How Will Mass Transit Handle Automation?

Filed under Automation & AI, News, Transport ~ by Press on  13 Feb 2019

As it was with the Internet, we can scarcely guess where the future will take us with artificial intelligence and automation applied to transport – most likely an uncontrolled explosion of possibility.
~ Throsby

Transport automation has significant implications for the provision of mass transit, depending on how it is managed.

In its submission to the automated mass transit inquiry, the Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) said:

…the introduction of driverless vehicles should be seen as an opportunity to review mobility in general, reflecting on the whole mobility system, the purpose and value of mobility and how it can be accomplished better in social, environmental and economic terms, recognising the potential benefits and challenges associated with driverless vehicles.”

BIC expressed concern that automated private vehicles may lead to increased car usage, higher congestion, greater urban sprawl, and declining public transport use as people were attracted to the convenience of automation and the personal time-cost of travel became less relevant.

The alternative was a transport future based on shared-mobility, with flexible services branching off strong trunk routes, guaranteeing access, avoiding congestion and preventing urban sprawl.

The BIC held the view that:

…the move to autonomy will and needs to be led by mass transit bus services operating on bus priority infrastructure and dedicated bus rapid transit infrastructure such as the Brisbane Busways.”

The BIC and other organisations will be appearing at a public hearing tomorrow as part of the House Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities’ inquiry into automated mass transit. The Committee will explore issues related to both automation and alternative fuels.

Committee Chair, Mr John Alexander OAM MP, said that transport automation presented both real opportunities and real challenges to government and the community.

The automation of mass transit is not just about driverless buses and trains—it’s also about how mass transit will fit into an automated transport future and how we will manage questions of mobility more generally.”

Mr Alexander suggested that “ideally, automated transport would be incorporated into the master-planning of the urban and regional environment in a way that maximises connectivity while promoting compact and accessible urban forms”.

Public hearing details: 8.30 am – 12.10 pm, Friday, 15 February 2019 Committee Room 1R3, Parliament House, Canberra

8.30 am – 9.10 am: ANCAP
9.10 am – 9.50 am: Siemens Mobility SAS
9.50 am – 10.30 am: CSIRO
10.50 am – 11.30 am: Engineers Australia
11.30 am – 12.10 pm: Bus Industry Confederation
12.10 pm: Close
The hearing will be broadcast live at

Further information on the inquiry, including the full terms of reference, is available on the Committee’ website

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