ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – Altamonte Springs city commissioners awarded a bid for the operator of a project to get autonomous shuttles up and running along the 436 corridor during a Tuesday meeting.
“This project is about lifestyle improvement. This is about sustainability and making our community just all that more robust and enriched by using the things we know are coming tomorrow and using them today,” said Altamonte Springs City Manager Frank Martz.
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Martz said the autonomous vehicle shuttle pilot program is a combined effort between the state and city of Altamonte Springs. The cost is $2.5 million over three years, split equally between the state of Florida and the city to get it off the ground.
Private sector partners have agreed to help with long-term funding.
Similar electric vehicles — run by Beep, Inc. — already operate around Lake Nona.
An agenda packet posted online ahead of Tuesday’s city commission meeting in Altamonte Springs included a recommendation to choose the same company for Altamonte’s pilot program.
“If we can get somebody out of their car and get them to Uptown without getting into a car, it saves them time. It saves them money,” said Martz.
Martz said the idea is to give people a more convenient way to get around. People in the Cranes Roost area told News 6 that it’s an option they would consider.
“I have seen them, and they do look really cool, " said Lindsey Lagos. “It’s really busy over here. The traffic is terrible, especially when it’s backed up.”
City leaders said they hope to get more people out of their cars and using other mobility options in Altamonte but added they don’t see this pilot project as a congestion solution. Instead, they view it as a lifestyle enhancement.
“It really comes back to residents. Can you make the lives of the people in the community better? Give them more alternatives? Give them opportunities that are convenient for them?” Martz said.
Martz said the design is already mapped out along the 436 corridor. The plans now include three phases that will eventually encompass the SunRail Station, Advent Health Hospital, Altamonte Mall and other areas near Cranes Roost Park.
City leaders said the autonomous vehicles should be up and running within the next 12-to-18 months.