The Australian Parliament’s Infrastructure, Transport and Cities Committee has recently commenced a new inquiry into the use of automated vehicles. The RTBU Tram and Bus Division hold serious concerns about the Australian Government conducting such an inquiry, indicating that Government funding for dangerous autonomous vehicles could be on its way.

 

The Chair of the Committee, John Alexander, claims that automation will offer “more reliable and responsive, as well as more efficient” transport. But you don’t have to look far to see that automated vehicles pose a serious risk to commuter and pedestrian safety. Numerous trials of autonomous vehicles around the world have caused serious injuries and even deaths due to automation failure.

 

In this year alone we’ve already seen multiple headlines of fatal incidents caused by automated vehicles: ‘Uber suspends self-driving car tests after vehicle hits and kills woman crossing the street in Arizona’, and Tesla’s autopilot was involved in another deadly car crash’.

 

The Chair, John Alexander, is a Liberal Party MP and thus is no doubt pursuing the typical Liberal privatisation agenda. He is already boasting about the benefits that automated vehicles could bring for Australia but he’s not talking about average Australians. The Liberal Party’s interest and commitment to automating and privatising our public transport continues at the behest of big business and at the cost of community safety and wellbeing. In the end it’s always the commuter and taxpayer that lose out.

 

While we welcome any inquiry that seeks to investigate how technology can improve our public transport, they are many unanswered questions automated vehicles present for public commuters.

 

How will an automated vehicle detect a commuter flagging down a bus, or running to catch it? How will it detect when an elderly passenger or parent with pram requires further time to board? Who will assist passengers in evacuating if there is a bus or tram fire? For these reasons and more, the RTBU continues to hold serious concerns for commuter safety in the mad dash for vehicular automation.

 

Additionally, Australian jobs continue to come under threat from this privatisation-obsessed Coalition Government, meaning that now more than ever, the RTBU will stand by its members to fight for public transport jobs for the sake of bus and tram workers and for the communities they serve.

 

Keep an eye out on Bus Express for future updates on the Inquiry. Click here to read more about the new inquiry.

 

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