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Rochester community reacts to driverless shuttle

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX47) — For the past few months, a small bus with no driver has been making 20 minute loops through downtown Rochester.

“It feels a little magical, like I’m in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood,” said Anna Maniex, a Rochester resident.

“As this progresses forward, it’s gonna become a pretty hot commuter item,” Rochester City Councilmember Kelly Kirkpatrick said.

Riders must fasten their seatbelts before getting on, masks are required, and the capacity is 6 people. IPhone chargers are also available.

Kirkpatrick is a huge fan of the project, she did not know anyone who’s taken a ride. She blames lack of accessibility and public awareness on the fact that there are few riders.

“Where do I find out information about what the route is? How many units are there? Nobody knows where to go to learn about this particular project and what the Med City mover is all about,” Kirkpatrick said.

The route is very specific, only making two stops at the Gonda Building and the People’s Food Co-op.

“It’s an out of the way, sort of a destination event or something to try out for fun. It’s not a tool,” Kirkpatrick said.

Other riders enjoyed it.

“I think it was a nice, very smooth ride. I would do it again,” Maniex said.

“If this can be a larger vehicle like a bus, then the price of public transportation would be quite a bit less,” Rochester visitor Adam Sayles said.

Other comments were more critical.

“I think it’ll be a great idea, a labor saving idea when you don’t need a man from First Transit to stand on every bus,” Sayles said. “Then eventually, I would think that that wouldn’t be necessary after it becomes more common.”

Some wanted to see more.

“I would hope it would expand and go all over the city, and now just one loop,” Maniex said.

“I’d like to see more put in. Doing other loops throughout the city, where we’re bringing a lot of folks into town, into the downtown core and then going back out,” Kirkpatrick said.

Noah Caplan

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