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Walnut Creek Magazine

Autonomous Shuttle Service Coming to Walnut Creek in 2024

Jan 10, 2024 08:07PM ● By Pam Kessler

While it was once hard to imagine a future where we relax and let robots take us where we need to go, driverless vehicles are slowly becoming a part of our reality.

Following a successful pilot at San Ramon’s Bishop Ranch, the next destination for BEEP’s low-speed, multi-passenger shared autonomous vehicles (SAVs) is Walnut Creek’s Rossmoor senior residential community. 

Backed by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA), the AI-powered initiative aims to bridge the gap between first-and-last mile commuting challenges. These electric, driverless shuttles will offer residents, with and without cars, a new way to travel around Rossmoor.  

As Contra Costa’s designated Congestion Management Agency, CCTA is at the helm of keeping traffic congestion levels in the region manageable. That’s easier said than done with limited financial resources, nowhere to expand roads, and a population that loves their cars.

Under the leadership of Tim Haile, CCTA’s Executive Director—and a portfolio of projects like State Route 4, Innovate 680, Charge Up Contra Costa, and HOV Express Lanes—the county is making strides towards embracing its transportation goals.

“We chose Rossmoor for our next AI venture, because we want to enhance the quality of life for our aging community. Imagine the possibilities for housebound individuals, who can use the automated shuttles to visit the community center, attend events, or dine at Creekside Bar & Grill,” says Haile. “We’re envisioning a future beyond fixed routes, where one day a shuttle could conveniently arrive at your doorstep.”

Set to launch in spring 2024, the 'robo shuttle' service will start with two minivan-sized shuttles, each accommodating eight passengers. This initial phase will help determine the most effective service hours for Rossmoor.

Naturally, the question of safety surfaces. CCTA's plan includes an 'ambassador' on each shuttle, serving in a concierge capacity to ensure passenger comfort and safety. "Our foremost priority is safe operations," stresses Haile. 

Just like learning to trust airplanes, the journey of building public trust in autonomous systems will happen over time. To learn more about efforts to ease traffic, shorten commutes, lower greenhouse gas emissions, visit CCTA Projects.

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