During the early stages of April 2016, the Beverley Hills City Council revealed that it had passed a resolution. The resolution had one goal, “change the paradigm of Southern California”, said Mayor John Mirisch. However what resolution has the power to bring about such a shift and how would it be implemented?
The resolution, which is still in its very early stages, is to develop and implement a driverless buses. However, Beverley Hills is the first city, presently within the US to launch such an initiative. California is a hugely car centred state so such a move would have massive implications. John Mirisch stated at the time of announcing the resolution, “currently, public transportation here is a second-class system of transportation here. It’s something you have to do, not something you want to. Point-to-point, on demand transportation will make it a first choice.”
Since Beverley Hills is the first American city to launch such a scheme, it has opened dialogue with driverless vehicle leaders, Tesla and Google. These companies will work in active union with Californian transport officials. Together they aim not only to commence the long process of creating and building the required technology, but also to draft the required regulations to legitimise such a system. It should be noted that presently, neither of the above are in existence nor near conceptual completion.
The city is confident of the success of this initiative once conception has been completed. The reason for this is that it will help to increase mobility whilst remaining relatively, financially inexpensive. This is due to the fact that the scheme does not require costly infrastructural overheads such as the creation of rail lines and associated labour costs.
Beverley Hills is not unfamiliar with changes to its cities transportation infrastructure. Recent developments have increased the level of walkability throughout the city, making it much more pedestrian friendly, in turn decreasing the volume of traffic.
However much traffic remains. Statistics reveal that more than 70 per cent of this traffic is through traffic. Mirisch believes that a superior bus infrastructure, combined with a new one for cyclists will reduce this number.
Progress looks to be, presently, a long way off. A meeting has been scheduled for next January between the major players to discuss plans and the technological options for the project. For his part, Mirisch is optimistic that the process will be completed quicker than most people think. But concedes that it will take a long time to develop the technology.