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Pilot Project Coordinates Switch to Electric-Powered Buses
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The toughest thing about changing a well-established system is shifting the cultural norms.
As an innovator working to “green” Canada’s transit system, Dr. Josipa Petrunic has seen this firsthand.
“Engineering, science, that’s doable,” Petrunic says. “Even the business case — you can create a demand for anything. But people have strong ideas about what is right and what ought to be.”
Petrunic’s organization, the Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC), is a technology innovation group that has launched a pilot project to bring electric buses to Canadian urban transit systems.
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Petrunic realized the resistance to change did not stem from financial concerns nor engineering limitations but rather a resistance to taking a risk and moving away from what is well-known. She also noticed that creating a disruption can affect stakeholders at a personal level.
“It’s not just that you’re running against the petroleum industry, you’re running against a paycheck,” she says. “So it becomes very personal, very quickly, and that’s why I think culture does dictate so many of our technological choices.”
In the podcast, Petrunic shares some of the lessons she’s learned, including:
- How systems change involves accepting risk and learning new skills.
- Why it’s beneficial to bring in varied perspectives.
- How to overcome personal and institutional resistance.
Petrunic has found solutions by seeking out diverse opinions and working with champions.“You can’t do it alone, but you don’t have to convince the whole world,” she says.
B the Change gathers and shares the voices from within the movement of people using business as a force for good and the community of Certified B Corporations. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the nonprofit B Lab.
How to Change a System: Canadian Transit Consortium Finds Value in Diverse Perspectives was originally published in B the Change on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.