Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Open letter to Julie-Anne Genter

Andrew Atkin: 



This letter was sent to the the recipient, 09-01-2012.

I have decided to present the idea as an open letter.

Forward: The truth is, we cannot intelligently invest in transport infrastructure until we can economically rationalise it. And this is largely impossible without congestion-charging.

Removing congestion from Auckland is also impossible without congestion-charging. Note, people only flood into trains and buses when they either can't drive, can't afford the parking, or because the roads are so severely congested that trains become a much faster option for their particular destination. 

We can do much better than a somewhat blind multi-billion dollar rail investment, which could too easily prove to be a white elephant just few years down the track.

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Green Party MP
Julie-Anne Genter

Hi again,

I had a look through the idea of removing minimum parking requirements, and I agree with it. In my view the only reason why we had them in the first place is probably because we just never (previously) had the tools to meter all (or nearly all) parks, meaning we haven't yet been able operate a rational market model (?).

However, it's clear to me that we now have the tools to toll any park or road economically, using the system I suggest.

I wanted to forward this to you because it has become obvious to me that this system, surely, is by far the best way to go about it. And also it would need to be a national initiative for if it were to ever go ahead.

As follows:

1. Mandate passive RF-chips on all cars in New Zealand, to be fixed onto license plates for when the cars get their WOF. This of course provides an electronic signature for all cars registration. 

Passive RF-chips are so cheap in themselves that they can be considered costless.

2. From here, you can install an RF-reader embedded-in or placed on top of the road. The RF-reader would basically be an extremely crude cellphone-type device that records the registration of all cars that pass over it. From here it can send a text via wireless internet to inform a master server of what/when/where a given car went through the gate. The reader can be solar-powered (only a tiny amount of power would be required to run it). It would likewise accumulate data and maybe send a text to a master server with its records, once a day. This is extremely simple and easy to install technology - no wiring required.

3. From here, your server will have all the information it needs to bill a driver for both toll roads and parking. Every driver will have an established account, and people can be sent a bill for their usage, usually as a PDF-file every month, and pay online too. 

The adminstration can be (and naturally would be) almost totally automated.

4. Private sector ownership of carparks and roads will have their revenue paid to them through the Ministry of Transport, from the MoT's master server. Naturally it needs to be based on one national system to be practical. 

-No one will want to muck about with multiple bills from multiple servers, and nor do they need to if you get the system right from the beginning and build a single core-system as the base. This is also why it would need to be an initiative developed by central government. It needs to be a national system so all cars can be charged. It's a bit of a chicken and egg thing - all the cars need to be chipped first.

Advantages:

I cannot concieve of a more efficient and practical system for providing user-charges on roads. And to stress there is no fundamental reason for it to be unduly expensive - the supporting technology is inherently cheap.
 
I do not believe the proposed system exists as of yet (from what I know at least?), but the government could certainly commission its development. There is no question it would work. It's based on nothing more than a crude information exchange using well established technologies. It's all solid-state electronics and therefore inherently reliable and low maintenance.

As I see it, it gives us the foundation to economically rationalise road usage which in turn allows us to do away with minimum parking requirements. Parking can become just another component of the market economical model.

Safety:

Another thing you can do with this system is install the equivalent of speed camera's, for cheap. It's just a matter of embedding two readers, say 50 meters apart, on any given stretch of road so it can likewise measure vehicle speed as it enters and exists the gates, plus details. 

I wonder how this would affect the road toll, having a "speed trap" on maybe every dangerous corner?

Road management:

The RF-readers can inform us of traffic conditions in real time, and very accurately. This can obviously help with traffic management. 

Also, we can have congestion-charging with this system and on a detailed level, using maybe many toll gates because they're so cheap to install, anywhere. People can use the internet to get a detailed perspective on travel/parking costs at any given time of the day, as rates are always displayed online.

Reducing congestion is by far the most significant way we can reduce carbon emissions from road transport. Stop-and-go operation is the great "evil" of transport inefficiency in an urban environment.

Security:

Having a detailed time/location record of people's cars, that can be accessed when required, can no doubt help to fight crime.

Ends:

I hope you found this idea of interest. 

Thanks for your attention,

Andrew Atkin

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Extended video: 


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