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  • Andrew von Dadelszen

TRAINS A 20th CENTURY SOLUTION

Source: Sam Stubbs, Stuff, 4-Feb-2022

Sam Stubbs is chief executive of KiwiSaver fund Simplicity and a regular Stuff opinion contributor.

I totally agree with Sam's article in Stuff.

I continually hear advocates for returning rail as a primary method of commuter transport. Yes, trains do have a huge role in mass transit of commercial goods like containers and timber, but this country just doesn't have the population to justify the huge cost of fixed rail lines that rail requires.


We need to start thinking 21st Century, and look to technology to resolve our public transport issues. Yes, driverless vehicles are quite here yet, but within the next ten years they will be a reality. This is a solution worth waiting for.

However, we shouldn't think that we can be "the first mover". Uber tried that, and after investing US$2 billion, they have walked away from their driverless technology. We just need to be patient. It is coming, but let's be a fast adaptor, rather than a first mover.

In his article on Stuff Sam Stubbs said “The reality is, while our politicians and planners are wedded to the idea of trains, they are not the future of public transport. Globally, research and development are focused on electric and hydrogen cars and buses, electric bikes and new forms of air transport. Trains are a 20th-century solution for a 21st-century problem.”

And trains are very inflexible. Most people have to drive or cycle to a train station, and drive home. Trains work in dense environments where people can walk home, but that is not Auckland [and definitely not Tauranga]. By landmass, Auckland is one of the largest cities in the world and forever expanding outwards.


As a KiwiSaver manager, nothing would please me more than to have more New Zealand-based infrastructure to invest in. Yet I fear we will be now be hobbling ourselves to a single massively expensive option, which is more a nod to a romantic past than a leap into the future,” Sam said.


The future of public transport is probably going to be electric driverless vehicles that will pick you up at your door and drop you off at your destination. You’ll share them with half a dozen or more other people. It definitely isn’t going to be trains or trams.”


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