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Anticipating the needs of a revolutionised transport system

Anticipating the needs of a revolutionised transport system - Local Government Perspectives 2017

It would be a mistake to only focus on the problems of today at the expense of anticipating our future transport system needs.

Fergus Gammie, Chief Executive, New Zealand Transport Agency
I have been in my role as head of the Transport Agency since March 2016 but I’ve been working in the transport industry an awful lot longer. So I’ve seen a lot of shifts and changes in my time – but nothing comes close to the scale of change that we’re seeing now.
New Zealand is on the cusp of the biggest transport revolution in decades. The vehicles we use to get places are changing, and our expectations of what we get from transport and how we use it are also changing.
The change is underpinned by innovation, particularly in technology, and innovation requires us to think differently. As technology continues to evolve, so will all aspects of our lives. Smart phones, online television and live streaming have already changed our lives. We now buy services rather than products and we’re much more connected than we used to be – and the same thing is happening in the transport space.
So there is no doubt that the environment in which we’re operating is changing at pace. It is going to take a concerted effort from all of us involved in shaping the transport system to work together and ensure we have a system that is integrated and capable of making the most of technology innovations to meet the challenges ahead. Realising the full potential of these new technologies will require all of us to make well-informed, prudent decisions and make the most of our collective resources.
A high-quality transport system is vital to a top performing economy and prospering communities. Investment in our transport system puts New Zealand on a path for sustained economic growth, productivity increases and international competitiveness and helps people live their lives through delivering easy, connected and safe journeys.
A well-performing, integrated transport network keeps jobs in New Zealand, allows businesses to expand, supports tourism and lowers prices on household goods to New Zealand families. It makes our country an even better place to live and work.

  1. We need to drive improvement in customer experience – shift our focus from processes to people-centred services that meet customer needs.
  2. We need to shift from being involved in many transport networks to integrating one transport system. This is about having a holistic approach to a connected transport system that will provide the foundation for the next generation of transport services.
  3. We need to shift from transport outcomes to community outcomes – to provide a system that helps people live their lives, and supports businesses and communities.

We are developing a new strategy that will enable us to work with others to deliver one integrated transport system that is safe, people-centred and improves community outcomes.

One integrated transport system

Achieving a truly integrated transport system is going to require us to think differently. Not only do we need to look at the network as a whole, but we have to look at every aspect it takes to make it work really well for customers.

These days even a mobile phone is part of our transport system. We need to think about how we make all parts of the system connect seamlessly. In the past, we’ve been good at planning and delivering our physical infrastructure. But what has really changed rapidly in recent times is the potential offered by digital systems. We need to make sure we are providing a transport system where the physical infrastructure is integrated with the digital.

Our customers expect the whole system to work, regardless of the type of journey they are making – be it travelling across town to get to work or as part of a freight supply chain.

It is not enough for one part of the system to work if it doesn’t connect seamlessly to all the other parts. Digital systems play a key part in providing people with the information they need to make their journey easy and better connected.

And the digital systems also provide information about what is happening on the network so we can be more responsive to what our customers really need. Making this a reality requires a comprehensive understanding of the entire transport system and working collaboratively to make efficient investment decisions.

A community view

Collectively, we have a responsibility to work together in ways that help unlock wider social and economic opportunities for communities and customers. This requires central government to join up and collaborate with local communities to achieve social and economic outcomes that benefit New Zealand.

Part of that is about considering where wider system resources can be tailored to different needs. We will be looking to work with others and add value where others can’t.

For instance, we will be identifying and supporting smaller communities or customer segments not already well serviced by our system, to unlock access to social and economic opportunities as well as ensure that transport supports high growth in urban areas.

Achieving a shared view of the system

At the Transport Agency we have already begun work on a long-term view that will help shape New Zealand’s land transport system and influence decision-making in future. This will be a shared view – with local government and all relevant stakeholders. By clearly articulating a shared view we will be better placed to deliver an integrated, efficient transport system using all the different tools available.

Some of the priority areas we need to stay focused on together are ensuring the system is resilient, that we have efficient road maintenance which is underpinned by our One Network Road Classification system and, of course, that we are keeping people safe.

We also need to be supporting the efficient movement of freight and ensuring that we have a good public transport system in metro areas that is connected and easy for people to use. We need to do this while ensuring we maximise the benefits of the technology-driven transport revolution to meet customer expectations.

We’ll be working with our transport partners and stakeholders to develop and refine the long-term view in 2017. We need to collaborate to get this thinking right because, to be successful, this needs to be the transport sector’s long-term view – not just our view or a local government view – but a shared view. Together, we’ll be creating a better 
New Zealand.

This article was first published in Local Government Perspectives 2017.

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