21 February, 2020 – Monheim is leading the charge in smart mobility. The regional German town with a population of just over 40,000 has started running autonomous shuttle buses bringing new life to its existing public transport network.
Mayor Daniel Zimmermann and NRW Transport Minister Hendrik Wüst gave the starting signal this week. The project is only the second of its kind nationwide.
“This will provide the old town with an optimal connection to the city centre. And the whole thing will be done with this innovative technology. The small buses are ideal for the project,” Mr Zimmermann said. “Mobility must become better and safer,” said Transport Minister Hendrik Wüst. “Automated buses like the ones here in Monheim are the right step. It is the aim of the state government to ensure that such innovations are researched, developed and tested at an early stage in North Rhine-Westphalia. That’s how we get ahead.”
“Monheim is an agent of change for driverless technology. It is cities like this that are showing the world how autonomous driving can benefit communities. The buses in Monheim suit their streets, are electric and so zero-emission, and offer a stress-free way for people to get around,” said Benedikt Sperling, EasyMile’s Managing Director DACH & Eastern Europe. “It is also the first time a fleet of 5 autonomous vehicles has been deployed here which is a great step forward,” he added.
“In local public transport, technology is advancing at a breathtaking pace. Who would have thought five years ago that an automated bus fleet would be used on Monheim’s roads, in regular service”, said Detlef Hövermann, Managing Director of Monheims Bahnen.
The buses run from 7am – 11pm, 7 days a week and the route is just over two kilometres long. It is free of charge for Monheim’s population, like all bus lines in the area.
The rapid implementation of the project is also impressive. In July 2017, the city commissioned the company Amotech with a feasibility study. Already at the beginning of 2018 there were agreements with the state of NRW. In May, TÜV Rheinland was commissioned to prepare an expert report. Two months later the company Blic joined Monheims Bahnen. At the end of the year, EasyMile won the tender for five buses.
The operation is to be scientifically accompanied by a study. The focus is on determining the acceptance of the offer and its effects on mobility behaviour. In addition, operational and planning data from various sources will be analysed.