A pretty strong criticism of the Auckland Plan’s transport chapter, even in its updated version post submissions, was that it’s not transformational. That critique was touched on in this previous post in particular – highlighting that when you compare the funding split between roads, public transport and walking and cycling, the Auckland Plan actually shifts the focus back towards road expenditure – when compared to the 2010 Regional Land Transport Strategy.
Hidden in the minutes to last Tuesday’s meeting of the Council’s Auckland Plan Committee, who are making final changes to the plan before it gets formally adopted later this month, are a few slides that give an update on further changes being made to the transport chapter. I get the feeling that it is responding to feedback that that transport section is not “transformational enough”. It seems like the Council didn’t quite get around to considering the changes, as transport issues are a matter up for discussion at Thursday’s meeting, but the slides give us a clue about what these further changes might be:
I think that it is crucial that we have some meaningful targets for transport in the Auckland Plan and he council has come up with two key ones. A shorter term raw patronage number that can hopefully hammer home the point that this is one of the council’s main transport focus areas over the next decade, but also longer term target that give us a clue about what transport might be like in a truly “transformed” city – what achieving our vision of becoming the World’s Most Liveable City might be like. The 10 year target is also quite a bit more than what is forecast in the draft long term plan. A further slide gives us a clue about the level of patronage growth required to meet the patronage targets – and how that compares to historical trends:
As you can see it is quite a change and I think it’s fair to say that if we were to reach the 2040 target, then public transport use in Auckland would have truly gone through a “transformation”. But how realistic is it to expect Auckland’s per capita use of public transport to increase so dramatically over the next 3o years? Well the next slide gives us a nice comparison similar cities throughout Australia and Canada in particular and it seems like at 100 trips per person we’d really be doing “pretty well”, rather than our current level which is pretty horrific: Of course it’s all nice and well for the Auckland Plan to be full of pretty words and nice sounding targets, but the real crunch comes down to how much money gets spent on what projects and so far the draft long term plan is far from ideal. It will be interesting to see whether any other last minute changes to the Auckland Plan have resolved the glaring hypocrisy between the pretty words and the increasingly optimistic targets on the one hand, and the huge amount of money that is being planned to be poured into roading projects on the other hand.
I guess that matter will be in the hands of the Council on Thursday but I will definitely be keeping an eye on it.