A self-driving electric bus service, which has been trialled across Milton Park science and technology hub in Oxfordshire, is now being extended onto public roads.
The trial of the 15-seat minibus, which has a safety driver onboard, started operating within Milton Park in March
In phase two of the trial, the Mi-Link service, operated by First Bus, will run every 40 minutes on a 2.3-mile stretch of road between Milton Park and Didcot Station. The free service is available to employees of the 270 firms that operate from the hub. It will also be open to the public.
The service, which is fully accessible for wheelchair and pram users, will serve key locations along the route, including Bee House, the Innovation Centre and Milton Feast street food market area.
Mi-Link is funded through the DfT’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) as part of a partnership also involving Oxfordshire County Council, University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) and Zipabout.
Veronica Reynolds, Sustainability and Community Manager at Milton Park, said: “The Mi-Link project, which also includes a fleet of free electric hire bikes, is intended to reduce the amount of car trips that occur within Milton Park.
“This trial service is set to complement the 4,400 existing bus journeys that are taken weekly between the Park and Didcot Parkway train station. This is in addition to the Park’s rising levels of bus passengers, which have almost doubled since 2019, with single occupancy car usage falling by 12% since 2021.
“As an innovation community committed to increasing the accessibility of sustainable travel, we’re thrilled that Milton Park was selected as the host location for the Mi-Link project, and can’t wait to see the full results of these landmark trials later in the year.”
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