A focus group study on the potential of autonomous vehicles as a viable transportation option: Perspectives from people with disabilities and public transit agencies

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, ridership - perceptions, policy - disability


Autonomous vehicle, People with disabilities, Mobility issue, Public transit service, Built environment, Focus group


Autonomous vehicle (AV) technology is becoming one of the most promising alternatives to improve mobility for people with disabilities. Nevertheless, how people with disabilities perceive AV as transportation services has not been explored. Also, limited information exists about how public transit agencies comprehend and perceive autonomous vehicle transportation (AVT) services. This study discusses mobility issues for people with disabilities and explores the potential of AVT to serve that population, particularly those with visual impairments or physical disabilities. Researchers conducted six focus groups comprising people with disabilities (N = 23) and public transit service experts (N = 10) in Austin, Texas and Houston, Texas. Each session was audio-recorded and analyzed using conventional content analysis. This study identified people with disabilities’ mobility issues related to: (1) current transit services (including fixed-route and paratransit services) and (2) the quality of neighborhood built environments. Both people with disabilities and transit experts expected that AVT could mitigate current mobility issues, especially in improved built environments. However, participants with disabilities also expressed concerns and anxieties regarding AVT. Transit experts agreed that more targeted strategies would be needed to overcome possible barriers to AVT for people with disabilities. This study provides insights on shaping AVT strategies and policies relevant to improving mobility for people with disabilities.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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