On Monday night Campbell Live dedicated an entire show to urban issues.

The first segment looked at density in Seattle showing that done well it can be popular and not a blight on the landscape.

Campbell Live - Seattle

Next up was an interview with Janette Sadik-Khan

Campbell Live - JSK

And lastly a few vox-pops from what appears to be on Ponsonby Rd.

Campbell Live - city views

I do find it funny when people slam the central city but then say they haven’t been there for five years. Back then Wynyard Quarter didn’t exist, the shared spaces didn’t exist and places like Britomart weren’t as developed and neat as they are today. It’s easy to forget that they are only really new additions to our urban landscape.

All up it was a great show and I hope more mainstream media start looking at these issues.

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  1. I’ve been to Seattle, and while they might be working on housing, the public transport was pathetic when we were there a couple of years back. Yes, they had a hybrid bus tunnel under most of the CBD, but car is definitely still the preferred and usually only method of transport for most. We should NOT be looking up to Seattle, but a couple of hundred miles North instead… to Vancouver.

    1. Would agree with Vancouver as being a better role model, Seattle has however been actively expanding a new tram network. Nice place, has been similarly cut off from its Waterfront as has Auckland, thankfully the waterfront freeway they have was never built here, despite it being on the planned motorway network plans.

      1. Both examples utterly expose the consequences for housing unaffordability and traffic congestion delays.

        Who gives a stuff about ordinary working families anywhere below the top quintile, though?

        1. Did you completely miss the part about affordable housing?

          And who cares about the congestion if the majority are getting around their communities by waking, cycling or using PT. Would almost guarantee that most of the congestion is being caused by people living in far flung suburbs driving across town.

        2. re – concerns about traffic congestion:

          Remember that what we should be thinking about is not travel speed directly, but rather ease of access.

          A denser city will almost certainly have more traffic congestion than a less less city, because the increase in walking/cycling/transit use is unlikely fully to make up for having less road space per person.

          But if it also brings you closer to where you want to go, to an extent that outweighs the slower travel, it’s still better for access.

          Note also that the purpose of developing better public transport is not directly to reduce traffic congestion (that’s unlikely to happen). It’s to give more people the option of avoiding the congestion altogether.

          A city with good congestion-free public transport may still have traffic congestion, but it doesn’t matter so much.

  2. I think the stories needed to go further.

    – Hard to sell apartments to the masses without showing them inside as most will just rubbish it with ‘cant swing a cat’ mentality.

    – likewise the JSK story needs follow up on some proposed projects in auckland. the pros and cons, and how they have fared getting approval.

    Follow up stories definitely needed.

    1. Agree with Harvey. How about stories about Auckland CBD apartment dwellers and the positive things about their apartments themselves and the lifestyle they bring? Walking to work, being close to events, saving money on cars etc. etc.

      Also some graphics and vivid description about proposed projects like the linear park would fire people’s imaginations. TV3 has some good graphics people too…

        1. Actually Phil, many of us absolutely love our “shoebox apartments” I look upon huge houses on large sections in the suburbs with equal derision, but I don’t advocate preventing them from being built.

  3. ‘How about a follow up story about the people who haven’t been to queen st in 10 years because it’s just filled with crap and $2 shops’……get them to try find one.

      1. Yes and it will continue to improve only as the public realm improvements continue. This requires the replacement of car dominated space with people dominated space and the continued improvement of access by Transit and Active modes. Bike lans, better bus priority, more ferries, and the coup de grace; the CRL and following rail extension [Mangere and Airport, Mt Roskill, Takapuna and the Shore]. These will happen but it seems it’s always a fight.

        From Sydney, a bigger city where the trains are longer [ours will be six-carriages], but the ratio’s are universal and still hold. Space, it’s all about space. And of course when the train is underground….

  4. I think that it s great to have external/overseas expert come and provide some stories of successful change, however we need to generate our own champions.

    How about running with the plan that appeared on this blog a couple of weeks ago about a ramp from K Road onto the abandoned motorway off-ramp, with some temporary cycle lanes down Nelson Street.

    I understand that things take time at the beginning, but the ability for people to take a risk on a bold idea. In effect putting their money where their mouth is, (even in small
    amounts), will allow us to drive the agenda of change forward. The first step is always the hardest, removing the barriers from the first step is what I believe this blog and its supporters are all about.

    Where’s the Kickstarter/(insert crowd funding here) to fund the infrastructure (six months of hire on the ramp and a few planters) required to test the change, along with an undertaking from the relevant authorities to make it happen ??

    Someone out there knows the right people to ask, be the tipping point.

  5. I was on Queen Street the other day, there were hundreds of people walking and only a handful of cars on the road, yet by my estimate the road was wider than the footpaths. Why are we dedicating a 4 lane road to a handful of people in cars at the expense of the vast majority walking?
    Personally I hope even downtown becomes the real heart of the city (if it isn’t already), the business associations in the central city made their own beds when they refused to see traffic removed from Queen Street.

  6. At 10:12 in the Seattle clip: A TROLLEYBUS!!! (According to Greater Wellington Regional Council, they are hopeless outmoded things, fit only for scrapping!). And as for light rail (also in Seattle)- GWRC spent a million bucks on a study which rubbished it!

    1. To be fair:
      1. Seattle’s trolley buses use more modern technology which results in better performance. Upgrading Wellington’s trolley bus system to similarly performing technology would require a complete rebuild; and
      2. I believe GWRC’s studies on the topic have not “rubbished” light rail, but rather found the BRT solution performed better. Of course you can disagree with the conclusion, but that’s different …

      1. Hi Stu
        Bit of background: Wellington’s trolleybuses were effectively new vehicles about 7 years ago. Traction motors, front+back axles and line filters were about the only bits transferred from the old Volvos, and these items have plenty of life left in them. The bit that isn’t so modern is the Brazilian traction control system, which although purchased “new”, was very much to an old-fashioned design. A small Wellington company (for which i used to work) designed and trialled a state-of-the-art, microprocessor-controlled system and although this was successful and competitive in price, for some reason unknown to us the decision was made by the then Stagecoach board to buy from Brazil.

        The excuse now for scrapping the trolleys is not so much the buses themselves but the power-supply system which is in need of a costly upgrade. Just how costly depends on who you listen to, the high-end figure tending to be quoted by those who support the scrapping agenda. What is unarguable is that the buses themselves have many years of useful life remaining and are proposed for scrapping for political reasons. Note that the cost of fixing up the substations appears similar to what is being touted as the likely ratepayer-contribution to yet another stadium in Petone – a vanity project if ever there was one, yet a much higher political priority than the clean, green trolleybuses!

        As for the LRT/BRT saga, you must surely be aware that the Public Transport Spine Study was set up with the pre-decided intention of making rail look bad, in order to “justify” a bus-solution which would tie in nicely with the predominantly road-focussed agenda now imposed on Wellington. A more deliberately-skewed study you would be hard-pressed to find. In fact what Wellington really needs is an extension of its existing heavy rail system (for which I believe viable, staged options exist), but this was also dismissed with zero detailed consideration.

  7. The trend for all “global cities” and “superstar cities”, is that they become more and more exclusionary playgrounds for the rich, like an exclusionary suburb scaled up to the level of an entire city.

    The lower-paid but essential jobs tend to be taken more and more by recent immigrants from third world countries who are prepared to endure revolting housing conditions and overcrowding to be able to live within striking distance of their jobs at all, which often involves a dire commute anyway.

    If the nation involved has more affordable, “realistic” cities with rapid economic growth like the US has, young locally born people bail out to those cities. In the UK there is not this option and the alternative for a high proportion is being on benefits in Liverpool and other stagnant cities. Moving to London is too impossible.

    People in NZ could now start looking seriously at being on the dole in Gisborne and being better off than trying to pay their own way in Auckland.

    ‘Sheds with beds’ are London’s modern day slums


    Generation Rent and the Broken Housing Ladder


    1. Do you have any evidence for what you state? Other than racism and fear of change, of course. In general, poorer people will likely do better in an environment where they can live closer to the city and take public transport rather than have to own a car (it’s very expensive), yes, even if they are “locally born.”

    2. Yes, we should aim for Auckland to be a backwater, mediocre city that almost noone has heard of like Indianapolis. We don’t want all those IT entrepreuners with their bicycles and hipster beards. What economic success stories have they ever created? Young talented people, who needs ’em?!

      Despite all the factors you are talking about, young people and immigrants flock to big cities with good PT and cycling infrastructure. You must be bamboozled by that.

      Yes, they go to Houston as well. Why wouldnt you when it has so much petrochemical money sloshing around? But despite 26 lane highways, Houston still hasnt “solved” its congestion and is now looking to densify as they recognise the constant sprawl has reached capacity, and with only 5m people.

      “rapid economic growth like the US” – Um really? Did you miss the GFC and the US economy grinding to a halt. Yes it had massive economic growth from WW2. Just like countries with very dense cities in Europe and Asia. And they didnt start with the huge natural resources and advantages of the US.

      Funny that the examples you choose in Britain are low density slums. Maybe some nice loe cost terraced housing would be good. Or no, lets build low density neighbourhoods even further from where the work is – that will work.

    3. There is real concern that urban policy can breed inequality, and we always have to ask ourselves who policy is being formulated for. The idea of global cities as ‘citadels for the rich’ funadmentally undermines the dynamism of cities to the point that they fail to function as cities in the truest sense – this article provides a useful discussion – http://www.citylab.com/work/2013/06/are-global-cities-really-doomed-become-citadels-rich/5929/

      I can also understand (without agreeing) how people might reach the view that Auckland is heading down this path given its increasingly unaffordable housing, and a perception that public investment is too skewed towards the consumptive economy in the central city. My view is that urban policy should maintain the dynamism of cities – diversity and density – that is what provides economic opportunity. And quite simply, the way you do that is by providing greater housing choices and transport choices. Auckland perhaps hasn’t quite arrived at the right policy settings yet (the Unitary Plan does a pretty good job of preserving the inner suburbs for the rich), but the ideological battle is largely won – thanks in large part to the useful discussions/debates on this blog.

      1. I agree. Diversity is vital, and all with lavish access. Dispersal creates barriers. Atlanta is hugely dispersed and deeply unequal and inaccessible. Dispersal is no answer. Houston is both an outlier and frankly not the success that our obsessive commenter images.

        The CRL will offer such a transformative richness of access to so many more parts of the city that it is a tool for breaking through cost barriers. As are other effective Transit projects like the NW busway. They make living in many more parts of the city more viable and desirable through improved connectivity.

      2. I agree with Liam, but note that recent investment in the city centre came only after decades of neglect by successive (C&R) councils. Basically, Auckland’s city centre has been used as a rates cow to fund low rates and/or improvements in suburban areas. That historical inequity is gradually being redressed.

        Remember, a massive amount of rates (and income tax, company tax, and GST for that matter) are generated in Auckland’s city centre. It deserves to be invested in if it is to perform, and such investment (which it creates jobs and recreational opportunities for all) will benefit the suburbs. Provided they can get there cost-effectively.

        QED public transport.

    4. Phil, when I was in LA recently and using the Light Rail system, 95% of the clientele on it looked to be the very types of ordinary people you describe, likely heading to/from their low-paid jobs, but paying appropriately low fares because the system is set up to be affordable. If your concern is so strongly for the unsung and lower-paid members of society (good on you!), then what is your problem with LA’s LRT system which clearly caters for these people?

  8. I didn’t think we could learn much at all from New York but in the last week I have completely changed my mind. All we need to do is build around 1000km of subway 20 more bridges and tunnels into the city, four interstate highways, a network of parkways,make every street wider than 20m one way and in forty years time mark few buslanes, cyclelanes and close a street to traffic. Easy.

    1. New York’s more than ten times larger than Auckland. So if we scale those numbers down proportionately, what do we get?

      100km of rapid transit lines – check, although they won’t deliver fully until we’ve built the CRL.
      2 bridges / tunnels – check (AHB and UHB).
      0.4 motorways – oh wait, we actually have FIVE motorways.

      Auckland’s problem isn’t a lack of funds for infrastructure. It’s that we have, and continue to, build the wrong thing in the wrong place, and then mismanage it once it’s there, by prioritising the one mode of transport that simply does not work at a large scale.

      1. so using your scaling method we could figure out how many bus lanes and cycle lanes we need here. MTA says they have 70 lane miles of bus lane or 112 km so Auckland only need 11km. Wikipedia says 270km of class II bike lanes so presumably we need only 27km.

  9. Having lived in Vancouver for 10 years during which time I visited Seattle numerous times (and always had a very difficult time finding parking in the city) and now having moved to Auckland, I keep finding the issue is affordable housing in the city centres. It would be great if more people could afford to live closer to work, walk, bike or use PT to get to work and the idea of having a pedestrian friendly city that is build to attract people, not more traffic appeals to me. However, if Auckland spends more money on beautifying the city centre and transforming it with New York’s success in mind, other aspects one of which is affordable housing need to follow suit. Being in the field, I know it doesn’t take a huge budget to transform a city centre with surface treatments, especially the ones New York used and continues to use. But being able to afford to live in Auckland or else have reliable and affordable PT options need to be sorted out too.

  10. True that
    Auckland central city has and abundance of affordable car parking and the affordable housing is at the end of a motorway
    Guess what the young and talented don’t wanna live there

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