Meet George Jetson, his boy Elroy, daughter Judy, Jane his wife.

That’s the what immediately popped into my head after seeing the future vision for transport released by the Ministry of Transport yesterday. The visions look about 30 years into the future and the reason for doing the work is explained as:

The Ministry of Transport is taking a whole of system, long-term view of the future of transport to help in our role as the Government’s adviser on transport. We want to stimulate wider debate and generate ideas on the possible future of New Zealand’s transport system by sharing our visions of how we think the transport system could look in the future.

The visions we are sharing are not predictions about what will happen, just what could happen.

A lot of the premise for this work seems to be the idea that we’re about to see fundamental change in transport as a result of technology. There are repeated analogies made to the level of change experienced in the early and mid-20th century with them noting how the first cars came to NZ in 1898, that by the 1930’s they were becoming more common while around 30 years later we had wide-bodied passenger jets and had landed a man on the moon.

The technological change expected over the coming three decades is primarily about making our transport system more intelligent. For example the likes of autonomous vehicles and using data to better organise trips.

The ministry have been looking at what the future holds for a while, starting last year with their work on future travel demand. From it they found that in most possible scenarios the level of personal travel – i.e. how far we collectively travel – would decline.


That work also produced this chart which is one of my favourites and shows that their previous predictions of vehicle kilometres travelled have continued to be over optimistic.


The visions released so far are not all of them but do cover off a lot of transport sphere. They note that at least one more they are working on is looking at the future of public transport and I’m taking a trip to Wellington shortly to discuss this with them.

To me the visions as shown in the slides below are a mixed bag. Some seem fairly likely such as the suggestion that we will buy mobility as a service – which is starting to happen right now as a result of companies like Uber – and  that high-density urban villages will allow for more trips to be made by walking and cycling which will improve health. However other ideas seem much more fanciful such as the people will be able to commute by plane from a regional centre to a job in Auckland in the same length of time as those who live in Auckland or that we’ll have airships carting freight around.

Some ideas aren’t in the slides but in supporting documents (like this one). One that we’ve seen raised before has been that we turn our rail network – outside of Auckland and Wellington – into guided truckways occupied by trucks platooning together.

The challenge with these road trains is they will probably require dedicated freight lanes. We think New Zealand has unique opportunities in this space.  The rail network, outside of Auckland and Wellington, already provides a separated corridor that could be transformed into a high-speed freight network. The space already allocated means we can potentially be an early mover when
the right technology comes along. Imagine platooned trucks, not guided by a physical set of rails, but by a system that allows them to operate safety on narrow concrete pads on dedicated freight corridors. Imagine the productivity gains for our supply chains, and the avoided costs, by not having to extend the road network to accommodate these systems.

We are not advocating we close rail transport in New Zealand, but there may be whole new ways we could utilise existing rail networks and corridors.

Or you know we could just make trains more efficient and not have to pave all the tracks in concrete.

Here’s a couple more videos about the work, one from the MoT CEO and one from the Deputy CEO.

Have you looked through it and what are your visions for the future and do they align with the Ministry’s? Now, where are those moon colonies and how do I get to them.

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  1. The suggestion of extensive flying to day jobs alongside a low carbon transport system seems, to put it politely, challenging.

    There is now some thinking that driverless cars might not ease congestion if they induce demand and that is not managed. This would be especially so families own the cars and direct their movements as opposed to a common pool of vehicles.

    VKT trends in the US appear to be going back up. One to watch. The theory that millennials have made a life style choice not to drive is not certain yet.

    1. And yep, NZ wide VKT is about to “resume its normal course” after over a solid decade of “flat-lining”. Any day now, normality will resume, we’re constantly told.

      They’ll still be arguing if the Millenials are really driving less by choice when the 30 years future MoT predicts actually rolls around.

      Might as well wave your hands at the rising tides – it will be more effective.

      In any case, what the Americans do or don’t do with driving VKT is of little relevance to this country. Its what we as a country decide to do or not do in the future thats important to us.

        1. Not saying that we should prepare for massive increase in VKT, but the whole VKT is flatlining or decreasing story doesn’t really work at the moment.

        2. VKT is more useful when looking at a smaller area. A 10% growth in the middle of rural NZ will make bugger all difference but in Auckland would be huge. Interestingly the data shows that despite population growth that it has held steady over last few years and even declined slightly

        3. “the data shows that despite population growth that it has held steady over last few years and even declined slightly”

          you mean in Auckland?

          edit: I guess so looking at the data AUckland VKT is 12348, 12630, 12717 and 12690 up to 2014

        4. And actually some of those models don’t look too bad — the MOT 2008 model predicted VKT to start going up a couple of years early but otherwise is pretty accurate.

        5. I think you need to be careful here.

          The model simply estimates VKT based on changes in other variables, especially population, GDP, and fuel prices. It’s entirely possible the model is completely wrong, but the right number pops out the end.

          While that’s a fortunate coincidence for policy-makers, it doesn’t mean we should have any confidence in the model itself.

          I note that currents levels of population growth, GDP, and fuel prices are about as favourable as they possibly could be for travel demands. As such it’s unlikely that the 2008 predictions expected NZ to be in it’s current position.

          The true test of the model would be to plonk in actual values for these variables and see how the forecast VKT compared to actual. My hunch (for the reasons outlined above) is that the model would predict VKT growth to be much higher than we’re seeing.

        6. just on the whole “VKT is growing” topic: Yes it is, but then again right now:
          1) NZ’s population is growing at a relatively fast clip, say 3-4%; and
          2)The economy is running at a fairly high rate of growth, say ~3%.

          In this context, the fact that VKT growth is only at 2% p.a.makes you realise just how much things have changed. For those who don’t know, 2% p.a. used to be the default assumption for traffic growth in NZ. Now it’s an upper bound.

          Just wanted to put that in context.

        7. In this context, the fact that VKT growth is only at 2% p.a.makes you realise just how much things have changed.

          Yes things have changed – Long distance car travel I believe has reduced with cheap regional airfares. This is significant as these longer car trips were piling on the kilometers.

        8. completely agree that flights are competing with long cars trips, despite the best efforts of this government to subsidise long distance car trips via RONs!

          Although given that most trips occur withinn urban areas, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the declining VKT per capita originated there – simply because numerically it’s such a large travel amount of travel demands.

        9. Some of this graphing seems a bit average. Now more used to seeing dynamic graphing off live data.

          Surely the MOT could enable live graphing and show automatically fitted projections. Would like to see the models used to see some of those graphs…

        10. In the context of other VKT data points (e.g 2010 40.4, 2007 40.9) I’m not really going to get excited about the most recent data. Heck, it’s taken the best part of a decade for many people to recognise that ‘continuing growth’ wasn’t the default pattern any more; why should we jump back to ‘things are back to normal growth’on the basis of one year of data?

    2. Tom, I don’t think it is just millennials. My parents used to drive a lot, now retired, hardly ever. The western world is rapidly aging and older people are driving less. So when you get young and old driving less, you have a major influence of future driving demand. While VKT per capita may be levelling off, I don’t think it will be increasing as rapidly as it has in the past.

    3. I’m uncertain about VKT, primarily because you get what you provision for and at the moment there is a continuing rebalancing of transport mode spending, heading away from SOV in urban areas.

      I agree about flying as a commuting option and driverless cars not necessarily being the silver bullet they’re made out to be.

  2. Technological change is a lot slower than it is often portrayed.
    Modern jet airliners don’t get you from A to B much faster than say a first-model 707 (though a 707 was admittedly a quantum leap over a Ju-52 airliner)
    The mainstay of the current US bomber fleet is 60 years old
    Time to drive Auckland-Wellington hasn’t changed much in 50 years either

    1. Correct all around. The only thing that has changed is the speed of cars, my first car would struggle to do 100km/h, my current one could do 245km/h apparently. Not that that has any practical use.

      1. As Scotty from Star Trek loved to say “Ya canne change the law of physics”.

        Meaning that (a) the sound barrier for airplanes and (b) the maximum speed of cars – not because they can’t go faster that 60mph (100kmhr), but because the people inside them can’t survive the physical forces that occur in accidents higher than that speed very well, so we’re limited by the physics of human bodies to that sort of speed on the roads.

  3. I’m always amused by these Jetson-like flying commuter fantasies. The anti-train bias that riddles this ‘vision’ is extraordinary but you’ve always got to remember that until the Eurostar rail link between London and Paris opened, ‘everyone’ (except the poor and car drivers) flew. Nowadays hardly anyone does. Not much vision, rather more of the same rutted thinking from the MoT.

  4. Good to see the proposed vehicle speed reduction to 30kph though – this alone would prevent many needless deaths and injuries in our cities. I just don’t see why it’s classified as a future vision when it can and should be done straight away at almost zero expense!

    1. Exactly right! They could do that one tomorrow. The fact is they have designed a system (the current road network) that kills third parties (pedestrians) and have a way to reduce this risk significantly (and have just admitted as much). To not implement it is borderline criminal. In the dam industry, for example, killing third parties is considered absolutely beyond the pail and it is very very difficult to agrue against improving safety on the basis or cost or efficiency (the ALARP principle applies).

      1. There are two arguments:
        1. That if you reduce it to 30kmh, evidence would indicate even greater benefits from reducing to 0kmh if safety is the sole consideration
        2. If safety ISN’T the sole consideration (which is required if you don’t reduce to 0kmh), then you need to actually calculate the expected loss of life vs. the loss of time, converted to an equivalent value (utils?life years?)

        So, let’s say we save 5 lives. Based on our data, mean age is 35, life expectancy is 83, so we’ve lost (83-35)*5 = 240 life years (2.1 million hours)

        Now, let’s say we reduce speed from 50 to 30. Drivers do 1 billion VKT per annum. At 50kmh, that takes 20 million hours. At 30kmh, 33 million hours. We lost 13 million hours to gain 2.1 million hours, for a net loss of 11 million hours.

        1. I mention third parties for a reason. Pedestrians are having risks imposed on them by vehicles and are essentially third parties. Typically in a situation where one group is imposing risks on a third party, it is not acceptable to weight the imposers benefits directly against the disbenefits to the imposee, particularly for life safety risks.

          In these situations it is common practice to weight the risks to the imposee by a factor of 10 (as a practical means of implementing the ALARP principle). So the costs to the imposer would have to be greater than 10 times the benefits to the imposee for a proposed safety initiative to not be worth it.

        2. All of this assumes there’s a significant benefit in allowing 50 rather than 30.

          I think that’s a fallacy. On a motorway or a rural highway, allowing higher speed will allow you to travel faster. But here we’re mostly talking about urban streets. Usually you’re not going to be much faster at all, as you spend most of your time waiting at crossings or traffic signals anyway.

          Urban traffic is also a lot more chaotic than highway traffic. Chaos and high speed don’t mix well. Lower speed has benefits for car traffic as well. You have to stop often, which will be a less abrupt manoeuvre. If you have to give at a road, you’ll only need a smaller gap to enter that road. I think traffic signals also will need less ‘margin’ between the different green phases.

          You’re also assuming all those 1 billion VKT happen on urban roads. Many will happen on motorways and arterials, which probably will not get a 30 kph speed limit. And I also would be very surprised if that time loss from slowing down is not dwarfed by the time lost in congestion.

        3. Exactly, the speed limit doesn’t dictate the average speed/travel time etc. the road/traffic conditions do. With a speed limit of 30 you will spend less time speeding up and slowing down traffic will flow smoother. On a congested inner city street I would be surprised if there was much change in average journey times.

        4. Your calculation is way out, because it makes the common mistake of confusing maximum and average speeds. Reducing maximum speeds (speed limits) in the urban environment tends to increase journey times by very little because of the varied nature of urban driving – there aren’t that many places where it is possible to maintain the maximum permitted speed for any distance.

          And there’s another time factor – the faster the maximum speed, the more difficult it is to cross the road, so the longer people wanting to cross will have to wait.

          Put these real-world considerations into your equations, and a very different picture would emerge.

        5. Good point,
          My Honda hybrid has a trip meter that shows average speed as the product of “distance covered” / “minutes driving” – calculated since last petrol tank top up when the tripmeter resets.

          Generally this gives an average speed over a 600+km full tank range around Auckland of between 25 and 29 km/hr.

          This includes about 30% motorway driving and the balance in normal street level traffic.

          So the average speed I get even with motorway driving is at best 30 km/hr average.

          So dropping the maximum on city streets won’t drop my average speed much, because the main reason why the average is so low on my car now, is the sheer amount of time spent in the car but not actually moving e.g. waiting at lights or stuck in motorway tailbacks.

          So a surprisingly large amount of time is wasted that way.
          ATs own metric assume a “maximum average speed” on Auckland arterials is 35 kim/hr in their “lane productivity analysis” metrics they calculate.

        6. Greg N? do you notice any difference in average speed during the school holidays?
          There doesn’t seem to ba any thoughts to addressing how children get to school, or evidence of change in the bicycling technology, are they likely to be a factor (especially in the Auckland context)?

        7. Ted,
          Yes school holidays increase my average speed by about 5 kmh/hr, which doesn’t sound like much but is actually due to the huge amount in time saved not waiting a lights.
          Millions have been spent to get a smaller average speed increase on roads.

          However, because my tripmeter gets reset only at fuel-ups (although I can manually reset it anytime I like, I normally leave it to do so automatically), which is when the numbers, averages etc all go to zero and start anew.
          [Trip meter B keeps a running total which is never reset manually, so I should check it see what my long term average speed is over the last 10,000 km].

          Normally I will fuel up either side of the school holidays (I fill up completely (35 litres) about every 3-4 weeks). Seldom do the school holidays match up exactly with refueling to know exactly how much impact school holidays do actually have on each “tank full”.

          But in summer when schools out I will fill up 2 or 3 times over that period and I notice the averages are definitely up then, even though my driving patterns don’t change that much.
          And its a 2 part thing:
          1. Not waiting so much at lights (if at all)
          2. Less traffic on roads means you can maintain your even speed of 50kmhr, no need to slow down as much due to traffic

          If were to tank up with petrol, then do a big motorway drive (as sometimes happens), the average speed will be well over 50 km/hr for that part of the journey.
          As soon as you hit the normal streets, the average plummets to under 30kph pretty quickly.

          And yes all modes like walking, cycling and PT have big decongestion benefits for road users.

        8. There is less traffic during school holidays because a highly disproportionate number of parents take their leave at the same time. School traffic is only part of it, arguably the larger part is some significant percentage of the working population not going no to work at the same time.

        9. Your calculation appears to assume that extra time spent en route is equivalent to time lost by being dead. Also that a 50km/h speed limit means you can actually travel at 50 for your entire journey. It’s not obvious by any means that a lower speed limit in the city would mean radically longer journey times.

          Turn it round the other way. Deaths are unacceptable. However, being able to get places faster is of benefit to people. Therefore, the speed limit should allow cars to go as fast as possible consistent with not killing people. Turns out that sweet spot is around 30km/h. (warning, PDF)

        10. Yes, the risk to pedestrians (and cyclists) increases steeply above 30kph, and because of shorter reaction times and longer stopping distances, the number of accidents also increases. It’s a vicious double-whammy, and it’s imposed disproportionately on children and the elderly. If there’s a benefit in speeding through urban streets I’m struggling to see it, and speeding drivers have no right to claim this small benefit to the cost of others.

        11. So what is the optimum speed limit?
          100km/hr through town would get people around pretty quick, and no one would be stupid enough to walk anywhere so there would be no pedestrian loss of life.
          Imagine the time savings we could make at 200 km/hr! Got to be worth a few thousand deaths?

        12. ‘So let’s say we save 5 lives’ – given the demonstrated evidence elsewhere of reducing Urban default speeds, I’d be extremely disappointed to only get that few fatalities saved. Throw in similar benefits of reducing inappropriate 100k speed limits and you’re likely to save over 50 lives/yr at least. You’re also ignoring the thousands of injury crashes saved or reduced in severity; we put a dollar value on those in economic evaluation too.

        13. > Now, let’s say we reduce speed from 50 to 30. Drivers do 1 billion VKT per annum. At 50kmh, that takes 20 million hours. At 30kmh, 33 million hours. We lost 13 million hours to gain 2.1 million hours, for a net loss of 11 million hours.

          This assumes that time spent driving is exactly equivalent to time spent dead, which is patently false. Other than perhaps being horribly tortured*, there’s nothing I’d like less than to be dead. I suspect this goes for most people.

          Driving isn’t nearly that bad. Indeed, with music, podcasts, being able to talk to passengers, and the general joy of the thing, most of the time driving is nearly as good as whatever other crap I’d be doing at the margin instead. Possibly dicking around on the Internet.

          Some people even drive for fun, or at least find it just as interesting as their marginal free time. For some people, it’s the only opportunity they have to have time alone. They may actually derive some positive benefit from time spent driving. And in any case, it’s certainly far, far better than being dead, on an hour-for-hour basis.

          If the average hour spent not-driving is worth 100 utils to me, and the average hour spent dead is worth 0 utils, I’d say an hour spent driving would be worth at least 99 utils. Plus, consider the third-party costs: my family, friends, and partner would all be very sad if I died, and this would hugely impact their quality of life. None of them would care much if I spent some time driving.

          Redoing your numbers, assuming my 99% figure is representative, and changing nothing else, we’d be losing only 130,000 quality-adjusted life-hours to gain 2,100,000 quality-adjusted life-hours from avoided premature death alone, plus plenty more from injuries that were avoided or made less serious. That’s a BCR of at least 16, which is pretty bloody good.

          (* and that’s assuming we don’t believe in a literal Hell, in which case being dead and horrible torture could even be the same thing!).

    2. “In the future, we will be able to set speed limits below 50km/hr and kill less people” – wow, I can’t wait for these amazing technology changes that will allow that!

  5. Who do I sue if I’m hit by a driverless car? What happens if the driverless car is owned by a global corporation based in a remote Eastern European country? What happens to us all if terrorists hack the system and all driverless cars collide with eachother (or pedestrians) at a given time. Hmmmm… I think I’ve got a book deal coming my way.

    But seriously, I think we’ve all learnt that it’s almost pointless trying to predict the future. 30 years from now we might all be ‘beamed up’ to wherever we want to go, as seen in Star Trek 50 years ago.

    1. You can’t sue. We have ACC in NZ. No one is at fault for accidents and the cars won’t break the law on purpose, so imaginary problem solved.

      There are many ill-informed perceptions of problems with driverless cars. We are probably decades away from completely driverless cars, but we already have semi-autonomous cars on the market right now. We are killing ourselves by the hundreds without driverless cars. They can only reduce the road toll. Hacking terrorists are the least of our problems.

      1. I was taking more of a global view when I said “who do I sue?” since it will be an issue in the US and they are leading this tech. Although I think the idea of driverless cars is exciting (as do many) there are a plethora of issues that come with it; and I think they will take many years to resolve. I suspect initially that there will have to be a transitional period with exclusive lanes for driverless cars in order to keep them separated from ‘regular’ vehicles. Yes, I know they promise to have multiple safety features to deal with human error, but human nature being what it is as soon as something goes wrong there will be hell to pay.

  6. Regional airport commuting, huh? I don’t really see that happening, beyond the main trunk routes and regional big smoke trips that are already pretty popular. Passenger volumes for most of those small airports have been pretty flat over the last 10 years or so. The prices are prohibitively expensive for regular travel, and i can’t think of anything that would cause them to fall. There are no notable tech advances, and low population growth in the regional locations. People can commute by air, but who has the time or money? And wouldn’t this tiny niche be one of the first things to go with increased telecommuting, which we’re often told is round the corner?

    1. Even if you can get from a regional town to Auckland Airport fairly quickly, I think the south western motorway will be pretty jammed by all of those autonomous cars getting everyone to the city (there is no talk of Airport rail, etc).

    2. Yes a significant issue with the perennial ‘we’ll all be flying’ future is land airport access: The flight to Mangere may some how become trivial cost (though hard to see how), the journey from there to the rest of the city will still be crowded and delaying. I (still) don’t buy this fantasy.

      Some man at the ministry’s personal wet dream. After all; where is the credible evidence for the change in the physics and economics of flight and urban travel?

      1. Yep, I agree its bunk.

        Its WAY more likely for there to be a truly major change in the availability of a truly 3D immersive tele-presense technology that will make it quite unnecessary to travel to a place to be able to experience and partipicate in it. You would therefore be able to “be at the office” without the need to physically be there while still being able to participate as if you were.

        And I’m not talking about the current shitty technology we have masquerading as teleconferencing or virtual meetings like we have today.
        It will be as revolutionary when it comes as smartphones have been this last decade.

        That will make the idea of travelling to work unnecessary for many of us. Yes we will still travel, but it may well be for leisure activities, the kind we can’t experience remotely, rather than the drudgery of day to day work.

        I reckon that future has more chance of arriving than the “driverless cars for Africa” wank we get now.

    3. The people north of the Mungamuka’s are in need of aerial commuting to hospital appointments in Whangerei and Auckland. Needs to be happening now as part of the one way bridge replacements for Northland..

  7. Efficient public transport is the key issue for Auckland (and Wellington). It needs to be addressed immediately with the CRL, airport rail and North Shore rail and isthmus light rail. That base will serve us for 100 years with updating as necessary.
    It will also serve as a clear beacon as to the best places for housing intensification and will reduce the needless bickering and heat over the unitary plan currently occurring.
    So Minister Bridges please reform your Ministry now, so that a rational solution is available to Aucklander’s for a livable and hopefully handsome city.

    1. Of course not, like the MoT’s business case for CRL did for parking costs, MoT assumes that both oil and CBD parking prices will remain at record low levels for the next 30 years.

      And the only thing standing in the way of this future nirvana?

      1. Why on earth not? Every time the price goes up people go out and find more of the stuff. In the mid 70’s they claimed it would all be gone by now, yet there is more than ever. (Just think how easy it will be once the ice caps are gone.)

        1. It would have to be pretty cheap. I intend to be charging my electric car from a solar panel for free in 30 years time – or maybe 10 years time…

        2. I don’t remember any one saying we would run out of oil just that we would peak, the “limits of growth” put out by the Club of Rome has proved to be pretty close on it’s predictions on the business as usual scenario, convectional oil peaked about 10 years ago only fracking, tar sands and deep water oil produced the extra, all with much lower energy returned on energy invested, we took the easy stuff first but those days are coming to a close and now with climate change as a consequence of our actions we need to cut our use and change our ways, being able to travel in a personal vehicle doesn’t make us efficient, just lazy.

        3. umm, climate change? It’s not a matter of availability or price- we have to leave the stuff in the ground.
          Even the “target” of 2 degrees warming leaves us with maybe 6m of sea level rise in 300 years ( ). Future generations are not going to look back kindly on our choices.

  8. A quote from the Q&A section:

    Q:Some of the ideas in the visions are quite radical. What are they based
    A:The visions are based on extensive institutional knowledge, online research,
    environmental scanning and our own thinking.

    Seems that they decided not to provide any references, any rationale as to how they have had these “visions” but have provided a load of slightly relevant stock images instead. Woeful. A triumph of presentation over content, of marketing over critical thinking. How do they imagine that this will stimulate debate when they haven’t shown their working? Simon Bridges must be very proud. I am actually angry at the infantile standard presented and the underlying assumption that this is “engaging” with the public.

    1. This would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad. They definitely need to take their “environmental scanner” back to Dick Smith and ask for a refund.

  9. “will see road deaths… drop from 300 to 30”

    That is still 30 too many. The last time a passenger on a New Zealand passenger train died was on 25th of August 1993.
    Since then there has been 9526 road fatalities.

    Despicable really that the MOT and NZTA invest in a mode that kills hundreds every year and yet passes it off as a sacrifice for greater economic productivity.
    Why don’t we just leave driving to the trained and paid professionals?

    1. “Why don’t we just leave driving to the trained and paid professionals?”
      Like taxi drivers? Bus drivers? Because they have accidents too.
      Are you proposing we ban all private vehicles? Do you envisage a utopia where the people all walk or cycle to their destination and if that destination is too far away they catch a cab or a bus or a train? I’ve driven for 30+ years and haven’t injured or killed anyone yet so I’m not sure why the state should decide I can’t drive my car anymore.
      Of course zero deaths is the goal but we need to be reasonable on how we get there. Maybe if we had even stricter drink drive laws we could reduce the road toll further ie 0% alcohol limit and severe financial penalties (loss of vehicle) for any infractions. The police say speed is often a factor so maybe we could look there too.

      1. Ok, I was half joking about that last line, but this is where I think driver-less technology can help. I’m not thinking total autonomy, but more like ‘passive driving’, where it is impossible to break the speed limit and you simply turn the wheel fully to one side while the car drives itself around the roundabout or changes lanes on the motorway safely.

        In the mean time it’s quite hard to ‘accidentally’ use a phone while driving, so I think tougher penalties would help. Also, if someone is not confident driving, investing in other modes means they wouldn’t have to drive everywhere, plus all of the emissions coming out of the backs of cars would be gone, reducing climate change.

      2. What makes you think someone who has had a drink but is under the current alcohol limit is any more likely to kill someone than anyone else. You would hardly be impaired at the current limit. They dropped the limit last year and this years fatality rate looks worse than any other recent year, it was supposedly going to save 40 lives.
        It’s all too easy to make assumptions on how to save lives, but evidence is a good start before banning things. My wife got hit the other day by a lady who was too busy looking at her crying kid. Should we ban kids from cars too?

        1. No, but if that driver was properly trained in how to drive they would know that when driving you have to focus on the road. If there is a problem with the child they need to pull over and attend to it.

    2. “The last time a passenger on a New Zealand passenger train died was on 25th of August 1993.”

      The last time somebody was killed in a railway accident was in September 2015, an invalid in a wheelchair.

      Despicable really

      1. “The last time a PASSENGER on a…”

        I meant if more emphasis is put on increasing rail services and patronage, less people would die from car accidents because people would drive less.
        I know there has been many incidents of level crossing accidents, trespassers and the like since then.

        These are avoidable accidents which still need to be addressed, however I was referring to waiting on the platform, getting on a train and being killed in a horrific accident, occurring because of a fault or negligence by the rail operator. The 1993 incident was a level crossing accident, sadly killing 3 people by the fault of the truck driver failing to notice the crossing alarms. Going further back, the last incident that resulted in a fatality because of operator negligence was on the 18th of August 1981, when a Silver Fern railcar missed a speed restriction sign.

        Every avoidable death is one too many, but the MOT shrugging off the 300 or so deaths that occur every year on our roads does seem a bit cold-hearted.

  10. I’m interested in how the link between urban form and available transport options is discussed and linkages to other policy areas.

    The potential wellness benefits of encouraging mode shift are normally under publicised and when added to the reduction in congestion which aides the movement of goods and services, mode shift seems like a better strategy where possible.

    This has the potential to reduce capital spend by utilising current infrastructure better rather than building new infrastructure which is less glamorous than cutting ribbons but arguably more important for long term fiscal sustainability.

  11. Where does this leave the second Waitemata Harbour road crossing – just to take the most egregious example of politically-driven business as usual megaprojects?

    Maybe the futurists should have a chat to the people who actually make the on the ground decisions that determine what the future will look like.

    1. Bike Auckland will finally convince Auckland to follow Amsterdam in creating the solution to congestion – the Bastion Point to North Head dyke.

  12. Yes we could have airships carting stuff big non time critical stuff around. But its more likely that such cargos will travel by road or rail using robotic trucks or trains.

    Speaking of which, surely it would be easier to imagine and quicker deliver a fully robotic train system, than a platoon of robotic trucks?

    Given that the railway network is already designed with limited access, and the trains pretty much can drive themselves, you could easily replace a driver with a computer.
    The only thing needed is to beef up the level crossings so that incursions into the track are less likely than now.

    But this is do-able now, and would deliver real benefits for substantial savings to the country than some future delivered in 30 years time maybe.

    1. I think the advantage of robotic trucks is they can go directly from origin to destination. With trains you need a truck to go from origin to train, then transfer the load to the train, then train goes to closest stop to destintation, then transfer load to truck, then truck goes to destination

      1. You mean exactly how all those line haul trucks pick up and deliver door to door now right Jimbo?
        What happens now is local courier vans do the local pick up and delivery to a central depot in each location.

        Then the line haul trucks are loaded with cargo, in the reverse order of how it will be dropped off, then the line haul truck sets off.

        Sounds a lot like of how a railway works.

        You’ll see driverless trains well before driverless line haul trucks believe me.

    2. If we have driverless cars or trucks, then we wouldn’t need trains. We’d have the cars and trucks drive on the rails.

      1. If we had flying cars we wouldn’t need roads either.

        Doesn’t matter whether the cars or trucks are driverless, if they run on rails, they’re a train.

        in any case, most trucks wouldn’t fit through many of the existing rail tunnels (cars would), so presuming that putting trucks on rails is as simple as concreting it as MoT do is naive to put it mildly.

        And as I said above, true driverless trains are going to be possible much sooner than the driverless truck and car fantasy future which will likely need a dedicated (and duplicated) roadway to operate on.

        1. Something that could drive on and off rail, would get most of the advantages of rail (efficiency) and road (convenience). A driverless vehicle with access to full road and rail network info could schedule the most efficient journey.

        2. A Jack of all trades vehicle? But a master of none?. Thats a fatally compromised solution. For a start unless it can platoon on the rails its not solving any problem.
          Then you have to have easy ways to get these vehicles to self- assemble and dis-assemble from the platoon. Little point in replicating a platoon of SOV cars down a single rail line.
          Better to be used for freight and heavy loads.

          But what about the tunnels & bridges – they’ll all have to be expanded to fit these trucks in them, and of course fully protected against the overhead electric lines just above waiting to deliver 25Kv AC to the vehicle and its load if its over height.

          Could happen, but not likely to in 30+ years without a real mind shift in the MoT and its advisers thinking.

  13. I would be interested to know if the MOT predicted the current situation 30 years ago?:

    “In the future, people will have serious health concerns due to lack of exercise from using point to point transport. People will start to walk and cycle more”

    “In the future, people will have mini computers in their pockets that will allow them to easily catch public transport. While they use public transport they can use the mini computer to entertain themselves. Because of this, the amount of people using cars will decrease dramatically”

    Anyone remember those predictions?

    1. Drive by Botany town centre and look at the roads around you. The width of those roads is just weird, even if you’re used to driving around on the North Shore. I think I counted 8 or 9 lanes at one intersection.

      I imagine the underlying prediction when that was designed was something in the lines of “Once the road network is completed we will finally be able to drive our car from door to door, anywhere, any time, without suffering congestion. So convenient.”

      But as we all know, achieving that turned out to be prohibitively expensive.

    2. Any predictions they made 30 years ago, immediately followed a oil shock (carless days were not that long ago then), and cheap Jap import cars had yet to arrive en-masse and change the landscape literally and figuratively.

      So they could only see a low VKT future for NZ, limited by: expensive cars which meant 1 per household not 1+ per person, and with limited (and quite possibly) rationing of petrol as the norm.

      They also truly believed that the motorway system they were then still building in Auckland would last with enough capacity for 50+ years.

    3. No a fundamental rule of modelling is to never test it against reality. That would be like asking climate modellers to see if their model predicted the end of the last ice age.

      1. bullshit.

        First, here’s some simple graphs showing the correlation between various factors which contribute to climatic change over the last 200 odd years:

        Second, research shows climate models to match the data relatively well, and the error rate is being progressively reduced as our understanding increases

        Or here’s the article itself:

  14. I see this poll on the MoT site about Freight movement in NZ.
    In which they ask this question:

    “What do you think will have the biggest impact on freight movement in New Zealand?”

    The possible answers are:

    Bigger Trucks
    Platooning trucks
    Unmanned aerial vehicle deliveries
    Integration of transport modes.

    And guess which one is the most voted for option? the Integration of transport modes answer – by a country mile.

    Yes its off a low base (under 50 “votes” recorded), but not everyone is swallowing this “MOAR Trucks on MOAR ROADS” turkey whole any more it seems.

      1. “What about fasterr trains as an answer?”

        (Beep) I’m sorry I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid you can’t do that.
        That is not an MOT-approved option.
        Please select an MOT-approved vision option (beep)

        (With apologies to Arthur C Clarke)

      2. As MFD said, trains don’t feature in MoT’s future, because they can’t ever go faster than they do now. You know law of physics and all that, and anyway they’re not futuristic enough!

        These other options all allow *much faster* delivery of the precious cargo who wants boring old slow trains eh?

        “Trains? Not our future.” says MoT.

  15. the chart of predicted VKT reminds me of the saying that the definition of inanity is keeping on doing the same thing expecting a different outcome, surely wishful thinking

  16. One of the talks was on the changes from his grandmothers time over the last century from the horse to the car he missed out the cyclist who had an important influence on the state of the roads with rail being instrumental in the demise of horse drawn transport. he also mentioned putting a man on the moon and how technology will propelled us forward into some wonderful future but most of the achievements were pre 1970 all we have done since are minor tweaks not all to the good.

    Up to the 1970s we were finding more oil than we could use, things have changed in the last 15 years and without abundant cheap energy we will be going nowhere so planing on going nowhere would make more sense and take us down a road more sustainable on a finite planet, think more local trade and a transport system not dependent on imported fuel, rail systems that use steel not concrete and bitumen, you can’t recycle concrete but hydro electricity will run a furnace to recast rails with little CO2 with walking and cycling being even better.

  17. My prediction for thirty years time is we wont have much of a rail network left outside of the main urban areas and regretting allowing the once virtually nationwide to fall into disuse and closure.

    1. I believe it’s used for forecasting revenues into NLTF and hence, to some degree, determines amount of revenue available for transport investment in the future. i.e. quite important :).

  18. On the one hand they’ve conflated personal transport and vehicle travel, since the plan is for people to be driven around by autonomous vehicles, and yet on the other the video claims that there will be fewer cars on the road.

    The second claim suggests that more people will take transit in 30 years, and indeed the video says that transport agencies will ‘intuitively help us as they learn our travel patterns’ just as some stick people are being picked up by a bus and a train. But I understood that the best-performing transit systems trade (spatial) flexibility for reliability and frequency; in other words the goal of autonomous vehicles contradicts the goal of transit (transit as a means of getting cars off the road versus as a social service that goes everywhere, sometimes). What am I missing?

    Also this whole collection of slideshows and videos looks like something out of an episode of Utopia (Australian show; watch it)!

  19. As it continues becoming ever less acceptable to discriminate against a range of minority groups and lifestyles, the base urge to mock “otherness” is being channeled into fewer and fewer areas. So it should be no surprise that many people prefer a car based monoculture – even if it means proposing fanciful solutions to unresolvable problems

  20. “Freight vehicles, just like other vehicles, could be self-driving and drive together in platoons – saving space, energy use and the need for extra
    infrastructure. These vehicles will improve productivity hugely. Trials with platooned trucks, for example, show up to 25 percent savings in fuel.”

    While here in the present moving freight from road to diesel-hauled rail shows a 75% descrease in fuel. No new technology needed.

    “The challenge with these road trains is they will probably require dedicated
    freight lanes”

    Why MOT? You stated earlier that these platooned trucks of yours would save space and elsewhere you stated that all vehicles would be autonomous…so why would they need dedicated freight lanes?

    “We think New Zealand has unique opportunities in this space.
    The rail network, outside of Auckland and Wellington, already provides a
    separated corridor that could be transformed into a high-speed freight network.The space already allocated means we can potentially be an early mover when
    the right technology comes along.”

    Unique opportunities? No other countries have railways?..or is it that no other countries would be foolish enough to let this happen?

    “Imagine the productivity gains for our supply chains, and the avoided costs, by not having to extend the road network to accommodate these systems.”

    Why do we have to imagine it? Why can’t you explain how/why you think there are productivity gains? Why the straw man of avoided costs in building more roads when it seems the technology doesn’t require them and the savings can be achieved by putting freight on existing railways or, heaven forbid, investing in improvements to the rail system. Has the trucking lobby turned heads (again) at the MOT with their special pleading?

    “We are not advocating we close rail transport in New Zealand, but there may be whole new ways we could utilise existing rail networks and corridors.”

    Oh MOT…I think your nose is growing.

    “Trucks carrying freight between cities will use a rich blend of biofuels or will have gas turbine powered engines, halving the carbon emissions from each truck.”

    Gas turbine powered engines? WTF? I guess they mean they will be powered by gas turbines and that as a consequence they will be twice as fuel efficient. How is that going to happen? Gas turbines have been around a long time so are Carnot efficency limitations going to be suspended somehow? Crazy new ultra-high temperature materials? Why can these whacky new turbines not be used in railway locomotives? How about sharing some of the insights that you got from trawling the interweb, MOT?

    “Tracking technology and a self-managing transport system will match deliveries with system availability and there will no longer be empty loads”.

    Really MOT? Backhauling smart phones in concrete mixer trucks, potatoes in that sodium hydroxide tanker, aggregrate on a logging truck? How is that going to work?

    “Quiet electric autonomous trucks will change the face of local delivery, making the use of roads at night possible”

    I was unaware that it is currently impossible. Maybe I was imagining those tanker deliveries many years ago when I was working nightshift in a gas station in Houston.

    “New Zealand is unique in that a large amount of our electricity – around 80 percent – is generated from renewable sources”

    It’s not unique at all in that respect. Back in 2012 there were 31 countries with a greater proportion of their electricity generated from renewables. It didn’t take me much googling to get this result so why, MOT, can’t you? Why are you using taxpayer funds to foist your half-arsed, opinionated BS on us, the taxpayers?

    “Ships will capture energy en route using solar and wind technologies.”

    Done any simple calculations on the solar one MOT? There for decoration. As for the wind – yes. They are called sailing ships. Quite popular at one stage I believe.

    I could go on but I am getting bored illustrating how poor this MOT effort is. The worry is that they are advising government ministers.

    1. Nice work MFD. Really this is a disappointing effort by people paid to think all day about these things, and trained to evaluate them intelligently. The ongoing prejudice against rail in our transport institutions reaches almost comical heights in this document; ‘connected freight vehicles on the rail corridor’ already exists and are called trains; it hardly needs some magical future technology to make it work. But how we invest in and cost our freight systems certainly requires new thinking but I don’t see much here.

      Astonishingly weak work in many places.

      1. Disappointing barely begins to describe it. It isn’t so much a prejudice against rail as a pathological obsession with roads. I have been trawling through Simon Bridges’ speeches recently and it seems we are not finished with longer and heavier trucks (next up: 25m long trucks). He also points out to the trucking industry how “The travel avoided by switching to HPMVs has saved your industry up to $120 million over the last financial year. That is an excellent example of what we can achieve when (sic) better regulation and investment.” (Maybe they should use some of those savings to pay their way on local roads).

        He is also claiming fuel and emissions savings. These are based on bogus “trials” and deliberate obfuscation of the results. NZTA’s economic evaluation manual, for example, assumes CO2 savings proportional to the number of avoided trips (ie the assumption is that the increased weight of a truck incurs no increase in fuel consumption). Remarkable….absolutely remarkable how economics trumps physics at the NZTA.

        The increase in productivity with these vehicles is primarily labour productivity and current work on “platooning” trucks involves a driver in the lead vehicle. The following trucks are effectively trailers. Thus the further increase in labour productivity and more savings for the trucking companies. they know, however, that such configurations would be unworkable on our roads in the near future ergo the push to seize the rail routes and turn them into roads for their exclusive use.

    2. Agree 100% MFD, its a [small] worry that their are advising Ministers on this.

      What is truly worrying though, is that many of the current governments ministers are lapping this warmed up dog shit up like its the best news ever. [Grosser, Bridges, Joyce, English, Key]

      The comments they make and have been making, show that they are totally believing in this bullshit and they in turn expect us to eat it too, because they’re told by MoT that it has “got to be good for us”.

      MoT is rapidily becoming the MoP – Ministry of Procrastination – keeping the status quo in Transport as long as possible.

  21. American roads are so different form New Zealand roads, that I really wonder if their rules of auto-driving will work here at all. American roads are generally straight, grid-like, wide, and delineated. Compare that to some of the smaller, windier roads in New Zealand (like Mt Pleasant Road in Aro Valley in Wellington – in some places the road is only 12 feet wide (for a two way street with parking). Personally, I would not like to be in a driverless car negotiating that street – nor would I like being in a driverless car and having to take over and manouvre up a street like that, if you didn’t drive regularly. Also, given that NZ is always a decade or two behind the times (average car fleet age 13 years?) and this vision of driverless cars is simply not going to happen in NZ by 20130. Doesn’t take a genius to figure that out.

  22. Is there any information available on VKT buy the type of vehicle eg Commercial vehicles to private, or say trucks and cars. Can RUC provide that info. Also PT km’s separated as well as they would move considerably more people particularly down the northern busway htan one single car (and there numbers have gone up).
    The bridge vehicle counts are always interesting.

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