The car will always be king in Auckland

Policy Parrot says:

And here is the reason why you won’t be seeing much advancement of public transport in Auckland over the next 40 years.

Electric cars.

There is absolutely no denying the car industry is the master of adaptation when forced by laws and by public demand.

And the car industry are survivors.

Firstly – in a world full of public servants and green Taliban types all expressing desire for public transport in modern cities its of no surprise that Auckland Council politicians are easily convinced about trains and tunnels.

Expensive train sets are easy targets for politicking off. The media gets a huge woody over expenditure. The masses are easily excited about new things in a city. People like progress. Politicians promise it in the form of big ticket items.

Accompanying the public transport mantra is the call to make the motorcar extinct.

Urban designers want motorways converted to lofty bike ways or destroyed and replaced with train lines ranked with apartment buildings.

Green ranting loonies want everyone to ride bikes or skip to work wearing hemp suits and eating home grown turnips.

Council officers want a freebie ride to work. 

Others want someone else to resolve their woes and carry them like babies from place to place – Free of course – whilst they whinge about car ownership being expensive and having to get a warrant if fitness (such a pain).

They all believe trains are the answer.

Peak oil is cried from bell towers along with assertions of cars becoming too expensive. This appeals to the aforementioned groups.

But because nobody gives a crap about the cost of the future they mostly lean all over green credentials as the overarching reason public transport is good and cars are bad.

The so called evil tyranny of the car is blamed for pollution and congestion and a dying planet and global warming and dying owls of Mongolia.

Transport blogs to policy planners to politicians all lament the car and promote rail as ‘the future’.

Aggh no it’s not. Public transport is and always will be the poor cousin.

It’s expensive and typically by example from elsewhere in the world it always fails to generate the passenger numbers to be economically viable.

The future is the car.

Unlike trains, ferries, and trams which travel point to point a car can go from anywhere to anywhere. It’s flexible and we decide how, when and why. Nothing can beat the freedom a car provides to us.

Whether second hand or new a car is also relatively affordable. One can buy a perfectly good second hand car for less than $5000 that will last years. That’s cheap compared to that new flatscreen smart TV you bought last month or that trip to Raro.

So will the car go the way of the dodo? Nope. Never.

Will peak oil ever occur? Not if the shale revolution keeps growing and especially not if the oil companies decide to tell us about the vast tracts of oil reserve they own or can develop but won’t because there isn’t need too – right now. So much oil one need not worry for centuries. Oh and it’s dropping in price.

Car manufacturers are survivors. In the last 8 years or so car manufacturers have produced cars that sip fuel so lightly they virtually never need a filling up. This Parrot drives a new Euro diesel turbo that easily achieves 6 litres per 100km around town – and it’s a big motor. Hybrid and electric hybrid is mainstream in most brands.

And then there is electric.

Old Brownlee makes a visit to Tesla and is impressed. He ought to be because if one goes to California one will be blown away by the number of Tesla cars driving around. Everyone has one. And if they don’t they are on the order list to buy.

Electric is in its infancy but its growing and fast. And it produces no emissions. Imagine that. Clean green cars.

Given that the biggest reason to oppose cars is the environmental card it is without doubt that the masses in this country will embrace electric like they do their children.

And they will be able to use the excellent motorways that will continue to be built (cost benefits are outstanding) and travel anywhere to anywhere.

Without a reason to bitch about cars what reasons will exist to promote rail?

Auckland is a car society. It’s always been a city dominated by cars. And it always will be a car city. We love cars. If you don’t believe it look at the stats. More Audi’s per head of capita than any other city in the world. Cars are part of us and our blood.

Public transport is slowly infiltrating but will never have the critical mass to change this city.

And it’s awfully expensive to deliver and run. That proposed downtown tunnel alone accounts for over 10 years worth of public transport spend and it benefits no more users than already use the rail.

It took 10 years to get electrification and longer for the electric rolling stock on current lines and at a cost of $1 billion. That’s slow and more expensive than the new motorways promised by National.

At the rate of expansion demonstrated by affordability/spend rail will take hundreds and hundreds of years to be expanded into parts of our city before it benefits anyone.

And quietly the electric car or its hybrid cousin (ever so frugal on the juice) will continue to advance, be produced and be sold to a hungry Auckland public who want to decide for themselves where they go and how.

Brownlee turning up at Tesla is interesting and this Parrot says its a clever subtle message.

This Parrot agrees with that message – even if unsaid – cars will dominate the future, even if they have to adapt to do so. And electric cars provide a rational solution that suits our preferences.

Car is king. And always will be.

So lets stop pretending there is any tangible threat to cars and ask ourselves if we can live with a city that is dominated with cars and motorways in the future. If cars are clean and smart – this Parrot says yes we can!

And this Parrot bets the public who also love their cars will say yes too.

As for public transport and trains. They will be the folly of this current leadership. Expensive. Go to nowhere. Slow. and nowhere near where we live or want to go. Ever caught a train to the beach, to school, to sports, to your mates place in St Heliers or to work in East Tamaki?

The decisions around rail and PT is incredibly short sighted and ignorant of a car industry that is not only determined to survive – but adapting in front of our eyes.

Car is king!


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.

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