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Friday, March 31, 2023

By next Fall, students traveling between downtown and UF’s campus might have a chance to ride autonomous RTS shuttle buses.

The City of Gainesville proposed a bid Aug. 28 to supply self-driving vehicles for Gators Autonomous Transit Shuttle, or GAToRS, said Chip Skinner, an RTS spokesperson.

The city’s proposed bid is for firms and vendors that can provide the vehicles to RTS, he said.

Skinner said the shuttles will travel on a route along Southwest 2nd Avenue and Southwest 4th Avenue between the Southwest 13th Street border of UF and South Main Street in downtown.

Shuttles, which can carry 12 to 16 passengers, will be tested on smaller roads by next Fall before they’ll ride major routes. Skinner said the project is an opportunity to push Gainesville into the future.

“The intent is to put Gainesville and the University of Florida on the map,” Skinner said.

The project, which is funded by the Florida Department of Transportation, is a joint effort between Regional Transit System, the UF Transportation Institute and the FDOT.

RTS did not disclose the exact funding amount because the transit system doesn’t want bidders to compare their offers to the state’s grant funding, said RTS director Jesus Gomez.

Tiana Banda, an 18-year-old UF chemistry freshman, said she’d be excited to try out the shuttles.

“I’d be down as long as they make traveling more efficient, and don’t add to my tuition,” Banda said.

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