Lincoln residents are being invited to ride on an automated shuttle this summer as part of the City's study on implementing the technology downtown. A loaned Navya electric shuttle is expected to arrive this summer and be in Lincoln through early August. After an initial testing period at Innovation Campus, the general public will be able to take a ride in the Haymarket area.
Lincoln is able to test the shuttle because of a $100,000 grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. Earlier this year, Lincoln was chosen as one of 35 Champion Cities selected by Bloomberg as finalists in the 2018 Mayors Challenge. More than 320 applications were received in the nationwide competition that encourages City leaders to develop bold, inventive ideas to confront City challenges.
"Lincoln is a City of innovation, and we are always looking for ways we can use new and emerging technology to meet the needs of cost-effective ways," said Mayor Chris Beutler. "An automated, on-demand downtown shuttle would complement our StarTran service, help with downtown traffic and parking issues, improve air quality and enhance Lincoln's reputation as a City that embraces experimentation and creativity."
Lincoln has been working with Bloomberg since February on the "test, learn and adapt" phase of the competition. The finalist cities will submit new applications in August 2018. In October, four cities will receive $1 million awards and one will receive a grand prize of $5 million to bring their ideas to life. If Lincoln's demo is successful and additional funding is received, four to six automated shuttles could travel a fixed route in downtown Lincoln in 2019. Riders would summon the shuttles using smart phones or kiosks.
Lincoln residents who ride the loaned shuttle this summer will be asked to fill out surveys both before and after the shuttle rides, and those responses will help the City team develop its final application. More details will be released as they become available.
More information on Lincoln's project is available at startran.lincoln.ne.gov (click on "Lincoln Multimodal Technology Vision").