Youngstown OKs $682K Contract for Autonomous Shuttle

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The city’s Board of Control approved entering into a $682,096.58 contract Thursday morning with Transdev Services Inc. for an autonomous shuttle, one of two that will be serving downtown.

The shuttle covered by the agreement the city entered into is part of the approximately $25 million Smart2 – for Strategic & Sustainable, Medical & Manufacturing, Academic & Arts, Residential & Recreational, Technology & Training – Network project that also involves reconstruction of several downtown roads.

Transdev is a global transit services provider that has its U.S. headquarters in Lombard, Illinois. It is the same company that Western Reserve Transit Authority has entered into an agreement with to provide similar services for WRTA’s one-year demonstration project.

Fabrication of the city’s shuttle will take place over summer and delivery is anticipated this fall, Charles Shasho, deputy director of public works, said. Under the current agreement, it will operate for about six months.

“When the six months is over we have the option to continue it,” he said.

Transdev will provide WRTA’s shuttle, which will seat about eight passengers plus offer two spaces for wheelchairs, said Dean Harris, WRTA’s executive director. The city will be able to charge and store its shuttle, which Harris said he believes is about the same size, at WRTA’s facility.

The company will also provide a “safety driver,” who will be on board to navigate in the event the shuttle encounters an unanticipated obstacle such as construction or an accident, Harris said. WRTA’s shuttle is having its autonomous driving hardware installed and tested, with the expectation it should be in Youngstown in a couple months for road testing.

WRTA’s shuttle, funded under a demonstration project grant it received in 2020, will follow a route along Fifth Avenue past Youngstown State University to St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital and back downtown. The city’s shuttle will run along Federal Street.

The board of control also approved a $150,000 agreement with Economic Action Group in Youngstown to provide planning, economic development, community development and marketing services to the city.

EAG has provided the city’s community planning and economic development department as well as other city departments “an extension of much needed supportive services to assist us in meeting the needs of our community,” said Nikki Posterli, chief of staff to Mayor Jamael Tito Brown and director of the community planning and economic development department.

“The EAG team has been instrumental in program management such as the YO App, assisting with brownfield remediation grants, co-facilitating [American Rescue Plan] meetings, construction updates and various other development projects,” she said. “I am excited for the opportunity to partner with them another year.”

Pictured at top: One of Transdev’s buses. (Facebook | Transdev OV)

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