Self-driving shuttle bus will transport shoppers around Plaza St-Hubert this fall

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Two self-driving minibuses will transport shoppers around Plaza St-Hubert this fall.  (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Two self-driving minibuses will transport shoppers around Plaza St-Hubert this fall. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada - image credit)

The next stop for the city's self-driving electric minibus service will be Plaza St-Hubert.

The city of Montreal is taking is ramping up its pilot project, deploying two autonomous shuttle vehicles to the large commercial artery this fall.

Next month, the self-driving electric minibuses will ride along Plaza St-Hubert, located in the Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie borough.

The idea is to have people shop around the plaza, before hitching a ride on the minibus to get back to their parked car or bicycle.

It will be in service seven hours per day, five days per week, following a path with seven stops along Saint-Hubert and Saint-André Streets. The speed of the buses won't exceed 20 kilometres per hour.

The self-driving vehicles have already been used in the area surrounding the Olympic Stadium, transporting people from there to Maisonneuve Market.

"With Plaza St-Hubert, what we want to do is learn more about the behaviours of the shuttle buses in really dense urban environment," said Sophie Mauzerolle, the city's executive committee member who's in charge of the electrification of transportation.

Although the minibuses are self-driving, an operator will remain inside at all times in order to be able to quickly take control of the vehicle if needed.

"The shuttles will be programmed to respect the rules of the road, and will be able to react to pedestrians passing by, cyclists, vehicles, and all situations that could be problematic," said Éric Alan Caldwell, an executive committee member who handles the mobility file.

"These shuttles represent a revolution — no more, no less — in terms of mobility."

The shuttle service along Plaza St-Hubert will run from October until December. A second phase will start next spring, going from May until July 2022.

The merchants association for the plaza is hoping the pilot project will help draw more visitors to the area.

The commercial street reopened last winter, following a $55-million construction project which had shut it down for more than two years.

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