At the Auckland Transport board meeting yesterday, one of the topics discussed was a presentation on the Integrated Transport Programme (ITP). It wasn’t put online before the meeting so we couldn’t talk about it earlier but I popped along to the meeting to find out more. While the Auckland Plan provides the 30 year vision for Auckland, the ITP sits under that and is described as the programme that “Coordinates the investment and other interventions of network providers over the next 30 years”. Its a piece of work that has been put together by both Auckland Transport and the NZTA, and the intent is that the transport system works as one rather than all the agencies working in isolation. This plan will be used to form the next RLTP and LTP as well as various more detailed lower-level strategies.

ITP Role

The first part of the presentation talked a lot about challenges that the city faces over the coming decades, all of which relate to population growth in the city. As a reminder, it is expected that even with medium growth predictions (which are based on a lower level of growth than we have seen over the last few decades), there will be significantly higher population growth in Auckland than the rest of New Zealand combined. Auckland is expected to grow by over 700,000 residents while the rest of the country combined sees growth of around 400,000.


The Auckland plan also sets out roughly where both the residential and business growth will occur, and this has been fed into transport models to determine where the destination demand is. This is shown below and shows that the biggest demand and growth is for trips to the city centre.

ITP Destination Demand

Next up in the board meeting they discussed traffic and PT volumes. As you would expect, the traffic graph showed all routes flattening off in recent years. For PT, one thing that annoyed me was the comment that the big drop in PT trips was attributed to the opening of the motorways, with no mention of the simultaneous closing of the tram network.

Historic PT patronage

Coming on the ITP itself, AT has split the various aspects of the programme into what they call the Four Stage Intervention Process which determines what actions will be taken to manage the transport system. How this works is described below, with the second image showing the amount of money budgeted in each category over the next three decades.

ITP Intervention Process

ITP Investment Profile

The impact of the various investments has then been compared back to the the goals set out in the Auckland Plan, and the currently committed funding.

ITP Transport Outcomes

All up it sounds like an important document but perhaps not one that will get many people excited. There was however one slide that I found really interesting. It contained two maps showing the major transport projects – one with roading projects and the other with PT projects. Attached to each map was a table that included AT’s estimated cost of each project. The writing is too small to show properly on here so I have reproduced the tables below.

ITP Major Project Costs

I did have to make one change to the table – the note attached to the Southeastern Busway says that the costs weren’t included in the totals, but they had been. Also the map lists rail to the shore as $1b yet it isn’t shown in the table at all. Going through the lists a couple of things really surprised me:

  1. Rail to the airport from Onehunga is listed at only $491m, an absolute bargain compared to earlier estimates of up to $1b.
  2. Not including the current Waterview and SH16 widening projects, there is $2.5b attributed just to motorway widening.
  3. The cost of sprawl is shown with the cost of upgrading state highways, local roads and PT infrastructure in greenfields areas as a combined $3.4b.
  4. For just a fraction of the cost of all the massive roading projects, we could have a pretty kick-arse PT system.

The full plan comes out next month so we will have to wait till then to see what it looks like.

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  1. while there are some related projects there, an omission appears to be implementation funding for the RPTP, if concepts like coordinated transfers at radial/tangential intersections are implemented, funding will be required for intersection changes, shelters and other infrastructure, also extended bus lanes and other priority measures, signal preemption etc.

    is there any indication when the final draft RPTP will come to the Board?

  2. All that egregious investment in roading: notwithstanding the spin, I’d call it a disintegrated transport programme. But I am pleased to note that rail grade separation is found under roading, rather than allocated as a PT spend.

      1. trains often travel at much lower speed over level crossings though dont they? Especially with the elsectric units, it would be beneficial to stay at 100km/h where possible

      2. Steve D; sorry it’s not a duh moment to see rail grade separation allotted to the roading budget, it’s actually quite an innovation. The whole New Lynn rail trench, a massive grade separation project designed to ensure the free flow of road traffic – albeit only a partial one – was allocated to the rail budget. And it has been touted by politicians of all sort, right, left, local and national as an ‘investment in the railways’.

    1. the world is a slightly different place compared to 1945, Ben and look at the collapse of PT patronage after the war with trams losing favour even before bus patronage rose

    2. Actually it reads like more of a case for having another world war!

      The real boom in tram patronage was between 1939 and 1950 during wartime rationing of fuel, everyone had to take PT at the time. The tram numbers are only ‘incredible’ because we basically only had trams to take in those days. If we’d only had buses at the time then bus patronage would have been just as incredible.

      Look at the mid 1950s (the first decade after the war), the amount of trips on buses and trolley buses is higher than the patronage on trams in the mid 1930s (the first decade before the war).

      1. Um, it’s unlikely that bus patronage would have risen during the war for the simple reason you cite, fuel rationing along with the shortage of tyres. In his official history of the New Zealand in the second world war, [i]War economy[/i] J V T Baker observes that ‘An inevitable result of petrol and tyre shortages, and of limitations on the availability of manpower generally, was to increase the relative importance of the Railways Department in the New Zealand transport scheme.’ (p. 422); the same observation would apply to trams. That’s one of the reasons why trams and electric rail are particularly suitable modes for New Zealand conditions because they’re not necessarily reliant on imported commodities over the duration of their lives, plus, of course, they have relatively small carbon footprints.

        1. We had a shortage of spares for the trams too though, that’s why the network got run into the ground and the fleet cannibalised (and why the decision to abandon them in the postwar years was easy, the whole lot was stuffed). The shortage of fuels and tyres would have impacted on private vehicles a lot more than buses. The interesting thing would be to see what private vehicle kilometres did at the time.

          My point was simply that trams were the incumbent mode that made up almost all the PT network at the start of the war, so that is where all the wartime patronage ended up. It wasn’t anything particularly special about trams except the fact we had a big network of them that worked well.

        2. And for the price of a ‘Northern Busway extension’ and ‘City Centre Bus Improvements’ central AKL could have the whole 67 km network back – brand spanking new.

          Be tough on the outer ‘burbs though – property prices in central AKL would probably double (again)…

        3. You’re dreaming if you think we can build 72km of tram network in Auckland for $13 million a kilometre. Maybe $30 million a km. Not to mention the cost of the LRVs. A hundred of those at five million each is another half billion bucks.

        4. Dreaming? I hope so – that’s what we need more big dreams and sea-change thinking and less petty bureaucracy, endless stats & reports, all adding up to the business-as-usual of turning AKL into a dreary wasteland of four lane roads, motorways and cars empty save for the driver…

          Anyhow, $13m may be a little low although you’re shy of $1 billion on your maths. $20m per km definitely – there are so many variables.

          It’s peanuts compared to not just the investment in more roads but the downstream cost to individuals & the NZ economy of the ‘rolling stock’ (yep, cars) to run on those roads.

          If AKL is expected to grow by 700k pop. though 2041, what’s the capex cost of cars for that lot?

        5. So if you’re problems are with the level of investment in roads, the amount of cars we buy, the drearyness of four lane roads and motorways and single occupant drivers…. why they hell are you suggesting we cut the Northern Busway Extension and the City Centre Bus Improvements to fund your tram plan?

          Why not leave the buses alone and cut one of the multitude of massive road projects? If you want a billion bucks, cutting the six laning of the motorway from Albany to Orewa would do it. Sure that is preferable than cutting the busway extension from Albany to Orewa? Or are you so myopic you feel the need to punish buses to advance trams?

        6. I didn’t actually say cut those items, I said for price of them – an illustrative reference.

          It’s about the massive weighting towards roads and highways – we’re in a death spiral. I can’t see it ending well, based on those projections.

          In my view, despite the myopia, we need something visionary to knock us off this course we’re on.

          It could be this basic: for 9 out of 10 trips in AKL to be on public transport by 2040.

          And work back from there.

          And then… you start to bring in all the molecular factors – because it becomes about how we organize our society from the grassroots up – and ultimately that stuff dictates how and why we choose to travel around (eg Dittmar’s 5 minute walk for a pint).

          So, I think some people hoped the Wynyard tram would re-seed the idea of streetcars or tramways for AKL – and bloody good on ’em – but it’s such a small out-of-the-way gesture at the moment.

          We need a big gesture – one even the myopic can see from 20 miles…

        7. How about the CRL, not a big enough gesture? Northern busway? The RPTP bus network redesign? The Auckland Plan?

          I’m quitely confident about the return of trams to Auckland. Not a huge big bang network installing them everywhere, but a gradual expansion along those routes that make the most sense. We have the Wynyard ‘horizontal ferris wheel’. So be it. But shortly that will be extended to the Viaduct Harbour, then Britomart. Then it starts to make some sense from a transport perspective. At that point it becomes obvious to extend it up Queen St, to allow the pedestrianisation of Queen St into a very high quality public realm that still maintains a local circulator function. After that, well it starts to make a lot of sense to extend light rail down our busiest bus lines, say Dominon Rd and Mt Eden Rd.

          But all up thats a half billion dollars expenditure. You will never get that sort of funding in one go to spend on a big gesture. It has to be a small but regular progression of upgrades and extensions, otherwise it’s a huge puff of hot air that dissapears as quick as it came.

          You can see this in the history of rail in Auckland. Robbies rapid rail scheme, a big bang of electrification, city tunnels and suburban extensions in one go. Gone. The light rail plan, convert the whole network to light rail, buy a whole new fleet, extend the network to everywhere at once. Gone. However, the current rail upgrade has worked as a dozen small projects: Refurbished DMUs. Done. Rebuilt loco hauled carriages. Done. Britomart Station. Done. Duplicating the western line. Done. The DART project. Done. Station upgrades in batches. Done. New Lynn trench. Done. Onehunga reopening. Done Manukau Branch. Done. Signalling upgrade. Done. Electrification and new EMUs. Almost Done. CIty Rail Link. Probably next. Airport rail, other extensions. Hopefully after.

          In fifteen years we’ve gone from a decrepit useless rail network on deaths door to what will soon be a completely rebuilt and extended network with an entirely new fleet. All by slow steady developments over time. If you’d packaged it all up into a single two billion dollar project and demanded it to be built as a big guesture… we’d still have a decrepit useless network (or more likely, a couple more highways and a few rail trail bike paths).

        8. Ben I share your desire for the actual allocation of budget to visionary and transformative movement priorities in Auckland; long overdue. But Nick is right, after multiple decades of waiting we are on the verge of finally going ahead with the king hit for Transit: The CRL. This is only possible because of the nibbling that has been done at the prerequisites for this project, as listed by Nick above. This is Real Politics; the art of the possible.

          That the road lobby can get much more expensive and way more pointless projects signed off without even a half adequate business plan is a sorry reflection of the power realities in New Zealand- but is just that: The current reality. The vital thing is to find ways to alter this situation in the right direction in practical ways.

        9. Well, I hope you’re right about the CRL, Patrick, but I don’t quite see it being the panacea you hope for. Not a negative thing in the context of the issues we face, of course, but not the silver bullet either. I’ve mentioned some of the reasons why I think that in other posts and regrettably don’t have time to re-iterate them here right now.

          The politics – well, you know, yes, they have been a large part of the systemic failure over many decades to sort out AKL’s issues. However I disagree with Mr Nick R that “It has to be a small but regular progression of upgrades and extensions, otherwise it’s a huge puff of hot air that dissapears (sic) as quick as it came.” Tokenistic thinking won’t get us anywhere.

          I disagree that re-instating the Central AK tram system couldn’t be the cornerstone of a transport renaissance for AKL – and even at around $1.4 billion I think it would be a bit of a bargain (once again, those hundreds of thousands of drivers who will be hitting AKL’s road over the next 30-40 odd years will be shelling out billions on their car acquisitions alone, notwithstanding the actual massive on-the-ledger costs – and we’ll be snorting out billions in rates and taxes for more goddamn roads).

          I also think it would be a better stake in the ground for changing how we think about life in this city than anything else on the table right now – and could be replicated in metropolitan areas from Manukau to Henderson once we’d nailed the tech in Central AKL.

        10. Well just one point about the difference between the CRL and any amount of trams in the CBD. The CRL is already about Henderson and Pukekohe, and GI, and Onehunga, and about those other places that will get rail to them as a result of the capacity and frequency that the CRL makes possible; all through Mangere to the airport, Owairaka and Mt Roskill, distant Drury. But also the CRL will make sending that nascent tram between Wynyard and Britomart up Queen St and all the way along Dominion Rd. The CRL will enable a greater de-carring across the region than trams in the CBD, though it will make them more likely.

  3. What a load of bollocks plan this is. $16b mainly on new motorways and less than half that on new PT. There’s no funding gap at all, just kill off a few of the really stupid motorway projects and we can easily fund all the PT improvements.

    1. It is actually worse than it appears (if that is at all possible). In the timeframe to 2041 the transport budget is $70 Billion, of which, 70% has been earmarked for road projects, 29% for PT and 0.8% for cycling / walking with 2% somewhere else (planning?). Only $60 is funded at this time. I bet I could find $10B of savings in the next minute. Guess where it would come from 🙂

  4. At 4.8 billion the 2nd harbour crossing is a third of the major projects for roading.
    I strongly hope and think this is unlikely to happen as the mood is swinging slowly towards public transport & such a large amount on a tunnel will get a lot of media attention and kill it by the time frame come round to build it.
    This would push major projects for roading to 12 billion, a bit better.

    1. I just can’t see it flying. $4.8 billion smackeroos is a budgetary black hole whichever what you look at it. And when you drill down and realise all it does is increase peak capacity to the CBD… and then realise that it simply takes city commuters off the busway and puts them back into cars… well, almost five billion just to undo the work of the Northern Busway and flood the city streets with cars again (which arterials are we going to widen exactly, fourteen lanes on Fanshawe St? And where do the new carparks go?!). That don’t sound like money well spent to me!

  5. From memory the $1b cost of rail to the airport was for a loop from Onehunga to Manukau. The northern link was always only half of that cost.

      1. The interesting thing is that the costs are now reversed – $602m for the eastern to $491m for the northern. It might even just be that – they’ve been reversed.

  6. Hi Matt – anything at all about the Auckland Cycle Network? We are being told that until this plan passes, the new planning map is in limbo…

        1. and those that don’t enjoy driving should just JOLLY WELL LEAVE. Which is basically what someone said to me in a post a few months ago …

  7. 22 billion on Auckland roads capex. 8 and a half billion on Public Transport capex, plus all the opex and maintenance costs.
    Yet not even a mention of cycleways and cycle parking, the most cost effective part of any integrated transport plan.

    P.S. don’t let any of us provincials see the numbers, because they’re frickin’ huge and in a lot of places in the provinces we don’t even get a bus service for our tax dollars.

    1. I believe that cylcing is in the final document, it just wasn’t included in this high level presentation.

      As for the numbers, yes huge but then also don’t forget that Auckland has an absolutely massive population compared to any other region.

    2. If you go up Mount Eden on a clear day and take a slow 360 degree look around, you’ve just seen an area with more people than the South Island. I think some big numbers might be in order.

  8. Has there ever been a 30-year plan before that’s lasted even 10 years? What’s the point of making a wishlist of things that you definitely won’t do in the next ten years, given that we’ll undoubtedly change our minds before then?

    1. it has always been accepted that 30 years is too far out to have any certainty and that those plans can only be an indication of the direction that the organisation wants to take, obviously they aren’t commitments

  9. interesting that as of 2006 there are more ‘active’ trips made to Manukau than anywhere else, including the city centre. It surprises me as there are far less apartments there than in central areas, and the car centric nature of the are makes it very unfriendly and time consuming to get around by foot, and less friendly by bycycle than more compact areas.

    1. Probably an artifact of where they draw the borders between areas, and the fact it is trips ‘to’ no trips ‘within’. Notice that the city centre and fringe is a single area, I.e. one zone covering Ponsonby to Parnell and back to Newmarket and Eden Terrace. There will be a relatively huge number of active trips within this zone, but I guess not many to it from other zones.

  10. Time for a transport Q&A:

    1. What Auckland wants to happen: Sub-economic road projects get delayed/cancelled to fund relatively beneficial PT/walking/cycling projects.
    2. What will probably happen based on historical experience: The opposite.
    3. Who’s primarily responsible: The Government and a few highway-sniffing bods at MoT/NZTA.
    4. Why are they still in power: People don’t consider transport when they vote for central government.
    5. Is that unfortunate: Yes.
    6. What can we do about it: Either A) stop voting for National or B) Leave the country or C) both.

    I’m opting for C).

  11. As for a strategic planner by training, the third graph is within the most interesting one (person trips per district plus the expected increases). It shows us how AT thinks, namely “Preserve the 2006 Situation”. As far as I understood, they projected the current usage, with the medium growth expectations for the city. And from that point they draw the obvious conclusions, we have to build a massive PT for access to City Center and enforce roads elsewhere, as car growth is everywhere higher compared to PT and Active. That is what you read if you base your future rationales on past data and it is also nothing wrong with that, if you are happy with the current situation. However, AKL is not happy with the current situation:

    While the conclusion for CBD to increase PT is obviously right, it seems that the other projects (see the lists) more or less preserve the current car focused thinking. Just by providing even more space for cars, as it is assumed in these analyses that this will be the major transport mode.

    However, if you want to do a fundamental change strategy, you usually have to follow a retroperspective approach. What means you define first how should it look like in 2041, and what do we need to do for it. I cannot see that from this plan, this plan is all about how to cope the traffic situation, if it is fairly the same distribution between modes like in 2006. Although it would have been good to use more recent data, as PT increased a lot from 2006 to today already. Actually I am wondering if these forecasts are still accurate or just taken from old stuff, what would make it even worse if decisions are justified by outdated data.

    Summarizing, what i want to say with that post is, that we actually need to define what it should look like, rather than use projections of past data to make decisions. Fundamental innovations cannot be made with a thinking and planning based on the past.

      1. Very good comment Wai, there’s an absurd amount of business as usual here, not how can we do things better. Same old heads around the tables I guess.

        But also the chart I think is very interesting and not really being followed in the substance of the programme is this one:

        What’s at the heart of it? MAKE BETTER USE OF NETWORKS. Well the first thing any intelligent and dispassionate viewer would see looking at Auckland’s current networks is the criminal underutilisation of the rail network and the clumsy over building and duplication of the road one.

        The former, the current waste of the rail ROW, both existing and potential, is what makes the CRL such a high value for money project. I know this is hard to grasp for many but the killer value in the CRL is about the whole network and what it makes possible not only in the places above the tunnel itself.

        The second point is the massive over building planned everywhere for roads. We are facing the completion of the Motorway network with SH20 and the rebuild SH16. Why then does this document then urge the spending of motorway type sums on roads parallel to them, like the Albany highway? Is this because motorways don’t work, and must be mirrored along their length now? Or is it more about the highway industry , both in planning and construction not able to keep off the drug? This is not about ‘making better use of networks’ this is about opening a walnut with a sledgehammer; ‘Build, Baby, Build’.

        Time for auto-highway complex and their fixers in local and nation transport institutions to have a cup of tea and think a little harder about managing the existing vast road network in Auckland and not just propose an endless binge on more. We’ve been going for sixty years now and built nothing else so it’s a pretty lavish resource that needs maintaining not endlessly growing.

        Time to build the complimentary Transit network that is the best way to keep our existing roads useful and working. Yes; it’s time to make better use of networks.

  12. I’ve got a couple questions about that list:

    How the hell is a street busway from Panumre to Botany costing $650 million, assuming that is on top of the $2.6 billion being spent on the road components of AMETI. Or is the south-eastern busway something else?

    How can the Northern Busway extension cost over twice as much as the Northern Busway did in the first place? $750m for a 3.5km extension…. Yet we have a Constellation-Westgate-Waterview busway (18km!) for $450m. What are they making the extension out of, hand cut Carrera marble?

    A billion bucks for an Avondale to Onehunga line… why bother even having this on the list? Same with the Airport Eastern Link, There is another $600m off the list.
    Now the road stuff:

    Puhoi to Wellsford motorway, $1,760m. And then widening the motorway from Orewa to Albany that it links into at $1,100m. Do we really want to spend $2.86 billion on a motorway parallel to an existing highway to Wellsford??

    Additional Waitamata Harbour crossing. $4.8 billion. Nuff said.

    East-west link. $632 million. What for again? Truck lanes on Neilson St?

    $665m on the Albany Highway upgrade. That $150k per metre! I can’t see any major bridge or tunnel works, no need for major intersection redesign, and no need for land purchase. So WTF?

    Likewise $820m total on Great South Rd. That’s a much longer piece of arterial but I do have to wonder quite what they are planning to do to it to spend the best part of a billion bucks.

    Geez, wouldn’t have a hard time knocking ten billion bucks worth of crappy projects out of this ludicrous wish list.

    1. Nick, it says the $650m is included in the $2.6b roading cost. As for how it can cost that much, I believe there is quite a lot of property acquisition that is needed for it and it needs a duplicate bridge over the Tamaki river which surely wouldn’t be cheap. One positive is I have heard that they are already thinking about what to do with the excess property after the project is finished and could develop it leaving more dwellings than are there now. Quite likely that they will be able to recoup a decent proportion of costs from the sale of those properties.

      As for some of the other thing on the list. The map shows the northern busway extension going all the way to Silverdale. Can’t see the need for a full time busway all the way up there myself, just like I can’t see the need for 6 lanes.
      Avondale to Onehunga is likely to be needed in the future as higher frequencies make it difficult for freight trains to get through the network.

      East West link I agree, perhaps $100-200m to upgrade Neilson St and a few of the interchanges, perhaps some south facing ramps where Church St/South Eastern Hwy crosses the motorway.

      1. Avondale-Onehunga isn’t really urgent until the Newmarket junction is bust and what?, 48 tph will be possible there post CRL, so that’s a little way off for passenger services. Freight? well the way the government are dismantling the nations existing rail asset- good luck with that.

    2. re Northern Busway: I understand there are a few issues between Constellation and Albany with the need for a tunnel under the motorway, a bridge over Constellation Drive, a long span over the pond, and not sure quite what will need to happen at Rosedale Road. Do we know what the breakdown is for Constellation to Albany vs Albany to Silverdale?

  13. “Nick, it says the $650m is included in the $2.6b roading cost. As for how it can cost that much, I believe there is quite a lot of property acquisition that is needed for it and it needs a duplicate bridge over the Tamaki river which surely wouldn’t be cheap. One positive is I have heard that they are already thinking about what to do with the excess property after the project is finished and could develop it leaving more dwellings than are there now. Quite likely that they will be able to recoup a decent proportion of costs from the sale of those properties.”

    Which ironically, they are FORBIDDEN from including in the BCR calculations. So you know that even in the most conservative estimate, you know you are going to get $100 million (for use of a random figure) back from the cost of the land you buy, take away a part of for your project, and then re-sell as a combined parcel ready for mid-density development.

    Yet you aren’t allowed to include that in your cost calculations, and have to struggle to make things stack up even without that windfall. Ridiculous.

    And totally true – I had one of the project participants tell me about this (rather than just hearing it somewhere on the net… ;-).

  14. Wow for the roughly cost of AMETI, the CRL could be built. Is that right? I had no idea AMETI was so costly, and if so, how did it get the green light ahead of the crucial CRL which would unlock the city’s entire rail system? It’s not as if AMETI is even a RoNS either.

  15. If this is the best that AT and Auckland Council can come up with then the whole lot need to be removed and re-apply for their jobs. The focus on roads and the lack of vision for a liveable city is disheartening.

      1. Isn’t it just putting numbers on what’s in the Auckland Plan already though? The supposedly transformational plan that puts public transport supposedly first.

  16. The 1.5km wynyard tram tracks & storage shed were $7.4M. Call that roughly $5M per km.
    To use the graph to argue the case for reintroducing trams, is like demolishing the harbour bridge to boost ferry numbers.

    1. Aren’t storage sheds a relatively fixed cost? I.e. won’t be incurred again if we extend? Unless we need more storage space … but I agree with your conclusion – looking at the graph and arguing for any kind of transport investment is very rash,

    2. The Wynyard trams was a single track one way loop on an abandoned industrial site, running in mixed traffic without any stop infrastructure except a pole and some yellow paint. You won’t get twin track light rail on city arterials for $5m a kilometre!

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