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Global Engineering debate – Trinidad and Tobago

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Global Engineering debate – Trinidad and Tobago
Global Engineering debate – Trinidad and Tobago

The 2016 Association of Professional Engineers of Trinidad and Tobago (APETT)/IMechE Global Engineering Debate took place at the APETT Technical Conference on 24 June 2016. The debate topic was on public transportation solutions for the future.

The debaters this year consisted of Kavir Ramdass (pictured above, left), Leanda Bidaisee (above, center) and Leah Wright (above, right). The debate chair was Onika K Morris Alleyne, a transportation engineer, planning and policy professional with nine years’ experience in mobility and sustainable transportation.

From the initial poll, the majority of the audience opted for the use of alternative fuels and autonomous/connected vehicles along with improvements to the existing public transport system. The minority chose ride-sourcing.

Mr Ramdass began the debate with indicating that transportation network companies promote innovation as navigation and sharing technology is utilized. Additionally, with Trinidad and Tobago being small islands, ride-sourcing allows for the tourist to maneuver on his own and be able to easily locate places of interest. Services such as Uber can be utilized which will allow accreditation to the driver and so allows the passenger to feel safe.

Ride-sourcing would be the most cost effective and quickest to implement since it relies on the existing infrastructure and resources as compared to the other options. It would consequently serve to be a supplemental service to improve transport alongside existing services.

Ms Wright followed with elaborating on the main advantage of the local existing public transport system being that buses transfer more persons from one destination to the next and could consume less fuel per trip per person than a car. Additionally, the local buses and taxis already exist and would be cheaper to invest and improve the current system than attempt to implement a new one. One of the main challenges is convincing the policy makers that the system in fact does need improving. With improvements, the local existing public transportation system can function as a transit system, that is, with scheduling and performance standard requirements.

Ms Bidaisee indicated that autonomous and connected vehicles offer the driver more time to conduct other tasks during travel time. In order to integrate this type of transport system, there may need to be designated lanes/ roads for these cars. If there is to be both autonomous/ connected cars and regular human driven cars on the streets at the same time, certain separations may have to be made and laws need to be put into place.

On the issue of alternative fuels, introduction of any alternative will take a longer time to be accepted and used as there has to be a change in the mindset of the country. It is a good investment for the country but there has to be a lot of education for the public and maybe certain laws which can be put in place by the government can help. Upon delivering their views on the future of public transportation, a final vote was cast. The audience appeared to now be in strong favour of the improvement of the existing public transportation system.

Results before and after debate

Alternative fuel and autonomous and connected vehicles
Poll before debate 35
Poll after debate 9

Improved public transport
Poll before debate 34
Poll after debate 43

Transportation Network Companies (ride-sourcing)
Poll before debate 4
Poll after debate 19

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