Self-driving cars could spark 'massive increase in unemployment' in bus and taxi industry

Workers of England Union general secretary Stephen Morris also told GB News there "were health and safety concerns regarding the reliability of the system"

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Self-driving cars could spark a “massive increase in unemployment” in the bus and taxi industry, a union warned.

Self-driving vehicles could be on UK roads by 2025 under new plans unveiled by the Government and backed by a £100million investment to boost the rollout.

Some cars, coaches and lorries with self-driving features could even be operating on motorways in the next year, the Government said.

The Department for Transport said the self-driving industry could create up to 38,000 jobs and be worth £42billion.

Self-driving vehicles could be on UK roads by 2025
Self-driving vehicles could be on UK roads by 2025

But the plans could see rising unemployment in other transport sectors, the Workers of England Union general secretary Stephen Morris said.

Mr Morris told GB News: “As autonomous vehicles start to be introduced in our cities this will create a major shift in employment.

“Whilst the Government estimates autonomous vehicles will create 38,000 jobs, an autonomous public transport system would see massive increase in unemployment amongst bus drivers, taxi drivers, train/tram drivers, and transport sector as a whole way above the amount estimated it would increase.

Self-driving cars could spark a “massive increase in unemployment” in the bus and taxi industry
Self-driving cars could spark a “massive increase in unemployment” in the bus and taxi industry

“This will obviously have a decrease in taxes raised by the Government and increase in either benefits or training schemes required to try and get people in different employment, something the Government can ill afford at this time.

“There are also health and safety concerns regarding the reliability of the system, and who is ultimately responsible for any accidents/incidents, will it be the system operators or the company which uses the autonomous vehicles.”

While AA President, Edmund King added: "Assisted driving systems, for example, autonomous emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, are already helping millions of drivers stay safe on the roads. It is still quite a big leap from assisted driving, where the driver is still in control, to self-driving, where the car takes control.

"It is important that the Government does study how these vehicles would interact with other road users on different roads and changing weather conditions.

"However, the ultimate prize, in terms of saving thousands of lives and improving the mobility of the elderly and the less mobile, is well worth pursuing.”

The Government said the rollout of the technology could revolutionise public transport, especially for those who do not drive, and could help reduce road collisions caused by human error.

It said vehicles that can drive themselves on motorways could be on sale within the next year, but those would require a valid driving licence so the user could drive the vehicle on other roads.

Other self-driving vehicles, such as those used for public transport of deliveries and which the Government wants on roads by 2025, would be used without a driving licence as they would be completely autonomous.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The benefits of self-driving vehicles have the potential to be huge. Not only can they improve people’s access to education and other vital services, but the industry itself can create tens of thousands of job opportunities throughout the country.

“Most importantly, they’re expected to make our roads safer by reducing the dangers of driver error in road collisions.

“We want the UK to be at the forefront of developing and using this fantastic technology, and that is why we are investing millions in vital research into safety and setting the legislation to ensure we gain the full benefits that this technology promises."

Additional reporting by Isabelle Pethick.