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Five steps to smart, sustainable transport

A plethora of smart transport thinkers will gather in Auckland next week to nut out ideas for new business ventures to transform our transport infrastructure.

Think you’ve got it tough making environmental decisions like whether to buy an electric car or a cheap diesel? To take the bus or the people mover to work? To send freight by road or rail?


Pity Matt Ayers, transformation leader at the Sustainable Business Network, whose job it is to work out how to develop a sustainable transport system for New Zealand.

Six months into a three-year project to design and implement environmentally-friendly transport projects, Ayers says Kiwi companies are starting to come on board and ideas are taking shape.

SBN’s Project NZ 2014 conference, taking place in Auckland next week, will bring together transport innovators, business leaders, international experts, sustainability organisations and local and national government.

Ayers says conference sessions will pull together research SBN has commissioned and various discussions with local and international companies which have taken place over the last six months. The aim is to come up with viable, commercial, transport-related opportunities, which delegates think will work and can get behind.

“We will put 20 ideas in front of them and they will choose five.”

He says there are five areas under consideration, including moving beyond petrol.

“What are the challenges stopping us making progress and what are the innovations that might lead to a breakthrough.”

Other areas being covered at the conference are:

how to get people to replace cars on short trips

how to integrate different transport modes (buses, bikes, cars, trains, ferries etc) more effectively

how to promote more ride-sharing (both passengers and freight) 

and using smart devices more in transport

“More and more your phone is a hub for innovative transport solutions,” Ayers says.

Take taxi service Uber, where you can order a cab, track its progress towards you, pay with your credit card (and no fees), and rate the driver, all from a phone app.

“Overseas, there is smart technology allowing you to park your car at the airport and someone else can rent it while you are away. Or you can hire out your driveway for parking while you are at work.”

Want to hear more about getting involved in smart transport options for New Zealand, as well as sustainable ideas in other areas? The Project NZ conference is being held at AUT Business School in Auckland from 17-18 September. The conference will also launch The Big Shift in New Zealand.

Chief editor at Idealog, Nikki's a veteran in the journalism industry. A former lecturer at AUT University, she was the chief reporter at NZ weekly business publication The Independent and was deputy editor of Canadian publication Unlimited magazine.

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