Recently Auckland Transport and Ernst and Young hosted a seminar on the economics of urban transport. Sadly we didn’t get an invite but at least AT have videoed the presentations and put them up online.
First we have Paul Buchanan who is an international transport economist. The presentation is here.
There were a couple of things I found really interesting:
- His points on the use of travel time savings to justify projects as well as the failure to take into account land use changes as a result of the investment. Travel time savings are something that makes up the bulk of the benefits in projects like the RoNS and it suggests we need to radically change how we view our economic analysis.
- That we have to think stronger about how the impacts of safety as measures put in place in the name of safety often can have unforeseen negative impacts.
- The importance and impact that CBDs have on the economy.
- The importance of not only having a good natural environment but a good urban one to make it attractive to potential employees. This is something we are just starting to get with the improvements that have been happening in the CBD like the shared spaces.
- The development impacts that cars, buses and trains have on development patterns. In particular the upward spiral of development and demand that rail can generate that simply isn’t possible with cars.
- We have to be careful not to put too many buses into our city centre so that we don’t choke it and make it an unattractive place.
Next we have local economist John Williamson who gives a bit more detail on the things in Auckland and how they compare to the rest of NZ. You the presentation is here.
And last we have Joanne Ogg of Ernst and Young who talked about the move to their new offices right above the eastern entrance to Britomart. What I found interesting was once again more evidence of a generational shift that is occurring where young people are increasingly wanting different transport options and how rail in particular is key to that. My wife would fall into that category and chose the area we did because of the easy access to the train station simply because we want transport options available to us.
What I think these talks highlight is how important it is that we focus on the city centre if we are really keen to get good long term economic growth. Central to that is the need to be able to move more people into and out of the area at key times while at the same time making our street level environments much nicer places to be which will mean reducing road space. The only way we can really do that is through projects like the CRL. I wonder if any of those present were from the NZTA, MoT or Treasury because it seems like they could sure do with learning a bit more about this stuff.