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Self-driving buses in Maine? Bill before the Legislature could make it happenSelf-driving buses in Maine? Bill before the Legislature could make it happen

BY PETER MCGUIRE STAFF WRITER

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Portland City Manager Jon Jennings envisions a driverless shuttle connecting the Portland Transportation Center with the city’s downtown and waterfront. Courtesy of the City of Portland

A bill before the Legislature would help set the stage for putting self-driving buses on the streets of Portland and other Maine communities within the next five years.

The proposal, sparked by the Portland city manager’s interest in autonomous transit, is the first piece of Maine legislation to deal specifically with self-driving vehicles, according to Rep. Andrew McLean, D-Gorham, House chairman of the Transportation Committee.

Rep. Heather Sanborn, D-Portland, this fall sponsored L.R. 2611, which would allow towns and cities to start pilot programs in partnership with state agencies.

“There is no law that expressly prohibits self-driving vehicles, but there are many regulations that assume a driver will be behind the steering wheel or assumes it will even have a steering wheel,” Sanborn said.

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