Mayor urges public to share thoughts on autonomous shuttle

Published: Jul. 23, 2018 at 10:58 AM CDT
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Mayor Chris Beutler asked the public to share their thoughts on an autonomous shuttle system for downtown Lincoln.

Beutler said Monday a virtual ride and survey are available through Saturday, August 4 at

Paper copies are also available at all Lincoln City Library locations, and the public access computers at libraries will have a link to the survey,

More than 1,500 riders recently participated in the test of a Navya shuttle at Nebraska Innovation Campus when it was in Lincoln for few weeks. Riders gave the project team feedback on the shuttle, how it operates and where it could go.

Lincoln was able to lease the shuttle because of a $100,000 grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies as part of its Mayor’s Challenge. In February, Bloomberg named Lincoln one of 35 Champion Cities selected out of 320 applications to move to the next round of the competition.

Lincoln has been working with Bloomberg to further develop the shuttle concept for its final application in August. In October, four cities will receive $1 million awards and one will receive a grand prize of $5 million to implement its idea. To proceed to the next stage, the City must get feedback from likely shuttle users and other members of the public to develop plans for a longer-term shuttle service.

“We saw a great deal of enthusiasm, excitement and support from our stakeholders and the general public during the test rides,” Mayor Beutler said. “Now we need everyone to take the short survey to help us complete an award-winning application. We believe this is an innovative solution to address downtown traffic and parking, and it’s the kind of idea that could work in other cities nationwide.”

For the project, the Public Policy Center at the University of Nebraska has helped design a “virtual service journey” survey that allows the public to imagine riding the autonomous shuttle and provide feedback on their experience.

The virtual ride -- a 360 degree video that allows participants to “look around” as they ride the shuttle -- works best on a computer or laptop rather than a mobile device. The survey includes questions about the reasons for riding the shuttle, preferences for service areas and stops, and the acceptability of different fare structures. Those who complete the survey will find links to share their experiences on social media.

If Lincoln’s demo is successful and additional funding is received, four to six autonomous shuttles could travel along fixed routes in downtown Lincoln as part of a pilot program as early as 2019. Riders would summon the shuttles using smart phones or kiosks.

The City’s partners in the project include HDR, Allo, Nelnet, the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, Nebraska Innovation Campus, Nebraska Innovation Studio, the Downtown Lincoln Association and The Mill.