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The Future of Transport

As the population of Aotearoa New Zealand increases traffic on our roads also increases. Using public transport both on the road and by rail can help to reduce road traffic and lower carbon emissions.

Self-driving trains

Automatic train operation (ATO) is a safety device. ATO is used at various levels of automation up to level 4, where a computer controls the train. Many places now use this system across the world. A train driver stays onboard to react to any failures or emergencies.

Self-driving vehicles

Self-driving vehicles drive themselves. They sense what is around them and use technology to find their way. They use sensors and software to control, navigate, and drive the vehicle. Self-driving vehicles use tools such as:

  • radar
  • laser light (LiDAR)
  • GPS
  • automatic emergency braking
  • odometry
  • computer vision (cameras).

Carbon emissions

Transport is mainly powered by the burning of fossil fuels such as petrol and diesel. This produces greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. Increases in carbon dioxide contribute to climate change.

To reduce these carbon emissions people can use public transport and bike or walk instead of drive.

The benefits of rail

Rail transport can help lower the number of vehicles on the road. This can:

  • reduce road congestion
  • reduce road accidents
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • improve safety on our roads
  • lower spending on road maintenance and upgrades.

What can you do?

To help reduce air pollution and traffic on our roads you can:

  • Sometimes walk or ride a bike instead of using the car.
  • Carpool - travel with others.
  • Use public transport - catch the train or bus.

Ready for a quiz? Try the Future of Transport interactive activity.

According to an NZTA report:

  • Without rail there would be an extra 100,000 daily car trips on our roads each year.
  • Rail also means trucks are on the roads for 11 million fewer hours each year.
  • Using rail cuts New Zealand’s carbon emissions by 488,000 tonnes a year. This is the same as taking 87,000 cars off the road, saving millions of dollars.
  • Rail freight has 66% fewer carbon emissions than heavy road freight.
  • Moving more freight by rail can help New Zealand reach its climate change targets.

Audio Māori keywords:


What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of using cars less often?