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  • Writer's pictureAlex Withington

New Zealand's need for on-demand transport options

Auckland is the scene of New Zealand's greatest congestion problems but the historical approach taken does not seem to be working.

The interior of one of EVM's Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Low Floors. The perfect vehicle for 'on demand' public transport.

A diversified, multi-pronged approach similar to those taken overseas is the only way that Auckland can rid itself of its systemic transport issues. Whilst the Government seems to be focusing on public transport infrastructure the problem of how residents get to public transport hubs still exists. The need for 'on-demand' transportation exists and the current operators in Auckland are asleep at the wheel.

Smarter, shared transportation is needed to reduce congestion on the streets as well as keeping transportation affordable for the public. Services by the likes of City Mapper are sorely missed in New Zealand.

City Mapper describes its service as being in between a bus and a taxi. It's a"realtime, demand-responsive service, integrated in [a] multimodal app that has the ability to take payments. Historical and realtime demand helps [them] to allocate vehicles efficiently throughout the network, minimising waiting times and reducing the cost of mobility infrastructure."

City Mapper had a highly successful trial in London operating vehicles similar to EVM's Mercedes-Benz Low Floor Sprinter with great success. They have since launched a trial much closer to home in Sydney.

Bob Sheehan, project manager for Multimodal ITS Research and Deployment for the Intelligent Transportation Joint Program Office (ITS JPO) (which operates under the U.S Department of Transportation), encouraged agencies to explore “emerging technology solutions and different business approaches.”

Bob believes that there must be a consumer centric focus on the way the public transportation is developed "we want, and are focused on this system from a traveler's perspective, not how effective the highway or transit services being provided, [but] how effective is the trip for the user?". Citing data based from Uber trips taken in Philadelphia and San Francisco, Uber’s Paige Tsai estimates that as much as 30% of Uber trips in a city can be to and from public transit stations. It is likely that this data is also relevant to Auckland being a city with a large geographical footprint and a disproportionate number of public transport stations.

"30% of Uber's trips in a city can be to and from public transit stations" - Paige Tsai Uber Transportation and Research Policy

Although Auckland Transport recently tendered for an operator to undertake an innovative transportation option servicing the trips to and from public transport stations I believe it is not going far enough. They believe customer journey's begin with the commute from home to the nearest transport hub and ends with a similar commute home and I agree. I'd also agree that ride-sharing has the potential to improve such first and last legs home. But ride-sharing has the ability to go beyond this.

Ride-sharing has the ability to take a group of individuals (up to 25 on EVM's Cityline 25) who are beginning their journey close in proximity, travelling in the same direction as others, with a similar destination in mind, to share a single journey.

As Auckland Transport has identified, the journey to and from public transport stations is an area where ride-sharing can be used to decrease the number of cars on our roads and increase efficiency of public transport. However, they must go further than this, or at least advocate for a service that goes further than this. I bet you could find enough people in an office block on Queen Street who would happily share an 'on demand' transport option from their homes in Remuera each day (cf Arriva's on demand transport success). And the same goes for every other suburb and every other office building. Connect these people with each other to create a journey that is not only more environmentally conscious but is more efficient and is something that the public desires. Imagine seeing public transport arrive outside your house, whilst being notified of its GPS location and running out in the thundering rain to get into your warm, comfortable, wifi-enable shared ride.

The integration of a ride-sharing system and a public transport system can significantly enhance urban and rural mobility, encourage the use of public transport, and reduce the negative externalities associated with car travel.

The Cityline 25 by EVM is the perfect vehicle for such a service, I'm ready when you are Auckland Transport.

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