Many of the candidates in the race are hesitant to support our LRT strategy to efficiently move people across our city. Candidate David Xiao even goes as far as to say that self-driving cars will make LRT "obsolete".
Indeed, earlier this year City Council heard from an autonomous vehicle advocate that new infrastructure investments in transit would likely be waste due to the advent of self-driving cars within our lifetime.
I respectfully disagree with all of these people.
I don't have technophobia. I'm an early adopter of many technologies and in all discussions about self-driving vehicles my ecstasy for the idea is palpable. The massive leap forward in road safety that self-driving vehicles will offer is nothing short of incredible.
But there is one crucial fact that discussions about these new vehicles seems to ignore:
Shared Fleets do not solve congestion.
When we discuss the self-driving revolution, shared fleets crop up often as a potential solution. You won't even need to own a car! You'll just hail a vehicle with an app and it will pick you up and deliver you where you need to go. While this definitely saves us from one transportation planning woe, the overabundance of parking, a car is still a car. And if a hundred thousand people all stream onto the road at the same time in a car -- self driving or otherwise -- the roads will become congested.
We still need efficient methods to move large quantities of people to their destinations. And, despite our society's penchant for technological fetishism, LRT remains one of the best ways to do exactly that.
Autonomous vehicles represent a great opportunity to help assist with our most inconvenient aspect of transit, the last mile. We absolutely do need to leverage this technology when it becomes available and safe.
But we cannot replace our transit system.
We can make our trains and buses self-operating. We can transition neighbourhood feeder routes to on-demand autonomous shuttle hails. But as a growing city we will always have the need to move people in more efficient ways than the private car.
Let's leave the rose-coloured glasses on the table, and solve our real transportation problems today.
Troy Pavlek ran as an unelectable fringe candidate in the 2017 Edmonton municipal election
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Troy is committed to making transit a much more viable option for Edmontonians
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