Yesterday, we presented our Congestion Free network proposal to the council’s Transport Committee. Unfortunately it wasn’t filmed, but here is our presentation (3.5MB). Much of it readers will have seen before, so don’t be surprised if you have seen most of it already.
We started out by setting the scene: that despite the Auckland Plan – and therefore the Integrated Transport Programme (ITP) – proposing to spend $68 billion on transport over the next 30 years, things still get worse by almost every measure. This includes:
- Congestion gets worse, both peak and interpeak;
- CO2 emissions increase, when the Auckland Plan calls for them to decrease significantly;
- Public transport mode share to the city centre hardly changes, and gets nowhere near the targets set;
- Non-car mode share across the entire region gets nowhere near targets set;
- Public transport is simply not a choice for many compared to driving.
We believe the key reason for this is that, despite the rhetoric, over 70% of funding is still being proposed to be spent on roads. This is shown in the two graphs below. The first looks at the total amount of capital expenditure proposed to be spent in the ITP, while the second is the percentages.
We also believe that the plan doesn’t follow current transport trends. In particular we noted that:
- Vehicle kilometres driven per capita are down;
- Vehicle ownership per capita are down;
- The number of driver licences issued are down;
- That traffic volumes are down, especially on the Harbour Bridge. Note that the NZTA spoke after us about the projects they are working on, and commented that they believe the key determinant for an additional harbour crossing is truck volumes – despite also saying that the purpose of the Western Ring Route was to take pressure off those.
Yet at the same time, we are also seeing some big changes in public transport usage that have been brought about by:
- The introduction of bus lanes on some streets as well as improved frequencies;
- The opening of Britomart;
- The construction of the Northern Busway.
On the last point, one interesting graph I found recently was a presentation with an updated version (4MB) showing mode share on the Harbour Bridge. This looked specifically at people going to the CBD rather than all bridge traffic but shows for the central city, now more than 50% of people are using buses.
In the same presentation, AT also said that 76% of the increase in PT use to the CBD has come from either the busway or the improved rail network. To us, this helps to show that if we provide a good quality service with decent frequency, and build infrastructure that provides a good right of way, people will use it.
We then covered the PT benchmarking study which Patrick discussed, along with an extract from the De Leuw Cather report he talked about yesterday. The benchmarking study was something that Mike Lee was particularly interested in.
Moving on, we briefly discussed the upcoming plans that will have a huge impact on our PT network over the next few years: in particular, electrification, the new bus network and integrated ticketing and fares.
After that, we got into the details about the Congestion Free Network itself. We started with why we designed it, and some of the ideas that drove the decisions we made. These included that the plan needed to be Possible, Affordable, Give Choice, Be Popular and be Better than what we currently have. You would have seen the maps before, but just as a reminder, here is the 2030 vision. We stepped the councillors through each of the projects in each time frame.
I got the feeling that one of the aspects of the plan that councillors (from across the spectrum) quite liked was that we had taken a fairly mode neutral approach to the proposal. We were quite upfront about how we felt some of the rail projects (Mt Roskill to Onehunga and Manukau to Airport) simply weren’t feasible during the time period we were suggesting, and as a result these were dropped to enable other projects to be built. We then showed an idea of how much coverage the CFN would provide. Currently, within 1km of potential stations on the CFN there is about 40% of the region’s population and 43% of the region’s jobs.
However the CFN routes do happen to touch or travel through all major employment nodes in the urban area. The numbers represent the size of those areas.
Lastly, we went through how much the proposal would cost, and one of our key objectives which is to have Auckland Transport model the CFN when they come up with the next version of the ITP (which is due in 2015). In addition, we mentioned that Generation Zero would be quizzing mayoral and council candidates on transport in the upcoming elections.
We then moved on to getting questions and comments from the councillors. Positively, we had a lot of comments in support of the proposal. There were quite a wide variety of questions – some about specific aspects of the proposal, and some about other issues, like our opinions on whether we should keep our old diesel rolling stock after the EMUs arrive (the answer we gave was no: the current trains have been important in the development of rail in Auckland but they have also had their time). A few other notable, off-topic questions were Dick Quax asking about the layout of the Half Moon Bay wharf area, Penny Webster asking about ferries to Riverhead if mangroves are removed (if it happened it would be as part of the CFN) and George Wood asking about asset sales to pay for transport projects (there is enough money but we just need to allocate it better).
All up it seemed that the presentation was very well received, and we even managed to get a round of applause for it which is apparently quite unusual. The Committee passed a resolution to request that Auckland Transport look to model the CFN (or something similar) as part of their next ITP.