Transdev, the mobility partner for Babcock Ranch, is completing more than two months of testing on school shuttle routes that will supplement existing autonomous options within the community. During the pilot-program, Transdev will evaluate rider behavior and demand by offering the service to Babcock Neighborhood School (BNS) students who live within the new town located just northeast of Fort Myers, Fla.
As the town — the first solar-powered community in the country — continues to grow to its estimated capacity of nearly 50,000 residents, mobility options will continue to evolve to meet new demands, including student transit.
“Imagine how excited these students will be the first time that yellow school shuttle pulls up outside their house. What an incredible moment for them,” “Not only are we providing an important mobility option for these children, but what an opportunity for them to see the amazing power of science, technology, engineering, and math that help this shuttle run safely and efficiently,” said Dick Alexander, executive VP, mobility innovation, at Transdev. “The whole experience is something we hope they will never forget.”
BNS students living within the community will be the first in the nation to catch a ride to school on an autonomous shuttle. Nearly 30 of the 316 students enrolled in grades K to 7 at BNS this year will be residing within the new solar-powered town by January.
Safety is always the highest priority. The 12-person Easy Mile EZ10 Gen II shuttle reaches a standard cruising speed of eight miles per hour and brakes automatically and swiftly when obstacles are detected — a new software update will even allow the shuttle to maneuver around an obstacle if safe conditions permit. A safety attendant will remain on board at all times students are riding to ensure their comfort and to answer all the questions curious minds may have about autonomous technology. Transdev will test the autonomous shuttle with students and families before the pilot officially begins.
As part of that dedication to sustainability, walking, and biking will always be encouraged. For days with foul weather, or for students who live farther from the school, the autonomous shuttle will remain a viable option during the pilot. Eventually, students and parents will be able to book on-demand, door-to-door school shuttles based on individual needs.
Babcock Ranch and Transdev have been offering autonomous shuttle service since the town opened in January as part of an overall devotion to reducing reliance on automobiles. The school shuttle service will utilize all the knowledge and expertise gained during that
Autonomous shuttles and more will be discussed at BusCon 2018 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, Oct. 1 to 3. Click here for more info.