HOW do you feel about jumping aboard a driverless shuttle bus?
That is the question councillor Jess Jennings wants feedback on as he looks for ways to address traffic problems in the Bathurst CBD.
Cr Jennings said people were constantly saying the CBD was plagued by congestion and a lack of parking. But using the latest technology, Cr Jennings thinks all these problems can be solved.
“One solution that would alleviate the problem is if you reduce the number of cars in the CBD and you can do that with a driverless shuttle without having to lay down rails or tracks,” he said.
Driverless electric shuttle buses are already commercially available, including manufacturer NAVYA’s Autonom shuttle.
The shuttle can transport up to 15 passengers at once, with 11 seated and four standing. It has an electric engine and can reach a maximum speed of 25km/h.
In Australia, these shuttles are already being utilised at Victoria’s La Trobe University, Sydney Olympic Park, Curtin University in Western Australia and are under trial on the road in Perth.
NAVYA shuttles are also used in other countries.
“I think [driverless vehicles] will be inevitable in the future as Bathurst grows, but I think it is something we need to start thinking about now,” Cr Jennings said.
He said there were a few routes the shuttles could take to start with, including operating between the CBD and Charles Sturt University and around the CBD itself, so people can park their car in one place and use the shuttle to get around to shops.
Cr Jennings added that building additional car parks to solve issues now may end up becoming redundant in the next 10 to 15 years as automated driverless electric vehicles rise in popularity because they “rarely need to park” other than to charge.
“Who’d have thought 30 years ago that computers would be everywhere?” Cr Jennings said.
“Who’d have thought 15 years ago we’d all have mobile phones? I dare say electric vehicles and self-driving vehicles will be like that in 15 years.”
Cr Jennings encouraged people to share their thoughts on the subject, particularly on whether they would be comfortable using this type of transport.