Hold the LRT: Why not self-driv­ing buses?

RE: Charge it! 500 elec­tric sta­tions com­ing to Hamil­ton and On­tario (July 16)


Why not bat­tery-pow­ered, self-driv­ing buses in­stead of LRT for Hamil­ton?

On­tario sees the wis­dom of elec­tric cars, but not pub­lic tran­sit. Hamil­ton is be­ing asked to re­place 20th-cen­tury tech­nol­ogy (buses) with 18th-cen­tury tech­nol­ogy (rails), and use it in the 21st cen­tury. Rail­ways, tak­ing ad­van­tage of James Watt’s in­ven­tion of 1775 (the steam engine) once dom­i­nated over­land trans­port. Turn­pikes pro­vided con­nec­tiv­ity in the mid- to late 20th cen­tury, made pos­si­ble by Charles Goodyear’s in­ven­tion of 1844 (vul­can­ized rub­ber). Wholesale re­place­ment of steel wheels with pneu­matic wheels sig­nalled the trans­fer from rail to road for mu­nic­i­pal pub­lic tran­sit about 65 years ago.

What’s next? Con­nec­tiv­ity in the 21st cen­tury is nei­ther road nor rail, but by the In­ter­net, and the multitude of ap­pli­ca­tions it sup­ports, in­clud­ing the 21st-cen­tury in­ven­tion — self-driv­ing ve­hi­cles. Would it not be pru­dent to see how this tech­nol­ogy evolves be­fore we re­in­stall 18th-cen­tury “guid­ing sys­tems” into our mu­nic­i­pal roads? Would On­tario gov­ern­ment be will­ing to spend the $1 bil­lion on de­vel­op­ment of bat­tery-pow­ered au­ton­o­mous buses for Hamil­ton? Milan Gacesa, Dun­das

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