Last week’s transport announcements were in many ways a triumph for Auckland Council and Auckland Transport, as they finally got the government to buy into the transport direction that is set by the Auckland Plan and then given more detail by Auckland Transport’s Integrated Transport Programme (ITP). The ITP is a 30 year transport strategy for Auckland which gives effect to the transport chapter of the Auckland Plan, fills in the details of projects to be built over the next 30 years and then analyses the performance of the transport network over that time frame. Key elements of the ITP reflect the big ticket transport items in the Auckland Plan that were supported by the government last Friday: the City Rail Link, AMETI and the East-West Link and the Additional Harbour Crossing project.

So far this sounds like a great story: Auckland’s come up with a long-term transport plan involving a number of very expensive projects and the government has broadly agreed with that plan. Unfortunately, the ITP is complete rubbish – full of stupid projects which simply don’t make sense and lacking a true vision for Auckland’s transport future. And somewhat surprisingly, even with the eye-watering price tag of $60+ billion the transport network’s performance gets considerably worse over the next 30 years.

Congestion gets worse:Greenhouse Gas emissions get worse (the numbers on the x axis refer to land-use scenarios, with 3 indicating a medium growth scenario):There’s little increase from the current 50% of vehicular trips to the city centre in the AM peak being on public transport:citycentre-ptmodeshareWe don’t get anywhere near the target for non-car modeshare during the AM peak period across the city:non-car-modeshareThe prime reason for the failure to meet so many of these targets is that the public transport system remains a relatively poor choice for most trips compared to driving. Therefore people still drive, the roads still get clogged, the greenhouse gas emissions [and all the other dis-benefits of auto-depenancy] continue to increase, there’s little change in modeshare and so forth. Perhaps the situation is best summed up by the graph below – which highlights the continued relative unattractiveness of the PT system in the future:pt-relative-attractivenessAccording to the graph above, pretty much no PT trips are less than half an hour long in the future – a pretty terrible outcome. Furthermore, it seems that hardly any employment is located within a 60 minute trip on public transport – another pretty terrible (although less plausible) outcome. Whether this reflects some serious errors in the transport modelling process or whether this is a true reflection of our future I’m not sure, but these results indicate that in 2040 we’re going to be in much the same situation we are now under the ITP: a relatively crap public transport system meaning that for most trips we’re still going to be car dependent. And no wonder, when you look at the funding in the ITP most of it goes to roads.

So much for a transformational shift.

I’m not sure whether the government’s advisors have highlighted the flaws in what they’ve just bought into. Perhaps the government felt that after giving the thumbs up to the City Rail Link it also needed to balance that with support for an eye-watering number of motorway projects, even though the big picture of what all this spending leads to doesn’t really make sense.

Over the next few weeks we’re going to discuss in detail an alternative to the government’s transport package and the Integrated Transport Programme. A far better alternative that’s around the same price but will deliver far superior outcomes. An alternative that will truly give Auckland an alternative to the congested roading network, an alternative to rising greenhouse gas emissions, an alternative that will make achieving the modeshare shift targets far more possible and which will finally deliver upon the promise to make public transport the ‘mode of choice’ for longer trips.

We call it the Congestion Free Network and we look forward to sharing it with you.

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        1. Thats a nice idea, but how do we do that? We either penalise Auckland in some way to artificially retard its growth or subsidise the provinces to amke them more attractive. Surely you arent advoacting either of those are you?

          You may say “encourage people to move to small centres” but what about if people dont want to? What about if people really like living in a big city of 1.5-2.5m people?

          Should we go out and spend $1b on Palmerston North? What could we build in PN that would encourage young people to relocate there? Arent those programmes much more likely to be white elephants with no one to support them?

          IMO “prioritising growth into the regions” is just one of those catch phrases that sounds great, but the practicalities of doing it are far more difficult and potentially damaging. The fact is that there are very few well paying jobs in the provinces that most young people are interested in, especially as farming is so much less labour intensive now.

        2. Palmy seems to be doing alright growing on its own probably a bit at Wanganui and Welly’s expense. (Or last week because of NZ Post directly at Lower Hutt’s expense). It is becoming more of a logistics hub for the Lower North Island.

          As for subsidies, I think multi-billion dollar motorway projects could be seen as a huge subsidy for Auckland. Petrol went up 3c a litre to pay for the RoNS today. It went up 3c in Oamaru, Ranfurly and Wairoa as well as in Ponsonby. Not much benefit to a lot of places in the country, but we’re all paying.

        3. I’ve always thought Palmy would be great with a complete cycle way network. CHCH, Hamilton, and Palmy ought to be our great cycling cities, Oh and Napier + Hastings.

        4. Matt that increase in fuel tax is to pay for the RoNS which are mostly outside Auckland. In fact of the over $10 billion for the RoNS, only $2.5b are for Auckland projects. We have:
          Northland -$1.7b for Puhoi to Wellsford (We keep getting told it’s about Northlands economy so it shouldn’t sit in the Auckland column)
          Auckland – $$340m for VPT, $2b for the WRR
          Waikato – $2.1b for the Waikato Expressway
          Bay of Plenty – $450m for Tauranga Eastern Link
          Wellington – $2.7b for Wellington Northern Corridor
          Christchurch – $800m for Christchurch motorways.

        5. Furthermore as all State Highways are paid for socialistically; that is from a collective central fund, Aucklanders, making up 36% of the population, will fund 36% of say the useless Wellington RoNS, with the locals contributing less than 10%. And Wellington isn’t growing, there is little need for this expensive project EXCEPT in order to spread this money around politically, not on a basis of need or growth.

        6. And the 22.5 billion for Auckland roads at the top of the post?

          and 2.2+0.34+1.7 doesn’t equal 2.5. Puhoi ain’t in Southland.

        7. Oh, Matt. The duplicate Puhoi motorway has been sold to the public totally on the basis of getting goods from Northland to Auckland, not the reverse.

          And it’s going to take more than a bit of regional investment to stop young people wanting to live in NZ’s only world-scale city.

        8. Matt – As mentioned P2W has consistently been sold to us as a project needed to improve Northlands economy. It doesn’t have anything to do with easing congestion in Auckland (other than making sprawl in Warkworth easier and therefore putting more pressure on the existing roads)

        9. Matt L. It’s really about $6.34 billion that goes to the Auckland region. The Waikato expressway for instance would not all all be needed if it wasn’t for the 1.5 million people living in Auckland, it’s really almost an extension of the Auckland motorway.

        10. Every road is connected to somewhere, doesn’t mean you can lump it all on Auckland. The Waikato expressway isn’t needed for Aucklanders but is intended to assist the Waikato. The only thing it does for Auckland is make it easier for vehicles from outside the region reach the traffic queues a little bit faster. Auckland doesn’t get much benefit out of that.

        11. Matt L. I think we can be rather certain that most of the vehicles on the waikato expressway will have Auckland as part of the trip.

          In addition you mention of queues can only pertain to two scenarios, either your joking in that you think the waikato expressway is for people commuting to work in Auckland or you don’t actually understand the project.

          Your comment would be like saying the US interstate has nothing to do with the major cities it connects but it’s all about the small ghost towns that it bypasses.

        12. Matt, Patrick – re cycling in Palmy.

          Last month the Council released their draft Streets Design Initiave for which one of the key objectives is “to provide a catalyst to move away from car dominated streets and provide a balance for all street users and aesthetics.” Specifically:

          “The Council also adopted the Cycle Action Plan that sets out the aspiration for Palmerston North to be the best place to ride a bike in New Zealand. The Street Design Manual delivers on the Plan by applying the road-user hierarchy approach.”

          So something positive to look out for in the provinces. Palmy already has a lot of cyclists because of the various tertiary education facilities and the fact it is largely as flat as a pancake. This should formalise that through grade separation, etc.

        13. Why would we want try and stop economic growth where it is happening just fine, and try and force it into areas where it does not occur? If the provinces want growth hen they should lift their game, but I can’t see any reason to retard Auckland on the hope that it might magically shift to places people naturally don’t want to live and work.

        14. On the flip side the govt shouldn’t be ignoring the provinces – Gisborne and Marsden rail as 2 examples. We shouldn’t be forcing improvement but we shouldn’t be, almost intentionally it seems, holding the provinces back.

        15. Last year I was working happily in Palmy and our managers in Auckland decided to close the Palmy office and move our jobs to Auckland. They thought we’d be ever so happy to move up. They got 1 of 13 of us to do so and the rest of us scattered to the wind. Housing is half the cost in Palmy than it is in Auckland. The commutes, even by bicycle, are under 15 minutes. The pay is only slightly less. The period of debt slavery lasts way, way longer in Auckland.

          Encourage new jobs in the regions. Support rural industries. Offer training and education positions at regional polytechs and universities. Release more cheap land for cheap housing(like that’s an option in Auckland). Reintroduce better regional trains.

          There’s heaps and heaps the government chooses not to do.

        16. New Plymouth was actually the best performing city per BERL in 2012 – seems to have a pretty solid economy just very expensive flights and very poor highway links, so has become isolated. A little bit of cash for transport improvements and would take off – pretty good cycle network there at a bargain cost already. Whangarei/Marsden City is another area that would grow rapidly if around $700m was spent on the Northport rail spur and highway improvements. This would create jobs and take some pressure off the Auckland housing market.

          Passenger rail to Whakatane at around $2.5m per year and $200m for some double tracking on the Hamilton/Tauranga section is also another way, with big population increases in Hamilton and Tauranga placing a lot of pressure on the Southern Motorway (for example for the airport etc). Will be even more Auckland traffic issues if the Waikato inland port proceeds one assumes.

        17. Matt, again lots of platitudes there but how????? Obviously you like small rural cities but it appears the majority of (especially young) New Zealanders dont.

          Your story is a classic example. So your bosses decided – despite all the problems with Auckland and all the new technology available for communications – that it was better to move. Are you sure your bosses were surprised people didnt want to move?

          Remember we are one of the most urbanised countries in the world.

          BTW I am from the South Island so I know what the small regional centres are like.

          Encourage new jobs in the regions. – OK but how? What could we change in regional centres that will keep the young people there? They seem to be leaving in droves. Do we penalise businesses in Auckland?

          Support rural industries. – Again how? Subsidies? Do we give tax breaks so that business will move to small centres? So we lose the high taxes they are paying in Auckland so that they move elsewhere?

          Offer training and education positions at regional polytechs and universities. – OK but Invercargill has been offering free tertiary education for years and I dont see massive immigration to Invercargill. Dunedin offers a world class Uni with great facilities andf some courses (dentistry) can only be done there. But even if young people do go, they leave as soon as their studies are done. What else do you propose needs to be done?

          Release more cheap land for cheap housing(like that’s an option in Auckland). – Sprawl is not the answer for a big city like Auckland. The shortage of housing in Auckland is not on the fringes.

          Reintroduce better regional trains. – great idea and I would love to see it but I just dont see NZ as having the population to support that. Maybe in the Auckland-Hamilton-Tauranga triangle and AKL-WLGTN but otherwise hard to justify. I used to take the train from Chch to Dunedin and it was quite full at times – cancelled in the late 90’s.

        18. Lets not under estimate the impact that spreading the population growth out to the regions would have on them. You are talking about needing to double the size of Hamilton, Tauranga, Napier/Hastings, Dunedin, Palmerston North, Nelson, Rotorua , New Plymouth, Whangarei, Invercargill, Whanganui and Gisbourne. That is a considerable amount of impact for those places both socially and financially.

        19. To say that everyone wants to live in Auckland is simplistic. Many people enjoy Auckland and others come here for jobs. The provinces have a lot to offer and the government could support the provinces by putting some of it’s processing, beuractratic jobs in those areas. I believe in the UK they have moved for example their Car Registration Processing out of London to spread the load and resources. Some of the functions of government like Call Centres and Processing jobs could give more industry and growth to the provinces. And they wouldn’t have to be transporting goods to Auckland . They would just live in those provinces quite happily, with their sunshine, big backyards, and affordable housing.

        20. PS1 – Noone has said “everyone” – I said most, which considering 70% of NZ’s population growth after 2030 will be in Auckland, seem fair. But of course 2/3 of NZ dont live in Auckland, so maybe even “most” isnt fair – let’s say a significant minority and a BIG chunk of young people.

          Yes the government could do that. ASB also could have built its new HQ in Whangarei and paid a hell of a lot less in rent/wages etc. But it didnt, it built it in the Wynyard Quarter and it is a profit making enterprise – so why do you think that is?

          Two words – agglomeration benefits.

          I still havent seen any concrete suggestions other than moving pretty non-productive bureaucratic government services to the provinces. What else would you do to convince the 18 year old who just finished high school or 22 year old who just graduated from Victoria University that Palmerston North or New Plymouth is a better option than Auckland?

        21. I agree with you Matt. Auckland effectively has a monopoly on the rest of NZ meaning businesses and people don’t really have much of a choice as to where to locate themselves unless they are prepared to make economics sacrifices to locate somewhere else.

          Ideally the government would look at where ideal growth areas are and plan them out. Countries all over the world have more than one functioning city and New Zealand shouldn’t try to be the one place who puts all their eggs in one basket.

        22. The UK is absolutely dominated by London, Ireland By Dublin, France by Paris, Norway by Oslo, Sweden by Stockholm, Russia by Moscow and Saint Petersburg, Japan by Tokyo.

          We are far from the only country in the world with a single dominant city.

        23. Come along to hear Ed Glaeser tonight Richard so you can learn about what makes cities work so much better than smaller centres. In short the power of agglomeration.

          Basically the same business in two different sized places will not function in the same way. Business owners, employees, and students are being rational when they decide to head to the big smoke for better opportunity.

        24. Have you not heard of Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Birmingham or Edinburgh before? From what I measure London makes up 15% or the English population whereas Auckland is 30% and increasing.

        25. Google, crossed checked with my memory. For such a simple matter google is the perfect tool.

        26. London has a population of 15 million in the metropolitan area (don’t be fooled by arbitrary administrative boundaries). England has a population of 53 million. So London has 28% of England’s population, about the same as Auckland.

        27. Ah yes I keep forgetting about that part Nick.

          I guess the point is that if you look at most countries the will have a city of a critical mass about 1 days drive from each other. So in Australia they have Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane in the useful part of their country. This means that each region as the critical mass to attract all sorts of business to work the area effectively. In New Zealand we have one city of that critical mass and all the others are so small they have the notion of country town unable to attract a talented work force all that easily. When you get up to mega city numbers of 3 million in one and 15 million in another it’s not so relevant as each city is already massive.

        28. Amoing countries with a population of 10m or less, it is the norm for it to be dominated by one city. Scandinavian countries are great examples but also Prague, Budapest, Lljubljana, Belgrade, Bucharest, Vienna, Zagreb, Dublin, Riga, Vilnius and Tallin are all exmaples of cities that dominate their respective countries.

          Plenty of South American cities are the same.

          Auckland’s situation is not unusual for a small country.

        29. Goosoid, those countries you mention are effectively small sections of land designated around a city, and to some extent support my case.

          You will note the distance between the centre of each of those countries is about 500km or less and so they have that critical mass city at the right spacing already.

          I’d say for New Zealand about 2 or 3 major centres is what we need with them being linked up to each other by an effective transport network.

          This is what you see all through Europe and the USA and is part of the reason they are so efficient.

        30. Well I have lived (Prague and Bucharest each 3 years) and travelled for business and pleasure in a number of those countries and I can tell you that they are far from “small sections of land designated around a city”. That is a very strange statement but it may appear that way when measuring lines on maps from NZ. They just dont support your case at all when you are on the ground.

          I have to really stretch to think of a single country in Europe, Asia or South America with a population of less than 10m that is not dominated by its main city. Plus there are many with larger populations that are dominated by one city (Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia).

          Switzerland has Geneva and Zurich, so that might be one – but that is becuase it has the Canton system.

          Please let me know where else fits that criteria. If you treat the USA as a collection of 50 political units – again how many states with less than 10m have more than one major city? Or provinces in Canada? I must say I know a lot more about Europe than North America so I stand to be corrected.

          If you are just saying that geographical size is the issue with NZ (which I dont agree is the issue as I believe population is a much more important decider of critical mass), a couple of examples in Europe:

          Romania has an area only slightly less than NZ and Bucharest dominates the country by a long way while having a population of 18m.

          Norway, quite a lot bigger than NZ, and similar population and is dominated by Oslo.

          Sweden, far bigger than NZ and dominated by Stockholm. Malmo has some influence now it is basically joined with Copenhagen but perhaps a Chch to Auckland relationship.

          Poland is dominated economically (but Krakow has great cultural importance) by Warsaw. A bit bigger than NZ and 38m people.

          Your examples?

        31. Goosoid, what was it that got you so defensive about Prague and Bucharest? Are you saying those cities don’t dominate those countries? As just the post before that you said they were.

          Can you please elaborate as to your stance on these countries and how you feel their population is distributed.

          Also I should state that boarders of either countries or states are irrelevant to my point. I’m talking about the spread over a productive land mass.

        32. Sailor Boy: Me! I’ll be wearing a green coat. I’d love to meet some other people from on here 🙂

        33. Sorry liz, was on the bus when you sent that! I ended up sat right behind stuart, and a man I can only assume was swan.

        34. SF Lauren – I am confused. I said in my second post that both dominate their countries. I appologise if you think I am being defensive – it is more that I know those countries/cities very well and what you were saying just doesnt accord with what I have experienced.

          I am also confused as to why you cant come up with any examples to refute what I am saying. Can you refute this: “I have to really stretch to think of a single country in Europe, Asia or South America with a population of less than 10m that is not dominated by its main city.” Do you have any contrary examples?

          If you are talking about population distribution, that is a different matter. Obviously with Europe’s history and shifting borders, there are few countries that have a single city with as big a percentage of the population as NZ. However, almost all of the countries have a single city that dominates the country. So NZ is not unusual in that.

          However, of the ones that do have a single city with a large proportion of the population (Norway, Denmark, Croatia, Austria) they all have a population around the same as NZ – certainly 25% is not unusual for countries with small population.

          I do not know how you can just ignore borders. Borders matter even in the EU – they are still discrete economic units with separate, languages, culture, tax policies and economic strategies. Even in the US borders matter and each state tends to have a dominant city, especially in small states.

          So my only point, is that (despite what seems to be accepted “wisdom” in NZ) it is not unusual, in fact generally the rule, that low population countries in particular are dominated by one city that sucks in all the capital and immigration, especially internal immigration of young people. And so for NZ to start trying to kill off Auckland and bleed its energy and capital to the provinces would be a mistake – economically, we need one big city and that is Auckland. The overwhelmingly rural culture (much to my disappointment since I returned here) may find that hard to swallow and “un-Kiwi” but that is reality.

          I await any cited evidence to the contrary.

          The reason? Two words – agglomeration benefits.

        35. Goosoid, all these small countries dominated by one large city or large countries split into many states with one large city all go to support my case. It is here we we are both heading off on different tangents and hence unable to actually debate the topic at hand.

          Now as I said before, those small countries you mentioned with one large city is just like the USA and their states, the only thing that really changes are laws but you still have these concentrated areas of employment at the ideal spacing.

          If you look at the larger counties that have the one city concentration you find that they have significant topographic and climate constraints which render large parts of the country with reduced appeal. Norway, Sweden and Finland for example. You get the same in Canada as well where most of the northern parts of the country are to hostile to hold much of an appeal for people to live or work in.

        36. Ok I really have to give up. I now dont understand your point and you wont address my examples.

          I dont understand how the countries I cited could support your idea that that Auckland is too big for a country with NZ’s population (not area).

          I will say again and my point is very clear: NZ is not unusual in being a low population country and Auckland is not unusual in the percentage of population it makes up in comparison to other low population countries.

          Again, I welcome specific examples to refute that.

        37. Well there is the issue goosoid, not once did I ever make any assertions that Auckland was too big for a country the population of New Zealand. So it’s appears we are talking to each other about two different topics.

          If we go back to what I said at the start, I said that Auckland had a monopoly on the rest of the country preventing other cities from being able to compete against it which ends up depriving the rest of the country.

          My idea was that you would have cities of a critical mass so they are able to compete against each other about one days travel or 1000km from each other in order to get the best out of the land assuming it’s all of good value.

          My examples again remain the USA and most of Europe.

        38. OK but then why did you point out above: “From what I measure London makes up 15% or the English population whereas Auckland is 30% and increasing.” if you arent talking about the percentage? This is probably why I am confused.

          I dont think area has anything to do with it in this day and age. It is all about population. We need very little population to “work the area” as you put it above.

          We do have cities placed about 1 days drive from each other – Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin. Other than Auckland they are smaller cities sure but NZ only has 4.3m people so the numbers seem about right. Again they accord with the smaller cities in Scandinavian countries.

          I still dont see anything in your comments to support the theory that we need to discourage Auckland from growing in order to stimulate the smaller regional cities. Why would NZ artificially prop up small rural cities? That is what we did in the 60s, 70s and 80s with guaranteed product prices and that wasnt such an economic success from what I hear (being too young to have really experienced it first hand).

        39. The only reason I mentioned that statistic, which I got wrong, was that sailor boy went on a rant listing countries with an extremely large central city suggesting it was of some relation to New Zealand where the average city size is 100k to 200k.

          Moving on however I never suggested we should be looking to discourage Aucklands growth or that we look at small rural centers. As I was saying before I think one major city of critical mass about a day apart. Right now we have the cities, Wellington and Christchurch, however they are in such a shadow of Auckland the struggle to attract the people.

          The government seems to realise this and that why these are the areas where the RoNS are.

        40. Now I should point out however. Just because you aren’t throwing as much money at Auckland does not mean your discouraging growth, rather you’re just not encouraging it as much as before.

        41. The notion that land or a day’s travel is particularly relevant to our economic future suggests a mindset from last century like some of our politicians.

          SF Lauren please do explain what “agglomeration benefits” means to you

        42. It just so happens sacha that I have section A10.3 of the NZTA economic evaluation manual right here on my desk which is all about agglomeration.

          Now here is a question for you, if you oppose my view then one must assume that you would think the country would be best if we all lived in Auckland and the rest of the country went to waste

        43. @Sacha: + 1000.

          And in any case, for more than forty years a day’s travel has been enough to take you all the way to North America.

        44. Steve D, apparently unlike you most people aren’t so wealthy that they can afford to fly around the world with little regard to time or money.

        45. SF: So I’m suddenly wealthy enough to fly around the world whenever I like? Thanks for letting me know. Here I was wasting years of my life saving up for an overseas trip like a chump. My point about flying was one you seem to have missed – how far you can drive in a day is irrelevant to almost everyone. Most people’s work doesn’t require them to travel anywhere outside the city they live in. For people who do travel for work, they generally do fly if driving would take more than a day. Flying’s not some sort of exclusive luxury.

          You seem to think that if we allow Auckland to keep growing, that the rest of the country will become a deserted wasteland. This does seem to be general theme of your comments here, that everything must be one absolute or another.

          There’s always going to be a need for agricultural towns and even regional cities like Christchurch, that serve a particular area. But they already exist! Most of the economic growth these days is in manufacturing, and especially in services, that don’t need to be spread thinly across the country the way farms do. They’re actually the opposite – most business benefit from being located close to other complementary businesses, and in cities where there are lots of potential workers. It’s natural for larger cities like Auckland to get a disproportionate share of growth. You seem to think this a bad thing, but you haven’t explained why you think that.

        46. And before you leap on me for saying that flying’s not an exclusive luxury and also that I’m having to save for a trip: I mean flying domestically, for work.

        47. Ahh Steve now I see, before it was sounding like you were suggesting that you quite often fly off to some overseas country to simply see a movie, visit a friend for the afternoon or go out for dinner.

          My very point is that people like a number of the aspects of life a big city offers but may also prefer or work in industries that can’t be located in the CBD. These people aren’t wanting to live a 3 day trip from seeing a movie and hence why these large centres seem to form at a regular spacing.

          My only reason for apparent extremes is that this appears to be what you guys are suggesting. From what you say the only benefit for anything is to be located right next to everything else. Although this helps this eliminates a number of other benefits and forces everyone to live in one corner.

          As for the main issue, it’s right there at the start being the extraordinary cost to have so many people in one place that was never designed or planned to have such numbers.

        48. I’m pretty sure you can see a movie or go out for dinner even in little towns like Levin. You’d have to live somewhere amazingly remote, or not own a car, if you couldn’t make a day trip to somewhere with a cinema, or more ambitiously a weekend trip to somewhere that has major international concerts. We do have cities spaced much less than a day apart already, and many of them are actually quite lively.

          I don’t think anyone on the blog has suggested forcing people out of provincial towns, or that we should be discouraging growth there for the people who do want to live in them. But they do already exist, and aside from Christchurch which still needs a bit of rebuilding, none of them urgently need much in the way of infrastructure even if they keep growing at current rates.

          This whole thread started with Matt saying that spending on infrastructure in Auckland was throwing good money after bad, and you agreed with him, saying that the government should encourage growth in the provinces and discourage it in Auckland. But people are still mostly moving into Auckland over other centres, despite the congestion and expensive housing, so maybe lots of people really do want to live here? It’s not because the government has been “planning” growth here at the expense of the provinces.

        49. Steve, firstly not once have I ever said we should discourage growth in Auckland. What I said a number of times is that Auckland has a monopoly on the county.

          Now I guess an easy way to think about it to think why you are in aucAuckland yourself. Did you live here because you like congestion, high house prices and air pollution? Or do you live Herr for some other reason such as you could get a job you liked here?

        50. Bingo. I think you’re getting it. People move to Auckland because there’s opportunity here that you don’t find in smaller cities. Presumably it’s the same reason you moved to Melbourne.

          That effect only grows as the city gets bigger. Given that Auckland has the lion’s share of NZ’s growth as it is, it doesn’t make sense to think that people will move to other cities because you build a few motorways there. Maybe the government should build infrastructure where the demand is, rather than trying to stand in the way?

          That said, I think we could solve the whole issue if infrastructure were funded locally, rather than having to have the central government share it “fairly” between the regions. Auckland can have tolls, congestion charges, and high rates, and enjoy all the spiffy new highways and PT. Other councils can cut back and enjoy lower taxes.

        51. Ok Steve now try of think how this will play out, if everyone is going to Auckland because that’s where the best jobs are what’s going to happen to the rest of the country?

          Without any intervention we will get Auckland turning into one huge mega city needing to constantly spend billions on our infrastructure. Meanwhile the rest of the country will die out much like quite a few rural towns already have.

        52. Again with the ridiculous extremes. “Everyone” isn’t going to Auckland. The majority of New Zealanders live outside Auckland, and will do so for a very long time. The rest of the country isn’t dying out, and in fact it’s growing. Just not growing quite as fast as Auckland.

          Cities only exist as long as there’s an economic reason for them to exist. The government already props up a number of cities with government departments and universities – Wellington, Palmerston North, and Dunedin for example. Do you seriously think people will move to Napier or Invercargill because we build a motorway there, rather than in Auckland? I mean, what sort of intervention do you actually have in mind?

        53. Steve it’s not a ridiculous extreme however, it’s whats currently happening. You sort of demonstrated why before, do you really think your the only person in New Zealand that wants a good job? Because no your not, most people want a good job and if Auckland is the only place they can get it then thats where they will go.

          Now of course other places are still growing, I never claimed the rest of the country is sterile but more and more people are moving to Auckland than are leaving Auckland to join the other centres.

          Now as for building motorways, I’m not too sure why you keep asking me about them as I’ve never said they are the silver bullet to diversifying the country.

          What I would suggest are things like commercial tax cuts and things like that, specialising areas with certain industries.

          If you look at the Christchurch rebuild, there is going to be a massive boom to the economy from that which cost wise is not far off what Auckland wants to spend on rocks and concrete to build roads and rail tunnels.

          That’s a large chunk of money spent on material rather than labour.

    1. Toa I am really puzzled as to why you think this these can be any kind of game changer. They are pretty much expensive and boring motor-bikes or over powered and dangerous golf-carts that you propose to run mixed with semi-trailers and SUVs at 100kph and at a lethal density.

      1. If this gets off the ground Auckland will be the first. Although one of the manufacturers is now getting a lot of interest in Europe on the concept of using narrow track electric vehicles to solve traffic congestion.

        1. Great. Would you like a list of cities that have rail based public transport as a concept that has been tried and proven for over 100 years?

        2. Thats fine, I understand your point on railway and as mentioned I am not anti-PT. But there is nothing wrong with wanting to improve the efficiency of the motorway or to accelerate the growth of the electric car industry.

        3. Sorry – my commnet was a little sarcastic.

          I thought you were putting these forward as a substitute for PT. Asa complement for short journeys from a PT station to the destination on a share scheme, I think they could be fantastic. I always think I dont really want to own a car but I want to have access to a car.

          The electric cars coming out have horrendous price tags (Nissan Leaf) and a lot of unnecessary luxuries because they are expected to be a substitute for ICE cars. Your cars as a share scheme make a huge amount of sense.

          Good luck to you.

    2. I’ve got to admit that I’m pretty sceptical too, Toa. I’m all for entrepreneurship and wish you all the best, but it’s a pretty risky venture. And I imagine that some very costly engineering would need to be done before these vehicles would be certified for travel on roads with higher speed limits – they’d need to be built like the Batcycle.

  1. That is a very disappointing comment as those issues are covered in the project. Narrow track vehicles can be made safe and affordable. Three manufacturers have invested heavily in this area and can bring the prices down significantly with a high uptake.

    The issue of traffic congestion is the size of single occupied vehicles at peak time traffic.

    1. Sorry Toa but more I look at this more it looks like a confused conflation of both problem and solution. Congestion is simply too many vehicles of any size not just an ok quantity of vehicles that are just too big. Sure the recent move to somewhat more efficient but bigger personal cars [SUVs] isn’t helping but this isn’t the core problem.

      Anyway what are you now saying? You want these things on tracks? So are they tiny cars or absurdly useless trains with virtually no capacity? If they are on tracks then they have none of the point to point advantage of cars, but also none of the huge capacity of trains: lose/lose. If they aren’t then they’re just little cars, which are fine, but won’t be bought by many in this country, and certainly not to be driven on our motorways. Some will be good for city only driving, but then we mostly [more’s the pity] don’t have cities of narrow medieval streets like Paris. So motorbikes, scooters, and bikes are already a good option for this niche.

      We need to invest to make our cities more bike suitable and get the best form of electric powered transport in place; grid connected trains, and then, as the technology becomes more available, electric buses for the more dispersed populations.

      1. Narrow track (industry term for width) electric vehicles is a much better design for single occupancy peak time commuting and can increase traffic lane flow from 2000 to 4000 vehicles per hour. Increasing the efficiency of the motorway should be a major priority. 15,000 of these vehicles in place of normal sized vehicles on the central motorway will solve traffic congestion (as per the studies).

        The objective of the project is for these vehicles to be funded as a form of public transport targeted to 15,000 central commuters to ease traffic congestion. The economics of a mass produced vehicle would make the lease affordable. The reasons why people chose one form of transport are primarily cost and convenience (including safety). One of the main benefits is that it could be cost neutral to the funder in that the lease would pay back the funds invested.

        I am not anti-PT or anit-Infrastructure, the third option of design/technology needs much more advocacy.

        1. So you want private vehicles funded as public transport? Who decides who gets them? Or are you proposing a City Hop type system. Well I’m all in favour of that but it doesn’t require these little cars.

          And you expect these to drive two a breast in motorway lanes at 100kph with trucks and all other traffic safely? With two vehicles side by side in each lane how do they safely change to opposite lanes. I strongly suggest you will not get your theoretical increase in vehicle carrying capacity in practice.

          Better to invest in passenger systems that provide an alternative for more to avoid using: 1. Cars at all, 2. The motorways, and 3. Liquid fuel powered machines, more often and for more trips. That way we keep the extensive existing motorway network viable as well as provide a huge additional uplift in accessibility throughout the whole city completely outside of the congestion prone system.

        2. Thats correct a new form of public transport targeted at replacing 15,000 full sized cars on the centrally congested motorway to solve traffic congestion. The funding would be cost neutral and paid back over time by the new Public Transport Microcar company.

          The vehicles can operate legally like motorcycles in staggered formation which doubles the capacity of the lane. By staggered formation you keep the legal distance with the vehicle in front and half legal distance with the vehicle shared in the lane (no intentional side by side). With some will this could be completed in five years.

          The PT and Infrastructure projects can continue but as you are aware they will take decades, massive amounts of funding and some very unpopular amounts of revenue generation.

        3. Patrick. Make the trucks half width too.

          Geez!! Where’s your unbridled belief that there is a technological answer to every problem?

        4. Is anyone observing the legal distance during congested times? I doubt it, so it’s hard to understand how halving this (theoretical) spacing solves the problem.

        5. Toa, take this as you wish but there is no way I would pay for one of these. I happily to use PT on the occasions I want to use it. I have private vehicles. I don’t need any more. My private vehicles can go where I want if I’m not using PT or my bike. This scheme is about as realistic as the great ‘everyone will work from home’ or ‘flying car’ theories in my opinion.

        6. I am the first to admit that this is not everyones cup on tea.

          But some would be interested if the vehicles were leased at an affordable weekly rate, cost only $5 in electricity per week and paid motorcycle rates for parking.

        7. It’s striking in Indian and Chinese cities I have visited over the years, the streets have jammed up with cars substituting for bicycles, motorbikes auto-rickshaws. But, having switched en masse from narrow vehicles to normal (wide) ones, how do you ever go back again?? The (car width) lanes are all there now and traffic is regulated accordingly. Well I say regulated.. it’s all relative.

          Still, as a rental vehicle to whizz around CityHop style during the day or as goosoid says the last few kms, maybe?

          Better still, with one of these we could double our fun as well as our volume flow rates..

  2. ‘I’m not sure whether the government’s advisors have highlighted the flaws in what they’ve just bought into.”

    From a transport point of view these projects are obviously a complete disaster and seem unlikely to contribute to Auckland becoming the world’s most liveable city. From the point of view of paying back your party donors (notably the Road Transport Forum) and supporting the transfer of wealth to bankers and infrastructure funders, it’s genius. Even better for the gummint, the Labour Party has apparently bought into it (but nice to see some dissent popping up on The Standard).

    BTW – it would be helpful if someone could point out to Auckland Transport that the bit of Auckland south of Penrose is not terra nullius.

  3. Fascinating that AT’s forecasts of the dire consequences of proposed transport spending are just about the same as those that GWRC’s experts forecast for Wellington! At least AT make theirs readily available…

    Something is clearly very, very wrong.

    1. The modelling is clearly rubbish, the assumptions were written for the driving boom years and are based on the idea that the only Transit users are only those who cannot get a car somehow.

      Also what you feed grows, so if we invest so heavily in roads we’ll get more driving whether that’s good or not. Remember congestion is simply too many vehicles on the roads; so why, in the name of reducing congestion, do we spend so lavishly to encourage it?

  4. Scepticism is understandable, I am one of the biggest sceptics around, which is why we are in discussions with a number University researchers to validate the projects findings.

    The main manufacturer has had fully certified vehicles on both US and UK roads for nearly 10 years. They are very expensive as it is a low production operation. However mass production can significantly bring the price down.

  5. Now if I remember correctly, the claim is that with the CRL 0.5 million people will be within 30mins of the CBD by rail alone.

    Why then does figure 5.9 suggest only about 10,000 people will be able to get to a job anywhere in the city by any form of PT. To me that chart appears to significantly under represent PT.

  6. Albany Hway upgrade for nearly $670m!! how? Why? its like 6 or 7km just widen into another 2 lanes. Surely this is a typo.

      1. Thank God haha. That is one of few roading projects that I actually support, glad that the cost I saw was in fact correct.

  7. From the NZ Herald after the last quarter, “The latest quarter’s deficit pushed the shortfall for the full year to $10.5 billion or 5 per cent of gross domestic product – a level often seen as a red flag because, as a rule of thumb, it indicates foreign claims on the economy will be growing faster than the economy itself, a trend which cannot be sustained indefinitely”

    Given that fuel and vehicles comprise such a huge chunk of our imports why does the government make no discernible effort to address this? I never went past Economics 101 (ok not true -did 102 also) but wouldn’t investing in electric rail transporting significant numbers of people help achieve this?.

    Intensification would help also, but the correlation is difficult to see so let’s leave that one.

  8. Apropos of the discussions here about the bullshit Auckland as a “car culture” and how supposedly “Aucklanders love their cars” and therefore PT is a hopeless cause: a book that presents a similar demolition of Americans’ “love affair with their cars”.

    Why We Drive: The Past, Present and Future of Automobiles in America
    by Andy Singer
    Microcosm Publishing

    The publishers says:
    Taking the position that America’s love affair with cars and highways is not a cultural phenomena but an problem that is entrenched in economic and political forces, this manifesto chronicles the rise of the U.S. highway system, its very orchestrated genesis, and the alarming increase in reliance on automobiles. With a format that incorporates a blend of cartoons, historic photographs, and minimal text, this handbook reveals the players—among them crooked politicians, unscrupulous businessmen, and convoluted tax shenanigans—corruption, and greed that has led to endless miles of asphalt. In addition to analyzing the impact of the cultural bias towards driving and how driving became such a dominant mode of transportation, this comedic treatise offers a blueprint for rebuilding a functional and sustainable public transportation system that would bring wealth, happiness, and freedom.

  9. The Governments RoNS projects are based on forecasts looking backward, so to are some of the planned Auckland transport big ticket items. Looking back everything points to more roads. Looking forward however paints a different picture. Roads, roads and roads, with some public transport fed into the mix, speaks of a time when oil was cheap and abundant. It is no longer cheap, it is increasingly not longer abundant. A potential oil crunch has not gone away, the can has been kicked down the road maybe a handful of years. Oil prices are not set to come down anytime soon and in the next handful of year may be set to jump to another new price bracket. The oil price spikes of 2006-08 not only assisted in placing the western economy into severe recession, it also spiked a round of exploration and investment. The result is the like of increasing extraction of tight/fractured oil and deep water oil. The profit margin prices of those types of extraction is only possible by the mid-late 2000’s price spike. The demand-supply nexus raises the possibility (probability?) of a further structural price spike (2015 earliest forecast, maybe 2020?) necessary to unlock further supplies of difficult to extract oil. A further price spike may stimulate further investment and production, it can also kill off demand as well as put economies back into recession. ‘Leaving things to the market’, as the likes of Bill English prefers, doesn’t make much sense when the Government is tilting investment toward roads and more of them, rather than public transport. Place an extra $1 per litre on the price of fuel and then run the BCRs of the RoNS, even the harbour crossing, against the likes of a rail tunnel.

    1. I believe you are 100% right.

      However, we are dealing with large groups of people who believe that climate change and Peak Oil are fantasies created as part of the anti-human, left wing “conspiracy” against humanity. Population control is normally all part of it as well.

      I refer you to this little gem which you will find linked to on a lot of anti-PT, pro-sprawl writers’ blogs (Hugh Pavlevitch, Not PC):

      Good luck having a rational conversation with that philosophy in the background. You may as well argue about evolution with a fundamentalist Christian.

    2. That’s a good analysis of where we are.. especially in regard to the significant risks of oil price spikes and/or supply disruption in the medium term. Or call it the short term in terms of a construction project starting in 2020. In a way is the trouble not “leaving things to the market” but that there is no market? Hypothetically, with all things equal (which of course they’re not), if a developer were to consider the relative risks and rewards of road v rail for the AWHC for example, if each user paid one unit per crossing, which would go ahead?

      Government policy is of course tipping the scales to force a pre-determined outcome. Fundamentalist roadism.

  10. Fascinating article on the decline of car use in the US. Key points:
    1. decline preceded financial crises by 2 to 3 years
    2. is now 9% below peak and below the level of 1995 despite population increase.
    3. definitely a generational shift:

    ‘From 2007 to 2011, the age group most likely to buy a car shifted from the 35 to 44 group to the 55 to 64 group, he found.’

    4. and seems to be related to new technology:

    ‘The percentage of young drivers is inversely related to the availability of the Internet, Mr. Sivak’s research has found.’

    Perhaps Joyce’s investment in UFB will be the complete undoing of the longed for great economic outcomes from his other and much much more expensive idea; The RoNs programme?!

    1. Yes I read that one too. There was also a good recent article on that subject in the Economist basiaclly saying the same thing.

      The only thing it did point out is that youth wage rates were actually falling in real terms even during the 00s boom while the real wages of 50+ were rising (gotta love the Baby Boomers, they shaft you in both directions). But I still believe that cultural aspects are much more at play. Even compared to when I was a teen in late 80s/early 90s, cars seem to have much less status now.

      I also saw this interesting article in praise of BRTs:

      What about a BRT from Onehunga to the Airport through to Papatoetoe? Grade proofed for heavy rail later?

      1. Onehunga to Mangere and Airport? Finish the rail line FFS. Half bus/half train means people from Mangere TC go two stops to Onehunga then transfer? Airport is one destination that I do think deserves a one seat to city ride, for legibility, for visitors to the country, and because of luggage. It’s what I’ll be taking in every city I travel to later in the year.

        1. Patrick, of course I agree with you 100% – why wouldnt we have rail to the airport FFS! Pretty much every city in the developed world over 1m people has it.

          But – I am just thinking of the AMETI project and the link with Panmure to the train service. It seems that it is easier to get BRT built rather than rail – probably just ideological and helps pander to the roading lobby.

          So if we want grade separated PT to the airport – why not a BRT as a PT trojan horse but graded so that a heavy rail extension (rather than the light rail grading of the Northern Busway) from Onehunga to the airport can be built later. You then have your land designation already done, your grading is done and you have a dedicated line to the airport.

          Just a thought.

        2. The days of not campaigning for the best solution are over in my view. Mr Key has opened more doors than he knows. Sure there will still be a fight, and no doubt some consultant is probably doing to this corridor what they did in Wellington: dreaming up the most outlandishly expensive rail plan to kill it with a crazy price tag. As well as finding some model that claims no one will ever ride it. Good boy; go directly to the start and get a free 200.

          But this route with this technology is irrepressible; the RTN is already most of the way there through the most expensive and crowded parts of the route [the city], it just needs a narrow 12m right of way to be included in the coming grade separation of 20A, a bridge across to Mangere, and a bit of clever engineering at the Airport itself, probably elevated at the end, like Brisbane’s, including thoughtful integration into the new terminal design and improvement to the O-Line itself.

          Any Transport consultant that can’t figure out a good way to do that is either an idiot or has been briefed to kill it. Probably the later. Are the team that did in Wellington on it already? I wouldn’t be surprised.

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