$410K AV Education Grant Raises Public Criticism in Pittsburgh

According to the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure, up to 75 percent of the funding would be used to hire a staffer to oversee public information programming. The rest would be used for videos and printed material.

by Bob Bauder, The Tribune-Review / June 6, 2019
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(TNS) — Pittsburgh City Council on Tuesday authorized acceptance of a grant that has drawn criticism from some residents over the use self-driving vehicles in the city.

The $410,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is aimed at educating residents about autonomous vehicles.

Residents and local activists lined up last week in opposition, saying they feared the money would be used as a public relations program for autonomous vehicle companies. Karina Ricks, who heads the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure, said up to 75 percent of the funding would be used to hire a staffer who would oversee public information programming. The rest would be used to support public meetings, including such things as videos and printed material.

Council amended the authorization to require the department to empanel an advisory committee consisting of residents and representatives of labor unions, environmental policy organizations and disability rights organizations that would oversee the programming. DOMI also must produce a report detailing its educational outreach activities.

Members approved the grant by a 7-0 vote. Councilwoman Darlene Harris abstained, saying she had concerns about autonomous vehicles operating in the city. Councilwoman Erika Strassburger was absent.

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