This line records use of a certain item by New Zealand population since 2000. Where do you think it will be in say 20 years time?
The statistic went up, and then down, and so the best estimate to me would be a flat or downward trend. But rather strangely the authors of this chart determined that all of their estimates would be up, and that the lowest change would be a substantial increase. Here it is, with my added red line eyeball trend:
The chart, of course, is estimated vehicle use in New Zealand, expressed in millions of kilometres travelled. It’s sourced from the ” National Long-Term Land Transport Demand Model, NZIER and NZTA (2013)”, and that’s a critical model as it feeds into all sorts of cost-benefit analysis and policy for transport in New Zealand.
International and local evidence is that vehicle use is declining, driven by a new generation that cares about global warming, and prioritises iGadgets, internet use and public transport over cars and other structural shifts. So seeing a forecast like the below is completely unreasonable (the red is my straight line projection again):
It’s a basic mistake that is and will cost the country billions – in over-spent costs to build more roads, and, worse, in the opportunity cost of not applying that investment to more productive areas of the economy.
The bias towards cars is also reflected in this chart of forecast public transport statistics – which doesn’t pass the giggle test either. Witness the trend and the projections below (the red is my version of the trend-line):
So for some unfathomable reason the growth in the use of public transport is forecast to immediately and dramatically fall, while the growth in the use of cars will immediately and dramatically rise. It’s ludicrous.
I plucked those charts from the Treasury Paper “Infrastructure Evidence Base: Transport Sector“, published today. It’s wonderful to see papers like that published, but not when the underlying assumptions are flawed.
The executive summary acknowledges this flaw, stating:
“Historic assumptions about future revenue growth from fuel taxes are being re-evaluated in light of international trends such as driving less, increasing fuel prices, e-commerce, increasing fuel efficiency and alternate fuels.”
That’s repeated elsewhere – and I wonder what the authors really think.
While the report covers road, rail, marine and air modes of transport, it ignores the most popular transport method – walking, and ignores cycling as an alternative which takes thousands of cars off the road each day.
But it does state that congestion in Auckland has been decreasing:
There has been notable progress in Auckland since 2009, which shows evidence of improvement in travel times during the morning peak period, despite population increases.
And that’s backed up by a chart – I’ve added the census data for Auckland population from 2006 and 2013. The trend from 2009 is unmistakeable, and not coincidentally the liveability of Auckland has skyrocketed during that time:
There is no mention of why congestion has lowered in Auckland, and I suspect that the considerable rise in medium and high density housing, the major improvements in the bus and train systems in Auckland along with the rise in cycling and walking are deemed out of scope. That’s a shame, as it contributed towards Auckland being a far more liveable city, and that in turn is driving the economy here.
The narrow scope, along with laughable forecasting of lower growth in public and higher growth in private transport collectively mean that the report is fundamentally broken.
A broken report means that we cannot yet even fairly communicate in New Zealand about the quality of our transport infrastructure and the future investment required. That’s really not acceptable in an election year.