The Herald today has put out a stunningly great editorial on the lack of vision the government is showing with its 1960’s thinking about transport needs for the future. Of course I should think it is great as even though the words used are slightly different the theme and arguments in it is pretty much identical to a piece I sent them a week and a half ago (not that I’m complaining as the whole point is to the message out there). The piece starts with:

The axiomatic definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.

It’s an idea that plainly hasn’t taken root in the Beehive. The Cabinet paper Transport Trends in Aucklandsuggests a vision for the region that looks in the rear-vision mirror.

It takes as a given “the dominant role of private vehicles in Auckland’s transport system along with the modest role of public transport” during the 30 years to 2006 and draws the conclusion that what we need is … more of the same.

Anyone who has commuted in Auckland for more than a few years knows that a stratehy that invests heavily in roading ignores the lessons of recent history. No sooner has the road network been expanded to meet demand than demand increases. It quickly becomes as congested as it was before the expansion.

One of the things great about this editorial is that succinctly covers many of the issues that have been raised on here before and ends with

This city missed its first chance, spurning Dove-Myer Robinson’s rapid-rail proposals in the 1960s. We won’t get another one after this. The question is not whether we can afford to do it; rather we must ask how anyone can possibly imagine we can afford not to.

It will be interesting to see what kind of response they get, when Rod Oram wrote a similar piece last year it prompted Steven Joyce to respond which gave us an even more frighting insight to how backwards the governments thinking is.

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  1. It even had an understanding of induced demand:

    Anyone who has commuted in Auckland for more than a few years knows that a strategy that invests heavily in roading ignores the lessons of recent history. No sooner has the road network been expanded to meet demand than demand increases. It quickly becomes as congested as it was before the expansion.

    I wonder why the Herald on Sunday editor is so much more onto it than the regular Herald editor.

  2. Who is this person and what have they done with John Roughan et al? If I didn’t know better I’d say somebody on here wrote it! Brilliant stuff, nice that the Auckland paper is on Auckland’s side for once. Hope it gets read widely.

  3. Is the government insane?

    Answer = yes, and or ideologically corrupt

    I don’t think i’ll ever vote for a National government while they are this regressive with transport policies.

      1. I have said in the past that Labour were just as bad when it comes to this kind of thing, could it be that the biggest issue is those from the MOT/NZTA giving advice?

      2. They may well have done, but how much did they increase spending on Auckland’s public transport? National hasn’t committed a single new cent of public money to Auckland’s public transport, it was all done under Labour.

        So even though they spent lots on roads – which we did somewhat need – they also spent lots on public transport. They’re not an either-or proposition, and the way you talk gives ammunition to the anti-PT crowd who say that pro-PT advocates want to see no money spent on roads, and just look at those people who won’t vote for Labour because they didn’t only spend money on public transport.

        1. “and the way you talk gives ammunition to the anti-PT crowd”

          I’m not giving ammunition to anyone. But if people are going to claim the government are idiots for building roads (and that is a fairly consistent theme here) and that the only way to remedy this idiocy is to vote Labour, then it is reasonable to point out that Labour built just as many roads. Labour subscribe to the same “1960s thinking”. And so does Brown, who as far as I know hasn’t opposed any Auckland motorway project and associated himself with the Manukau SH20 extension.

          They’re all politicians and therefore know that people like the flexibility that cars give them. I have a sneaking suspicion that most poll results in favour of public transport are due to people thinking that buses and trains will get OTHER people off the road and speed up the poll respondent’s journey, rather than any intention for the respondent to take a train. Much as rail growth is encouraging, the average Aucklander only takes 3 return trips on the train each year. That’s probably less than the number of trips undertaken by skateboard and there is a long way to go before public transport is a large part of people’s lives.

        2. Obi it’s not a binary proposition: you can vote Green. Also it is clear that this is a new time and Labour will have and do have new policies that we will see over the coming months. But you are right, I was extremely disappointed with Labour on this… Cullen especially was extremely cautious. However you have to admit that what they did support has set the current situation in motion and now the facts make the case for investment in PT much much clearer.

          Also without National we would have electrification in place this year AND paid for within the region. Local funding being something I seem recall you repeatedly arguing for. So, on balance, as you also seem to way in on the side of roading projects, the last Labour government seems about right for you…..

        3. Patrick… You’re right about the Greens of course, but unless the political landscape changes dramatically then they’re going to be junior coalition partners and I would expect them to be influencing coalition strategy rather than driving it.

  4. Hehe, got my comments posted 3rd online….

    kane (Birkdale)
    02:07PM Sunday, 27 Mar 2011
    Wow! Awesome editorial. A true and utter swing towards common sense! Congratulations. Some further points:

    1. From the NZTA, private car trips across the Harbour Bridge at peak time have been in decline since 2006, whilst the number of people crossing has increased. How? The Bus way now carries over 30% of users.

    2. Just look no further than the SH20 connection to SH1 at Manukau! Traffic lights on a motorway to motorway connection, real clever!

    3. The CBD Loop is actually about improving the entire network, so people in Glen Eden can get to Middlemore so much faster. The CBD only employs about a third of Auckland’s workforce. It’s about network efficiency improvements. Plus, the network can then be expanded.

    4. Everyone visualize spaghetti junction. Good. Now how do we squeeze in there another 2, or 4 or 10 lanes? At what cost? Will it be any cheaper then upgrading the rail?

    5. This should become the election issue for Aucklander’s! You may be National or Labour or Green or Maori or Act, but do you really want to sit in another traffic jam for 2 hours + a day, burning up $2.18 (+) of petrol. Do you have another choice?

    1. Your right, it was made a big issue during the Auckland Council elections. The only way the Nats will take any notice is if they are harassed continuously on the election trail.

    2. You’ve got to love that Ken guys comments. What he is planning would cost the country a small fortune in building new homes, businesses, infrastructure. Not to mention the loss of agricultural land around Hamilton. Clearly that guy is a few kumara short of a hangi.

  5. Just reiterating that the Herald on Sunday and the regular Herald are two different publications entirely – different editor and different staff. I doubt we will ever see an editorial like that in the regular Herald.

    1. Indeed, such a shame. But heck, it’s something in the mainstream media that resembles common sense so we should take it. And it appears on the same website as the regular Herald.

    2. it is fascinating that the HOS editorial team are allowed to take a line diametrically opposed to the NZH line. Public transport campaigners should take careful note of this. it shows there it is apparently still possible for individual publications in the MSM to stake out a highly differentiated position. In addition to the HOS, which other publications could be targeted a forums for more rational debate and dissemination of information on key issues?

  6. “The axiomatic definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome” Sounds more like the definition of stupidity to me.

    1. It’s a quote from Einstein, I believe, and roughly goes: “Insanity is repeatedly doing the same thing, the same way, and expecting a different result.”

    1. In two hours time I’ve heard / seen / listened this guy from AA from 3 different sources (NewstalkZB-3news-Herald). The anti-PT campaign must have some good friends up there.

  7. Transport trends have changed hugely in the past 3 years, see my post today on that issue. While I absolutely criticise Labour’s transport policies of old they did govern in a time of much lower patronage growth and much higher traffic growth.

  8. Check out this article from Alasdair Thompson.

    While the overall tone is the typical right wing business-speak that I associate with him, it was this remark that “leapt off the page”:

    ‘Of these, the inner rail loop and waterfront development appear to make good sense,’

    That is an astounding turn-around from someone I had not known to be particularly pro-PT, let alone pro-commuter rail.

    Where does that leave Joyce, English and Brownlee on the political spectrum?

    1. Yes there’s a growing recognition of how important that project is. Even Joyce was reasonably friendly towards it before the business case was released. He seemed annoyed at it after then though for some reason.

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