Vehicle automation and transit evolution to improve urban mobility, say HNTB and FTA experts at National Press Club

On the brink of biggest transportation advancement since combustion engine

WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 28, 2017) – A panel of transit experts from government and industry shared a vision of future urban mobility yesterday at the National Press Club, emphasizing the revolutionary changes vehicle automation will bring to communities in coming decades.

View the National Press Club panel discussion on YouTube.

“The combustion engine upended horse-powered transportation in just a few decades at the beginning of the last century,” said panelist Diana Mendes, AICP, mid-Atlantic division president and transit/rail practice leader for HNTB, an infrastructure solutions firm, “and advancements in vehicle automation technology are happening much faster today.”

“Automation promises mobility on demand,” said panelist Vincent Valdes, Associate Administrator of Research, Demonstration & Innovation at the Federal Transit Administration. “It will mean getting back to the original meaning of transit, moving from point A to point B, but as efficiently and as quickly as possible using an integrated system of all the transportation modes available at any given time.”

Both panelists agreed that today’s transit agencies will evolve to play central roles in this future, connecting their automated bus and subway systems with smart devices and networks of automated vehicles and other transportation modes to streamline trips, offer convenient payment options, minimize vehicle congestion and improve safety.

But it’s not the technology advancements that make a future of automated mobility likely. It’s the key benefits to people: travel predictability and time.

“People exceed the speed limit because they’re late or rushing to get on to whatever it is they’re driving to do,” said Mendes. “Automated mobility promises precise predictability of travel and it will make travel time productive, for work or personal pursuits.”

DOTs, transit agencies, automakers, tech firms, regulators and insurance companies are working to accommodate the future of automated mobility, anticipating that people will want – and pay for – more personal time that comes with enormous safety and environmental benefits.

About HNTB
HNTB Corporation is an employee-owned infrastructure firm serving public and private owners and contractors. With more than a century of service in the United States, HNTB understands the life cycle of infrastructure and addresses clients’ most complex technical, financial and operational challenges. Professionals nationwide deliver a full range of infrastructure-related services, including award-winning planning, design, program management and construction management. For more information, visit

Lydia Steinberg
(816) 527-2324