Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

News releases

Aug. 5, 2022

Latest news releases

MnDOT launches Bear Tracks automated shuttle project in White Bear Lake

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Innovative technology that will move Minnesota forward in its goal of providing safe, accessible transportation options in the state has come to the city of White Bear Lake, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

A low-speed, driverless, electric, multi-passenger shuttle called Bear Tracks is available for free, public rides in portions of the city. While the shuttle is self-driving, there will always be an attendant on-board to verify safe operation of the vehicle and aid passengers as needed. Bear Tracks is the second of three planned connected and automated vehicle demonstration projects coordinated by MnDOT, and the first in the Twin Cities metro area.

The pilot project is a collaboration of multiple partners including MnDOT’s Office of Connected and Automated Vehicles, the city of White Bear Lake, AECOM, Newtrax, Navya, University of Minnesota, Ramsey County, White Bear Lake Area Schools, White Bear Area YMCA, White Bear Area Chamber of Commerce and Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence.

“Partnership projects like Bear Tracks help us better understand how innovative technologies can improve our transportation system as well as improving equity, accessibility and choice for Minnesotans,” said MnDOT Commissioner Nancy Daubenberger. “Community engagement and collaboration with local partners is vital to these projects, and we look forward to hearing about resident’s experience with the Bear Tracks shuttle.”

“We are proud to be a partner in bringing this innovative pilot to our community,” said White Bear Lake City Manager Lindy Crawford. “The Bear Tracks shuttle will help students in our community envision the jobs of the future, provide an opportunity to expand mobility for residents on the designated route who may otherwise have limited transportation options, and puts White Bear Lake residents at the forefront of helping inform how this technology is integrated into Minnesota’s transportation system.

“Bringing this project to White Bear Lake is a perfect example of the strong, collaborative nature of our community. Hosting the demonstration project would not have been possible without strong support from our local partners,” she added.

“Newtrax has guided transportation in White Bear Lake for 10 years as a nonprofit, and assists in the logistics of this project,” said Newtrax Executive Director Mike Greenbaum. “We are proud to be a part of the team on this innovative project, and always look for new ways to meet transportation needs of people with disabilities and seniors. We see this as a unique opportunity to be involved in helping develop groundbreaking technology.”

During the project, MnDOT and its partners hope to:

  • Gather data and user-experience information to inform future use of this technology
  • Engage and educate the public by providing real world automated vehicle experience
  • Identify infrastructure gaps and solutions to safely operate automated vehicles on public roadways
  • Provide transportation options for the public, including young adults and elderly who may not currently drive
  • Advance the operation of automated vehicle technology in year-round weather conditions
  • Provide an enhanced transportation experience and increase mobility in a high demand downtown urban environment

The Bear Tracks shuttle is planned to be available for rides through August of 2023. To learn more about this project, operating hours, and how to ride the shuttle, visit www.beartrackswbl.org. #beartrackswbl