Gainesville Autonomous Transit Shuttle to launch in Gainesville, Florida next May
Starting in May, students trying to get to the University of Florida campus will have a new option of transportation in the form of the Gainesville Autonomous Transit Shuttle (GAToRS).
The city of Gainesville will have three of these shuttles, which will be funded by a state grant of $2.6 million.
According to the University of Florida’s Transportation Institute, the shuttle, which will carry 12 people each and run in a loop every 10 to 20 minutes, is expected to provide a number of benefits; chief among them, lowering the number of crashes and pollution, while simultaneously increasing mobility for the public and improving traffic flows.
“The Gainesville Autonomous Transit Shuttle, or GAToRS, is the first of its kind in the country, and it is being introduced to Gainesville as part of the city’s initiative to begin Smart City policies,” says Dan Hoffman, the assistant city manager for the city of Gainesville, via WUFT.
In an effort to deliver a service better, or improve the quality of life for all residents, Smart Cities use physical devices and information and communication technology to collect data, Hoffman says. Hoffman adds that since it is the lifeblood of the economy, and cities can’t do much without it, transportation is always a priority in Smart Cities.
“If people can’t move, they can’t function,” Hoffman comments. “Nonfunctioning transportation can make a city a bad place to live.”
GAToRS will reportedly be the first of a series of Smart City initiatives that the city of Gainesville will see in the upcoming years.
According to City Commissioner David Arreola, Gainesville will also upgrade the city's streetlights to include fiber technology, which will turn them into “data-capturing and communication devices” that will help run a more efficient and safer city.
Upgrading the streetlights would cost the city nearly $7 million, and would include sensors that can detect air quality, car accidents, and gunshots, Arreola says. Municipal bonds would be used to fund the streetlights, which the city will vote to approve once they approve next fiscal year’s budget.
Arreola believes that Smart City projects, much like the autonomous shuttle, will give people an idea of the possibilities of the future, and will show that Gainesville is preparing for a rapidly changing society.
Arreola ultimately believes that Gainesville would benefit from being a Smart City by “becoming a safer, citizen-centered city that responds to the needs of its residents.”
“The conversation of ‘let’s stop progress and keep things the way they are,’ isn’t a realistic conversation,” Arreola explains. “A realistic conversation is: What does it mean to raise a child in a city where we can detect gunshots and monitor the most dangerous intersections? What does it mean to live in a city where we’re building up?”