We have of late not been giving the necessary attention due to the thousand blossoms of ridesharing, an absolute essential ingredient in the New Mobility Mix of services for our cities, and countryside. To start to make up for this embarrassing lapse, here is the text of an editorial from last week’s New Zealand Herald in Auckland New Zealand.
It’s simple – share a ride to get this city moving faster
– By Paul Minett
New Zealand Herald, Auckland, 17 May 2013 (published with permission)
There is nothing inevitable about Auckland’s traffic woes. We can fix our city’s rush hour, quickly and easily, by each of us catching a ride more often – in a car, bus or train. While even simple improvements to bus and train services seem to cost millions and take forever, sharing cars is cheap and fast. So why aren’t we doing it more?
A simple ridesharing system in San Francisco and Washington DC is moving thousands of people every day, dramatically cutting the number of cars on the road. People walk or drive to a ride-share meeting-place then either catch the next car leaving or pick up the next rider going to their destination. This is the sort of solution that can be quickly and cheaply adapted, right now, to help solve Auckland’s traffic problems.
It would cost us almost nothing to implement, and be quick to put in place. From tomorrow morning we could be enjoying a faster, easier trip to work rather than sitting in another traffic jam waiting for the endless transport infrastructure battles to be resolved.
Fewer car trips will make Auckland a more liveable, efficient and effective city. Fewer cars will free up the system, reducing accidents, fuel use, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
If fuel costs are shared with just one passenger, your fuel bill will halve and you could save on parking too. And in increasing locations you can queue jump using multi-passenger lanes. As a passenger, you get to read the news, catch up on emails or tweet about how relaxed and smug you are feeling. Most of us are happy to catch a ride with a sober mate when we want to enjoy a few beers, why not when we’re going to work?
If enough people choose to catch a ride just one day per week, it can make a massive difference to congestion. School holidays only reduce trips by about 10%, but we all experience the large reductions in congestion that result.
Overseas, rideshare and carpooling systems are making it easier to connect with people making similar journeys. Such systems cost a tiny fraction of laying extra rail tracks or widening motorways, and they have been proven to get more people to catch a ride. Yet our Council and Government are barely paying lip service to them. It’s time Aucklanders started asking why.
It seems all the politicians’ time, energy and imagination is snarled in an argument about infrastructure investment, when they could be properly supporting the simple, modern, collaborative approach to commuting and getting results right now.
The talk has recently turned to how road users will need to be taxed and tolled more to pay for the infrastructure investments, on top of the increasing share of our income already taken up by petrol and parking. There are no guarantees the huge investment will solve the congestion our city will face by the time the construction is complete.
It would cost less to pay people to share rides than some of the infrastructure sums being touted.
Is it too much to ask our political leaders to put more effort into making it easier for us to buddy up when we drive today? The fewer cars on our roads each day, the less pressure there is for more huge spending and the more efficiently our present transport system will cope.
It would cost less to pay people to share rides than some of the infrastructure sums being touted. And even when we have the perfect motorway and rail system, with the forecast Auckland growth, we’ll still need to reduce our driving to cut congestion. So we might at least get started.
Who could you catch a ride with, one day this week? And which politician will you ask to help make catching a ride easier?
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Paul Minett is an Auckland resident and ratepayer. He is an advocate of increased ridesharing through a commercial ridesharing venture, and chairman of the international Ridesharing Institute.
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