Saturday, February 21, 2009

Auckland & its traffic

I am visiting Auckland New Zealand for the 27th Economic Theory Workshop at Massey University. The weather is humid and warm and the coastal scenery is attractive - after the dry year in Melbourne I even enjoyed walking around in light rain. I am surprised to find that Auckland has almost the same latitude as Sydney - only slightly further south.  The motel I am staying at grows tropical rhododendrons - vireya - that have problems surviving in Melbourne although they grow much more easily north of Sydney on the coast.

The traffic congestion in Auckland is appalling - the locals estimate it costs the city about $1 billion per year although they probably are not measuring these correctly as deadweight losses. The taxi service here is deregulated (drivers generally own their own cabs and entry to the industry is relatively easy) but different mixes of flag fall and variable rate fares make summary calculations of fares and comparison shopping difficult. In conjunction with the severe congestion issues - the fares still turn out to be very expensive - a trip from the airport to Takapuna on the north shore was over $100NZ*.

The Conference surprised me. The quality of the presentations was high and a lot of the theorists were applying abstract theory to very specific practical medical and other problems. These theorists are clever, no doubt and their work has value. But it is really not my scene - my interests are even more applied - I like theory but also want a bit of policy applicability or, as one of my colleagues puts it, a bit of 'meat'. Back in Melbourne tomorrow.

* Interesting outcome given the widespread claims that deregulation will lead to lower fares.


Anonymous said...

My guess is that with deregulation there might be different qualities of cabs offered at different prices - you might have picked up a one with more extras than you wanted.

Anonymous said...


In fact the first thing I googled quotes $65 from the Airport to Takapuna.

You probably just aren't a very good shopper Harry.

Taxi prices anywhere will reflect the cost of living in the city. Competition can only reduce prices so much before it stops being worthwhile for people to drive cabs at all. There isn't really any way to achieve decent economies of scale in a taxi, they are by definition only able to service one passenger at a time.

But what deregulation obviously has achieved in Auckland is there being plenty of cabs available, a short google found dozens of private companies providing taxi services there. Companies that are illegal in most Australian cities.

Anonymous said...

In latitude, Auckland is closer to Melbourne than to Sydney. It's on the same latitude as Eden, NSW.

Latitude is not a good guide to climate: Auckland is the same distance from the equator as Tunis or the south tip of Sicily.

Auckland's summer temps range from average min of 16 degrees to average max of 24 degrees. Melbourne ranges 15-26. Tunis in summer ranges 21-33 degrees.

It may be cold spells in Melbourne in the winter that do in the rhododendrens.

Anonymous said...

reffereing to your comment on aucklands latitude to sydney,sydneys approx 600km closer to the equator & grows bananas in neumerous back yards.auckland on the other hand doesnt& never has.aucklands climate from experiance is more suited in refferance to eden on the nsw south coast.