Billionaires in California would have you believe that the answer to global traffic congestion lies in self-driving cars and ways to keep us in them for longer. They are even pushing for flying cars.
They are wrong, and the billions of dollars being sunk into development promise only a future of extended traffic crisis and the misery that goes with it.
Moving large numbers of people from their place of residence to their place of work or place of recreation is best handled by a mass transit system that places the needs of the traveler over that of the profit maker. A properly integrated and properly maintained system of buses, trains, trams and ferries offer many more fundamental benefits than a system which prioritises individual private car usage. Every City that hasn't understood thislesson has seen traffic problems grow over the last two decades.
The key to making a public transport system work is to ensure that it is properly resourced and maintained. This can only be achieved through a large subsidy from the public purse. Trying to make passengers carry the enormous costs of rectifying decades of mismanagement and fund investment for future growth is madness.
Here in Auckland work is ongoing to grow public transport in preparation for the expected 50% growth in population by 2040. I'd say it probably isn't enough. It's time for Auckland Council and the New Zealand Government to look at options for improving funding. Whether that be through Congestion Charging, new home building subsidies or even a tax on house sales, Auckland needs to better fund transport before population growth overtakes it.
And if a forward-looking city like Auckland needs to step up a gear, then others around the world with bigger populations and bigger problems need to take action before they have a full-blowncrisis on their hands.
Falling in with insane schemes proposed by those good at making money and keen to keep doing so is most definitely not the way to go.