SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco quietly launched its latest free shuttle service.
The Loop has small 10-person shuttles ready to give people a free lift around Treasure Island. It is a free shuttle and one of the state's first to use autonomous vehicles on public roadways.
The shuttles operate seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., making a 20-minute loop around the northern side of Treasure Island.
The shuttles are provided by Beep, an autonomous vehicle company out of Florida. Although autonomous, there is an operator on board, to assist passengers and take over if the vehicle encounters any difficulties.
Treasure Island Wines is on the loop's route, and owner Jim Mirowski says some of the first reviews from riders are in.
"I've heard from a few residents that it's kind of jerky and that it goes too slow and that it's not very comfortable," said Mirowski.
San Francisco's Treasure Island Mobility Management Agency launched the pilot program Wednesday, with funding from San Francisco, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, and the federal government.
Mirowski says so far he's not impressed. He says the vehicles are underpowered, so they can't make it up the hill to serve the Yerba Buena side of the island, and he says they operate so slowly they can't take people to and from the new ferry terminal because they'd cause a traffic hazard.
He says the idea was sold to businesses as a way to bring customers, but if the shuttle can't go all the way to the ferry, it can't get the customers to his winery.
"It's not going to where it's supposed to go," said Mirowski. "So, hopefully, they'll come up with a solution."
This is part of a nine-month trial, so the Treasure Island Mobility Management Agency is looking for feedback, to see if this is a good fit. They're asking riders what they think about the service, and what can be improved.
The transit agency says it'll take that information going forward to figure out what future permanent transit options will look like on Treasure Island.