Your role during the stakeholder process is to represent the city’s bus driver union, which has serious concerns about the elimination of jobs if the self-driving bus fleet is introduced. Significant job losses are expected with the advent of autonomous vehicles, including in the taxi industry,¹ and the trucking industry.² It may be no different for the city’s bus drivers, especially if the company moves forward with its plan to remove human operators from the vehicles. In your city, there are over a thousand individuals employed as bus drivers.
You must advocate for the interests of bus drivers and identify any relevant concerns surrounding the self-driving bus fleet. You are also very aware of the fact that the transportation sector offers relatively well paying jobs, often for individuals who do not have a college degree.³ If bus drivers lose their jobs on account of the self-driving bus fleet, the labor opportunities for a sector of the population with limited formal education beyond high school would be significantly impacted. The local chapter of your workers union has learned from other chapters that city council can potentially mandate that drivers be present on autonomous shuttles. The Columbus, Ohio bus driver union, for example, launched a public campaign to advocate for bus drivers.⁴ Among other efforts, the campaign members spread awareness about the types of assistance that only human bus drivers can provide (e.g., spotting a lost child, being a first responder in an emergency, giving directions, and helping passengers get aboard).
As the representative for the bus driver union, your main points of prioritization include:
- Representing the interests of bus drivers in their attempt to retain employment opportunities
- Describing the virtues of keeping a licensed driver in the loop of a transit vehicle’s operation
- Articulating the risks of removing a licensed driver from a transit vehicle’s operation
- Advocating the need for the city to prioritize economic opportunities and jobs for the city’s citizens
- Here come the self-driving taxis. (2018, November 3). Retrieved from https://www.economist.com/gulliver/2018/11/23/here-come-the-self-driving-taxis
- Smith, J. (2018, September 4). Self-Driving Technology Threatens Nearly 300,000 Trucking Jobs, Report Says. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/self-driving-technology-threatens-nearly-300-000-trucking-jobs-report-says-1536053401
- Occupational Outlook Handbook. (2019). The US Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrived from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/transportation-and-material-moving/bus-drivers.htm#tab-1
- Columbus City Council Passes Resolution in Support of the TWU’s Fight Against Driverless Buses! (2019). Transport Workers Union of America. Retrieved from https://www.twu.org/columbus-city-council-passes-resolution-in-support-of-the-twus-fight-against-driverless-buses-this-historic-move-represents-a-battle-victory-in-our-war-against-autonomous-buses/
- DiBartolomeo, C. (2019, September 10). Amid automation trend, here’s why we still need bus drivers. https://www.metro-magazine.com/blogpost/729401/redefining-public-transit-s-identity-for-the-21st-century-and-why-we-need-bus-dri
- Lindeman, T. (2018, May 7). Human Bus Drivers Will Always Be Better Than Robot Bus Drivers. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/43bkx3/bus-driver-automation
- Thompson, D. (2017, November 6). A World Without Work. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/07/world-without-work/395294/