Self-driving shuttle bus service launches at SF Treasure Island

BySuzanne Phan KGO logo
Thursday, August 17, 2023
Self-driving shuttle bus service launches at SF Treasure Island
On Treasure Island, robo-buses are now up and running. The shuttle service -- the first in the state -- is called "Loop."

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- On Treasure Island, robo-buses are now up and running. The shuttle service, the first in California to operate entirely on public roads, is called "Loop."

It's fully autonomous and electric and it comes at a time when there's a big debate over self-driving cars in San Francisco.

Instead of a driver behind the wheel, the free shuttle is guided by eight sensors and is fully electric.

The two AV shuttles will take passengers to seven stops every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

"It's a historic day," said Tilly Chang.

MORE: San Francisco officials consider action against CPUC's decision for 24/7 robotaxi rides

Chang is the executive director of Treasure Island Mobility Management Agency.

The nine-month-long pilot program gives the community a chance to try out the shuttle.

While there's no driver, there will always be an attendant on board like operator Tony Huerta.

"The idea is to gather feedback, to see how it performs. We will be documenting and reporting out, not only how the operations go, but also what the public reactions are -- both riders and non-riders," Chang said.

MORE: Historic weekend as driverless cars navigate through streets of San Francisco

San Francisco resident Tim Molinare decided to check out the driverless shuttle Wednesday.

"As a resident of San Francisco, I'm not very comfortable with AV. Will see what happens," said Molinare.

ABC7 News caught up with him after the test ride.

"Very nice, very smooth. Had no problems," said Molinare.

MORE: Cruise, Waymo get green light to give paid rides 24/7 across San Francisco

The top speed is 12 miles per hour. If there are ever any issues on Loop, the shuttle attendant takes over.

"They come to a stop sign, he takes over. Have to get around a utility truck, which we did, he takes over. So, it is not absolutely autonomous," Molinare said.

The shuttles can hold as many as 10 people. And they're also ADA-accessible.

"Accessible transportation for everyone in the Bay Area is vital," said Catherine Callahan, mobility manager for SF Paratransit. "It was great. It was quick. All were wheelchair key wrenches, just like on buses over in SF."

MORE: Waymo, Cruise now open to public in SF: Here's how to take a ride

As the population on Treasure Island grows and new housing developments go up, local leaders and residents say, having transportation in place is key.

"Eventually the shuttle will connect to our transit center and to our ferry, and we'll have a connection to buses to go to the mainland and East Bay. It's all about connection," said V Fei Tsen with Treasure Island Development Authority.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live