The results of a Herald poll this morning seem about as surprising to me as the sun coming up each day. Transport has been voted by the people polled the biggest issue in Auckland.
Poor transport remains Aucklanders’ biggest bugbear, eclipsing the shortage of affordable housing.
A Herald-DigiPoll survey of 500 Super City dwellers found 43.8 per cent ranked transport as the biggest issue facing Auckland.
It was streets ahead of affordable housing, the chief concern of 17.1 per cent of those surveyed, and balancing the city’s budget (3.4 per cent).
Those were the only three specific issues suggested to survey participants, although 26.9 per cent of those polled volunteered other problems as their chief concerns, including the cost of living (6.1 per cent), Mayor Len Brown’s extra-marital affair (3.3 per cent), rates (3.2 per cent) and a growing population (2.1 per cent).
The reason I found it unsurprising is that we have seen similar results in previous polls including this one from UMR about a year ago and even the AA had similar results from it’s members in a poll a few years ago. Equally unsurprising is that it’s PT solutions that the public are crying out for with over half of the respondents wanting better PT which is more than twice the number that want more/better roads.
Public transport improvements have been nominated by 54.6 per cent of participants in the latest poll, taken last week, as the best way to improve Auckland’s traffic problems.
The $2.86 billion underground rail proposal was considered the most important ingredient by 33.9 per cent of those polled, and buses running every 10 minutes at peak times by 20.7 per cent.
Completing the city’s motorway network and building more roads where necessary won top priority from 20.7 per cent and another harbour crossing from 16.2 per cent.
Support for the 3.5km rail link has rocketed from 8.6 per cent of those surveyed by the same polling company before the 2010 local elections, although rail to the airport and to the North Shore were more popular then, before receding in acknowledgment that tunnelling through Britomart must precede any big increase in train services.
We won’t be getting 10 minute peak frequencies on every route but the new bus network will be delivering significant improvements, especially off peak. As expected Len has been quick to say that we’re on the right track with a mix of projects.
Mayor Len Brown believes the poll’s recipe for tackling traffic congestion shows Auckland is “making progress along the lines that people see that what’s needed is a fully integrated solution – not just roading but the whole thing”.
Mr Brown indicated he would make funding for the underground railway his second-term priority, starting with council consideration of a taskforce’s advice that Aucklanders will face steep fuel tax and rates rises from 2015 unless loans can be raised on a promise yet to be obtained of Government approval of new road charges for drivers.
He promised to rectify a failure in his first term to build more bus lanes, and expected integrated ticketing and electric trains to prove “game-changing” in the way Aucklanders got around.
Auckland Transport chairman Lester Levy said major reorganisations of bus routes, starting next year in South Auckland with a new emphasis on feeding passengers to the rail network would provide the higher frequency sought by many of those surveyed but a big challenge he intended overcoming was better punctuality and service standards.
However as we have pointed out numerous times, despite the rhetoric the current plans are road heavy with around 70% of the budget going on roading improvements and that is shown in the graph below from the Integrated Transport Programme. There is such a huge mismatch between that what the public want, what they are being told they are getting and what is actually being built. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad and frustrating.
Of course let’s not forget that back in June the government announced a package of transport projects they prioritised motorway projects, bringing some forward some from the third decade in the ITP to be built ahead of the CRL – which they pushed back to 2020.