While doing research on driverless highways, I ran across this video of a self-steering bus in Adelaide.
The bus line is called the “O-bahn” with O standing for omnibus (which was abbreviated to bus about a century ago) and bahn being German for road. Interestingly, it relies on a mechanical device to keep the bus on the track. As shown below, a small wheel projects from each side of the bus. When the wheel hits the concrete curb on the side of the roadway, it turns the bus wheel slightly. The driver controls the speed and steers the bus when it leaves the bahn.
Adelaide built a 7.5-mile route for $98 million, including the buses. That’s more than $10 million per mile for the roadway, which is a lot less than light rail. But it is pretty expensive considering that it used by only a few buses. The above video shows the bus passing two other buses in the oncoming lane about 42 seconds apart. This suggests that the buses run on 90-second headways, which is more frequent than most light-rail lines.
Yet it leaves the bahn unused most of the time. A freeway lane can move 2,000 vehicles per hour, while one bus every 90 seconds is 40 per hour. This means there is room for up to 1,960 more vehicles per hour on the bahn. Call it 1,800 to be on the safe side.
Adelaide could have offered to let people attach little guidewheels to their cars and let them drive on the bahn for an electronic toll large enough to keep the bahn uncongested. But Adelaide has an anti-auto mentality, so the city actually went to the trouble to design the bahn so that it would rip the oil pan off of any car that attempts to drive on it. Then, the only way to get the car off the bahn is with a crane. Now that’s auto hostile.