This will kill the rail loop faster than anything else

Rail is old technology…despite Len Brown having virtual; orgasms over new trains, the simple fact is they still only travel on rails, in a corridor and don;t travel where you want to go when you want go.

Autonomous cars and technology is what is going to solve transport issues, if only the moron politicians would stop hankering after solution for public transport from the 19th century.

If the money Len Brown is planning on plowing into rails was instead put into enabling self drive cars for Auckland we would see amazing advances.

Nearly every automaker is working on some form of autonomous vehicle technology, but according to a new study, consumers are more interested in a self-driving car from Google than General Motors.

The study, conducted by U.S. audit and advisory firm KPMG, polled a diverse group of drivers from both coasts and in between, pulling samples from Los Angeles, California; Chicago, Illinois; and Iselin, New Jersey.

The focus groups were asked about their willingness to use an autonomous vehicle every day, and rank their trust in the company producing the car on a scale of one to 10. While high-end automakers like Mercedes-Benz received a median score of 7.75, tech companies like Google and Apple scored an eight, and mass-market brands (Chevrolet and Nissan) came in at five.

“We believe that self-driving cars will be profoundly disruptive to the traditional automotive ecosystem,” said Gary Silberg, KPMG auto expert and author of the report. The company’s polling bears that out, although KPMG is quick to add the caveat that while “focus group discussions are valuable for the qualitative, directional insights they provide; they are not statistically valid.”  

It will be profoundly disruptive…especially for public transport. Imagine a fleet of autonomous taxis, booked and delivered by smart phone app…travelling in special lanes (redeploy cycling lanes, cyclists don’t use them anyway) or on special routes (rip up the rails and allows autonomous vehicles to use the corridor instead).

California drivers were significantly more interested in autonomous vehicles from the onset of the discussions, with L.A. residents ranking their willingness to use a self-driving car at 9 out of 10. Chicago residents came in at four, and New Jersey drivers’ median was six.

Additionally, premium vehicle owners — who made up nearly a third of the focus group — were more interested in autonomous vehicles and self-driving technology.

In Silberg’s estimation, the reason is that Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz drivers are “already accustomed to high-tech bells and whistles, so adding a ‘self-driving package’ is just another option.” Throw in the possibility of a special lane on highways for autonomous vehicles and the ability to turn the system on and off at will, and premium buyers were sold on the option full-stop.

Considering that AudiBMWCadillac, and Mercedes-Benz all plan to have some kind of semi-autonomous, traffic jam assistance feature either on the market or coming in the next few years, and it’s obvious that luxury brands are well aware of what their buyers want.

Those who said they had a “passion for driving” were less enthused about the possibility of a self-driving car (shocker!), but after the two-hour talk session, they showed considerably more interest in the technology and were more willing to let the robot drive, particularly given the possibility of reduced commute times and ability to turn the autonomous functionality off.

It isn;t a matter of if it will happen, but when. Rail is dead, time to move on.

 


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  • Ken Mathis

    here, here

    why it was just hte other morning when I strapped on my jetpack and caught the 9.30 shuttle up to the lunar colonies I was just thinking to myself, wouldn’t a nice fantasy about robots fix all this traffic

    I just dont get why policymakers dont focus more on unrealistic futurism that will extend reckless consumerism into the indefinite future, instead of all this rubbish about usefl and proven technologies

    • philbest

      “…..usefl (sic) and proven technologies…..”

      Like commuter rail, whose Kondratieff cycle curve hit its peak in about 1950?

  • Michael

    In 50 years time the self driving car, powered by a hydrogen fuel cell (the most abundant material in the universe), will be standard. Synthetic diesel will power most heavy vehicles. Mark my words…

  • TomTom

    Still won’t solve the basic problem of geometry – getting all those cars onto the motorway.

    Besides, I like driving.

    • SJ00

      There is a video of a traffic simulation, where there are no lights at a 6 lane intersection (6 each way). The cars slow down and speed up as they need to, but manage to get through the intersection with no accidents. Wait time, if you need to stop, is minimal and most of the time its straight through. The point is, the problem with your geometry statement is humans. Cars could travel nearly bumper to bumper at high speed if they were all talking to each other and were aware and able to making decisions. Humans are the reason for traffic delays.

      Found it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7_lwq3BfkY

      Whats strange about the story above is more people trust Google to build a autonomous car than GM.. sure Google can build the brains behind it, but companies like GM will be the ones building the cars.

      • TomTom

        Lol so I suppose if we want to get across the road, we’d jump into a car and go find another car park. Thumbs up to you…

        The problem that’s mainly causing motorway congestion is that when you have a huge destination on a motorway network, like downtown, everyone wants to get off there. Not only that, the speeds on the streets are far slower, with more restrictive light timing signals and so on. The end result is that the backlog of cars trying to exit into the same area means that cars further down the motorway also have to slow down behind them.

        • philbest

          Fortunately, most urban travel is not to and from downtown. Even jobs per se, are less than 20% concentrated downtown in most cities these days, including Auckland.

          Planners trying to reverse this just to make commuter rail less inefficient, are Luddite lunatics.

          • TomTom

            Unfortunately, a *lot* of urban travel is still to and from downtown. Downtowns of most cities are still the biggest trip generators, and exits/entries on the motorway system in the downtown area still causes congestion on the whole motorway system.

          • philbest

            “A lot” is still only around 15% of total travel.

            The fact that the other 85% occurs without attracting quite the same attention from policy makers, is a clue to the real solution.
            Continued decentralisation and dispersion and building a high-capacity road NETWORK  are the solutions.
            Bypassing the chokepoints is also essential.

            The main problem with urban planning fetishes as they stand right now, is that they are centred on the interests of CBD property owners and no-one else.
            Dispersed cities are actually more efficient as a general rule. Ironically, you should check out the TomTom International Congestion Index. The USA’s dispersed, low density cities have the lowest congestion as a rule, especially for a given size of city. Yes, LA is bad, but not as bad as higher density London. Dorkland is probably worse than any other city in the world of 1 million people, and Wellington is probably worse than any other city in the world of less than half a million people. Both are ridiculous, should be a laughing stock.
            Check out the recent paper by Peter Gordon, “THINKING ABOUT ECONOMIC GROWTH: CITIES, NETWORKS, CREATIVITY AND SUPPLY CHAINS FOR IDEAS”
            Also the one by Alex Anas, “DISCOVERING THE EFFICIENCY OF URBAN SPRAWL”
            These academics, and others, are like modern day Galileos challenging the “establishment” with all its control freakery.

  • Hollyfield

    Trains are never going to be a solution for me. There is no station in my suburb, or in the suburb where I work. There is no parking at my nearest 5-6 stations, so I cannot leave my car there for the day while at work.
    Last week I spent the day in Papakura, and then wanted to get a train back to the city. I arrived at the platform 7 minutes before the train was due. You might think that is plenty of time to buy a ticket, but no!
    First I tried to buy a ticket at the machine, but it wouldn’t accept cash. Looking around I saw a sign that said only the machine on the next platform and the ticket office take cash. Since I wasn’t sure there was enough time to walk up the ramp, across the overbridge, down the other side and back again, I went into the ticket office to buy my ticket. There was one woman behind the counter with a sign saying “closed”. I spoke to the two men behind desks (not the ticket counter) saying I would like to buy a ticket, and they gestured to the ticket counter. I pointed out that it was closed. They said “he will be back soon”. I waited for “the man” to return to the counter, he finally came and I was able to buy a ticket – but by then, of course, 7 minutes had elapsed and I missed the train.
    Also, tickets are only valid for 2 hours since the time of purchase – so while I would have liked to buy my return ticket on arrival at Papakura, or even buy a round trip ticket in one transaction, this is not possible.

    • baw

      It is cases like this that do harm to the public transport brand.

  • baw

    Reduce need for parking – only if people use these cars like taxis. Definitely not if you send the car home while you work.
    Good for disabled – yes
    Improved transport flow – yes – but this is not everything.
    Safer – hopefully

    But nothing about dealing with basic geometry of getting to work.

    Please demonstrate that this tech will actually reduce congestion. All I see is cheaper taxis. And if this removes the need for a drivers licence, then I can see many rich parents getting their kids to drive themselves to school. Where is your congestion now?

    10+ years ago they were saying that every fridge would have the internet and order new food when you run out. – Mine is doing quite fine without it.

    • philbest

      Fortunately, most urban travel is not to and from downtown. Even jobs per se, are less than 20% concentrated downtown in most cities these days, including Auckland. And “commuting” is less than half of total travel.

      Planners trying to reverse this just to make commuter rail less inefficient, are Luddite lunatics.

  • ratesarerevolting

    Ahem,,,,,,,,,,, LBIAFC !

  • Sam Hood

    I think it’s incredibly unwise to place our hope in a tachnology that ‘might’ be available ‘soon’. We need proven technology, that we know is successful.The reality is that Auckland’s CBD is critical to the NZ Economy, with many large multinational organisations, who would only operate in major centres such as Auckland CBD, basing their operations there. It is arguably NZs only international centre, and therefore can be seen as the primary reason were competitive in the international market.

    Our CBD is growing fast, and almost all of that growth over the past 15 years has been absorbed by rail- where as less than 1000 people per day used aucklands trains in the mid 1990s, roughly 40000 people per day use it now. Bus patronage has also grown strongly in that time, and private vehicle use has dropped slightly.

    Now though, Britomart is at capacity at rush hour- 16 trains enter per hour, almost all of which are packed full of commuters. In short, our limited existing train system is as ‘successful’ as it can be- especially given how little has been invested over the past 50 years. Our electric trains will provide slightly more seats, but with even a fraction of the growth we’ve seen these will be full in a short period- especially as they will be significantly faster.

    The Rail link will double the capacity of Britomart, and therefore the entire Auckland rail network. It will unlock a huge latent capacity. The extra stations increasing accessibility to the CBD, and the west being 10 minutes closer to town are added bonuses.

    • philbest

      CBD’s are just rent-seeking economic vampires. All the real wealth creation happens outside them. The stronger a nation’s CBD’s, the bigger the problem it will have with wealth transfer upwards to a top 1%.

      The USA has the world’s weakest CBD’s on average across all its cities. It also makes sense even for a nation the size of the USA, to have only ONE Manhattan.

      NZ is absurdly over-provided with tall-building CBD space as it is, for a nation its size still based on export of primary produce. We need to look at Houston as our model, not London.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/13/opinion/sunday/londons-great-exodus.html

  • Sam Hood

    I think it’s incredibly unwise to place our hope in a tachnology that ‘might’ be available ‘soon’. We need proven technology, that we know is successful.The reality is that Auckland’s CBD is critical to the NZ Economy, with many large multinational organisations who would only operate in major centres such as Auckland CBD.It is arguably NZs only international centre, and could be seen as the primary reason were competitive in the international market.

    Our CBD is growing fast, and almost all of that growth over the past 15 years has been absorbed by rail- where as less than 1000 people per day used aucklands trains in the mid 1990s, roughly 40000 people per day use it now. Bus patronage has also grown strongly in that time, and private vehicle use has dropped slightly.

    Now though, Britomart is at capacity at rush hour- 16 trains enter per hour, almost all of which are packed full of commuters. In short, our limited existing train system is as ‘successful’ as it can be- especially given how little has been invested over the past 50 years. Our electric trains will provide slightly more seats, but with even a fraction of the growth we’ve seen these will be full in a short period- especially as they will be significantly faster. Our bus systems getting fairly congested in the CBD as well- a bus lane can’t carry more than about 200 busses per hour, which both Fanshawe street and Symonds Street are both approaching.

    The Rail link will double the capacity of Britomart, and therefore the entire Auckland rail network. It will unlock a huge latent capacity. The extra stations increasing accessibility to the CBD, and the west being 10 minutes closer to town, are added bonuses.

    We know it works, we know it takes up less space (something we don’t have), we know it’s fast, and we know people will use it. Let’s build it.

    • The entire rail project is predicated on all Auckland ratepayers and road users paying for a tiny minority using rail services into central Auckland, where 85% of employment is NOT located.

      Both rail and bus patronage have been shaky the past year, and outside a very short peak, the rail network is grossly underutilised. Of course if those using the network paid even the operating costs they wouldn’t bother. If the well-heeled businesses in the CBD had to pay for them, they probably wouldn’t bother either, so it is the less-well heeled everywhere being forced to pay for it.

      We know that the rail project will do next to nothing to relieve congestion on Auckland roads, that is abundantly clear. We also know that not a dollar of the money to be poured into it could ever be recovered, it is a massive sunk cost.

      What this is being sold at is either a way to boost Auckland’s CBD (in which case why don’t the property owners want to pay for it themselves, even if a special rate was imposed to pay for the entire capital cost), or some vague series of slogans and emoting about making Auckland “world-class”.

      About a billion has been spent or is being spent on electrifying and upgrading Auckland’s rail network. It would be a start if the demand figures for those improvements actually turned out to be true, and another start if the fares raised above inflation to achieve at least the 50% operating cost recovery demanded for Wellington’s system, with peak fares set to reflect the price differential that WOULD exist if Auckland’s roads were demand priced.

      However, this is a political totem for the Greens and Labour Parties, and so reason has gone out the window.

      • philbest

        You are onto it, Liberty.

        A basic reality to add to your excellent argument above, is that every person kilometer travelled on roads, costs “the public” around 2 cents in “subsidies”; for public transport it is 10 to 100 times more costly depending on how well patronised the given service is.

        There is hardly a “light rail” system anywhere in the world with a subsidy cost below $1 per person km.

        So by definition, public money spent on public transport is going to enable well under 1/10 of the actual travel – how clever a use of public money is this? And the travel by car is to and from practically anywhere, not the 5% or less of the urban area covered by public transport.

        We might as well be blowing public money on public telephone box “investments” in the hopes that less people will voluntarily “waste their money” on cellphones.

  • This will double existing road capacity, given following distances.

    However, it doesn’t meet the ideological position of the Auckland Council or most planners, which is that it is bad for people to travel by car, and good for people to arrange their lives around loss making and so heavily subsidised fixed non-competitive public transport, particularly if they squeeze into apartment blocks or high density housing clustered around railway stations.

    Have no doubt about it, the rail project is not about traffic congestion, it is about social engineering. It is sold on the basis of pejoratives “against sprawl”, which is people getting houses of the size they want with back yards, that they can afford without the state building them. It eschews evidence in favour of slogans.

    So the question is whether Auckland wants a transport network driven by what users want and are able to pay for, or what planners think Aucklanders should use, with little real concern about who pays for it.

  • philbest

    See these ideas too:

    “Freedom Transit”

    http://freedomtransit.com/

    “EDM Skyway”:

    http://www.innov8transport.com/

    Probably immediate scope for them, as part of a gradual future transition to 100% automated.

  • andrew carrot

    Howick is an upper middle to upper income suburb. Most of its residents work in Central and south Auckland, rather than in the CBD. The nearest train station for Howick residents is at Panmure, approximately 10kms away. The nearest after Panmure is at Middlemore. The train system is next to useless for their purposes, yet through their rates they will help pay for a rail system that will never reduce cross-isthmus (East to west) road congestion. Of course, those on the Shore and further North have no access to a rail option at all. I work in the CBD and whenever possible take the ferry, a transport resource grossly under-developed, despite the fact that every sailing uses a wharf that costs less than any train station to maintain and ferrys operate along channels that require no exhorbitant rail corridor or asphalted matrix to function. Most importantly, it takes half an hour each morning to travel from Halfmoon bay to the bottom of queen street. Try and do that in a bus, train or car. Now, if only there was a small wharf in Howick…

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