Ministry of Transport, and NZTA Briefing to Incoming Ministers Leaves a Lot to Be Desired

‘Tech bro’ and stuff I would find on the front page of a website


The Ministry of Transport, and New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) Briefings to the Incoming Minister (BIM) were in a state of a lot to be desired about them. The MoT briefing while it outlines priorities to Minister Phil Twyford the Ministry is struggling with a run away road toll while thinking driverless cars and other technologies are the silver bullet to our transport woes.


The two Briefings are at the bottom of this post.


Ministry of Transport Briefing

This excerpt came from the CEO of the Ministry of Transport:

MoT BIM Foreword from the CEO
Source: via the Ministry of Transport


The CEO of the Ministry of Transport seems to have a sole focus on technology such as driverless cars and so on being the silver bullet to things like the climbing road toll and congestion on our roading network.


Sadly for the CEO that silver bullet was “intercepted” as it were by a report just out from consultants MRCagney:

Autonomous Vehicles Research Report

Mon, December 4, 2017  | 

Autonomous vehicles not the cure all for congestion – our new report finds.

We often get caught up in the excitement about autonomous vehicles, but we need to remain objective and consider what Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) should mean for transport and land use planning.

Without applying this ‘critical lens’, and planning for the most appropriate application of autonomous and electric vehicle technologies, we may even risk further entrenching an over-reliance on the private vehicle to meet our mobility needs – which is completely at cross-purposes with sustainable transport planning principles.

This is the key finding of the Autonomous Vehicles Research Report launched today by transport consultancy MRCagney.  The research, conducted in Auckland, advises on how to prepare for an autonomous future. While the report was produced in a New Zealand context, the findings are lessons for all cities.

By removing the need for a human driver, autonomous vehicles offer benefits such as:

  • Increased accessibility for people who are unable to drive themselves;
  • Reduced costs of point to point transport (taxis and other ride share) and delivery services;
  • Increased road safety and capacity; and
  • Reduced off-street parking requirements (but not short-stay on-street parking).

However, MRCagney cautions that there is the risk of:

  • Increased road congestion from increased demand for private and personal vehicle travel;
  • Increased vehicle miles travelled across the total network (with all the associated environmental impacts) as AVs continue to travel to pick up & drop-off more passengers compared with current vehicles that park at their destination; and
  • Increased pressure on meeting infrastructure requirements due to urban sprawl with longer commutes becoming more convenient in AVs,  due to the freedom for passengers to do other ‘things’ while a ‘chauffeur’ takes care of the driving.

So, how can we best embrace the opportunities of an autonomous vehicle future, while avoiding the potential pitfalls? AV Public transit.

There are great possibilities present when autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles are used for public transit. Availing of these technologies, PT services can be provided at a significant discount, with savings passed on to passengers or reinvested to improve overall service levels.

Leslie Carter, Managing Director of MRCagney, reports: “if fare revenues and government subsidies are maintained at 2016 levels, then AV enable PT service levels to increase by approximately 80%.”

AVs can, and should, be used to supplement – NOT replace – public transport (especially for last mile access), and extend personal on-demand choices to avoid increased congestion.

According to Carter, it’s all a waste of time if cities don’t get their public transport planning right:

“Our modelling shows that without public transport, even with full adoption of autonomous vehicles, cities will be heavily congested because of already constricted corridors into cities, the limit capacity of the road networks, and growing populations,” he said.

The report predicts that it will take until 2055 for AV technology to become standard in private cars. AVs capable of Levels’ 1 and 2 (semi-automation) are already available in the market place. Level 3 AVs (limited self-driving automation with all safety-critical functions automated, and surrounding conditions monitored) are now emerging for application on our city streets.

It is in our best interests to act now to prepare and adapt for the benefits that AV technologies bring to the table. For example:

  • Governments must enable AV advancement via regulation and providing certainty to the market.
  • Parking infrastructure must be updated to enable AV.
  • Public transport connections with autonomous car share vehicles must be facilitated.
  • AV should be trialled in PT vehicles.
  • Road infrastructure should be upgraded to be AV compliant.
  • Connective vehicle/infrastructure/services technologies should be invested in to improve road safety and the overall travel experience for all.

MRCagney’s report describes a future where autonomous vehicles are introduced slowly – commencing with ride-share services and public transport trials –  before becoming more widely adopted for car share and transit. It also highlights key steps to get there. MRCagney acknowledges this process could take several  years due to the slow rate of vehicle turnover, the high cost of the new technology, and legislative and technological barriers.





In short with AV’s:

  • AVs can, and should, be used to supplement – NOT replace – public transport (especially for last mile access), and extend personal on-demand choices to avoid increased congestion.

Technically the rapid growth in e-bikes is fulfilling the last mile access especially as cycling infrastructure is built, bike parks are provided and Centres (Town and Metropolitan) become more pedestrian friendly.

  • The report predicts that it will take until 2055 for AV technology to become standard in private cars.

So around 40 years before the AV car becomes standard.

Simply put we don’t have 40 years to wait for the CEO of the Ministry of Transport’s dream to be realised.  Not when we should be focusing on the basics such as good road design, good freight and passenger transport (rail) and proper integrated land/transport use especially in our bigger cities. The tech bro term comes from the over reliance on future technologies to solve a societal problem when other measures (often more basic) are available and better suited.


As for NZTA, well that BIM was just about a waste of time to read.




You can read the Briefing to Minister Phil Tywford on NZTA at the bottom of the post. Why was the BIM though a waste of time? It was full of vision statements and infographics that should be publicly available on page two of the NZTA website not some briefing document to the Minister.

That BIM should have been how NZTA would execute the new Government’s revamped transport program and the risk/benefits that go with it. That stuff you don’t find on the front end of a public website and would have been more productive of the Minister’s time to read that than already publicly available vision statements.

Of note, everything in Chapter 6 of the NZTA BIM is currently under review with the East West Link Option F already scrapped.


Something though that the Minister will need to give both MoT and NZTA a rather sharp kick up the backside for is how our infrastructure is designed. Below is a failed example of Vision Zero when it comes to cars and cyclists mingling on rural highways:


Yes that is the Waikato Expressway with its speed limit raised by NZTA to 110km/h and yes that is an uncontrolled cycleway crossing on that 110km/h stretch of the Waikato Expressway.


What was NZTA thinking?


Next up in the BIM series I look at Kiwi Rail and its future under the Labour-led administration.


The Ministry of Transport Briefing to the Incoming Minister


NZTA Briefing to the Incoming Minister



Source: NZTA