Aside from the rather depressing patronage news, the most interesting report on the March agenda of the Auckland Transport Board is the Integrated Transport Programme (ITP). We saw some snippets of this document at last month’s Board meeting, but this is the first time we’ve seen a document that seems fairly critical in filling in the details of giving effect to the transport section of the Auckland Plan. The whole document is a fairly lengthy 100+ pages, excluding the Appendices (which aren’t on the AT website anyway for some odd reason), so it might take a few posts to get our heads around it completely.

A useful place to start is what’s called the “ITP approach” – which lays out the two major strategies which sit behind the ITP, as well as a kind of “where to from here” discussion:itp-approachSo it seems like the document is likely to pretty much always remain “live” and a work in progress. This is probably a very good thing, as the gaps in it become increasingly obvious as we read on.

One of the key initiatives appears to be what’s referred to as the “four stage intervention process” – which really just highlights that we should do everything we can to use what we have better before we go and build new stuff. Given the Auckland Plan approach of “just build everything and do it as quickly as possible”, this is a welcome breath of sanity and – if applied properly – should lead to things like more bus lanes (to optimise the use of existing road space for people throughput) and hopefully fewer expensive and stupid motorways.

However, all this talk about optimising existing networks seems to get flung out the window when it comes to the ITP’s investment profile over the next 30 years, which lumps a huge amount of spend into the first decade:

decade-by-decade-spendBy way of comparison, the ITP notes that since 2000 there has been around $7 billion of total spending on transport in Auckland – which means that this plan is based around the assumption that spending in the next 10 years on transport will be more than triple what we’ve spent in the last 10 (or so) years. Even given inflation that seems rather optimistic.

So what results do we get from this massive spend-up? Well, pretty rubbish to be honest if you use congestion as you key measurement of success. I can actually start to see why the government is sceptical of Auckland’s approach to transport if these really are the outcomes (although they’re solution of building more roads is just likely to make things even worse):congestion-levels-by-decadePresumably the weird result of inter-peak congestion ending up worse than peak congestion, which theoretically means we need to come up with new names for them, is just a bizarre quirk of the transport modelling as to my knowledge there’s nowhere else in the whole entire world that finds its roads busier off-peak than during the peak. Which does call into question the validity of all the modelling results in my opinion, but let’s set that issue aside for a minute.

Another way in which Auckland’s future transport investment seems to completely fail in terms of delivering the outcomes we want is in relation to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The table below is, quite frankly, pretty embarrassing reading:co2-growth
The obvious question from all of this is “why are the results so bad when we’re spending such a massive amount of cash on transport?” This leads to further questions about whether the mix of projects is right, whether we’re measuring the right things, what hasn’t yet been looked at in terms of policy initiatives (road pricing, stronger travel demand management, less urban sprawl) and what impact on these results individual proposed projects might have. For example, the amount of increased congestion in the CBD or the growth in CO2 emissions resulting from building another harbour crossing.

Turning to the project mix, the map that was in the version of the ITP presented in February – which seemed to be riddled with errors – has now disappeared to be replaced by something much vaguer in terms of projected costs. Here’s the roading map:

roading-programmeWhile it’s possible that some of the numbers in the February version were incorrect, it’s worth refreshing our memory to highlight the vast bulk of future spending on new infrastructure over the 30 year span of the ITP is proposed to be on new roads:

The final image to highlight is where and when the ITP thinks that growth will occur over the next 30 years – which seems to be the base ‘input’ to the transport modelling and is fairly alarming to anyone other than Nick Smith:

household-growth-2006-2041So now that we’ve confirmed a land-use growth pattern based largely on sprawl and a transport investment plan based largely on building more roads will deliver really bad outcomes can we please get around to doing what’s supposed to be the Auckland Plan vision: a quality compact city with a vastly improved public transport system?

Because, to be frankly honest, this plan is rubbish.

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48 comments

  1. It’s again the trying to please everyone and ending up pleasing no one problem. The number of proposed motorways in crazy, but I guess is partly the government’s fault as NZTA will fully fund them all yet won’t fund many, if any, of the PT plans. How about we spend the next 30 years filling in the PT gaps and making better use of what we have, and then come back to look at whether these massive new motorways are actually needed. because I’m quite sure we’d find that spending 2 billion on a motorway in Onehunga won’t have the same effect as say spending that money on cycle lanes across the city. The latter would lead to massive congestion benefits (not that I see that as a good measure of success) and would certainly lead to reduced CO2.

    1. Yes I agree. To be fair on Auckland Transport they didn’t come up with the list of projects – it’s the government and the Auckland Plan responsible for the crazy motorway projects.

      1. Yes Bbc some of the projects are driven by NZTA and AC, but the approach and detail comes Dow to the outdated AT predict provide transport modelling coupled with roading capacity solutions dressed up in the rhetoric of optimisation and demands segment will actually result in improvements. There is not even any real ‘problem’ …. It is just that population will increase and transport demand will grow. Exactly the same ‘problem’ identified in 1955 when we had 53 per cent of people using pt and didn’t know any better. But now we do and what is the proposed solution? Same old same old.

  2. The proposed two major highways parallel to SH 1 in the south is just proof that road building simply begets more road building unless we are prepared to think and invest differently. This is an insane picture devised by people who have not noticed the realities of this new century.

    If we blow all our money on more motorway there is no chance that Auckland will be more ‘liveable’ ; it will simply be drowning in cars, pollution, and debt.

    It is important what we don’t build as much as what we do. But as bbc says above this is simply a result of central government bullying of the kind that is pushing the flyover on Wellington: NZTA will fully fund the motorways and nothing else. This single mode obsession has to change or we are just heading for an expensively blighted future.

  3. I really don’t like “congestion” or average vehicle speeds being a measure of the success of transport investment. If thousands more are able to use trains, buses and ferries every day then the average speed of single occupant vehicles becomes less important.

    1. Exactly. Who cares if 200,000 out of 400,000 car drivers are stuck in congestion if another 600,000 get an uninterrupted ride on PT, walking & cycling. Myopia.

      The traffic modelling table result is hilarious. We will be the only city in the world that has an 10:30am peak, and 8am is off-peak.

  4. Thanks for that Matt – and sorry to break the rather depressing patronage figures last night 🙁

    I notice one road piece that is missing and it is the potential road and bridge link between the intersection of Karaka Road, Paerata Road and Glenbrook Road (the Caltex is located there) and Weymouth over the other side of the Pahurehure Inlet designed as an alternative when the Greenfield development takes off down on the Southern RUB

    You can see it all here http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/EN/planspoliciesprojects/plansstrategies/unitaryplan/Pages/TheRuralUrbanBoundary.aspx

    I wonder how much that is going to cost the city?

    Oh and as for the Mill Road Defacto Motorway down close to where I live – hmmm yeah not too amused with it right now either

  5. Interesting patronage figures – guess that Northern Busway isn’t turning out to be the golden commuter carpet the pro-bus (and therefore road) lobby would have it be. I hope, therefore, optimizing the networks isn’t just about sending more buses down more roads (and bus lanes). We need a new broom through transport thinking and we need it fast…

    1. What Is scary is this comment
      “Weekday Western Line frequency increase (from 15 mins to 10 mins) restricted due to operator risk assessment of service headway, and lack of automatic train protection”

      I thought that when they double tracked the western line the new signalling and train control was designed around at a minimum of 10 minute frequency, –

      Are they now having to upgrade it????? or will it never be able to support 10 minute frequencies???

    2. Ben S, there are no patronage figures for the the Northern Busway so you can’t make that claim.The figures are for the Northern Express which is just one service that uses it. In fact they’ve noted that the growth in the 881 (which is more or less identical to the NEX but also accesses the uni and Newmarket, so it’s quite popular).

      This is noted in the report:
      “The addition of alternative services on the Northern Busway has resulted in a reduced
      growth on the Northern Express service. As detailed in the February Public Transport Monthly
      Patronage board paper, the additional capacity added on services such as the 881 (Albany to
      Newmarket) on the Northern Busway has reduced Northern Express patronage growth (for added
      detail on the Northern Express v Northern Busway please refer to Appendix 2). Impact: -85,537
      passenger trips (FY)”

      1. Agreed, all 881s are full at least to seated capacity, and most to standing, assuming 60/bus/day of uni that is 210,000 trips a year, and that is incredibly conservative.

  6. You have to laugh when you look at that modelling chart: 22 billion worth of roads and what’s the result: all day constant congestion. INSANE. We’ed have a better outcome if we just handed out the 22 billion for people to stay home….. This is a broken system and it can’t be allowed to go on. If that chart doesn’t prove it then I don’t know what will…. Sigh.

  7. Whatever happened to John Banks’ assertion that the Waterview Connection, already under construction, would be the completion of Auckland’s motorway network? Aren’t we done here?

  8. Why all the 6 laning? Surely it’s not all necessary? Albany to Orewa AND Penlink? Surely you only need one or the other. And didn’t we just build SH18? And it already is considered for upgrading? This is ridiculous.

    1. I believe the SH18 projects are related to the section between Greenhithe and SH1.

      You know – just completing the motorway network. Since 1950.

  9. I have seen the figure quoted for the AMETI project a few times now and cannot believe that the project with such huge cost hasn’t been debated more vigorously and has largely slipped under the radar – this must have to be the dumbest project ever contemplated for AKL if these figures are to be believed?

    Surely the sensible thing to do would be to extend the rail network from the Sylvia Park area, over the Tamaki Estuary, through the industrial area and then overhead along Ti Rakau Drive to a large park and ride in the Botany area? With modern bridge building techniques this can be done reasonably fast and cheaper than the current project without the huge cost of displacing so many homes along the way?

    The bus network could then run from the Botany terminal out rather than on the bus lanes to Glen Innes which would still be subject to traffic congestion at peak times? With such a facility in place it may even lead to a reduction in cost over time as this would serve a high growth area that will only be trying to cram more cars into the same roading network without the option of another form of transport?

    1. Gary, AMETI is actually highly sensible in many of its component parts, especiallt the busways, which make up more than half the cost, I believe. It has not “slipped under the radar” in any sense that I can see – it has been discussed a lot in formal settings (RLTP, 10 year plan etc…), in the news (including here) and locally – lost of information days and “robust” discussion with locals who love or hate parts of it.

      Also, there’s the ongoing consent processes. Many of them not even started.

      The most problematic parts (the one that do large road-widening projects from Pakuranga to Silvia Park, mostly) are also a little bit later in the piece, so not unsurprising that the focus has been more on the Panmure to Pakuranga bits.

    2. “Surely the sensible thing to do would be to extend the rail network from the Sylvia Park area, over the Tamaki Estuary, through the industrial area and then overhead along Ti Rakau Drive to a large park and ride in the Botany area? With modern bridge building techniques this can be done reasonably fast and cheaper than the current project without the huge cost of displacing so many homes along the way?”

      Uhm, and how do you propose to run that rail service? This would just create another stub line, and it wouldn’t even serve all the residential in Pakuranga and along the western parts of Ti Rakau Drive. Thanks, but no. Manukau is already a problem for Southern services, so I think we don’t need the Eastern Line to also have similar issues. And why a park & ride in Botany (even more car parks is the last that area needs, and why encourage people to drive even that far – encourage them to take a bus from close to their homes by making it better).

      1. Starnius – who is talking about a stub line; this would be a continuation of the Eastern line to the Eastern suburbs. Botany would be the end of line (until any possible further extension) like Papakura is the end of the Southern line -a station could also be placed in the East Tamaki industrial area (one of the largest employment areas in AKL).

        Would you not rather not have people ride cleaner more efficient electric rail for longer parts of their journeys than forcing less efficient buses through crowded areas at huge extra expense?

        1. The Eastern Line currently ends in… drumroll…. Pukekohe. So by ending it in Botany, you significantly change the service pattern south of your proposed Sylvia Park-detour. For any trips that don’t fit into the simple “everything goes to/from the CBD” logic, that could be quite disruptive. It would also mean the Southern Line would have to increase in frequency quite a bit to cover the loss of the capacity for the southern parts that now goes to Botany.

          Lastly, I simply don’t believe your easy claim of cheapness. A heavy rail line through industrial areas and across a rather wide river / bay is by no means cheap. And large lot size industrial land is not cheap to acquire either. And the busway provides great PT quality, comparable in many ways to a rail line. And the extra land costs and removed housing will to a good degree be recovered by the bought-and-partly-used land being re-sold for terraced housing.

          The busway will be a real boon for the areas it travels through. Your proposed rail line, I am afraid, would create exactly what you said: a large, isolated park & ride at Botany.

          1. One hug advantage of a railway line is that no one constantly attempts to compromise it by allowing cars into the lanes, all over the city people like Cameron Brewer try to turn them back into T2 lanes and even the NZTA is attempting to let cars onto the Northern Busway, in a country whose leaders go out of their way to make it difficult for people to lead a life without using a car constantly, trains are at least free from that particular interference.

          2. The Eastern Line or an extended busway could potentially become a major corridor in its own right. The space east of Botany Downs toward Beachlands and Maraetai has expanded massively over the last decade. Unfortunately, a lot of the development has been very poor quality from the point of view of PT accessibility, but possibility of a hub at Botany Downs gives a good potential focus to a rapid transit corridor. Manukau will be looked at very carefully to see how successful it is as a transport interchange.

            In addition to heavy rail and busway options, I believe automated light metro or street/median light rail is also well worth considering, with the proposed 3 tracks north of Panmure becoming 2 heavy rail tracks and 2 light rail/metro tracks. Those with concerns over the capacity of Light Rail should have a look at Cologne where the Stadtbahn while definitely light rail in weight, is made up of larger carriages that give a capacity a lot more equivalent to heavy rail. The network there uses underground rights of way, street running, and large distances in street level but separate rights of way. The case for automated Light Metro has already been well argued by others on this website.

          3. Starnius – AMETI does not do any thing different than what I am suggesting with rail; it still just provides a transport link via bus from the Eastern rail line to the Botany area; all other areas will still be covered by buses on the standard roading network we have now – there is no change in that either way. Botany would however become the main transport terminal in the area where the buses in many cases would run to it instead all the way to Glen Innes.

            What running rail directly to Botany means though is you are actually removing a large amount of traffic from the same roading network that will increasing become congested over time with increase population in this area – you are future proofing the network. AMETI still goes through 15 sets of traffic controlled intersections along its route where cars will still compete with buses.

            At a price tag of $2.6 billion AMETI is not cheap; has any one priced what a fully elevated section of rail through this area will cost instead? I have not ever seen one but I am willing to bet it could be substantial cheaper due to the reduction of land purchase need if the rail was built some of the way over existing roads and through the estuary areas. If you have a look there is also a corridor between industry and housing on the Mount Wellington side that could be used as well?

            If a reasonable saving is possible with this option then the CRL would become far more feasible and whole rail network could be changed to provide a wider range of links and better frequencies throughout the network. Has this been considered – I have never seen it anywhere?

          4. The capital would be monstrous, also the cars won’t compete with buses buses will have priority at intersections.
            Pretty sure that the $2.6B includes the Roads too.

            It should be future proofed for heavy rail, but the justification to build isn’t there yet.

          5. Sailor Boy – No the capital would not be monstrous (as long as they use the estuary route); you are just making that up. I justify that statement by drawing your attention to the budgets that have been set down for all of the other rail projects – especially the airport ones which would both have similar obstacles. These are actually longer than a Botany line (the Northern one would be 9-10 km where as Botany would be closer to 6 km) but have been budgeted at a fraction of the price of the AMETI project.

            Yes the roads are included in AMETI but for most of the route they will not be substantial upgraded as it is already 2 lanes now (even the Panmure Basin area stays at one line in each direction as far as I can see). The majority of the cost is making way for the bus lanes to go down the same corridor. Most of the expected improvement in traffic flows supposedly comes from better intersections.

          6. Isn’t the Onehunga- Mt WEllington motorway the majority of that 2.5 billion.

            You would have to build a wider, fully seperated rail line with grade separation at intersections, requiring massive property reacquisition.
            Airport is largely greefield with one bridge running through lower cost undeveloped flat land. You are dreaming if you think the prices are going to be comparable.
            Plus you would have to buy 6 trains extra.

            Has anyone got a budget for AMETI?

          7. When going onto the AMETI web site it mentions nothing about any links to Onehunga and I have not seen it in any graphics as well. I am assuming this budget is only for the Glen Innes to Botany developments in its various stages.

            I am not thinking the prices will be comparable but may be around the $1.5 billion mark which is substantial cheaper than the $2.6 billion which is quoted for AMETI at the moment. The rail line would run though a total different corridor along estuary areas which currently have no development as well – like the airport routes mentioned. (I wish I could provide a graphic of what I mean)

            The extra $1 billion is around what I believe they need to find to go ahead with CRL – if we do both at the moment then we as rate payers will be left with massive debt that could cripple future projects – unless of course the government changes its stance.

            Getting people out of their cars and onto PT before hitting congestion further up the road surely would be a better goal than trying to do both things at once? They seem to be trying to do both with AMETI.

          8. That is because this is AMETI stage 1, Stage 2 is the Extension to Botany and Stage 3 is the new still to be planned motorway/expressway.

            Also of note is that a busway can provide much better frequency than a train for the same operating cost.

          9. Have a look above Sailor Boy – $2.6 billion is for AMETI only; the motorway you refer to is called the East-West link and that is budgeted at a separate $632 million. AMETI removes several hundred houses plus some commercial property; that would add the best part (if not more) than a $1 billion to its cost even before you begin any construction.

  10. Yikes, that second map is worse than meaningless. They appear to have colour coded the area units by absolute households, which tells you interesting things about the relative sizes of each block and nothing at all about the actual density of population. The chicken-pox spots are very hard to interpret, the varying gradations misleading, the locations possibly linked back to meshblocks which, again, completely hide any useful information.

    1. No kidding. One of the worst maps I’ve seen in a long time. More or less uninterpretable. what they are trying to show is admittedly complicated information which might need a sequence of two or three maps to be shown understandably, but even so, the attempt to cram it all into a single map is a big fail.

  11. No, there is an extra lane going in on the free flowing bit at Whenuapai, who comes up with this shit seriously!

  12. So we also get a new motorway from Manukau down past Papakura, just what the doctor ordered. Depressing how so many of these motorway projects are planned to be completed in the next decade. There’s so many ridiculous projects such as redoing the motorway interchange at Western Springs/St Lukes, do we need that area destroyed by an oversized motorway overbridge as well – based on what they are building further out it will be way out of scale and completely unnecessary. The current bridge actually serves its purpose of keeping traffic relatively slow moving. I hate to see what they propose.

    1. Yep. Not rather looking forward to that thing if it either gets built to beyond expressway standards being only two minutes away from the north Papakura end of it. I am sure a properly built two lane road with kerbs, a flush median and maybe a bus shoulder either side should be sufficient enough if and when Greenfield growth takes off in that area. Will have to see how it goes as AT go through the motions of getting it through the planning stages

  13. Are they maybe trying a guerilla-marketing approach where they demonstrate that business as usual is destined to fail so spectacularly badly that a whole new way of thinking is required? Are they really serious about all those new roads, and at such excessive expense, for so little return? Surely someone somewhere has to be looking at this and thinking “gee that’s not a lot of benefit for $20bn” (I’m thinking of the new infrastructure part of the spend here). We’re considering an option to leave Auckland at the moment – if this is the future, then for all that is genuinely great about this place, I’d be happy not to be sticking around to watch this horror-show unfold. What happened to the plan to be the world’s most livable city?

  14. I agree the Auckland plan is rubbish, the words by the Auckland council “compact city” is just a distraction when in reality there is not much changed at all. The Auckland Council and government have opposing views, the government wants Auckland to sprawl out like Los Angele’s whereas the Auckland council wants to a compact model. It seems as if the plan is slowly becoming more sprawl because the government gets upset that their’s not enough housing so the council has to keep changing its target like from 80% in existing areas to 60%. The government still thinks this is too much so if they keep changing the plan it will turn out to be just like the previous urban sprawl.

    I’m writing a sustainability report for my university study based on Auckland’s urban sprawl issues and mention that the plan does little to tackle it.

  15. This is definitely not very good. What an absolutely shocking ‘programme’. There are still some very conservative attitudes existing here. Prepared to spend billions of dollars on uneconomic transport projects that will bankrupt the country.

  16. Joke plan or not it doesn’t really matter, ‘cos if we’ve only spent $7b in the last 10yrs we’re hardly likely to have $25b available to spend over the next ten. The problem is that rather than redesigning the whole thing around spending $1b per yr they”ll stick with their grandiose projects and just push everything out. “It’s OK if it’s a little late as long as we stick to our vision”. That’s the basis for getting the Waterview connection 20yrs after we needed it. LOL. ‘Approving it’ or whatever the politicos did does nothing for their credibility nor that of their highly paid consultants.

  17. Traffic modelling is clearly a joke. The results obviously depend on the assumptions of the modellers, who in this case believe that more driving will always happen under any scenario. Or at least it might be more productive if they modelled what would happen under different scenarios, as well as publishing their assumptions.

    What for example if we pursued the reverse policy of the last sixty years and only invested in the missing modes? Walking, Cycling, and Transit? Let’s model that alone, especially as it is reasonable to assume some mode shift on the basis of our experience this century: Build quality alternatives and they will be used…. Come on AC and AT try a little harder.

    ‘The difficulty lies, not in new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones’ -Keynes

    1. You are completely correct; the one big thing that is missing here is that we are heading (if it has not already happened) peak oil soon, even the EIA admits that. Spending on more roads simply does not make any sense. Why hasn’t this been used in the modeling?????

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