Mountain View sees autonomous shuttles on fixed guideways as direction for Caltrain connection

Given the rapid maturing of autonomous shuttle technology, Mountain View envisions autonomous shuttles on fixed guideways as the direction for its planned connection between the Mountain View transit center and North Bayshore.

On February 27, Mountain View Council received the final report from its study of North Bayshore connection options, and recommended scoping a next phase feasibility study of the evolving options. The feasibility study will look more closely at the route, including right of way that might be needed.

Council members were also interested in exploring public and private sector opportunities to help fund the study, which would cost $750,000 to $1,000,000.  In parallel, the city is exploring options for local taxes that could help pay to implement the system system.

Previously, the options for the North Bayshore connection had been narrowed to consider autonomous shuttles and “group rapid transit” systems – podcars that could carry a group people per vehicle.  The most recent phase of the research showed that these market segments were converging, with autonomous shuttles in the general category of those being tested in San Ramon being planned to operate in fleets on fixed guideways.

At the council meeting, staff also reported that Google in partnership with VTA were reaching similar conclusions about technology direction in a study of connections between Moffett/NASA and North Bayshore.  Results from that study are expected to be published in March.


Meanwhile, the next phase to improve last-mile connections between the Caltrain station and North Bayshore is a dedicated, reversible bus lane on Shoreline.  The project is funded and moving ahead.