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City of Bloomington, Indiana

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Mary Catherine Carmichael, Communications Director 
carmichm@bloomington.in.gov, 812-349-3406

“Fast Forward Bloomington” Events Kick Off as City and BT Debut Driverless Bus

The City of Bloomington and Bloomington Transit will launch the City’s new “Fast Forward Bloomington” initiative on Friday, September 29, with an event featuring the first driverless bus technology demonstration in the state of Indiana. Open to the public, the event begins at 10:00 a.m. with Mayor John Hamilton and young guests taking the inaugural ride. The new City-sponsored Fast Forward Bloomington initiative will be a series of events highlighting the potential impact of cutting edge technology on the city.  

“Driverless buses will certainly be in our future, so we’re excited to be the first city in Indiana to have a public demonstration of this up-and-coming technology,” Mayor John Hamilton said. “Technology changes the world every day and Fast Forward Bloomington experiences will give folks a hands-on feel for what’s coming our way. It’s important for our city to get a glimpse of our transportation future because we need to be planning for it now.”

The driverless bus was created by French autonomous vehicle maker EasyMile. Fast Forward Bloomington will feature the EZ10, an electric model that can be adapted to complement existing public transportation systems by providing people with the missing first/last mile mobility link. The EZ10’s potential applications extend to transportation alternatives for campuses, entertainment complexes, elderly care facilities, and more. The EZ10s have logged over 100,000 miles in 18 countries, transporting over 180,000 people without a single accident. The EZ10 accommodates up to twelve people and is equipped with an automatically deployed accessibility ramp.  

"EasyMile is proud to partner with the City of Bloomington and Bloomington Transit to introduce their stakeholders to driverless technology,” said Lauren Isaac, Director of Business Initiatives for EasyMile's North America operations. “We believe Bloomington has the potential to be a leader in this space and we look forward to the demo and working together more in the future."

EasyMile will be offering rides on Kirkwood Avenue from 10:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. on Friday, September 29. The vehicle is fully accessible and open to all ages. Rides are free and open to the public, however advance tickets are requested and can be ordered online: www.eventbrite.com/e/fast-forward-bloomington-ride-a-driverless-bus-tickets-38089764511

Bloomington Transit Director Lew May led the effort to bring EasyMile to Bloomington. “Public transportation providers will need to embrace new technologies like driverless vehicles to provide safe, clean, efficient transportation for future travelers,” May said. “We’re happy to work with the City to bring this new technology to Bloomington for a sneak peek.”

In addition to the driverless vehicle demonstration, the City and other business and community  partners will have family-friendly events and activities. Restaurants and retail stores are encouraged to feature future-themed specials to celebrate the event, and residents are invited to spend time downtown enjoying the Kirkwood of the future.

“From the Showers Brothers to RCA to the Cook Group, Bloomington has been a leader in innovation and technology,” Economic and Sustainable Development Director Alex Crowley said. “We will be planning and announcing more Fast Forward Bloomington events as a way to highlight where the city is headed and hopefully inspire young entrepreneurs to innovate right here in Bloomington.”

In preparation for the demonstration, Kirkwood Avenue will be closed from Indiana Avenue to Lincoln Street all day Thursday September 28, and through the demonstration end at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, September 29. Road access will return to normal at the completion of the event on Friday.