Could Self-Driving Cars Be A Death Knell For Canberra's Stage Two Light Rail?

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Fleets of self-driving cars hitting the road in the next four years could upset the rollout of the second stage of Canberra's light rail network, one of the speakers at an upcoming transport forum has warned.

This changing use of passenger vehicles and its effect on emissions will be explored in a forum hosted by Kent Fitch and Warwick Cathro on on 4 May.

Mr Fitch, who has previously advocated for the development of a fleet of autonomous vehicles for Canberra, said major car manufacturers like Ford and BMW planned to have their own fleets of autonomous vehicles running by 2021.

While the cars won't be available for ordinary punters to buy for some years after that and will most likely be operated by manufacturers as a fleet, Mr Fitch said their capability for ride-sharing could make it more convenient and as economical to hail one as jumping on a tram.

"The autonomous car is more about taking someone door-to-door 24 hours a day on demand," Mr Fitch said.

"Whereas a light rail or tram is really another mass transit mechanism that will operate on a fixed timetable and certainly you'll have to walk to and from the stops and have all of the problems mass transport currently does about attracting people out of their cars, it's just not as convenient."

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