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100k Vehicle Reduction for Auckland

Ridesharing Institute Targets 100,000 Vehicle Reduction for Auckland

The recently formed New Zealand Ridesharing Institute is teaming up with Auckland University to research how to take 100,000 vehicles off Auckland’s roads, and seeking support from Auckland Council to help them do it.

According to the non-profit Institute, every work day Aucklanders take 1.2 million empty car seats to work with them.

Says Institute spokesperson Paul Minett, “these 400,000 one-person cars consume all the road-space, cause the congestion, and their empty seats represent wasted capacity. The question is, could those empty seats be better used as a way to fight congestion more cost-effectively than other options like expanding the road network or adding more public transport?”

The Institute is presenting to Auckland Council’s Transport Committee on Monday 15 August, seeking partnership and a contribution towards funding for the research, to resolve the question of what it takes to get people to make better use of existing capacity.

The Institute points out that “if everyone who currently drives alone became a passenger one day out of four, there would be 100,000 fewer vehicles on the road at peak times. This reduction would be enough to achieve free flowing traffic throughout the network. Commuters would save money, commute times would be reduced, and the city would be more economically competitive.”

“The research will draw on existing knowledge, and then use Kiwi ingenuity to develop solutions and policy recommendations that could make Auckland a world leader in sustainable transportation, at relatively low cost. Pilot projects will follow.”

“New Zealand prides itself on being one of the most innovative nations in the world. We should be the ones who lead the world in finding a solution to the challenge of excessive drive-alone commuting at peak travel times.”

The group is also approaching New Zealand Transportation Agency (NZTA), business groups, Auckland Transport and central government to partner in the research since they all have much to gain from reducing congestion on our roads.

Minett adds, “The NZTA 2008 economic model calculates that each person who stops being an Auckland driver saves everyone else $11.73 per trip in road traffic reduction benefits. At that rate, 100,000 fewer cars during the morning peak would be worth over half a billion dollars a year.

“And that is just the benefits to the transport system. There would be additional economic and environmental benefits from the change, such as improved energy security, faster delivery times, repurposing of existing parking in places such as the central business district, expanding the growth potential of key employment destinations, and improved air quality.

“We think it is a reasonable initial target to reduce 100,000 morning trips. Our research process will seek out best practise to get as far as we can, and then look for additional innovative approaches to get the rest of the way.”

“An interesting aspect of this is that it is potentially both very easy and very difficult. If drive-alone commuters suddenly decided that sharing rides was the right thing to do, and decided to be a passenger a quarter of the time, overnight congestion would be solved. That is the easy version. The difficult version is deciding on the mix of systems and policies that will encourage or coerce such a change, and especially finding the political will to implement them. That is why we need to take a careful research-led approach.

“We need multiple solutions to ease traffic congestion and we hope Auckland Council’s Transport Committee can see the benefits of research into better use of existing capacity,” Minett ended.


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