transit agencies be able to piggyback off of a future RFP award rather than running their own RFP process? CALSTART does not operate as a purchasing cooperative. However, if an RFP were to be issued there is an opportunity for that RFP to be open for other transit agencies to purchase from. As an example, the most recent WRTA/VTA RFP was open for 3 years and we were hoping to offer 2 vehicle types.

Will the vehicle(s) have to have completed a prior deployment? No. With this RFI we are seeking to understand market availability and find innovative and creative solutions. They do not have to be a product that has already been deployed. It can be a brand new solution or one that is currently in the design phase. The KPPs have been developed with the transit agencies’ input, noting that certain aspects were not available on the market today and the vehicle we are seeking is currently not commercially available but needs to be – hence purpose-built. The current offering as it stands does not meet the transit needs across the country.

What would be the hours that are required for operation? 24/hour for example or just for daily work hours? What would ideal schedule of running be? The KPP spells out a requirement of operating for 9 hours +/- 1 hour. The goal is that eventually there will be multiple vehicles in operation that will allow for 24/7 operations where needed.

Will the webinar slides be available? They are uploaded here on the CATUF website under the NEWS section and they can be sent on an individual basis, if needed. Please notify our team POC.

When will you make the decision by? Currently, the target is to have the RFI responses review complete before February 5th. Over the next several weeks we will be compiling the results and aligning the responses with transit needs.

Who are the decision makers? The cohort as a whole are the decision makers, specifically does the solution(s) meet their requirements. This includes everyone participating in the cohort and CALSTART as an administrator.

What are the key selection criteria? We understand every KPP may not be met by each submitting organization. The responses and the level of details provided will help to inform the solution availability.

Do you anticipate whether more than one supplier will be contracted? It is purely dependent in the responses received. This RFI looks across the U.S., including different operational needs, climates, and terrains. Certain specifications must be met and then it is up to the cohort to select which manufacturer is used. We are looking at a transit-specific focus for a transit AV that will work across the board. The goal is to standardize deployment to make these commercially viable. Multiple suppliers are not out of out of the question.

Would retrofit vehicles be considered? Yes, if the solution/product meets the KPPs. Again, the KPPs are meant to be descriptive. If they are met, retrofit is permissible. The end product after an RFP should be a vehicle ready for sale, not an early product Design Verification (DV) or Product Verification (PV) model. It should be ready for launch.

PLEASE NOTE: Pre-testing and certification should already completed or planned for completion to some level of FMVSS testing to ensure a safe and reliable product. The cohort will working with NHTSA to figure out the automated safety requirements before being introduced to an operating environment. CALSTART will work with industry to make sure that happens.

What are the most critical KPPs for an immediate launch, given many of these cannot be met currently? Any that are indicated as mandatory on the KPP file. The key baseline vehicle requirements in the top category have the highest level of requirement. These were based on the needs of transit agencies.

Can the Excel spreadsheet of the KPPs be shared? Yes – it is part of the RFI package.

Can providers/respondents/entities participate in more than one submission? Yes, providers/respondents/entities can provide more than one submission.

In order to allow for appropriate details and breakout regarding both vehicle quantities and pilots specifics, can Rough Order Magnitude Budget details be provided in one (1) separate page, not included in the 25-page limit? It is preferred that the Rough Order of Magnitude Budget to be included in the 25 page limit. However, if adding it as an appendix allows a better opportunity to provide more clarity behind the response it will be accepted.

Regarding the KPP matrix and the desire for submissions to address all items, should a completed KPP matrix be included within the appendices? It is not a requirement for the KPP matrix to be submitted as any part of the response. Including a completed KPP matrix as an appendices however, could allow for more efficient compilation of responses.

What is the structure of anticipated showcase webinars as mentioned during the pre-proposal meeting? We are planning to hold individual webinar sessions to allow the opportunity for respondents to showcase their solution(s) to the cohort. Please note, this will not be open to others outside the cohort members. The webinar platform would be either Zoom or a Teams Meeting.

Is any future RFP tied solely to award of grant funding applications? The plan is for this activity to lead to a future RFP. At this time, this future RFP is not tied solely to an award from a grant funding application.

What does “A mandatory optional feature at point of purchase” mean in the appendix section for some of the mandatory KPPs, particularly in context of RFI responses? This is a requirement that the solution be available as an option. The purchaser of the vehicle does not have to include that item in their purchase but it is available to them should they chose to include it as part of the purchase.

Key baseline Requirements/Vehicle Daily Operations (Time and Distance): Is the range expected to be met with a single charge? No, the requirements are to be met following standard operating procedures which includes opportunity and in-route charging as needed.

Key baseline Requirements/Vehicle Useful Life: Please confirm that Automated driving sensors are considered a wear item and not expected to meet full vehicle life. The intention of this requirement is to ensure the technology systems are always up to date without full replacement and do not fall behind with technology advancements that are occurring more rapidly than vehicle replacements.

Beyond ADA Accessibility – HMI /Video Systems: Is the video system expected to automatically identify, categorize and report the various situations? The video system would provide a view of the vehicle cabin to an external party or remote customer service center and should also allow for 2-way communication as needed.

General Vehicle Design: How will larger, conventional 40′ buses be viewed for this RFI? This RFI is focused on a smaller platform for no more than 12 passengers and at least 1 wheelchair.

General Vehicle Design/Visual Aids: How will no view out the rear of the vehicle be viewed? Rear view is not required but it is important to note that on a smaller vehicle platform, rear view provides the passenger a greater sense of safety.

General Vehicle Design/Turning Radius: What is the method used for turning radius measurement?  In an open lot, you will perform a U-turn maneuver starting at 0 degrees to 180 degrees and complete a full 360 degree turn. To start, position the right side of the vehicle at the very edge of the lot (for ease of measurement). Mark this point. Turn vehicle on and turn steering wheel to the extreme left and begin moving. Once you have reached a half circle (180 degrees or a U-turn), mark the round on the right side of the vehicle. Continue moving in a circle at the same turning radius marking the right side position every 3-6 feet until you’ve completed a circle. Measure the distance across the circle and divide by 2 for the turning radius.

Vehicle Electrical/Electronic Systems/Remote Operation: Under what conditions will remote control be used if a safety attendant is required to be on the vehicle? In the case of an emergency where the safety driver cannot complete their duties.

Enabling Technologies/Remote Customer Service: Is the video system expected to automatically identify, categorize and report the various situations? (ref. “Video System” ) The video system will provide the ability for 2-way communication with riders. If technology allows, automatic identification and reporting of situations would be considered and helpful in extreme emergency situations and provide greater safety.

Operation and Procurement Considerations/Risk Mitigation: Please expand on this requirement. Standard operating procedures for safety items should be provided with the vehicle (i.e. shock, electrical surge).

Vehicle specifications (e.g. Should the operating time of 9 hours be accomplished without charging?) No. The vehicle should operate for 9 hours with or without in route or opportunity charging

Level of autonomy (e.g. Should a safety operator in the vehicle be mandatory for all operations?) SAE Level 4 (+/- 1) and a safety operator is mandatory but may not be operating the vehicle. The safety operator will also serve as a concierge or guest services as needed

Area of application (e.g. Could you give us more details in which use cases and local areas AV purpose built vehicle shall be operating?) The intent for this RFI is to lead to an RFP for a product that could be used anywhere in the US and across any of the identified use cases called out in the KPP. Vehicle shall be able to operate in one or more, but are not limited, of the following types of services/location, to downtown, campus, community circulator, paratransit, on-demand, geofenced urban network, commuter lot shuttle, first/last mile, fixed stopped, micro transit or multimodal.

Fleet sizes (e.g. What would be target fleet size for one application in an exemplary city?) There is no set target fleet size. It could be 1-5 vehicles.

Should the solution provider be US or Canadian? We are seeking feedback and information on solutions that support  transits across the US and Canadian. If an organization in Israel, as an example, has a solution available for sale or future sale in North America we want to hear from them.

Who will have access to the RFI submissions? Only the CATUF members.

Will they retain this information or share this information with other organizations or individuals not in CATUF? If so, could you share under which circumstances this information would be shared and with whom? Due to the nature of the RFI efforts, the CATUF members will be the only ones able to use this information (not to be distributed outside of the team). If the information is open for distribution, outside of the team, please note that in your submission.

Can you please share a list of CATUF members who would receive the RFI submissions? The members of CATUF called out within the RFI and also are listed on the website. They are AccessLA, Anaheim Transportation, COTA, Coast Mountain Bus, CCTA, HART, Houston METRO, JTA, LADOT, MDOT, RTC, RTD, WRTA, UTA, SARTA, TARTA, SCVTA, and UCLA.