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Cover Story: Issue Issue 23 22 Aug 2011

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Driverless transit comes of age - A thirty year journey gathers speed

What was once an attention-grabbing piece of space-age technology is now almost commonplace. But the potential of automated transit remains to be fully exploited. Larry Fabian tells the story so far to introduce our special focus for this issue on technological development that is changing the capability and economics of both urban rail and bus service provision.

Larry Fabian

The first true public transport, and well before the buses, came the railways- short stretches of steam powered ‘iron horses’. They quickly changed the nature of communications, and the shape of cities, introducing ‘commuting’ and the separation of where people lived and worked. In the late 19th century, electric motors started to do the work in urban areas, where steam and soot were less welcome than in the countryside or around industrial areas. Eventually stretches of...

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