Robotic bus wheels out tourism potential

Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
Email Jackson Lavell-Lee
RAC Executive Patrick Walker and City of Busselton Mayor grant Henley at the official launch of the Regional RAC Intellibus at Busselton Foreshore
Camera IconRAC Executive Patrick Walker and City of Busselton Mayor grant Henley at the official launch of the Regional RAC Intellibus at Busselton Foreshore Credit: Jackson Lavell-Lee/Jackson Lavell-Lee

Business owners have renewed calls for the RAC Intellibus to become a permanent fixture in Busselton.

The Intellibus travelled 1235km during its two-month trial along the foreshore, taking 1596 passengers for an autonomous ride.

Of those passengers, 96 per cent said they could see an automated vehicle being used as a future transport service in WA, and with the success of the State’s first regional trial, business owners believed it could bring tourists to Queen Street.

Mono cafe co-director Tom Hawkwood said most CBD businesses craved more continuity between the coastline and retailers.

“We don’t see much business come from the cruise ships but if there was a free bus route that connected the foreshore with Queen Street, we would see more tourist foot traffic,” he said.

Shadow transport minister Libby Mettam said the Intellibus had great potential to connect the foreshore and CBD.

“This exciting new technology provides us with an opportunity to further explore the merits of an alternative route,” she said.

“While we have seen fair investment in our foreshore, it is vital there is a focus on our City’s retail centre.” RAC public policy and mobility general manager Anne Still said there were no plans at this stage for the Intellibus to become a permanent service in Busselton.

“As the first-ever demonstration of a driverless vehicle on public roads in regional WA, we were thrilled with the support and feedback it received,” she said. “We will continue to evaluate opportunities as the technology develops.

City of Busselton Mayor Grant Henley said the City did not have the resources or licence provisions to operate driverless technology.

“However, we hope that in the future, such a service may well be a reality,” he said. “We have benefited by participating in the trial and I think our community can genuinely see the advantages of this cutting-edge technology.”

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