What First with Transport
Do We Hold The Key to Better Transport?
The Herald ran a rather academic story on transport this morning and its relationship with the human body. To be honest the article is rather heavy for this time of year and looks like something err geeky from the blog next door. You can see the Herald article in the link below:
Some forms of getting from A to B are badly affecting the health of humans.
Incorporating the human body into transport design and planning could save millions.
We demand and expect our transport systems to get us where we want, when we want to be there, and as fast as possible. We are, however, human beings. And as with any other built system, we have to ask whether our fast and efficient modes of travel are necessarily always good for us.
And it goes on…
However when it came to solutions, yes they are under way but with Auckland‘s case it has a long way to go:
From the same article
For all the human health impacts of the modern transport system, there are obviously substantial benefits in the form of greater economic productivity, vastly increased spatial access and mobility, and even health gains, such as increased ability to get preventive and other medical care.
All technology imposes health risks of some sort. So a purely negative focus on these is unhelpful. Nonetheless, it’s useful to ask whether our transport technologies, policies and investments are good for us. If not, we need to adjust and redesign our transport accordingly.
Positive changes, many of which are currently underway, include:
- A greater focus on redesigning congested urban spaces to encourage walking and social interaction and to lower automobile use and speeds. This could achieve many health and safety outcomes simultaneously.
- Traffic calming – a range of techniques ranging from speed humps to pedestrian malls which create attractive active transport environments.
- Road pricing and increasing parking fees, or eliminating parking altogether to encourage public transport use and walking.
- The expansion of bike-share schemes, where public bicycles can be rented and dropped off from multiple locations.
- Further safety improvements to automobile safety design for new car models.
- Prioritising action on “black spots” on roads and highway “geometrics”, which includes improving lines of sight at intersections and around curves.
These reforms need not involve costly or radical overhaul. Road safety used to be a neglected policy; small but significant changes there have saved millions of lives. A broader incorporation of the human body into transport design and planning could save millions more.
Urban design and continued evolution of vehicle mechanics will go someway in addressing a more integrated system where transport and urban design are interwoven rather than treated separately as they are now. However the chicken and egg analogy comes up for the point I highlighted in bold: Road pricing and increasing parking fees, or eliminating parking altogether to encourage public transport use and walking.
It is a case of do we slap on road pricing and increased parking fee measurements to build an adequate mass transit system that people would take as first choice rather than a forced choice (as of current), or do we build the mass transit system and get that running up first before slapping in the road pricing measures. It is actually a tough question and one who would have to provide a very good justification to the tax paying public no matter which of the two options they take.
But sadly Auckland seems to be in a bit of bother at the moment with is road and (in this particular case) mass transit systems. Take this article piece from the Herald (the post I have on it is sitting on ice at the moment):
5:30 AM Friday Dec 21, 2012
Auckland Transport is resorting to professional help for a strategy on how to stop losing patronage from trains and buses. Chief operations officer Greg Edmonds has promised to provide his board with a plan early next year on how to staunch bleeding which saw a 17.2 per cent decline in train boardings last month compared with the previous November. That followed concern raised by Auckland Council transport leader Mike Lee, which was acknowledged by new board chairman Lester Levy, about a need to lift service performance. Mr Lee said patronage, which was boosted last year by the Rugby World Cup, started “flat-lining” in March and the organisation was starting to see a distinctive downward trajectory. “I don’t think this is sustainable without Auckland Transport intervening in a decisive way,” he said. “One of the measures of quality is punctuality or train performance and, while the price of our services is high, quality tends to be poor consistently.”
Mr Lee said the board, on which he is a council appointee, had been assured a new timetable would improve rail performance and that the rollout of the new Hop transport card on trains would combat fare evasion. But the board heard that train punctuality deteriorated last month to 84.1 per cent of services running to schedule, compared with 87.1 per cent in October, and he said rail staff were having difficulties stopping free-riding passengers. He had been told of fare evasion as some people were presenting their Hop cards to train staff to avoid paying their way. This did not apply to Britomart or Newmarket, which have become gated stations. “Busy, harassed train managers trying to collect fares are shown a Hop card and they move on,” he said. “The person may have paid $5 [in a since-expired half-price opening deal] for a card and, according to rail staff, they are using it to evade fares. “There are electronic checkers but they are slow and cumbersome and there’s not enough of them.” Dr Levy said he agreed there was a need for “critical measures” to be adopted and Auckland Transport needed to be far more customer-led in creating a demand for its services. “From the board’s point of view, this won’t go away – it’s the number one issue,” he said.
I think at this rate Auckland will be some way off before coming to the Chicken and Egg question on new infrastructure (which is where the point in bold above comes in) when we can’t even get the basics right on existing infrastructure.
Hopefully our transport planners and politicians will have some time to think over the summer holidays and have a solution, however as my iced post would stipulate; that might be asking for Mission Impossible. So in that case “WE” might be very well holding the key to better transport!