Futures working group
As a follow up from the 2016 conference, BIC and state associations will hold discussions with the NTC in a specially convened meeting in Melbourne, Michael Apps writes
Those who attended the BIC conference in Perth last year will remember that a strong focus of the conference program was looking at the future of the bus industry in the context of the evolution of services like Uber and Lyft, and what on-demand services might mean for future public transport.
The idea of ‘last-mile’ services is becoming a familiar catchcry in many government circles, where alternatives to a large bus circulating suburbs could be replaced by more personalised on-demand services to the passengers’ door.
This concept is moving fast, with the NSW Government already calling for expressions of interest to run some trials of these types of services, and the ACT Government recently trialled a night rider bus service that included a $10 Uber voucher for passengers to use to get home once the bus arrived at their closest station.
The Uber vehicle was literally booked from the bus and waiting at the bus stop.
The conference also discussed the emergence of driverless or autonomous vehicles and what this could mean for the future delivery of public transport services by bus.
A key outcome of the conference was a call by the BIC for the National Transport Commission (NTC) to form a Bus Futures Working Group. The aim of the working group is to: work through these issues and look at what impact such changes could have on the bus industry; provide input to assist in ensuring that future services meet the needs of the community; provide the opportunity for the bus industry to transition over time to new business models if required; and to reform contractual arrangements to enhance the opportunity for bus operators to be part of a new era of transport service provision.
The gathering with the NTC on March 6 will be the rst meeting to progress this matter on behalf of the industry, and will involve executive directors and operators from each state alongside a number of key suppliers.
The NTC has already released a discussion paper on ‘Land Transport Regulation 2040’ that looks at the challenges of operating and regulating autonomous vehicles.
These vehicles are not going to be on the road ‘en masse’ in the near future, but they will become a reality as the technology is further developed and we better understand how they will interact with driven vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists, and who is responsible in the event of an accident. The list of issues to be resolved goes on, but the truth is they will become a reality.
Just as on-demand services have become a reality, autonomous vehicles are being trialled right now and will be part of the bus industry work environment. We need to be ahead of the game so bus operators are ready for the brave new world of passenger service delivery and Mobility as a Service (MaaS).
March 6 is the start of the BIC and state association work program to grow the industry and be a key player in future passenger services.
As I mentioned in my last BIC column, the BIC National Conference will be held at the Grand Chancellor Hotel Hobart from November 12-15, 2017.
It will be an important follow-up event and update from the 2016 conference about the future nature of bus and coach businesses. The NTC Futures Working Group will be a key contributor to the 2017 conference.
The conference program is already developing, and the social events and pre- and post-touring options are being nalised. The conference is being planned to be a family and child friendly affair, where we work during the day at the conference sessions and we enjoy the company of colleagues and family at our social events.
Mercedes-Benz and Scania have big things planned for Monday and Tuesday night dinners, and we will see another magnicent Iveco Big Arvo Out event on Wednesday, November 15 focused around Moorilla Winery and Moo Brew Estate for lunch. It will include entertainment and the opportunity to visit MONA – the Museum of Old and New Art – which has become one of the largest tourist attractions in Australia. Iveco is once again putting on helicopter rides for the afternoon to view Hobart and the Derwent River scenery.
Mark it in your diary.
“Autonomous vehicles are being trialled right now and will be part of the bus industry work environment”