It’s almost as if Brian Rudman had been reading the blog (I’ve heard that he does).

Labour’s Auckland issues spokesman, Phil Twyford, says Labour now backs Mayor Len Brown’s bid to levy an extra charge on Auckland road users through road or congestion charges or a regional fuel tax.

He said Labour had been wary of road-user charges in the past because of the effect on working Aucklanders, but now says they are already paying a high price for congested roads and lack of public transport.

But by buying into Mr Brown’s road-bloated transport plans, Labour is only preventing the short sharp shock in favour of public transport that is long overdue. Of course the city rail tunnel is a no-brainer. As was the electrification of the rail network, integrated ticketing, revision of the bus networks and the other public transport reforms which, let’s not forget, pre-dated Mr Brown’s emergence as chief cheerleader.

The problem is the $12 billion to $15 billion that Mr Brown wants to raise via road charging and tolling is needed only because of a huge funding shortfall in Auckland Transport’s proposed 30-year “integrated transport programme”.

It’s a flawed, road-dominated programme which, if achieved as planned, will leave the next generation of Aucklanders stuck in worse traffic jams than we have now. The plan admits that once it is completed, “road congestion levels will deteriorate with volume/capacity ratios exceeding 100 per cent on most of our arterial road networks by 2041 and emission levels exceeding current levels”.

Despite all the mayor’s promotion of his rail tunnel, the underlying emphasis of this grand plan is still on roads. This is underlined in the regional land transport programme.

This is what we’ve been saying for almost a year now. Personally I think that road pricing should take place but not as a revenue gathering exercise but for the congestion relief benefits it provides. To do this it could be done in a revenue neutral way by reducing household rates instead. It is the rubbish Integrated Transport Programme that was one of the driving factors behind us creating the Congestion Free Network which does include still building a substantial number of roading projects but not to the same scale as currently proposed. We’ve even estimated the costs out over each and every year.

CFN Costs by year - 2 CFN Costs by year totals

Rudman continues

Aucklanders have proven that given a train service, they will use it. In 1993, after the purchase of Perth’s secondhand diesel fleet boosted Auckland’s puny rail service, passenger numbers rose from 1 million to 2.5 million over 10 years. In the 10 years after the opening of the Britomart station in 2003, passenger numbers quadrupled to 10 million.

The first of the 57 new electric trains will enter service in April. With the new Hop card integrated ticket finally operating and a redesigned network of bus routes in the wings, Auckland public transport is finally emerging from a half-century of neglect. With the improved train services and the Northern Busway, Aucklanders have voted with their feet. Provide a service and they will use it.

The trouble with the politicians and the bureaucrats is that after 60 years of addiction to petrol, they can’t break the habit. True, they’ve conceded that a liveable city needs a modern public transport system. But when did you ever see a politician on a bus or train – except for a photo opportunity?

More to the point, when did you see one vote to chop the roads budget in favour of public transport? Instead they try to support both, which is why Mr Brown and the “consensus building group” of mainly road-lovers he set up to find new funding is trying to bully Aucklanders into paying another $12 billion to $15 billion for a 30-year plan that’s designed to fail.

There are a few politicians that do use PT. The most prolific is actually George Wood who I know uses it to get all around the region and not just for getting to and from the CBD, even doing trips that most readers wouldn’t bother attempting like yesterday when he used PT to get from the Airport to the North Shore.

Yesterday the NZCID also released an “independent report” on infrastructure. I haven’t read through it yet but some of the comments in the press release definitely caught my eye.

However, SGS found that the Auckland Plan objective of a quality compact city was unlikely to be achieved without increased investment in city shaping infrastructure, identification of the means to fund that investment and policy reform to support road pricing and value capture mechanisms.

On current plans there simply is not sufficient investment in transport infrastructure to support a transition to an efficient and competitive higher density urban form, Selwood said.

To reverse many decades of low-density, motor-vehicle oriented growth will take much more than the city rail link and other projects prioritised in the Auckland Plan.

This finding helps explain why transport modelling of future land use and transport investment completed last year showed Aucklands congestion worsening significantly over the course of the next thirty years, even with all proposed investment committed.

So how does this plan look for some city shaping infrastructure that helps us transition to an efficient and competitive higher density urban form that will help to reverse many decades of low-density, motor vehicle oriented growth?

CFN 2030AEdit: Also worth including a couple of comments from Phil Twyford on the issue

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  1. The NZCID report seems to not be as bad as expected. It’s primary critique seems to be that the Unitary Plan doesn’t up zone around train stations enough.

    1. Some of the townships along the rail have not even had enough investment to do one level of zoning well. We need to put our money into town development along the rail to match our ideologies. I would love to see the team that did Hobsonville Point, show how they could transform an existing suburb that needs a refresh. Not just dumping our tired suburbs and moving to something shiny and new which is the essence of sprawl.

      1. Not just dumping our tired suburbs and moving to something new referred to the wider sprawl that is happening with people building brand new suburbs. Not the redevelopment on Hobsonville Point. Which i think is great and a real way forward.

        1. PS yes indeed, but getting the planning right precedes investment. Improvements to transit service can significantly change the potential for new investment round stations but these are much less likely to be considered if it first involves making a plan change.
          Especially if we expect the market to deliver more and better housing supply.

          The other way is the government (local and national) led model like as you say at Hobsonville and the SHAs.

          1. Except it appears that SHA really stands for “special hands-off areas” where the developers get free reign outside the rules with no accounting/responsibility for delivering the housing outcomes the government says it wants.

            So SHAs are currently little more than idealogicially driven PPP’s for housing.

          2. True. Doing the rail loop and simultaneously getting the suburbs sorted would be logical. Unfortunately the war between central and local govt and AT. has made that process a little crazy. So we get distorted development around the dumb infrastructure models of the central govt. Rail first driving develoment would be great. But since that needs a little push – put some money into sexy design and developments in the rail suburbs and encourage people to the behaviour you want with a push strategy (take the train).

      1. Hmmm, i’m a bit confused now… George Wood uses Public Transport – but he’s against SkyPath & City Rail Link ?

  2. Good on George; so he took the bus to Papatoetoe, the train to Britomart, then the bus to the Shore? Not clear about the train part of his journey. Would be good to know as he is usually so actively opposed to rail in general and investment in improving it in particular.

    So parts of his journey were on the Rapid Transit sections of our network. The train and the bus once it’s on the Northern Busway, rest of the time he’s on buses in traffic, and the train is less frequent than is necessary to meet a true Rapid Transit definition. He hasn’t let on how long this journey took, nor how long he waited at the two transfers; I suspect it all took a fair while. This is exactly the kind of movement that currently is a bit heroic but with the CFN would be fast and convenient.

    Great that he’s doing this, perhaps he will come away with a clear sense of how much better things can be if we just join the dots. Ergo: CFN.

  3. “But when did you ever see a politician on a bus or train – except for a photo opportunity?”
    “Provide a service and they will use it”

    Good on you George. Of course, airports are the one place that you can pretty much guarantee seeing even government ministers every day of the week.

    Just goes to show that politicians, like everyone else, are happy to use public transport – yes, that is what airline travel is – as long as the service is well presented and is the most convenient, cost effective and fast option. Hence, CFN.

  4. I suspect that George’s journey was probably with a view to showing how totally impractical public transport is and the best solution for the North Shore leg at least is to have a second road harbour crossing. Obviously the further and wider that goes the better.

    Fortunately a few politicians (ok so a very few) recognise that they key to solving this is a solution that avoids congested roadways and that is rail.

    1. Why pick on George for using a route which, with tweaking, should be a viable PT route to the city, all points along the rail network, and the North Shore. Good on George for letting everyone know the route exists. I use it too, and have mentioned it in comments on this site over the past two years as well.Last use was three weeks ago. There are some questions about it though. Firstly the AT Airporter 380 service is the only bus service not on AT Hop. How come and when will it be? The 380 service was extended to Onehunga recently but to make it viable it needs to be more frequent to the NEAREST train station, with the least traffic congestion – Puhinui. On weekdays the train is every 15 minutes or better during the day, the NEX is 10 minutes or better but the weak link is 380 at only 30 minute frequencies. When will the frequency be improved? When will the transfer ticketing be improved as well? There is a long way to go but this is also the basis of a viable route avoiding the costly airport bus service to downtown which gets stuck in traffic and is not part of the main PT network.

  5. Nice photo of The Terrace off ramp in the conclusions section of the sgs report. Thats kinda close to akl. Wonder if this was a desk top exercise done in aus.

    1. So does the old photo of the (old) Newmarket Viaduct on page 7 – it easily pre-dates the start of the Viaduct replacement project in 2008, so who knows how old the photos really are.

      Perhaps they took a (decade or so) old report and tarted up the text and figures but not the photos?

  6. Re: “Labour’s Auckland issues spokesman, Phil Twyford, says Labour now backs Mayor Len Brown’s bid to levy an extra charge on Auckland road users through road or congestion charges or a regional fuel tax.

    He said Labour had been wary of road-user charges in the past because of the effect on working Aucklanders, but now says they are already paying a high price for congested roads and lack of public transport.”

    Does anyone think Labour could do a deal that gives Local government greater taxation power and in exchange Local government accepts greater responsibility for providing through the planning system and infrastructure provision the responsibility to provide affordable housing?

    An excellent discussion of this was recently had here on transportblog, whereby the contradictions of sprawl are untangled somewhat. It starts quite niggly but I think by the end a group of us had come to some sort of understanding of a way forward.

  7. I’d want to see much more financial detail in the Auckland councils annual plans before i’d want them having any more of my money. The Annual Plans are very vague with lots of happy graphs and pictures. I would like to see a full posting of the accounts and breakdowns for all the spending and projects. I’d like to also see 10 year spend by suburb. And summaries (including gifts from the trusts) on spend per project.

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