One of the common excuses for why public transport supposedly “won’t work in Auckland” and why we need to continue to plow money into motorways, is that Auckland is supposedly “too low density” for public transport. In fact, aspiring Auckland Super City Mayor John Banks went so far as to say that Auckland was the “second most spread out city in the world” (after Los Angeles) in a Guest Post on Aucklandtrains. He used this “fact” to justify why Auckland needs to “compete its motorway network” as quickly as possible.
But is this true? How does Auckland’s population density compare with other cities around the world? How does its land area compare with cities in Australia and the USA – for example? Is Auckland anywhere near the second most spread out city in the world? What about Los Angeles?
Fortunately, Demographia (who I am often quite sceptical about when it comes to planning matters, but who seem to have a reasonably good grasp of this issue) have undertaken an enormously in depth study into city sizes, city population and population densities. Perhaps what is most interesting about their work is how they calculate where each urban area begins and ends – which actually fits together quite nicely with how I tend to think of the issue: I like the idea that we’re not measuring “bits of cities”, such as simply the inner part of the New York urban area – which of course has very high densities but isn’t just what New York is made up of.
For a start, I suppose that it makes sense to look at what the biggest cities in the world are by population – here are the top 20: Auckland doesn’t even make it into the top 200, which roughly corresponds with the number of cities in the world with more than 2 million people.
The next thing that’s very interesting to look at is the physical size of cities in the world – which of these urban areas covers the most space. I remember as a kid hearing that Auckland was physically the same size as London, but is that true?
Well according to the table above, the Auckland urban area was 531 square kilometres in size, making it about a third the size of London. Also interesting to note that Auckland’s about half the size of Perth, and less than a third of the size of the Brisbane metropolitan area. At the top of the list, we see that the New York metropolitan area is the biggest built-up urban area in the world, by size, followed by Tokyo. The New York metropolitan area is about 22 times the physical size of Auckland. By size, Auckland is actually the 181st largest city in the world.
Turning to population density, it is really interesting to see how Auckland compares with other cities in Australia and the USA. Most of the really high density cities in the world are in developing nations, which shows why Auckland and many other large and well known cities end up ranked so low. Yet we still see that Auckland’s population density is a bit higher than Sydney’s and significantly higher than all the other major cities in Australia. Interestingly enough though, one city that has a higher population density than Auckland is Los Angeles. In fact, Los Angeles has the highest density of any city in the USA – not because it has a really dense core like New York does, but because throughout Los Angeles the lot sizes are generally pretty small, a similar situation to what we have in Auckland.
So what does all of this mean? Well for one it shows that any time someone says “Auckland’s population density is too low for public transport to work” you can absolutely say that they’re talking rubbish. It also probably means that simple population density isn’t necessarily the ultimate defining issue about whether a city’s urban form is suitable for public transport or not. The way in which that population density is structured (small lots evenly spread throughout the city or higher and lower density nodes) might matter more, the concentration of jobs in certain areas might also make more of a difference (although remember that Vancouver has a lower percentage of jobs in its CBD than Auckland).
Ultimately, what this all probably means is that the popularity of public transport is likely to be based more on the quality of the system than it is on the urban form of the city. Sure, there are many things we can and must do to structure our city more efficiently and sustainably, but let’s stop making the excuse that Auckland is too spread out for public transport to work. Because, as the above tables show, that’s complete rubbish.
Further proof of your conclusion is the much lower density of Perth, but much higher PT use, why? Because they built some.
I think we can quite easily see with the investments we have made so far in PT that it does encourage use. Just look at how fast the RTN network is growing (we must be due for Junes stats soon). Of course the next argument that people will throw up is that because of the harbours we are abnormally stretched out or something like that where as the reality is that with the exception of the far eastern suburbs like Howick and Botany etc the rest of our development has roughly followed transport corridors i.e. out west most of the town centres were developed along the rail line.
More to your point Josh, in the next 20 years when Auckland will hit 2 million people, if the new coucil can maintain 90% of future growth within the metro boundaries our density will skyrocket. If anything we should be building PT now as we can clearly see more and more people want to work and live here. The case for the CBD loop will focus on downtown Auckland (from K rd to the waterfront) will add another 120,000 jobs to the existing 80,000 we have at the moment by 2040. So 200,000 jobs mostly in highrise will need more than Hobson St or Fanshawe St, we NEED rail.
Always good to see people addressing evidence, not just attitudes. I think we need more of this evidential argument, and also to understand how the interplay of PT and other urban factors relate.
I recently came across an old web bookmark (mysociety, see below) which set me off thinking that the PT / urban form lobby in Auckland could start using similar tools. If we can access the data it would be possible to use the open-source coding on the mysociety site to present alot of the data which underpins the argument for PT, for intensifying urban areas, and for affecting issues like (true) housing affordability. Another similar presentation is the HTA site in the US (see below as well). Density would of course be one of the base data sets, with modal travel times / costs being the obvious first correlation. Typical housing costs would be useful – others could probably suggest more? Ideally we could add-in transport projects as “what-if” options – eg Admin’s bus network ideas – to test the results they might deliver.
I guess I am asking if anyone else sees this as a little project worth pursuing? Does anyone have access to the necessary data, and does anyone else have the the coding skills to put it together, using the mysociety code or similar?
Interesting thought Tim. In a recent post I used a Google Earth file that someone had created to show population density by meshblock throughout Auckland’s CBD. It was pretty fine-grained information that was actually quite useful in looking for areas of concentrated activity.
Good news for Auckland post peak oil…
Some free open source GIS programmes like mapwindow can be quite powerful, and actually not too difficult to use. The census data, and matching GIS files are freely available on the Statistics NZ site. I have been slowly working on mapping some of the census data that is relevant to Auckland transport and planning.
Employment density is the next aim, will share it when its done.
Oh that is so cool. My major at uni was GIS but I couldn’t get a job in it so I’m now retraining as a software developer. I might have to download that to keep the skills up. ArcGIS is just frighteningly expensive.
I’m a professor of urban politics in Winnipeg, where we are locked in an apparently never-ending debate regarding rapid transit. You’re right that it’s not all about density. It’s also about walkable neighbourhoods, neighbourhoods where people aren’t dependent on automobiles. Moreover, once rapid transit is built, it provides the opportunity to build more such neighbourhoods. In other words, rapid transit can help us determine what kind of city we’ll have in future. http://blog.uwinnipeg.ca/ChristopherLeo/archives/2009/02/whats_your_pref.html.
Christopher Leo, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Politics,
University of Winnipeg,
Winnipeg R3B 2E9.
Department of City Planning,
University of Manitoba.
Research-based blog: http://blog.uwinnipeg.ca/ChristopherLeo/
Thanks for dropping by Christopher. Overall density is such a crude tool for analysing urban areas that often I wonder how much use it is at all. Like the example that New York has a lower density than Los Angeles, it’s interesting but in terms of looking at which city is more suitable for sustainable transport options, the overall density figure tells us nothing.
Walkability is an interesting characteristic to measure. I guess it comes down to having a mix of uses, an easy to understand and navigate grid of streets, a pedestrian friendly environment and so forth. It needs to both be easy to walk, and also there must be stuff for you to want to walk to.
It’s a question of whether “walkable neighbourhoods” are what people really want, it sounds attractive on the face of it, but in fact I prefer living in neigbourhoods full of plant life, houses with room for gardens and trees everywhere, which makes for a nice enviroment to walk around in
If I want to get somewhere for some other purpose I am happy to use my car, which can also carry things that I buy
The city I live in is currently like this, but the city planners want to move toward higher density
John Banks is a provincial hick. He needs to take a train from Narita to Hachioji sometime and experience how truly huge Tokyo is before spouting nonsense about Auckland’s size.
As for sprawl, he should try driving across Atlanta now THAT is a spread out city.
Nice to see his anti-PT justifications refuted with cold hard facts.
What does Brown say on this?
great post. when i arrived in auckland a few years back, i couldn’t believe that several people who should know better were quoting this. i can’t imagine how anyone could possibly think Auckland is anywhere near the size of Tokyo, New York etc. Its astounding that such a rumour could persist. I used the same data in presentations to dispell this rumour in auckland city, but it appears its not got through to everybody.
What is critical is not so much overall population, land area and therefore density, but more importantly is the pattern of the population. Take a city the same size and population – one could have the population spread very evenly over the whole area. another could have very low density parts and large parks, and then really intense concentrations of population. This would support PT far more effectively. The problem is Auckland is the former, and it would be interesting to get figures to show the pattern of population compared to other cities, which this Demographia info does not show.
So Banks (and others are wrong) to claim we are second largest city, and we have low density. But is partly right in that it is our pattern of population that does not support PT particularly well.
However, I’m convinced that land use and transport policies and action could (and should) change our dispersed pattern to a more poly-centric approach, if only we got on and did it, and Perth is one such example where it is working more effectively.
Couldn’t agree more with Prof Leo. We need to improve our walkability. Walking as first choice for small distances supports PT use. When a neighbour won’t even walk 5 mins to the local shops they are always going to choose the car over PT for longer journeys. Does anyone now good ways of measuring the community impact of walkability, and by extension PT use, in terms of community benefits? I’m thinking community cohesion, neighbourhood safety, etc etc
I catch the Dominion road buses from midtown through to Balmoral each day, trying my hardest to catch the Flyover busses purely due to the reduced time I have to spend on the bus. Each day this week someone has got on at Midtown, waited around in the busy traffic until we manage to get trudging up Wakefield Street following a non-flyover bus, cross Mayoral Drive, then the buzzer goes…
Why on Earth do people catch a bus less than 500m when they have perfectly good legs which can do it in a much more efficient and surprisingly time saving manner. On top of that, why catch the “express” styled bus, catch the one which stops at every stop, and was ahead of us. If the person hadn’t had have gotten off, the bus infront would have pulled over (it still did) and collected all the waiting passengers (someone may have waved our driver down sure). But them catching a bus one stop within the city cost us a good minute waiting time, plus the time it took for the waiting passengers to board.
It baffles me
I guess either they have monthly passes or the 50c doesn’t seem like much to them. An interesting boost for patronage I must say!
Both Wellington and Christchurch have lower densities than Auckland in the report you referenced.
Wellington does not have anything like Auckland has with the MUL.
We have to be careful with our level of PT investment and the way we go about it. Many of Wellingtons railway stations have huge carparks next to them. Heavy rail, while beneficial, increases investment in suburban areas (park and rides help lead to further sprawl), while a light rail will encourage a concerntration of development closer to the city centre.
Hmmm demographia… I’m always suspicious of the quality of their reasearch, but nevertheless I agree with your conclusions.
I looked at this issue for part of my uni studies, we calclated the populaton density of the actual urbanized area (not the legal bondaries) of all the state and provncial capitals of australia and Canada. The results were no signficant correlation between density and pblic transport use, cycling or walking. There was a wide variety of cities, big and small, spread and dense, and this had nothng to do with transport mode share.
We worked out that Auckland was slightly less dense than Sydney, but more dense than any other australian city. So yeah, more evidence the “to spread out argument” is bs.
I believe the whole thing about ‘ Auckland’ covering a large area is true, *if* you are talking about the arbitrary legal bondary of the Auckland regional council, which is mostly comprised of farmland and mountain ranges!
I worked out not long ago that the contiguous Auckland urban area can fit entirely within zone 1 of Melbourne’s ticketing system, so that helps put the actual size of the city into perspective.
Do the area figures take in to account the land inside the city boundaries that isn’t usable? It isn’t quite so significant for Auckland, but large areas of Wellington City are too hilly to build on. That would reduce the person per square kilometer figure, making the city look less dense than it actually is.
That’s possible, but Auckland has large unusable areas as well in the harbours which cut right through the city. I think when it comes to Auckland and Wellington they both have major problems with natural barriers. Christchurch on the other hand… I gues when it comes to natural barriers when planning for PT then it is best to include them in the density map as they force the population to spread out further from the city than they otherwise would have.
It would be interesting to take the average lot size of AUckland and Wellington and then see how much the extent of the city would be if you plonked them down on a plain.
That’s what I was thinking too. Auckland is long and thin with one VERY narrow bottleneck. Wellington has developed mostly along valleys. Living on the edge of a tectonic plate gives us some spectacular scenery, but also governs the shape of our cities.
Not to mention exciting events every few thousand years.
But that make public transport easier to provide, as the population is constrained into narrow corridors with a central focus. At a finer level you find population is concentrated along linear valley corridors.
You hear so much about Auckland being too spread out or the wrong landform for public transport, but ironically the opposite is true. Auckland’s terrain naturally focuses growth into tight bands which is most suitable to public transport, and very poorly suited to motorways!
This was kind of my point earlier, we are only 530sqkm but we have that area streched out a lot due to the natural barriers, i.e. the harbours, waitakere ranges etc. I think those arguing that we are not dense includes these areas in the calculation which distorts the figures. In a way being forced in like we are it should almost be easier to provide decent transport options. A prime example is the Western line, with decent feeders it would able serve almost all of areas of West Auckland and the geography prevents further spread (suburbs north of swanson are excluded due to the rail line headding away from them)
The Auckland density myth has a long and well documented history of manufacture to support a motorway agenda and totally uncritical acceptance ever afterwards. A multimodal 1949 plan called the Outline Development Plan for Auckland counted the urban area as 120 square km. The figure was still 120 square km in the 1951 update. However the 1956 Master Transportation Plan, much more pro-motorway, gave the urban area now as 450 square kilometres.
So in other words the figure in these plans was totally political, with the lower area the more credible one (population was only 300-350 thousand in those days.). As recently as 2000, the Transit New Zealand Auckland State Highway Strategy 2000 declared that “the overall residential population density of the Auckland urban area is under 300 people per square kilometre of land area. This is very low compared to large overseas cities which can typically have population densities of well over 1,000 residents per square kilometre… (p. 9), and that this added to the justification for completing the “the original master plan in the 1960s” (p. 13).
Even in academe, Professor Kenneth Cumberland states in “The essential nature of Auckland” in Bush & Scott eds Auckland at Full Stretch (1977) that:
“For its population, Auckland spreads further than any other city: it has very low densities of population. On estimates of the current population, Auckland has no more than 7.7 persons per ha (3.1 per acre). This is only 770 per square kilometre (or 2,000 per square mile). It is less than in any rural and purely agricultural communities in other lands. Such disperson renders the centre difficult and expensive to reach, and makes the downtown area a human desert at the weekend. It makes the provision of public transport expensive; it makes even a rapid rail system difficult to justify, and the journey to work time-consuming and expensive.” (p. 21)
Elsewhere in the same paper Cumberland reiterates opposition to a Perth-style corridor plan for Auckland with rapid rail to the south, which had been supported in the late 1960s and early 1970s by populist Auckland City Mayor Dove-Myer Robinson and the Auckland Regional Authority, on the grounds that “wholesale totalitarian forms of planning may be very dangerous” (p. 27). In general, Cumberland’s discourse anticipated later anti-planning ideologies which took over completely in the New Zealand of the 1980s, though not in Australia.
Cumberland was head of geography at Auckland University from 1946 to 1980, so even in academe people took the density myth as gospel, though in fact on closer examination it seems to reflect a transit-skeptic agenda, a confusion of reality and the sort of “autopia” that Cumberland clearly thought desirable (plenty more on that). This was the case ever since the 1950s, when Cumberland was one of those calling for the Master Transportation Plan to overturn the earlier multimodal scheme. After the multimodalists were overturned, Cumberland became head of the Auckland Regional Planning Authority in the late 1950s, at which point the influence of his point of view only increased.
This is one of the important historical differences between Auckland and other cities, that in Auckland the local university tended to endorse official bureaucratic “storylines” on this issue, as they have elsewhere been described, rather than criticising them. The principal academic dissenter was Prof. Graham Bush, whose courses on local government were disestablished and Board of Urban Studies closed down in the early 1980s.
For more on this see an earlier posting on this blog, “How Everything Went Wrong for Auckland”, http://greaterakl.wpengine.com/tag/chris-harris/
The measure of ‘urban area’ above should refer to the contiguous urbanised area only and not include the harbours, major regional parks etc. It probably includes urban parkland and reserves however.
The figure quoted of 500km2 appears to be quite accurate for the urbanised area, at approximately one tenth of the Regional Council area you can see why basic measures of density are way out!
Actually what I think would be quite an interesting exercise would be to take a ‘urban’ map of Auckland and overlay it over various cities as you can like Melbourne, Los Angeles or even Perth. It would graphically demonstrate it quite quickly.
I made an eyeball survey Auckland to London using google maps and the north to south distance is pretty much the same between London and Auckland (if you include Orewa etc), however the width of London is far greater. Essentially we have one very long, very skinny city.
Obi, there is massive tracks of parklands and water inside the Auckland area…
I hadn’t considered the harbours. Surely they wouldn’t be included in the city area?
Doubt it, but my point was they make the city seem less dense than it is…
There is a big difference between urbanised area and gross regional area! Neither should include the harbours but the latter would include mountains, farms, wilderness, forests etc.
Haha, exactly. That’s what Cumberland did to justify motorways.
I wonder if he was alive now what he’d have to say about our current problems of his making… probably a ‘more motorways!’ in a similar semi-maniacal way like the bloke in the old SNL ‘more cowbell’ skit.
“Heavy rail, while beneficial, increases investment in suburban areas (park and rides help lead to further sprawl)”
If that sprawl is connected well by rail, it has much less negative effects for the region, in my view. At the very least, rail will thus dampen sprawl effects, if not contain it.
Picking up James B’s point above, I wonder if the issue is not the size of Auckland, but the shape of Auckland, with a long north-south axis, and a not quite as long east-west axis. If Auckland had the *shape* of Christchurch, it would feel much more compact.
Compare the Wellington and Christchurch regions. Both areas have about 360,000 people in the main built-up area, and a CBD of comparable size. Yet Wellington’s PT use rates are half as much again as Christchurch. The point is that Wellington is long with thin corridors and congested roads(perfect for rail) and Christchurch is quite compact, with a lot of roads into the city centre. This means both reduced traffic congestion, and much more use of cycling as well.
I’m curious about the cited population figure for Auckland of 1,185,000 when the Census figure for 2006 is 1,303,000. Where did the 118,000 go? Into non-contiguous areas excluded from the calculation of the urban area?
The difference between the contiguous urban area of Auckland and the population of the Auckland region as a whole I think.
Purely from the perspective of a keen observer of NZ and Canadian cities, it seems a bit improbable that Auckland’s density (2200/km2) is mid-way between that of Toronto (2500/km2) and Montreal (2000/km2), and significantly higher than Vancouver (1700/km2).
Auckland’s suburbs seem much the same, or slightly less dense, than the suburbs of these Canadian cities (where, e.g., 800m2 lots are hardly common).
And at the same time Auckland lacks the a large downtown residential base, of the sort readily visible in the innumerable glass condo towers of Vancouver.
As a pedestrian/commuter, the downtowns of the big Canadian cities can feel quite intensely crowded … something that I have NEVER experienced in central Auckland.
Re the Trickster, Professor Cumberland remains alive and well too, at least as of a couple of years ago, though in his 90s. He published a memoir in New Zealand Geographer in 2007, Vol. 63, Issue, 1, pp. 62-68. This is downloadable on http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/117997179/PDFSTART. See also “Return to a Pacific Paradise,” published in 2006, http://www.nzgeography.com/download/Cumberland_Return_to_a_Pacific_Paradise.pdf , though neither of these pieces deals with Auckland transport. It would be interesting to have a debate. Who knows, maybe he has changed his mind by now. That would be interesting.
The Demographia stats for Auckland are wrong – I think that they have divided the Auckland Urban Area population by the land area of the Auckland CITY. The land area of the Auckland Urban area is around 1,100 sq km. Using the Demographia population (which I think is based on a projection of 2001 population???) the corrected density is 989/km2. Auckland ranks around 750th – similar to Brisbane but below the other cities you mention. The myth is not as busted as you thought.
According to Table 10 of StatsNZ’s Urban Rural profile (search for ‘Urban Rural’ at http://www.stats.govt.nz and look for ‘updated data tables: Population’), using 2006 data, the population was 1,208,088 and the density was 1,127/km2. With population growth, the myth gets a bit more busted each year!
See also the appendix to my paper at http://motu-www.motu.org.nz/wpapers/08_12.pdf for a comparison with some US cities.
Dave, thanks for your comment.
Looking at Appendix Figure 3 of your paper I think you’ve included quite a lot of rural area within your definition of Auckland’s urban area. Particularly around Whitford, Beachlands, Papakura East, between Albany and Silverdale and also in the foothills of the Waitakeres.
I think that if you removed those areas you would end up with a reasonably different result.
Demographia stats for most things are wrong, including Brisbane. Demographia is a right wing think tank that mangles data in order to promote their libertarian, decentralisation and automobility agenda.
Based on my own reasearch using the area and population of the actually urbanised area of major cities in Australasia, Auckland actually ranks second behind Sydney in terms of urban population density.
That sounds about right Nick. It’s amzing how measuring something supposedly so simple as “how big is this city?” can turn out to be so complicated.
Nick R – Can you please direct me to your NZ/Aust comparison. Sounds useful.
It was an assignment I did for a transport planning course last year. If you email me (see contact us at the top of the page) I’ll see if I can fish out the spreadsheet and email it to you.
Dave – Using an area calculator on Google maps shows the urban area of the greater Auckland area to be about what is listed by Demographia. Looking briefly at your map, it looks like you have included large tracks of rural land, particularly areas out by Ardmore.
The Herald has been running a series over the last few weeks looking at Auckland and in todays one there is an interesting piece from Owen McShane about this topic. He has used the same data to say that it is a myth that Auckland is not dense but comes to the conclusion that seeing as we are more dense than most Australian and US cities that we need to allow sprawl if we want to be a world class city.
Admin – There are some really interesting pieces in this, I will try and hold on to it for you when you get back as I think you would be interested in it.
Ah Owen McShane, I’d be laughing if I wasn’t crying!
That was my thought, just because you make up a fancy title for yourself doesn’t man you should be given a podium for your views
I’m going to start refering to myself as:
Mr Nicolas Reid, esq. BA, PGDipSci, MSc, MSocSci(plan. env.), MPIA.
CEO, chief policy analyst and head of research
Transglobal Institute for International Transport Research, Land Use Studies and Policy Discourse
Can I get my articles in The Herald now please? 🙂
Who is this McShane muppet a lobbyist for? Landbanking developers? I note that his outfit just had a ‘big day out’ at Alan Gibbs’ farm to listen to ACT loonies Gibbs and Brash…. sprawl is good and the suburbs are a veritable nirvana according to his website!
The herald doesn’t bother to hide its bias and laziness.
McShane is a lobbiest for McShane, he believes all the rubbish he sprouts from the “McShane’s Shed Centre of Excellence of McShanisms”
The articles and opinion pieces have now appeared online, http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10673127
I think you need to be careful what your definition of density is. Urban Density takes many forms, however you have raised an important point on the effect of density. Our research centre based in Tokyo shows that density is a very good bench mark for the per capita vehicle transit use. It is not density which drives this – it is only an indicator but what it suggests is that higher density cities pave the way for a very accessable PT system (amoung several other variables). PT has a return on investment of in excess of 10% in Hong Kong (most dense city in the world), as the density decreases the profit and viability decreases. However even a moderate level of density is likely to at least cover operational costs of any PT system. For low density cities such as in AUS and US PT is clearly loss making. I encourage Auckland to act on 2-fronts (1) Investing in PT (esp rail) (2) Supporting this with higher density development. The era of peak oil is apporaching and alternative vehicles are unlikely to be cost effective subsitutes in the medium term. Providing trasport options is the greatest path to increasing prosperity.
The biggest MYTH is quoting Aucklands area as being 531 Km2, thats the size of a box less than 23 km x 23km, and we all know 23k (15 miles) is nowhere in Auckland. South Auckland alone is bigger than that. Secondly, its just silly to suggest Auckland has a higher density than Sydney. These figures are a load of rot.
You’ll also find that if you draw a box 23km by 23 km anywhere near Auckland then most of what is in it isn’t actually Auckland, it’s the sea.
Pubic transport is not safe from all forms of infection and safety. Not suitable for older people to go and carry shopping etc. Public transport should be user pays not supported by rate payers. Our roading system can greatly be improved with some law changes and common sense. 1 all main road ways double lanes no parking on the road side and there are many more I have been all around the world and sent a report to council but they just want a train set. World population is a big problem you can only fit so many sheep in a paddock. Only about 100 acres per person now
Pretty much all your points are wrong, but I’m going to pick out a couple.
“Not suitable for older people to go and carry shopping etc”. This is obviously not true. PT is vastly better than cars for the elderly. Forcing 90 year old granny to either drive a multi ton vehicle by herself, or be resigned to an aged care facility is an extremely poor outcome for granny, and society that has to deal with the accidents that inevitably happen. In Auckland you can take any mobility scooter onto any train bus or ferry. Or take a little wheeled trolley if walking is still ok so you don’t have to carry groceries.
“Public transport should be user pays not supported by rate payers” Driving is not user pays either, almost all new major investment in motorways and state highways is payed for solely or mostly by non road user charges funding (eg rates, gst and income tax). And there are a lot of costs that are externalized to society so the subsidy isn’t so obvious but just as substantial. Air quality, enforced parking minimums for housing and offices, etc etc all makes living more expensive and makes driving cheaper (the definition of a subsidy). Making PT user pays would be unfair, and be a worse outcome in the end for everyone as people would be forced back onto the road.
“…some law changes and common sense. 1 all main road ways double lanes no parking on the road side”. Obviously everyone’s common sense is different. For example forcing vast amounts of funding to go to double laning underused highways is obviously not common sense for me or pretty much anyone (which is why its not done). Some of the new highway projects will be much more utilized than most of these highways for example already have a BCR of under 1. If anything they should be doing less double laning