October 22, 2018 — Chicago
Statement Regarding School Shuttle Pilot at Babcock Ranch, Near Fort Myers, FL
The autonomous school shuttle operation at Babcock Ranch was intended as a six-week pilot program to complement the existing weekend AV service provided to community residents. NHTSA and Transdev discussed the operation last week, and while we have not yet received the letter NHTSA has referred to directing us to stop the operation, Transdev voluntarily elected to stop the pilot one week earlier out of deference to NHTSA.
This small pilot was operating safely, without any issues, in a highly controlled environment. Transdev believed it was within the requirements of the testing and demonstration project previously approved by NHTSA for ridership by adults and children using the same route.
Following are pertinent facts about the school shuttle pilot:
- The school shuttle at Babcock Ranch operated one day a week, on Fridays only, for five weeks.
- A maximum of only five students, the same students, rode the shuttle in the morning and afternoon for the three-block long trip during the course of the five days of the pilot.
- A person acting as a safety monitor was always on board and a maximum speed of 8 mph helped ensure the comfort and safety of every student who chose to ride the shuttle during the pilot program.
- The shuttle was operated entirely on private roads within the Babcock Ranch Community, which will have some 250 homes constructed by year-end.
- Families provided specific approval for their children to ride the school shuttle; again it was the same shuttle that parents and children have been using on weekends as part of the Babcock Ranch experience since November 2017.
We designed this pilot to further enhance our learning about what types of services would be most appreciated by residents, so that as the Babcock community grows, we can deliver a robust suite of mobility options.
Transdev does not – nor would ever – sacrifice safety for progress and is fully committed to compliance with all relevant regulations. We have already transported over two million passengers on Transdev shared autonomous transport services around the world. We operate with the highest standard of safety and security for our passengers and employees in all vehicle and service types, autonomous or otherwise.