San Francisco could join the autonomous shuttle trend by launching a pilot project on Treasure Island by the end of next year.
On Wednesday, the Treasure Island Development Authority Board of Directors signaled its support of a pilot autonomous, or self-driving, shuttle on Treasure Island.
Bishop Ranch business park in San Ramon in Contra Costa County already provides autonomous shuttle service and Napa Valley may launch an autonomous shuttle service, the Napa Valley Register reported last week.
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The Treasure Island project will be funded through a $600,000 federal grant. Six consultants competed for the contract to implement the pilot and the winning bid is expected to be announced later this month. It’s expected The City would lease a shuttle from one of the autonomous shuttle companies, such as EasyMile or Navya.
Rachel Hiatt, a principal transportation planner with the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, told the San Francisco Examiner that if all goes according to plan, residents and visitors could see the service by the end of next year.
”One of the reasons that the industry is looking at autonomous technology is because of the potential that an autonomous driver is ultimately safer than a human driver,” Hiatt said. “It’s also potentially more efficient.”
“Part of the question we are asking with this pilot is, would this provide a better service? I feel like that is an open question,” Hiatt said.
Hiatt said the plan is to use one shuttle for the pilot which can hold about 12 people. She noted that “in the long run, we will need shuttle service around the entire island.”
There are about 2,000 residents living on the island today. But with a major redevelopment project planned on the site, come 2035, that population is expected to grow to 25,000 residents.
TIDA board members embraced the pilot Wednesday, which expected to conclude in 2022 with an assessment.
“Transportation is one of those areas that is having incredible change in our world,” V. Fei Tsen, TIDA board president, said. “Who knows what the future will be? But I think that Treasure Island can really be a place for a laboratory in some ways for us to try out many of these concepts.”
The SFCTA’s Treasure Island Mobility Management Agency committee is expected to vote on the consultant contract on Oct. 2.