York & North Yorkshire

York bids to test driverless shuttle for disabled people

Shambles York Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Narrow streets and cobbles pose a challenge for disabled residents and visitors

A driverless electric shuttle service could be used to transport disabled people around York.

The city is bidding for £4m to trial a scheme that would help blue badge holders access pedestrianised streets without having to drive into the city.

Funding would come from Leeds City Region's Future Mobility Zone scheme which has been submitted for government approval.

The council recently revealed plans for the city centre to be car free by 2023.

Jackie Chapman, of the York and District MS Society, said getting around the medieval city centre poses difficulties for disabled people.

"It's horrendous pushing a wheelchair in York because of the cobbles and narrow streets - wheelchairs are not sprung," she said.

The scheme, which could improve access to the city for about 20,000 blue badge holders, would see people park on the outskirts and board an automated shuttle, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Although the vehicles could be driverless, customer care assistants would accompany passengers, the authority said.

James Gilchrist, the council's assistant director for transport, said: "Our bid could create the opportunity for York to pioneer an innovative solution to support people with mobility issues in and around our historic and vibrant city.

"If successful, the council will work with blue badge holders to ensure we develop a service which meets the needs of those with both visible and hidden disabilities."

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority said the scheme forms part of its £27m Future Mobility Zones bid and York was chosen for the trial because it is a major tourist destination.

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