The Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) has launched the Bay Area’s first autonomous shuttle program that will be open to the public.
The Bishop Ranch Autonomous Shuttle Program will run through fall 2023, providing free, driverless electric shuttles to four key destinations within San Ramon’s Bishop Ranch business park.
CCTA said the program will be available to the community from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The Bishop Ranch PRESTO shuttle will take passengers along a route with four stops throughout Bishop Ranch and City Center. The shuttles hold up to eight passengers, plus an attendant, and have a maximum speed limit of 15 miles per hour.
CCTA said the service is family-friendly, but riders under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
PRESTO is a new suite of mobility options that will include bike share, scooter share, and express bus service in addition to autonomous shuttles.
CCTA said PRESTO will prepare the Bay Area for the future of transportation and increase transit options for all, including transportation-challenged and underserved communities in Contra Costa County.
“We’re excited to be able to provide the public with free access to these zero-emission, low-speed, autonomous shuttles,” CCTA Board Chair Federal Glover said in a statement.
“The service can help cut down on harmful emissions, reduce congestion on our roads, and create a new, accessible connection to transportation hubs throughout Contra Costa County, and we’re grateful to Bishop Ranch and the city of San Ramon for sharing our vision of a brighter future for the county.”
In a perfect place
CCTA said Bishop Ranch’s 30,000 employees and miles of private roadways, bisected by public roads, make it an ideal location for the program’s launch.
The program is funded in part by an $8 million grant award from the Federal Highway Administration’s Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment (ATCMTD) program.
CCTA is also partnering with Beep, which specializes in testing autonomous shuttles, to create and manage “stress-free and self-sufficient autonomous mobility solutions.” Beep has tested autonomous shuttles around the country, including in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and at Yellowstone National Park.
PRESTO shuttles don’t have drivers, pedals, or steering wheels, but do have an attendant to make sure riders have a safe and pleasant experience. The Beep command center also remotely monitors the shuttles at all times to ensure the shuttles are operating safely.
CCTA said it plans to bring shuttles to several public events across the county this summer to make it easier for people to see and experience autonomous shuttles first-hand.