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Councillor pushes for TTC to examine driverless bus technology

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Jun 7th, 2016

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Is Toronto ready for driverless buses?

As Google and a number of car manufacturers continue experimenting with unmanned cars, a driverless shuttle bus has already hit the road in the Netherlands.

Contain your enthusiasm, however. The WePod is an electric bus that shuttles six people 200 metres at a speed of eight km/h along a lake in the Dutch agricultural town of Wageningen.

But it’s enough for Toronto Coun. Michelle Holland to ask city council to push the TTC to develop plans for new technology in its operations.

“The City of Beverly Hills in California has not been particularly known for public transit in the past,” the motion reads, “but it is looking to incorporate automated buses to pick up passengers, which will then connect them to new rapid transit lines in the area.”

“It is essential that with the current pace of technological change that the City of Toronto’s public transit system properly prepare for the use of these new technologies.”

Given that the Dutch bus is still in a trial phase, we’re a long way from seeing a driverless bus on the 32 Eglinton West route. But the technology is there, and Wageningen isn’t the only city doing trials. Driverless bus experiments are also underway in Lausanne, Switzerland, Trikala, Greece, Zhengzhou, China, and Milton Keynes, UK.

And there’s nothing wrong with the TTC – or any government agency, for that matter – thinking ahead. For much of the TTC’s existence it has been playing catch-up; it was less than two years ago that the transit system began accepting credit and debit card payments, and the Presto card system, which effectively ties all forms of transit in the GTA together, has been rolling out over the past year. So it would be nice to see the TTC in a position to embrace technology as it arrives.

The biggest factor in technological advancements undoubtedly is cost. At €3 million (C$4.4 million), the Dutch trial isn’t cheap.

But like all technologies, the price and reliability of the driverless bus will improve as it becomes more prevalent.

And who would you yell at when the bus misses your stop?

Comments

  • jclemente says:

    There goes jobs, horrible idea. The TTC can’t even operate itself what they should do is get rid of Andy Byford raising fares, always begging for money. Service is pathetic.

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