|Bay Area commuter on a Segway.|
Segway is participating in a new alternative transportation program called EasyConnect II, a field test designed and coordinated by University of California, Berkeley’s Institute of Transportation Studies and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), to save fuel, reduce emissions, traffic and parking congestion in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The EasyConnect II program offers commuters who ride the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) or ride-share to the Pleasant Hill Bay BART station the opportunity to utilize a range of shared-use, low-speed vehicles, including one of ten Segway Human Transporters (HT) free-of-charge for the last few miles of their commute to the office.
For the evening commute, participants ride the shared-use vehicles back to the station where the units are stored in electronic lockers overnight. Participants can use the vehicles as they wish during the day for travel to lunch or on errands.
This is the first time Segway HTs will be used in an inter-modal public transit system in the US. Since December 2004, 16 Segway HTs have been in use by the City of Lille, France to connect commuters between remote parking areas, the train station and other locations in the city out of the new “Station Oxygène.”
When we began development of the Segway HT, we envisioned it as an essential part of the transportation continuum—a link that would transport people for the first and last miles of their daily trips. This field test is the embodiment of that vision.—Dean Kamen, the chairman and founder of Segway
The Segway HT is a self-balancing electric personal transportation platform. Two 1.88 kW motors turn each of the two wheels independently, and at variable speeds if necessary. The neodymium-iron-boron motors are constructed with two independent sets of windings, each driven by a separate board and motor. Under normal conditions, both sets of windings work in parallel, sharing the load.
Twin Li-ion battery packs provide power for a range of 15-24 miles at a top speed of 12.5 mph.
The purpose of EasyConnect II is to provide insight into whether the introduction and integration of innovative technologies at Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) sites can significantly increase transit access and use.
A TOD is essentially an aggregation of commercial, retail, and residential developments around a transit facility.
While a range of configurations and definitions are found in the literature, there is general consensus among transit professionals as to what constitutes a TOD: “a pattern of dense, diverse, pedestrian-friendly land uses near transit nodes that, under the right conditions, translates into higher patronage.”—EasyConnect II paper (below)
The components of the EasyConnect II trial include:
Shared-use low-speed modes vehicles, including electric bicycles and non-motorized bicycles in addition to the Segway HTs, available for commuting from the BART station to area businesses.
Electronic lockers (“eLockers”) at the station and nearby businesses that are a unique physical and technology design solution to the problem of low-speed mode access to traditional transit.
Smart parking technology to provide cost-effective and space-efficient solutions to parking at the TOD site.
A web-based information system that allows users to reserve, pay, and access travel information, moving seamlessly across a range of available modal options and transportation services.
Innovative distributed power generation technologies to help meet growing electrical loads associated with the introduction of advanced electronic transportation and information technology systems. The research team is planning on the use of a hydrogen fuel cell for this.