Minnesota Department of Transportation

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Oct. 26, 2021

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MnDOT reminds motorists to be alert when driving near Med City Mover in Rochester

ROCHESTER, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Transportation urges motorists to slow down, be alert and allow extra room when driving near the Med City Mover shuttles in downtown Rochester. After two months of operation, shuttle operators have seen concerning driver behavior, which has led to several close calls with other vehicles.

The Med City Mover shuttles are part of the first automated vehicle pilot project to travel Minnesota streets. MnDOT’s Connected and Automated Vehicles team and its partners are gathering data and user-experience information during the year-long project to help prepare for the safe and expanded use of this technology.

The two low-speed, multi-passenger shuttles are driverless, but an attendant is always on board to verify the safe operation of the vehicle and aid passengers as needed. The shuttles have provided more than 800 rides since service began in August.

Operators say some motorists have cut closely in front of the shuttles causing emergency stops and concern for safety. Other vehicles have made illegal turns around the shuttles, putting riders and pedestrians in harm’s way as it travels its 1.5-mile route downtown.

“Just like we do with snowplows during winter months, we’re encouraging drivers to use extra caution when driving around automated vehicles,” said Tara Olds, interim director of MnDOT’s CAV program. “Automated vehicles operate differently than other vehicles, and it’s important for all of us to learn new skills to travel safely together.”  

Automated shuttles are programmed to follow every rule of the road. The shuttles slow down to stop when traffic lights are yellow, wait for all pedestrians to cross the street before turning, and never make turns until a traffic light allows. The Med City Mover shuttles travel six blocks south on Broadway, three blocks west on 6th St. SW, six blocks north on Third St. SW and three blocks east on West Center Street.

Safe driving recommendations include:

  • Stay alert for the automated shuttles, which travel slowly and abide by all traffic laws. The shuttles will yield during right turns if a pedestrian is anywhere in the crosswalk.
  • Allow more space between yourself and the automated shuttles. Don’t cut in front of an automated shuttle as this may cause it to emergency stop. Stay behind the shuttle when it is turning.
  • Drive at a safe speed for current conditions.
  • Don’t drive distracted.
  • Be patient.

The planned hours of operation for the Med City Mover shuttles are Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, except holidays, now through August 2022. The vehicles travel up to 15-miles per hour, making two stops along the route.

This shuttle pilot project is a partnership that involves MnDOT, the city of Rochester, Destination Medical Center, Mayo Clinic, First Transit and EasyMile.

Learn more about this project and sign up for email updates.