Sustainable transport in NZ

This paper was written as part of a series of papers on sustainability for the engineering profession in New Zealand. A presidential task force on sustainability had been established in 2003 by Gerry Coates, then president of IPENZ. The results were widely promoted within IPENZ and presented at the IPENZ conference in April 2004. The full paper is on the ViaStrada website. Here is a summary of the paper:

Sustainable transportation is an appropriate goal for New Zealand and its engineering community. Sustainability means meeting today's needs without compromising the needs of future generations. This will have implications for the way we travel and the shape of our communities in New Zealand.

An increased focus on managing demand for motor vehicle transportation will be necessary, as opposed to traditional approaches to predict future trip demand based on historical growth trends and to then attempt to provide road capacity. As has been increasingly appreciated overseas, it will be futile in New Zealand to attempt to build our way out of congestion. Traffic expands to fill the available road capacity. In the not-too-distant future, a variety of techniques will be needed to manage traffic demand, including stronger land use planning to deter urban sprawl, congestion pricing and other road tolling techniques, parking supply management and pricing, fuel pricing and high occupancy vehicle lanes. These changes, some of which have already occurred, will encourage us to make the necessary changes in lifestyle and travel behaviour.

Currently, transportation generates about 40% of our carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, or 15% of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Transportation emissions are also the fastest growing source of GHG emissions in New Zealand. Air pollution from the motor vehicle fleet is also increasingly unsustainable.

A number of recent policy initiatives confirm that it is the government's intention that we as a nation become more sustainable in transportation. These initiatives include the New Zealand Transport Strategy (2002), the signing of the Kyoto Protocol (2002) and the Land Transport Management Act (2003).

Most western countries and their engineering communities have begun developing sustainable transportation policies and initiatives, including Australia, Canada and many countries in western Europe.

There are a number of ways in which engineers and the engineering community can move New Zealand towards sustainability in transportation. A check-list is included at the end of this paper as an aid for transportation practitioners and engineers in general towards achieving this goal.

Where presented/published

IPENZ Conference, Christchurch