Autonomous transit? Years away, locally, but EP sets itself up for pilot project

A system of driverless cars that help get Eden Prairie workers from transit stations to their companies’ front doors, and back again, might be 5-10 years away. But, SouthWest Transit and City of Eden Prairie officials are working now to make sure EP is first in line when it’s time for a federal- and state-funded pilot project…

That very concentrated business area is also on existing bus lines and will host a transit station when the 15-mile-long, Minneapolis-to-Eden-Prairie Southwest Light-Rail Transit (LRT) project is finally complete in 2025 or 2026.

But even with that bus and LRT service, the real challenge for workers and companies in the Golden Triangle and other Eden Prairie employment centers is what planners call “the last mile”: getting workers from transit stops to their office desks when walking isn’t convenient.

That’s where driverless or autonomous vehicles – also called “connected and automated vehicles,” or CAV’s – will be valuable: able to transport workers those few blocks, continuously circulating on a dynamic schedule, and without the high labor costs that come with vans or buses with drivers.