Where Pittsburgh’s self-driving cars are vs. where the buses are

Tracking self-driving cars in the ‘Burgh.

MJ Slaby

Last week, a group of Carnegie Mellon University seniors gave their recommendations for autonomous vehicle policy to Pittsburgh City Council.

The students, who are in the ethics, history and public policy program at CMU, focused on ways that self-driving vehicles could address areas underserved by public transportation, an idea that advocates of the technology have stressed.

As a case study, the students used Duquesne, Pa., where some residents have to walk half a mile to mile on a street with no sidewalks to the closest bus stop. Among the students’ recommendations was using autonomous shuttles to increase mobility for those who don’t live in walking distance from the closest bus stop. Watch the entire post agenda presentation here.

And that made us wonder — what is the current crossover between public transit access and where self-driving cars are testing?

Creating a bus and self-driving car map

While the students used Duquesne, Pa. as their case study, this map focuses on neighborhoods in the city, since that’s where we have the most data on self-driving car sightings.

Using the Port Authority of Allegheny County’s Trip Planner and the neighborhood search, we color coded each neighborhood based on how many bus routes go to that neighborhood. (Note: This map doesn’t track bus frequency, just the number of bus routes that touch that neighborhood.)

Downtown is purple, the most heavily visited by buses. Red neighborhoods are the next most visited by buses, followed by dark orange, light orange and yellow, where there are the fewest bus routes.

The neighborhoods with visible outlines denote at least one self-driving car sighting in that neighborhood, per our original map. (More on that map below)

While the self-driving car sightings tend to be heavier in the East End, autonomous cars also tend to be in the eastern neighborhoods that also have the most bus routes.

However, there are a few neighborhoods to the north and west — Troy Hill, Spring Hill-City View and Westwood — that have the fewest bus routes, but also have at least one self-driving car sighting. In Spring Hill-City View, that sighting was an Uber northbound on I-279, possibly on it’s way to McKnight Road where Uber has confirmed its testing.

Here’s the map, and check out the interactive version here.


Tracking self-driving car testing

Thanks to tips from readers (keep ‘em coming) and observations from our staff, we’re continuing to update our self-driving car map that we launched this fall.

Here’s the latest version (see the interactive map) and a reminder of the color key:

  • Purple is for Uber. (Neighborhoods shaded purple are where the cars are regularly spotted and/or picking up and dropping off ride share users)
  • Blue is for Argo AI.
  • Orange is for all other companies.

Keep sending tips our way

To send us a photo and vehicle’s location: