A fascinating article in the NZ Herald today, based on a survey that asked people what are the most important issues that will determine how you vote in the upcoming “Super City” elections. Here’s an extract:

Auckland is waiting. On the gridlocked roads, on the railway platforms, at the bus stops, the residents of the new Supercity are waiting.

Aucklanders say transport is their single biggest election issue – and most are waiting to see what solutions the candidates can offer before they decide how to cast their vote.

This is no real surprise. It’s widespread knowledge that transport is considered to be Auckland’s biggest problem. But what’s particularly interesting are some further details about what people think needs to be done to improve the transport situation:

Manukau mayor Len Brown and Auckland mayor John Banks both promise to focus on a rail link to the airport, a CBD rail loop and another harbour crossing to take rail to Albany.

They also promise to improve ferry connections and wharves.

Transport is the single most important issue for 27 per cent of survey respondents. And 44 per cent of voters say improving the train services should be the top priority for the new council.

Crowded motorways, inadequate bus routes and not enough ferry services were big areas of complaint.

One respondent said: “The traffic system … needs to be integrated. I think a Supercity will ensure this happens.”

Another said: “The traffic ruins my day, I would like to be able to take public transport but it would take me three buses.”

Transport problems are even more important to voters than keeping rates down, the deciding issue for 26 per cent of respondents.

I’ve highlighted in bold what I think is the most amazing result of the survey. That is, almost half of respondents felt that improving train services should be the number one priority for the new council. Even though the actual number of people using the train system in Auckland to get to and from work is relatively low (around 35,000 a weekday I think), there’s a general recognition that everyone benefits from a better rail system. People driving benefit as the roads are less clogged and the city as a whole benefits through the wider economic benefits to areas like the CBD that rail brings.

This is a quite staggering result actually. I have obviously always hoped that a significant number of fellow Aucklanders agree that improving public transport in Auckland is one of the most essential things needed to improve the city. This survey confirms my hopes and reinforces what I think is a growing understanding that Auckland’s days of motorway building are drawing to a close and our transport future lies in developing a world-class public transport system.

Hopefully central government might also start to understand that Aucklanders really do want an improved rail system.

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  1. I notice John Banks is now backing off all his previous public transport commitments. What a disgrace. Joyce makes one speech about what Auckland’s transport priorities should be and Banks falls straight into line with his Wellington masters. His stocks have crashed this election. Brown it is.

    1. Considering one of the biggest gains for Auckland out of the whole “Super City” thing is having a stronger bargaining voice in Wellington with central government, I think Banks needs to be pretty careful about looking like every time Joyce say “jump” he seems to say “how high?”

  2. The article is wrong in that Banks as far as I am aware has never support a rail link to the Shore? He supposedly mildly supports a CBD tunnel – ‘sometime in the future’ – but always claims electrification and integrated ticketing are things he’ll push for despite them already happening and won’t be costing his anything to ‘support’. I can only hope people see Banks for what he is and kick him out.

    1. rtc – Yes he did initially support rail to the shore, he talked about being able to get on a train in Albany and going all the way to the Airport. Since Joyce tried to pour cold water over the rail plans he has backed off it some what however.

  3. Just sucks we have a minister and government who don’t give two hoots, rail doesn’t make them a pretty penny.

    “When I hear of lines to the airport and rail to the North Shore I shake my head and think these are the musings of people full of wonderful vision but who are less verbose about what it will cost them and who will pay,” he said

    1. “When I hear of motorways to Wellsford and highways to Howick I shake my head and think these are the musings of people full of wonderful vision but who are less verbose about what it will cost them and who will pay,” see it works both ways Mr Joyce.

  4. Yeah, I noted the errors on what Banks supported and didn’t. Hopefully the general public realises this also.

  5. I think that this is a pretty interesting result and while I don’t expect Wellington to take note I certainly hope that the candidates for the council do. I would be really interested to see what the remaining 66% of was made up of, presumably if motorways were high up the list it would have been mentioned.

    What I would like to see is a candidate standing up with a map and some lines on it similar to your dream rail system and saying “this is what we need to aim for”. I think it would get a good response from people as they realise that having a decent rail system would actually cover most of the city. Having it on a map would have far more impact than just saying we need rail to the shore or airport etc

  6. Matt L – in reality, that also makes you much easier to attack. I am happy for Len Brown to just say he supports the CBD tunnel and later, airport rail and North Shore rail, as long as I am confident he means it. Specifics can come later.

    I know many people would disagree, but elections are rarely won on specifics – but often lost on them, because the discussion suddenly gets dragged down by other people attacking the specifics, even if they could easily be changed or are irrelevant in the grand scheme. Fact of life – you may notice that Len Brown isn’t discussing, say, whether parking should be retained on Dom Road. And for good reason, despite he quite possibly having a major stake in this project soon, if he wins.

  7. Hmmm, I’m beginning to regret not forming a PT party on this ballot… Maybe Liveable Auckland party in 2013…

    I knew Manukau CC had some polling data about PT and it was very good – this is awesome… Hopefully Len wins makes a huge Auckland wide fuss and Blinglish and Joycey cave…

  8. ACtually, the surveys the city councils have been doing in Auckland have shown for some time that most people think public transport is the priority for resolving our transport issues.

    The problem, IMHO, is that those people didn’t give $55,000 to National in the last election campaign, they are not “key stakeholders”, and they don’t make well researched and persuasive submissions and representations to Parliament all the time on transport issues… guess what group does?

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