Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Metro Conversations: The Future of Transportation - Recap and Video

Last night, the fifth Metro Converstations was hosted back in New Westminster at the Anvil Centre. The topic of the evening was the future of transportation. The three panel members who participated where Mayor Jonathan Cote, Shazeen Tejani, and Adrian Bell.

Left to right: Adrian Bell, Shazeen Tejani, and Jonathan Cote.

Besides being the Mayor of New Westminster, Cote completed a Master’s Degree, researching the interaction between urban development patterns and major transit infrastructure.

Shazeen Tejani is a Community Planner at the District of North Vancouver. She started her career as a municipal transportation planner, and is currently part of a team that is implementing B-Line transit service on the North Shore.

Adrian Bell is the Principal at Activate Planning. Originally from the UK, Bell is a Civil Engineer with a Masters in Transportation Planning and Management. He has worked in public and private sector transportation planning for nearly three decades.

The conversation was recorded; you can watch it below, but I also wanted to highlight some broad themes from the evening.

One theme that emerged during the conversation was that privately-owned autonomous vehicles will not usher in a new era of transportation utopia. Parking and congestion will still be issues, and could be exacerbated by autonomous vehicles.

Panel members agreed that how will build our cities will still dictate the types of transportation that people use, even with autonomous vehicles. If we build walkable, bikeable, and transit accessible communities, people will still walk, bike, and take transit.

There was also discussion about semi-autonomous vehicles, and how they could create additional safety challenges. An example given to highlight these challenges was auto-pilot. If pilots relied on auto-pilot expect for only the most extreme situations where a manual intervention is required, pilots would not be able to respond as needed because their skills would have atrophied. Panel members noted that we shouldn’t be entertaining the idea of semi-autonomous vehicles.

Panel members agreed that local governments should not have to bear the cost of retrofitting communities for autonomous vehicles.

The general thinking from panel members was that fleets such as taxis, buses, and delivery vehicles will be the first to go fully autonomous. There was good discussion about what autonomous vehicles mean for jobs in the transportation sector.

Finally, there was also a brief discussion about how autonomous vechiles could serve communities that have marginal or no transit service, and how it they could help paratransit users.

Over the next little while, we will be working on a Metro Conversations podcast series. Be on the lookout for it in the next few months.

These on-going conversations are organized by Patrick Johnstone from New Westminster, Nathan Pachal from the City of Langley, Kiersten Duncan from the City of Maple Ridge, and Mathew Bond from the District of North Vancouver. These conversations are made possible with the generous support of SFU Public Square. This conversation would not be possible without the support of the City of New Westminster.

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