Bellevue, US is preparing
Seattle is one of just a handful of American cities where transit continues to gain market share, and the city’s suburbs–including the city of Bellevue, home to Amazon and other tech companies- saw the arrival of AVs as a chance to join the trend but with a high-tech twist. In 2019, the city government and the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce developed a large employer-sponsored network of driverless shuttles serving local corporate campuses.
The first phase of this ambitious project was expected to begin in fall 2019 with a short test route of 1 to 2 miles in and around downtown Bellevue. More than $3 million in federal funding was requested to help fund this $9 million effort.
The project’s bold, long-term vision called for hundreds of driverless shuttles–similar to King County Metro’s existing vanpool program, the country’s largest–but with on-demand flexibility rather than pre-scheduled rides. The system would achieve critical mass by focus on a corridor where along I-405 where multiple companies large employ thousands of workers each. At the time, it was hoped that such a system would be up and running before 2024, when bus rapid transit (BRT) rolls out along I-405, which cuts through Bellevue, to provide first and last mile connections.