The ParkShuttle is an electrically-driven, autonomous shuttle service that runs between Kralingse Zoom metro station in Rotterdam to the Rivium business park in Capelle aan den IJssel. The system opened in 2006 and has three stops in Rivium (at the 1st, 2nd and 4th streets) and an additional stop that serves both the Fascinatio residential area in Capelle aan den IJssel and the Brainpark III business park in Rotterdam.
Parkshuttle is owned by the Rotterdam-The Hague metropolitan area (MRDH) and operated by the Connexxion bus company. Its current vehicles have Connexxion's green exterior livery and interior upholstery. The route lies on its own right-of-way, but it does have level crossings with cars, cyclists and pedestrians. It is double-lane throughout, with the exception of the bridges crossing the A16 motorway and provincial road N210.
The system, a hybrid between a personal rapid transit and an automated people mover, works like a horizontal elevator. A shuttle can be manually called at the stop, and there are buttons in the shuttle to request each stop individually (compared to a regular bus service, where stops must be requested at the appropriate time and location).
As of 2018, the route is 1.8 kilometres (1.1 mi) long and uses six shuttle vehicles numbered 1 through 6 (administratively numbered 5801 to 5806). Every shuttle has 12 seats and room for 10 standees and operates on weekdays from 6 am until 9 pm at 2½-minute intervals during rush hours. Outside rush hours, the shuttle has a frequency of at least once every 6 minutes to allow vehicles to be charged.
The vehicles are fully automatic and follow a virtual route where their positions are checked based on artificial reference points (in the form of small magnets in the road surface). They stop at fixed positions at the stations, most of which can fit two shuttles, one behind another. They are uni-directional (with front-wheel steering) and reverse direction at turning loops at both ends of the route. There is an automatic charging station at the Kralingse Zoom metro station where the batteries of the shuttles are charged every day.
The shuttles are designated as line 500 in timetables, but this is not indicated on the shuttles. The service was free of charge to use until the end of 2011, due to the lack of ticket machines and validators (later replaced by OV-chipcard readers) along with supervisors. Since the end of 2011, OV-chipcard readers are installed at the stops and no paper tickets are sold. As OV-chipcards can only be bought at the metro station proper (not the shuttle stop), passengers must have an OV chipcard on hand when boarding at other stops.
The first version of the Parkshuttle ran from February 1999 to 1 January 2002, between Rotterdam and Capelle aan den IJssel. For ParkShuttle II the route was extended, the route became a dual lane and new vehicles were introduced with more transport capacity: ParkShuttle II can carry a maximum of 22 passengers. The system and the vehicles are supplied by 2getthere, where Spijkstaal supplied the chassis and drive system and the design was made by Duvedec.
On 1 December 2006 ParkShuttle II was officially inaugurated by Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende. A day later the ParkShuttle was open to the public. Prior to that, concessionaire Connexxion had been granted a concession for the period 2006-2011. In 2011, after a new tender, the concession for a further period of 5 years was awarded to Connexxion. In 2016 the concession was extended by 2 years until December 2018.
Shortly after the system was put into operation, a collision occurred between two vehicles (without a driver) during start-up. The analysis of the incident showed that, after loss of communication at start-up of the system and after removal of the vehicle, an error was made by the supervisor as a result of which two other vehicles were allowed to enter the single lane section from different sides. The obstacle detection system did react, but could not prevent the collision. In addition, one vehicle was damaged by a fire in the storage of the vehicles.
After repairing the vehicles, the ParkShuttle has been running without any significant problems ever since.
During the period of April 2011 to December 2011, the system was out of service due to the construction of a parking garage at the Kralingse Zoom station. The ParkShuttle could not be used because the lane was blocked. A replacement bus service was used during this period. This bus service also runs in case of emergencies and drives on a lane next to the ParkShuttle.
The Metropolitan region Rotterdam-The Hague and the municipality of Capelle aan den IJssel undertook major maintenance on the existing ParkShuttle lane at the beginning of 2017.
On 7 March 2018 the MRDH granted Connexxion a new concession for 15 years, for the period December 2018 to December 2033. This concession includes an extension of the route, renewal of the fleet of shuttles and driving in mixed traffic on some parts of the route. The supplier of the system is again www.2getthere.eu 2getthere, who has worked together with the municipality of Capelle aan den IJssel for this purpose. Together they have submitted a proposal for the replacement and extension with the Marketplace for Infrastructure of the 'Verkeersonderneming', which was granted early 2017. With this, the 'Verkeersonderneming' is responsible for 50% of the costs of realization.
In 2019 the vehicles will be replaced and the route will be extended to the Nieuwe Maas, where passengers can change to the Waterbus at the Van Brienenoordbrug stop. The ParkShuttle will be a unique connection between the Waterbus and the metro network of Rotterdam. Also, with the re-development of the Rivium business park, where residency is allowed, the ParkShuttle offers residents access to public transport. On the new route, the ParkShuttle will autonomously drive on the public road. This will be the third generation of self-driving vehicles which can drive through mixed traffic. The vehicles are lighter than before, have air-conditioning and can drive in two directions, so no turning loops are needed.
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