- Associated Press - Monday, February 29, 2016

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Lincoln has a plan for a futuristic mass transit system that would include 50 electric-powered, driverless shuttles downtown that could seat up to a dozen people, alongside 650 driverless passenger cars.

Officials said the plan could be launched within three years if the city were to win the Smart City Challenge issued by the U.S. Transportation Department. The department would provide a $40 million grant and $10 million would come from Vulcan Philanthropy. Nearly 80 cities are competing, and finalists for the $50 million will be announced in mid-March.

Lincoln’s fiber optics infrastructure manager, David Young, told the City Council during a recent presentation that the system would lower the number of vehicles on city streets, reducing the need to widen some roadways.

City staffers have expressed optimism about Lincoln’s chances in the grant competition, the Lincoln Journal Star reported Monday (https://bit.ly/1nbPJQC ). The city already has most of the fiber optic cable in place necessary to handle driverless cars. Allo Communications will put in the rest as it offers high-speed Internet service to every home and business over the next three years as part of its franchise agreement.

The city would gather data, offer transportation technology training through the public schools and put in sites for charging electric vehicles as part of the three-year grant.

Lincoln’s plan would create an “unprecedented demonstration project that can be documented and later applied to other midsized cities,” the city said in its grant application.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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