The urge of regulators is usually to take away freedoms because there will always be people who take them to excess.
Using your cellphone while driving is a recent example: The regulatory response to motorists driving badly while on the phone was to tell us to stay off the phone.
But there’s another response: Carry on travelling, using the phone, reading a book – whatever. One way to do that is to use public transport, but this New York Times article suggests another is coming, and soon – the car that negotiates hazards, watches out for pedestrians…. actually does the driving.
“4 manufacturers — Volvo, BMW, Audi & Mercedes — have announced that as soon as this year they will begin offering models that will come with sensors & software to allow the car to drive itself in heavy traffic at speeds up to 37 miles/hour (60kph) …. At faster speeds, Cadillac’s Super Cruise system is intended to automate freeway driving by keeping the car within a lane and adjusting speed to other traffic.”
On TV, the Jetsons took their car off the road and into the air, but they still looked where they were going. This is different and raises a number of questions about transport planning.
Auckland Council & Auckland Transport are working on plans to complete the rail loop between Britomart & Mt Eden stations, focusing intensive development on 3 new stations along that new link. The council & its transport organisation have concluded no other public transport system will get the anticipated numbers of commuters in & out of the cbd, that buses & cars are heading to gridlock.
The Government doesn’t believe some of the numbers supporting the rail link, has been generally opposed to rail anyway, but has been otherwise unhelpful in promoting ideas on how to beat time-consuming & expensive congestion.
One of the key differences between Auckland & Government has been the timeframe for counting the discount rate for the development benefit:cost ratio. The Government standard is 30 years, which would mean the project is never feasible; the council & Auckland Transport want double that, which would make it feasible.
Imagine 2 scenarios. In one, in 15 years or so, you can’t reliably travel anywhere near the cbd by road because all roads are gridlocked. Access around much of the region is also badly hampered, and in many places gridlocked, because politicians weren’t prepared to pay the price of a system that would ease travel and at the same time encourage development of precincts which would suit new (for Auckland) living & working styles.
In the other scenario, the rail loop has been completed and was enthusiastically greeted by a surge of new rail commuters, some of the intensification in the new precincts has been carried out but, after a short time, rail users have declined and enthusiasm for living close together has also waned. The decline in rail use is because new modes of personal transport have been introduced – in the style of the cars in the New York Times story, because you can travel in your own suitcase – and communication advances have made it even less necessary to travel to communal offices. The reduced need for intensive office development has changed development economics and, in turn, that has changed overall project economics.
The first of these 2 scenarios is likely, the second fits easily under “dreaming”.
I was unimpressed by a transport minister who found the scope of the Sinclair Knight Merz city centre future access study inadequate, when his own staff had been involved in it. But it’s also important that some of that dreaming is done – scenarios from the possible to the far-fetched – and that it covers more than currently envisaged travel routes.
31 December 2012: Stations are about transport? Or building a precinct?
31 December 2012: City rail: First it’s a question of will – there are lots of ways to do how
17 December 2012: Wider picture of Auckland access still not clear
14 December 2012: Auckland says rail link vital, Brownlee says study inadequate – it’s politics over action, but study plainly too narrow
13 September 2012:University confirms conditional deal on brewery site and likely Tamaki exit
3 July 2012:City rail link route affects 280 properties
9 March 2012: Council advances $8 million of budget for rail loop work
29 June 2011: Council agrees to seek rail loop designation
1 June 2011: Government says “not yet” for cbd rail loop, mayor says “all go”
26 November 2010:Brewer casts doubt on cbd growth predictions in rail loop case
25 November 2010: CBD rail loop business case unveiled
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Attribution: New York Times, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.