Briefing

Self-driving shuttle coming to Toronto’s east end in September 2020

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Toronto will launch public consultations this fall on the pilot project, which will run in partnership with Metrolinx and the TTC and be funded by the federal government, announced Toronto Mayor John Tory on Monday. The electric vehicles will seat eight to 12 people and, while driverless, will host a transit employee on board for “learning purposes,” said Tory. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Tory touts the pilot as being the first self-driving one to partner with transit agencies, in order to “understand the specific potential of automated shuttles in the transit system.” But other Canadian cities have also begun to explore driverless transit alternatives: Beaumont, a city within Edmonton’s greater metropolitan boundaries, was the first to pilot autonomous shuttles alongside mixed and pedestrian traffic in May. Montreal tested a self-driving bus route throughout the summer months, and the city’s successful bid for the federal Smart Cities Challenge featured plans to explore more autonomous-transit options. Surrey and Vancouver’s failed bid featured the brief testing of autonomous shuttles in the Lower Mainland. But while self-driving options continue to be tested on Canadian city streets, the service opportunities remain limited, at least, for now: several of the projects feature vehicles with minimal seating and with strict maximum speed limits; Montreal’s, for example, was restricted to 15 kilometres per hour. Toronto has not indicated an exact speed, but said in a press release that the shuttles are designed to operate in “low-speed, low-volume environments.”