The intensity of the Unitary Plan ended up distracting us a bit from the discussion around alternative transport funding, although perhaps that was intended. Submissions on the funding options close today so this is a quick recap and explanation of my submission. Submitting is very easy, just go to the Keep Auckland Moving site and scroll to the bottom of the page. If you want you can just change the appropriate check boxes, fill in your details and submit.

First a quick recap. When the government merged the various councils to create the now Auckland Council, they required that a 30 year spatial plan be developed that would guide the city. Effectively it is the vision for the city and it became known as The Auckland Plan – this was then used to guide detailed rule book that is the Unitary Plan. However transport seems to be one area that politicians can’t help but get distracted by and the Auckland Plan deviated away from just providing the high level strategy, goals and objectives to listing specific projects. Seemingly too scared to anger anyone, it seemed like every single project ever thought of was added in to one massive wish list with just some horse trading to decide which projects should have the highest priority.

The problem though is that this wish list wasn’t cheap and estimates suggest that after taking into the expected funding available from existing options, there would be a $10-15 billion shortfall that would somehow need to be addressed.  Raising that kind of money isn’t going to be easy so Mayor Len Brown set up a consensus building group (CBG). The CBG was made up of members from a wide variety of organisations including Cam from the CBT and the intention was for them to come to an agreement as to how we could raise the revenue needed. Despite the rhetoric from certain politicians, this wish list wasn’t a massive spend up on rail or PT but around 60-70% of the funding was actually going to roading projects.

ITP Major Project Costs

At the same time, and in conjunction with the work going on with the CBG, Auckland Transport created the first iteration of the Integrated Transport Programme (ITP). One of the key things the ITP did was to effectively take the massive transport wish list from the Auckland plan and put it through some modelling analysis to see the impact the projects would have. Unsurprisingly the results weren’t pretty and the results showed that even if we spent the extra $10-15 billion above what we already were planning congestion would continue to get worse.

Unfortunately the CBG, they weren’t allowed to re-litigate what projects were on the list and so had to look at funding sources in isolation to seeing whether projects on the list would actually make things better or worse. Had that been able to occur, it is likely that many of the projects on the wish lists would have dropped off or been put off significantly. The CBG started the process with a list of potential options which were:

  • general rates
  • targeted rates
  • development contributions
  • tax increment financing
  • regional fuel tax and road user charge/diesel levy
  • tolling new roads
  • road pricing on existing roads (i.e. some form of network charging or congestion charging)
  • additional car parking charges
  • visitor taxes
  • airport departure tax

From there they whittled it down before announcing two options to meet the funding shortfall. It is also noted that the road pricing in option 2 is likely to have a much greater de-congestion benefits than option 1 as it would more effectively manage travel demand.

CBG options

But, there is a lot more to this than just how we pay for these projects. As we have shown recently, there are some significant shifts occurring in our society at the moment. Per capita vehicle ownership, kilometres driven and even the number of people getting  driver licences are all in decline. Further these trends are likely to only get stronger if we implement the measures above in a bid to raise money. The very process of raising enough money to cover the transport wish list, especially with the road pricing option, is likely to remove much of the demand and therefore the justification for many of the roading projects. This brings up the question of whether we should just go ahead and implement these measures anyway, even if just in a cost neutral way.

We have also seen recently that the way we measure congestion hasn’t been ideal. We have traditionally compared traffic speeds on a road with what is possible in a free flow scenario however we should really be comparing traffic speeds with the speed at which a piece of road is at its most efficient and moving the most vehicles. This is a significant shift in thinking and has some potentially massive impacts as most projects are justified based on time savings. Projects like the CRL which add significant capacity perform much better that a project which shaves just a few seconds off a drivers time but that doesn’t actually make a road more efficient.

With this in mind, here is a summary of the feedback I am providing.

  1. Of the two options presented I support option 2.
  2. We should consider implementing road pricing in a cost neutral way in advance of the need for additional funding mechanisms so we can more accurately measure the impact it has on the transport network.
  3. Before any additional funding scheme is implemented, all projects need to to be put through a robust process to properly determine their economic impact along with the impact they will have on the entire transport network, not just on the specific area they are located in. The projects then need to prioritised according to which ones have the most positive impact.
  4. Additional funding should only be obtained for projects that will make a positive impact to the transport system and the exact impacts need to be made clear to the general public.
  5. Assessing projects based on the how fast they can move a single occupant vehicle is not a good measure of success, we should instead be taking into consideration projects that add the most capacity to the network.

As mentioned earlier, the consultation period closes today so if you are interested in how we fund our future transport needs then please make sure you make your voice heard.

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  1. Cancel some of the motorways and the funding issue is gone. The Onehunga motorway isn’t needed, neither is a horribly expensive scond harbour crossing, nor a holiday highway to Omaha.

    1. As much as I agree with you that the projects are ludicrous.
      Another Harbour crossing is needed, just not motorway.
      The holiday highway doesn’t go to Omaha, it is at least 15 minutes away from Omaha.

  2. Funny – the red car that goes down the road on that website to that intersection just above the submission form? It then crashed into the form as I submitted it.

  3. What’s perhaps the remaining value important this exercise is whether there’s a good way to fill a $4b funding gap not a $12b one (i.e. once the dumbass motorways are remove). Plus shifting existing funding sources over to something new. Like away from rates onto road pricing.

    1. They could also look at removing some of the dumbass rail projects such as the airport line. But then that would be negating half the point of the process.

      1. Indeed, in particular some parts of the proposed rail projects are ludicrously bad value and should just be dropped, i.e the “Airport” package at over two billion bucks:

        Airport Northern Rail Link: $481m
        Airport Eastern Rail Link: $602m
        Avondale Onehunga Rail Link: $1,000m

        The latter two are just dumb. Keep the airport northern link perhaps (the bit that works well for Mangere Bridge and Mangere too), and you’ll get 97% of the benefits of the two billion for $481m. Do the first little leg of the Avondale-Southdown as a branch to Mt Roskill (the only bit that carries any real patronage demand) for less than $100m.

        So we’ve just saved a billion and a half right there.

        Let’s take a look at the Southeastern busway at $650m, when Botany to Manukau Rapid Transit is costing $22m and all of Constellation-Westgate-Waterview is $450m.

        And the motorways, $1.1 billion to six lane to Orewa, really? And lets not forget $4.8 billion on a second motorway crossing that has no net effect except tripling the number of cars on Fanshawe and Cook St. There are plenty of projects that should be revisited there.

        There is no funding gap, just a planning gap.

        1. Completely agree on Orewa.

          Disagree on Avonadale Southdown, and Manukau East because of the running patterns they allow being so much better.
          AWHC also removes the Vic park, and won’t triple the downtown traffic, but it is still ridiculous.

          1. I just don’t the value in Avondale-Southdown. One billion dollars to run trains from Onehunga to Mt Roskill? There is a good frequent bus service that does that on the new network. Are the running patterns really better? One billion dollars better?

            Likewise with the airport east link. Half a billion dollars to duplicate what is a very fast bus run on Puhinui Rd. Would not some bus lanes do the job just as well? Most people would still have to transfer to the train at Manukau or somewhere, why not just transfer to a BRT line instead. In fact you could start it up at Botany or something and run it to the airport via half of south Auckland and still get a direct run.

            The AWHC might remove the vic park viaduct, but we can easily do that for a lot cheaper than 5.8 billion dollars. If it won’t triple downtown traffic then why the hell would you build it?… and if it did triple downtown traffic then why the hell would you build it? Right now we have three lanes each way across the bridge and into Spaghetti Junction. With the harbour tunnel we would also have three lanes each way across the bridge and into spaghetti junction. The only difference is instead of just one (or two at peak) lanes each way from the Shore to the CBD we would have four. Again, if the goal is a big boost in capacity to the CBD, it would be a lot cheaper and easier to do that with a busway extension or a rail line. We could get a hell of a lot for less than 4.8 billion dollars!

            I wonder if the 4.8 bil includes tripling the width of Fanshawe St, tripling the width of Cook St, widening all the main arterials in the city and building three times as many parking buildings as we have now. I guess not, but if it doesn’t then why would we bother building a huge amount of CBD commuter capacity we can’t use?

          2. Possibly not a billion dollars, but I would rather have avondale southdown than any single one of those motorway projects.

            The running options are much better because it allows much better service to Manukau without having to divert Southern Services, and will be even better once the Botany line is built.

            Yes, we can remove Vic Park flyover for less, but when you say “all we get from AWHC is x, y, z” if you don’t include removing the Vic park flyovers you are lying.
            Again, to reiterate, I do not want any motorway component on the AWHC, but the argument that you were making was very poor and hurts the cause. Exactly the same as claims that Marijuana has never resulted in a single death, it is untrue and ruins a really good argument.

            Also, we wouldn’t have 4 running to the CBD, there will only be 5 lanes on the old bridge, and only they will go into the city, so you are looking at 3 lanes going into the city. I am not saying that is a good thing, I am saying that you are lying to try and make a point that doesn’t need lies to be made.

            Again, it won’t triple capacity, it will probably remain the same, so we wouldn’t need to widen these roads.

            Probably the only advantages of AWHC are that it gives a bypass to the city but we have the WRR for that, it gives cycle and walking, but that can be done far cheaper, and it gives bus lanes, but I think that we can do that on the existing bridge, o in a tunnel with a rail line.

          3. Sorry, when I said ” no net effect except tripling the number of cars on Fanshawe and Cook St” I was talking in narrow terms about transport capacity. That’s a little facetious too because you could improve the busway capacity by having bus lanes right across the bridge, but we could do that without a second crossing and indeed the bridge isn’t the capacity choke point. It would cost almost nothing to allocate one peak direction lane to buses, (leaving one for city access and three for state highway access).

            I’m not sure what plans you are referring to but these ones ( generally show the harbour bridge with eight lanes connecting to the city. One lane each way is shared between buses and the Shelly Beach/Curran ramps, one to Fanshawe St, one that splits between Fanshawe and Cook, and one to Cook. Ok so you can argue that the lane that carries buses and Ponsonby traffic doesn’t count, but it’s still three lanes where we currently have the equivalent of one and a half. The point still stands that the capacity to and from the CMJ does not change at all, all increases are to the CBD whatever the final form.

            The AWHC doesn’t really bypass the city, no more than the existing motorway does. All it does is separate the flows to the city from those to Spaghetti Junction. A concrete jersey barrier could do the same job. As you say the real bypass is the western ring route.

            So yes, the harbour crossing removes the Vic Park Viaduct and segregates city and state highway traffic flows from Onewa interchange instead of from Cook St. It also allows for some streamlining of buses (although I will note that buses sharing one lane on the bridge with general traffic is what already happens today). At the end of the day the only significant traffic outcome is a large increase in peak hour capacity from the lower north shore to the CBD.

            Again, if we want to remove the VIc Park viaduct, sort out buses and increase commuter capacity from the North Shore to CBD, there are a lot cheaper ways to do it (or a lot better ways to spend $4.8 billion, give me that kind of money and I’ll build you a metro covering half of Auckland and still have money left over to bury the Vic Park viaduct).

          4. Sorry, I thought that there were to be bus lanes. I may have been looking at a non-preferred option.

            Ok, I see what you mean regarding capacity.

  4. Getting rid of many of the superfluous projects (Onehunga – SH1, additional road crossing of Waitemata plus several other roads), would remove a lot of the funding gaps. I do not support any increases to public transport fares, additional funding should come out of road pricing schemes or fuel excise.

      1. That it puts more people onto the roads, congesting them.
        Either you subsidise PT, or roads, or both like we do now, or you have complete congestion. I doubt that any of the projects in that plan are financially viable so why do any of them?

  5. Option 2 and gave them a serve showing that even LA, the city of cars, is doing ‘road diets’ and greatly increasing expenditure on PT and active travel. Auckland Transport, the govt, MOT and NZTA are 10 years behind the 8 ball.

  6. Auckland’s motorways play host to 900,000 commuter vehicles a day. Simply make the motorways a London-style congestion zone and charge $2 each time a car use an on-ramp. (It can’t be too high a figure, or you dissuaded use & simply shift the congestion onto suburban streets.)
    If each commuter goes to work & home again via the motorway (2 x Journeys @ $2 x 900,000 vehicles) – there’s a revenue stream worth $3.6m a day – or $1.3b a year.
    In two years, the City Rail Loop in Paid for.
    In 5 years, they could extend the rail network to the North Shore.
    All the while, encouraging PT use, reducing carbon emissions and creating an infrastructure that Auckland should’ve have generations ago.
    It’s a total no-brainer.

    1. It’s not a no-brainer. Getting $2 off every person who uses a motorway would cost hundreds of millions a year. The Northern toll charge is paid by 97% of people and costs 65 cents to collect. Maybe it’d be more effective on the motorway sytem but it’d cost probably $1m a day to run a scheme like this. And then you’d force some people off the motorway onto local roads, cloggin those for everyone. Toll schemes or congestion charging are not simple fixes and they are certainly not no-brainers.

      1. You’ve forgotten the economies of scale in that argument. Even if the income is only 70% of charge theat is still more than the funding shortfall by a long way.

  7. Here is the guts of my submission – I am proposing a twist on Option 2

    I agree that there is a very large funding shortfall for transport in Auckland, but disagree strongly with the quantum identified by the CBG. This is because:
    a. I disagree with many of the projects that were “taken as read” by the CBG, e.g. Pen-Link, which not only add to the cost but will have a negative impact on congestion.
    b. I also believe that allocating a fair share of the total existing NZTA funding (approx. $36 billion in the current decade alone) to Auckland would cover a large part of the funding shortfall – especially if we had a greater say in what it was to be spent on.

    Despite these comments, I do acknowledge that we have a funding shortfall of some hundreds of millions of dollars per year. Of the two options presented I support option 2 for its decongestion benefits as much as for its fund raising potential. However, I propose a substantial modification to the proposal.

    My proposal is for a two-step process: Debt-Funding up front with Road Pricing to follow (once we have some critical infrastructure in place). The principle I argue for is that Aucklanders should only be forced to pay the new road pricing charges once there is a decent PT alternative in place (Ken Livingstone was able to justify his cordon charges because London already had the Tube + lots of red buses). So my suggestion is a package deal in two parts:
    1. Borrow say $5billion up front to build the CRL + other extensions to the rail network and pay interest only from conventional sources for the first 5 years (while the new infrastructure is being built).
    2. In the 6th year introduce congestion charges, etc. (on the basis that serious alternatives to commuting by car would then be actually available) with the first priority being to repay the loan, then to fund further improvements to the transport system.

    The total package (i.e. borrow & build now/pay & ride the improved PT system later) would need to be sold to Auckland in advance – but I believe it would be much more palatable than the alternative (pay up front and only get to ride much later).

    It would also help if Auckland was to declare a self-imposed moratorium on new motorway building for say 10 years – or preferably 20 – so that the funding envelope was not stretched too far.

    Before any additional funding scheme is implemented, all projects need to to be put through a robust process to properly determine their economic impact along with the impact they will have on the entire transport network, not just on the specific area they are located in. The projects then need to prioritised according to which ones have the most positive impact.

    1. Graeme, how will you apply the congestion charge from year 6 to those who have a serious alternative resulting from the CRL?

      People from the East and North will still have no alternative to driving private cars until the network is extended into those regions, so the number of vehicles paying the charge would have to be quite small.

      I agree with the earlier posts about cancelling the new roading projects or making them toll roads, but imposing even higher rates or congestion charges onto those who don’t have serious public transport alternatives is not acceptable in my view,

      It’s hard to back either funding option when the expenditure priorities are so wrong. We’re being asked to answer the wrong question.

      1. People in the north have the busway and people in the east will have their buses dropping them off at train stations.

        So they both have alternatives to driving.

        1. So they both have alternatives to driving? Two real-life examples might help with understanding what public transport is like in the north.

          (i) for my wife to get to her work (in Remuera) by public transport would require three different bus trips plus 800m walking, and would take about an hour and a half. That’s a $10 trip, twice every day, and the return trip includes a 1.5km walk! So driving is the only option.

          (ii) I went with a child to the soccer at North Harbour stadium on Tuesday night, for a game that started at 7:30pm. Not late by any means. Going by public transport would have taken 1hour and 20 minutes each way, cost a total of $27.60, and included six buses and 3km of walking. Again, no option but to drive.

          A congestion fee or other road tax is clearly not appropriate in these cases because there is no serious public transport alternative. I see the claim made by many people that the busway means that no public transport investment is needed on the shore, but nothing could be further from the truth.

          1. More quality PT is required over the whole city. The RPTP goes some way to resolving this but not anywhere near far enough in my opinion. Congestion charging would enable faster development of PT services.

          2. Six buses? 3 each way I assume you mean – still sounds like a lorra buses! You live on the North Shore and you need 3 buses to North Harbour stadium?
            I went to the same game from Parnell – took me 57 minutes door to door, including walking from Albany bus station and 54 minutes on the way back. I thought that was fantastic. Inner Link plus NEX.

          3. David, if you give me the rough addresses I can give you a more efficient route for both trips.

    2. If you were talking about a moratorium on roading capacity impro ements then you may be on the right track. Optimise, maintain as the lions share not for capacity improvements. Then instead of a focus on improving analysis of efficiency how about redefini g what the prioblem is and then genuine analysis before arriving at solutions?

  8. Matt, do you mind if I paraphrase your points? They’re very close to what I was going to submit, but expressed much more concisely!

  9. I think there needs to be some sort of law change that puts AT under the control of the council,or at least some control.At the moment they are pretty much independent.They control about half of all rates.Council controlled organisation,yeah right.

  10. So about $8m was spent on this group of worthies to pontificate on a complex tax policy matter relating to billions of dollars. My favourite bit is “further Govt contributions”.

    Wow. Absolute genius that is.

    Len could’ve saved ratepayers the money and just watched John Clarke’s The Games. Faced with a major funding shortfall for the Olympics, the team is stuck until someone comes up with a revolutionary idea “I know! Let’s tax the rich!!”

  11. DavidB, on days I catch the bus and/or train to work (multiple work locations) I spend about an hour on two (sometimes three) different buses each way – most of that time is also spent catching up on e-mail, admin work, Twitter and so on, or on some evenings zoning out to music (with a location alarm set so I don’t miss my stop). I also walk 300-800m, and somehow manage to spend that time also doing light exercise 🙂

      1. Yep Andrew, I do the same every day to get to work and back – about 45 minutes walking time. It really is a good way to design exercise intop the day and catch up on podcasts etc. and I agree with everything you say.

        Sailor Boy, in the case of the game at North Harbour I wanted to give public transport a go, so I looked at the Maxx site and typed in my address (I’m at the bottom of Devonport) and North Harbour Stadium, and that’s the itinerary it gave me. Getting there looked not too bad (two buses) but coming back it gave me four bus trips and that can’t be fun. I do wonder if there is a more efficient way to do it but it seemed so expensive and slow on my first look that I didn’t spend the time researching it.

        I like the look of that AT network map published a little while back where everything on it was supposed to be 10 or 15 minutes between buses/trains/frerries all over Auckland. That would change everything!

  12. Is a second harbour crossing needed?
    Ihave timed the trip from Akoranga bus station to the intersection of Fanshawe and Beaumont and vice versa. Into the city in the morning is an average of 5 minutes 51 seconds. Based on this being 5.9 km the average speed is 61km/hr. Northbound in the early evening is 8 minutes 26 seconds- 45 km /hr for a 6.4km trip.These speeds would mean a 38 or 29 minute trip from Mt Smart to North Harbour stadium so are reasonably good really-

    1. The second harbour crossing is horrendously expensive, but can we really abandon the idea? The existing crossing is sufficient only for now and only for cars and buses. Won’t a second crossing be needed to expand the rail and cycle networks and to allow for expected population growth?

  13. Below is my brief submission:-

    Optimising the efficiency of the transportation networks and reducing the funding required should be the priority. Not building more infrastructure and extracting more money from residents.

    The solution is my discussion paper at

    In 2011 the Belgium Transport authority completed a study on the impact of transport modal shifts from Cars to Motorcycles. The study discovered that a 25% shift of Cars to Motorcycles would remove congestion on the motorway network.

    The aim of Project Microcar is to replace 25% of vehicles with Motorcycle sized electric Microcars. The electric Microcars are currently manufactured in low volume in the US. Therefore 15,000 (25% of congested cars) would need to be replaced with electric Microcars to resolve motorway congestion.

    The discussion paper explores a number of funding options and profits that are possible.

    1. Yes thats correct in addition to resolving motorway congestion it can also generate a significant profit.

      There is also the benefit of a new industry, employment, reduced carbon emmissions, tourism and the fact that this will be of interest through out the world.

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