A better idea than Len’s stupid trains


Not only will autonomous cars see the end of out-dated transport systems like rail, but will also seriously impact things like parking. I have always said that the ideal public transport system is one that has little vehicles that pull up outside your house, take you to where you want tot go then disappear until you need them again to go somewhere else. We kind of already have that system, they are called taxis. But imagine if all those taxis were autonomous and cheap?

…every metropolitan area in the United States contains many, many more parking spaces than automobiles. When you’re at work, the space allocated for your vehicle at home sits there empty. When you’re at home, the space allocated for your vehicle at the office sits empty. Malls build parking to accommodate demand during peak hours, and the spaces mostly sit empty off-peak. But if the cars could drive around without a human pilot, there’d be no need for such lavish supplies of vehicle storage. In principle, a metro area could get by with fewer than one parking space per car since even at minimum-demand times a nonzero quantity of vehicles would be in use. That’s probably extreme, but right now depending on how you count we have somewhere between three and eight parking spaces per car. If the cars don’t need to sit idly waiting for you until you want to leave (imagine a world of cheap, ubiquitous taxis) that number is going to become totally ridiculous. After exploding for about 60 years, the torrent of parking construction is going to halt very suddenly and then start shifting into reverse.

Ironically it could make silly rail lines useful:

Commuter rail stations, for example, will no longer need to choose between park-and-ride and transit-oriented development models. Every station will be a little TOD neighborhood, and people from further away will get dropped off and picked up at the station without needing to worry about storing a car there.

It would be far more logical for Auckland COuncil to invest in the technologies and infrastructure that make autonomous cars possible than in rail.


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  • Le Sphincter

    State operated taxis ???.  What a great idea
    Best check out this web site 
    Stupid anti-rail arguements

    • pidge

       Could hardly be worse than State run trains…

      • Le Sphincter

        They are run by a private operator – French of course. manifique

    • parorchestia

      There are many business models to ensure such a system is run efficiently.  Rail is Victorian technology that is not only expensive to run it has horrendous capital costs and it distorts traffic flows. It is also very difficult to provide reasonable coverage.   If we didn’t have a rail system we never would build one now.
      Rail is only profitable on the Midland and Taranaki lines at present.  Auckland and Wellington urban transport is only kept going by huge subsidies made by the rest of NZ, which doesn’t make a good case for persisting with rail.  
      Let’s look for more cost effective alternatives.

  • John Q Public

    3-8 spaces per car. How many are cripple spaces per cripple? I’m guessing about 23.

  • Bob

    Wasn’t Colin Craig the Conservative pushing this line?

    • Sheppy

      Colin Craigs suggestion of a system of small lightweight monorail pods that go directly to the station without stopping made a lot of sense. Can’t comment on the rest of his policies but that one would have improved Auckland no end for less money than Len’s train set.

  • Mediaan

    Utterly ridiculous to argue that a Council should provide adequate cars for a million people. Nope, I’m behind trains, if they are for workers getting to work. The biggest income pressure on an ordinary family trying to earn an honest living is keeping the family car mended and on the road.

  • Mediaan

    As for taxis, the Singapore model is good. It is a limited area, true, but there are always five taxis near when you need them. And they don’t cost much, so people use them.

    They achieve this as follows:
    1. Government ownership of the taxi licence and car, and Government keeps them well-maintained,,
    2. A registered driver rents the taxi and licence per day, if he chooses to work that day,
    3. The driver has to pay only for fuel plus the car rent of around $45,
    4. The fares are regulated,
    5. There are vicious taxes on car ownership, car entry into high use areas, and other private car aspects.

  • Bawaugh

    I would rather run the risk with the trains rather than your auto taxi.

    Because the train is a proven technology. 

    Your Auto taxis are un proven and could cost a lot more than it may appear. I smell a while elephant here. 

    • bristol

       There would have been a time when the train was an unproven technology.

      “The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.”
      Quote by Charles Kettering

    • Bawaugh

      This is technology only in prototype stage. If it works then yes let us introduce it, but until it is commercially feasible we should not have councils spending large amounts of money on this un-proven technology.

  • BR

    Suburban commuter trains are a great idea, if the only alternative is horse drawn carriage.