While the number of people who oppose the City Rail Link thankfully seem to be reducing – something probably helped by the government at least saying it will be needed eventually – those that do oppose it appear to be getting increasingly desperate in their opposition.

George Wood is perhaps the prime candidate in this regard, often pulling up decade old newspaper articles in a bid to try and claim the project will increase massively in cost or that people won’t use it like predicted.

Perhaps the biggest blind spot the people who oppose the CRL have is that that they complain about the CRL costing $2.86 billion (an already inflated figure) then go on to say the Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing (AWHC) should be built instead. Opposing the CRL on the grounds of it costing too much then pushing for a $5.3 billion road runnel is absurdity in the extreme.

For his part George try’s to justify his position as being that the CRL is partly funded by ratepayers while the AWHC will be funded by the NZTA so is “free” for Aucklanders. That of course ignores that tax revenues from Aucklanders make up a third (or more) of the total tax take. That also means that when you work it all out, the huge cost of the AWHC means that the amount Aucklanders will contribute will be about the same for either project.

The latest to jump in and yell about the CRL is former MP Michael Bassett.

Former government minister Michael Bassett has criticised Auckland Council for the planned City Rail Link, saying the $2.8 billion project would drive up rates and should be prioritised behind a second harbour crossing.

Bassett – who was local government minister in the 1980s – said the “profligate” council would be forced to borrow more money or put the burden on ratepayers to fund the tunnel.

“Planning a second harbour crossing is much more urgent – absolutely vital in the very near future,” he said.

“This council has a big appetite and many expensive ideas. Now, the mayor wants government money (taxpayers’ of course) for an early start on his great white elephant, the underground rail route.

“It will never make money. It won’t even cover its costs. The mayor will then either demand bigger subsidies from the Government for the shortfall in revenue, or he’ll push up our rates to pay that shortfall, or borrow yet more money.

“Public transport in the Auckland region already gets a huge subsidy. And it will need more to pay for the white elephant.”

I’m not sure what made him crawl out from somewhere and start complaining about transport projects but in many ways it’s actually quite sad how much people like Wood and Bassett are divorced from reality, logic and facts. We know the CRL is almost half the cost of the AWHC so it definitely has the advantage on that comparison. With this post what I want to address is just what kind of impact each project has to people/vehicle volumes

Firstly the AWHC. The information we currently have comes from the most recent study which was done in 2010. I have a number of issues with the traffic modelling as it ignored the drop in trips over the harbour bridge that occurred after 2006 despite the modelling being done in 2010. However looking at the 2041 results it suggests:

AWHC 2041 volumes

So the total difference across the bridge for each hour of the AM peak is ~5,200 vehicles so ~10,400 extra AM peak vehicles crossing the harbour (in each direction). Towards the city it suggests that with the AWHC we will see an increase from the over inflated 2008 volumes ~6,300 vehicles during the AM peak. I’ve got no idea where they’ll all go because the CMJ and CBD streets certainly don’t seem to have the capacity to handle that many additional trips. In the CBD in particular we’re trying to do the opposite as vehicle priority is removed to make the city a more pedestrian friendly area.

The figures above are vehicles not people and buses across the harbour will carry a lot of people however if we build another crossing it’s primarily about moving cars, not buses so the people impact probably isn’t that different from the vehicle one.

By comparison we can get some rough figures for the level of impact the CRL will have from the City Centre Future Access Study. Now the CCFAS also has problems with it’s modelling however even the MoT suggest that it’s probably underestimating PT trips.

CCFAS 2041 results 3

The Integrated (CRL + Surface Bus) option was the one chosen as being best and that sees the CRL move an additional ~12,000 people into the city centre over and above what’s planned in the reference case, that’s a substantial amount more than the extra city-bound traffic crossing the harbour. In addition the rail patronage only refers to trips to the city centre, it ignores all rail trips to other parts of the region which will be made even more viable thanks to the increased frequencies the CRL will allow for i.e. trips to Henderson, Ellerslie or a range of other destinations. Further the number of people accessing the city centre by bus will also increase.

So we have a situation where the CRL is about half the cost of an additional harbour crossing and it moves many more people. To me the choice is pretty clear about what we should be building first and it certainly isn’t the AWHC.

I’m not even going to go into the whole roads are subsidised too issue or just how much a toll would have to be to make the AWHC profitable.

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  1. Do those that make comments like Dr Bassett spend time to look at the research first, or are they trying to use a first mover advantage with vaguely plausible arguments to make respondents look bad?

  2. Isn’t one of the big reasons for the push on the second harbour crossing that the clip on’s have a limited life still, despite the patch up a few years ago, and have to be out of operation with 20-40 yrs, and only if truck restrictions are re-introduced within 10-20 yrs?. This means that in 20-40 yrs the capacity of the bridge will actually reduce.

    I’m one of those that is not in favour of the crl going ahead now, that’s now, not going ahead at all. I don’t not support it and I do believe it will be necessary and in an ideal world do it now, but we don’t have the money for both projects as a country or as a city. The harbour crossing has to be done if the clip ons are to be out of action sometime after 20 yrs, we have no option, unless we can reduce use of the bridge, so we need to get the second harbor crossing start soon as construction time would be 5-10 years. At the same time we have the ability by doing it to reduce use of the bridge in favour of rail, so lets start with a rail link first and see if we can eventually just do that, with the clip ons turned into cycle or walking eventually (less loads than vehicles so we might get away with that long term and we could probably reduce them to one lane each side to further extend the lifespan) and open up wynyard quarter to rail at the same time thereby increasing coverage and the number with access to rail. I’m not arguing that the crl won’t increase access, but most who will get better access are those between britomart and mt eden where the link will finish and they already do have access to rail if they wanted to use it. Those on the shore simply have no access now, thus will be new patronage.

    Having said all that, if the reality is that the clip ons will last another 100yrs then no we won’t need the second crossing possibly ever as the bridge capacity at 8 lanes is not an issue, at 4 it is. So the argument that use of the bridge is not really the problem, its the capacity reduction as I understand it.

    1. As long as we limit the number if trucks using the clip ons (or make them use the middle lanes) then they will be able to last for a very very long time.

    2. Clip ons aren’t a problem for quite some time. Definitely not an issue for next 20 years. I have a plan for replacing the clip ons that doesn’t involve another road crossing that I’ll post about next week.

    3. Once the Waterview connection is complete much of the heavy and industrial traffic will be avoiding the Bridge and CMJ altogether, or should be, further reducing the loadings and everyday wear and tear.

      If it doesn’t then it will be the western bypass to the City that will be the white elephant in Auckland’s transport infrastructure not the CRL.

  3. “Isn’t one of the big reasons for the push on the second harbour crossing that the clip on’s have a limited life still”


  4. What’s especially sad is that the Michael Bassett rubbish appeared in my local East Auckland newspaper, without any opposing opinion.

    1. Even worse than that, it’s presented editorially as a piece of good old fashioned common sense. Well it’s certainly old fashioned but it is completely mad. Belongs in the last century like most of they views of the crusty and rusty columnist that heads the piece.

  5. Bassett is simply working for a lobby group.

    I find it particularly weak that his main argument is that urban rail ‘will never make a profit’. Well nor do roads, which are funded by taxes, duties, and rates, and increasingly under this government; borrowings. The case for all transport infrastructure investments is economic not just financial. So it is a question of wider value to the economy not of profit or loss. Transport infrastructure are more like schools in their wider value than like businesses that capture immediate monetary value.

    Which isn’t to say that financial matters can be ignored, quite the contrary. One such important financial issue is the operating cost of these systems even after we have decided to invest the capital. Currently the rail network in Auckland operates at a relatively high subsidy per user. This is largely a function of three things; relatively low numbers of users, inefficient and expensive to run old Diesel trains, and an inefficiently stunted network.

    The second is is being sorted, and in fact that capital cost of the new trains is being transferred into a operating one through the loan repayments. The electric trains will cost about half [IIRC] the figure the current ones do to operate. But it is the first and third issues issue that will really make a huge difference to operating cost. Ridership is rising, and has been all this century, which is constantly improving the ratio of how much each fare contributes to the running costs. But to profoundly improve this figure we need to both grow ridership faster and make the network more efficient to operate.

    And in the CRL we have the project that will achieve both of those things. The CRL will instantly both connect and extend each line and give the whole system a critical mass to work much more efficiently and appeal to millions of more riders each year. It will mean the new electric trains can worked to their optimum level.

    A conservative calculation by economist Stu Donovan concluded that the figure recovered by fares should push 80% post CRL, which is very high by international standards. And depending on just how popular the service becomes it may go well beyond that.

    So if Basset was really just a concerned old white haired fiscal conservative and not a road lobbyist then he would see the great financial sense in the CRL, even if he doesn’t understand its economic value.

    1. Interestingly enough the economics profession hasn’t identified set criteria by which one qualifies to be an economist.

      But in the absence of independent/external criteria, I’d say that I’ve been an economist since 2011 – when I finished my masters in economics at VU University Amsterdam. Incidentally VU is one of the top 5 places to study economic geography worldwide. I was fortunate enough to top my class and was offered a (funded) PhD position, but turned it down because, well, I love Auckland and my company so.

      Other people might say I’m a natural economist (i.e. tight), in which event I’ve been an economist for 32 years, i.e. since I was born ;).

    1. We already have two road crossings. However for both more efficiency and resilience we should build an additional Harbour crossing- just not one for cars. A much cheaper and higher capacity pair of rail tunnels.

      1. I totally agree Patrick. Especially with Waterview being completed and once the northern motorway to motorway connection is completed then I would suspect a shift of most north bound traffic from the bridge to the new waterview/western system will take a lot of pressure of the bridge. Add in taking buses off with trains and reducing cars also with trains might make a second vehicle crossing obsolete and reduce the cost considerably.

        1. There’s also just nowhere, literally nowhere, for thousands of additional cars to go on either side of the bridge. Spending billions to persuade people to get off the bus and back in their cars is insane and would snafu both city and CMJ, and NorthShore local roads totally. It just won’t happen.

        2. Yes, no decisions on any more crossings until we see how the second one works post Waterview.

          Then, rather than spend $5bn on a new road tunnel, why not direct through traffic round the WRR ..and police it using a pair of camera gantries in Papakura and Albany.. and another one on the HB and ping anyone that drives straight through?

    2. You could say the same about so much of our infrastructure. There’s only one Newmarket viaduct. It carries more traffic than the harbour bridge. Should this be duplicated as well?

      1. Newmarket Viaduct can now at least be argued to be pretty much invulnerable to any foreseeable natural disaster other than a volcanic cone appearing in its immediate vicinity; and probably even that unless it’s directly beneath. Someone could still blow it up, but that’s true of any number of duplicates so isn’t much of an argument.
        The AHB was built to much older seismic standards, so I don’t actually know what its survivability is, but given Auckland’s very low seismic risk and the AHB’s construction of steel girders rather than concrete it is probably pretty survivable.

        Note that I’m not arguing in favour of the AWHC, simply pointing out that Newmarket Viaduct is a pretty poor example of a vulnerable piece of infrastructure which could do with duplication. The Southern Motorway’s crossings of the Tamaki and Manukau estuaries are much more significant.

        1. My point is not whether it is vulnerable, more responding to the original commenters concern around the lack of duplication of the AHB ‘should anything happen’. There is so much unduplicated infrastructure.

          “Someone could still blow it up, but that’s true of any number of duplicates so isn’t much of an argument.”

          See, you get it.

  6. Question: If the clip-ons are wearing out but the bridge has an unlimited life, why don’t we just replace the clip-ons? Oh and anther question – the believe the bridge is the grade it is in order to allow shipping to pass under it. These days, apart from the Chelsea sugar ship, coastal shipping is pretty much over. So if we did replace the clipons, could we not lower the gradient for the clipons (and make them Bascule bridges if it is really necessary) and, as i understand it, that would then make the gradient feasible to carry rail to the Shore? Just wondering.

    George Wood and Michael Bassett are both old men, anachronisms clinging to the past.

    Wood can’t move on from the “us vs them” mentality that so blighted the balkanised pork barrel politics of the old councils. He supports the AWHC because he thinks it will be of benefit to the North Shore, not because he is interested in PT and has a considered view on the matter. On the other hand, rail in the city only helps people Woods doesn’t care about from the West, South and centre of Auckland.

    Bassett is a rather embittered and unreconstructed Rogernome who is mainly concerned with two things: Being a hard line neo-liberal high priest of ideological purity and protesting rather to much everytime he feels his genius is not appreciated or his place in history questioned.

    1. Long time Shore resident here, the AWHC will not benefit the Shore. Unless by benefit we mean more traffic congestion and neighbourhoods destroyed by a bloody great big motorway exchange.
      Leaving aside the crushing burden of paying for it!

  7. All i can say is that if the opposition has had to disinter Michael Bassett they know they’re on a hiding to nothing. No really, don’t get me started…

  8. That a former local government minister professes to interpret the basic cost/benefit equation of these two projects in this way speaks volumes about why New Zealand’s towns and cities are in a funding hole.

    Shame the current government also lacks basic financial literacy as well.

  9. Bassett’s article was so clearly flawed on so many important aspects that it’s hard to know where to start.

    And remember Waterview (SH20/SH16 connection) is yet to open: Modelling indicates this will divert another 5% of traffic away from the harbour bridge and around the Upper Harbour via S18 instead. At current growth rates this shift will free up enough capacity on the bridge for, oh I don’t know, 6 million years or so.

    The other kicker Basset fails to mention:
    1. You’d have to toll both the current and the new harbour crossing; and
    2. In doing you’d likely destroy so much existing demand that there’s no need for another crossing. Ever.

    The sad thing is that outbursts like this by Bassett undermines informed debate on Auckland’s transport issues. There’s some important questions to ask about the CRL (how it’s built, how it’s operated, and how it’s funded), but the questions Bassett raises do not fall into this category.

  10. It may be being stupid here, but as a shore resident I’ve driven over the bridge many times at rush hour in either direction, and it’s incredibly rare that traffic actually grinds to a halt on the bridge. In fact, the bridge is usually one of the more free-flowing parts of the journey. That to me says there’s not really a problem.

    On a related note I always enjoy the morning traffic reports that say “Really slow through St Mary’s Bay” almost every day. Again, the journey along the St Mary’s Bay section of motorway has never ever taken more than about a minute, even in the heaviest traffic.

    1. Definitely agree. Like nick1234 I also have to drive over the Bridge every day and rarely encounter a stoppage or serious slowdown in either direction.

      There is a widespread urban myth among those who live south of the harbour that the Bridge is a major obstacle in the lives of those who live on the Shore. This hasn’t been true since at least 2004 by my memory.

      1. agree too I am regularly in the peak times on the northern. I think the bridge and St Marys bay (in particular) are some of the fastest moving sections. My biggest issue and in my opinion the slowest sections of the motorway are the on-ramps along the northern. They can take up to 30 mins sometimes just to get on, but once on it is generally freeflowing, although not full speed.

        1. I used to drive over it regularily until about 12 months ago, and totally agree, the bridge, as it is currently configured is not the issue. But remove the clip-ons – 4 lanes and then what?. Hence my question at the top as to the life of them. I understand it is limited and they are unable to be strengthened again.

        2. NZTA website says the clip ons will last indefinitely after the strengthening works, and with truck management like we did previously for many years.

          They might not need removing at all, I’ve head they could be used as a scaffold to replace the clip on in place.

          But even so they could be replaced one at a time, taking the bridge down to six lanes. And of course we have the movable barrier system, so it could be four lanes in the peak direction.

          You could do one side in two months over summer, then do the remaining side the following summer. We already shut down multiple lanes for weeks over summer for reselling, so it’s hardly different from what happens already.

  11. It is disappointing that the CCFAS is being badly interpreted. The CRL will not reduce congestion. It will allow a lot more people to access the CBD despite the congestion. Matt has detailed many of the other things it will achieve, but only getting many more people on to public transport will actually reduce congestion.
    The CCFAS indicates that speeds in the CBD will reduce to 5 or 8 km/hr. Now these speeds are not actually forecastable. Below about 16km/hr the flows become unstable and chaotic. The authors of the CCFAS concede this point. What will happen is that the CBD traffic will seize up more and more frequently. The lesson that few people seem to be able to read from the CCFAS is that the AWHC for cars will be an unmitigated disaster.
    The next harbour crossing should be public transport only, probably light rail, but definitely electric even if it runs on rubber tyres. What needs deciding urgently is the gauge or size for the tunnels, and how they are to be integrated into the CRL. Presumably Aotea or Britomart will have to be designed as the interchange station, and an extra level incorporated with the cavern and stub tunnels for the North Shore line built at the same time as the CRL. Once the CRL is operating, it would be a nightmare to have to build a new station underneath.
    The harbour crossing itself could consist of twin submerged tubes which we can build here in Whangarei in 100 metre long modules, which could be towed to Auckland and sunk in a dredged channel. Auckland-Takapuna in six minutes for under $1 billion.
    As far as the existing bridge is concerned, the idea that it will have to be reduced to 4 lanes is nonsense. Structurally, the clip ons are separate bridges, and could be removed and replaced one at a time, so we are talking about six lanes minimum. Not all spans would need to be replaced, and closure would be for months rather than years. It would still be nice to have a CBD-Takapuna PT option in place before the clip ons get carved up.

    1. Britomart makes more sense than aotea initially, but I’ve seen plans indicating aotea. Britomart could be under downtown as per the CRL then along fanshaw as a cut and cover tunnel before tunnel under the end of wynard and across. Then eventually cut and cover coming back thru vic park and up Wellesley street to link to aotea somewhere, thus making vic park a major link area for stations. If the north link was double track then straight away and without CRL Britomart would have at least half the trains going on as thru trains, the rest backing out (given not all would need to go north), which must improve Britomarts capacity straight away.

      1. Aotea is much easier as the station boxes would be perpendicular and only connected via the pedestrian concourse.

        linking Britomart to the north shore without the CRL does not increase existing capacity whatsoever. It allows a whole lot of new capacity from the north shore, however the existing four lines would get no improvement. They would be exactly as constrained as they are today, twenty trains an hour into Britomart. In fact you’d have a strange situation where the north shore could handle the same level of trains as the rest of the network put together.

        Far more important to more than double the capacity on the existing four lines serving 6/7ths of the city than to ignore that and spend the same on 1/7th of the city.

        1. Especially because that 1/7 has the not at capacity Busway and an expandable ferry network. Not to mention the Upper Harbour crossing for the growth areas North east and North west of the city.

        2. @ Nick R : “linking Britomart to the north shore without the CRL does not increase existing capacity whatsoever”. . .
          Not true! If the Shore line is constructed as an end-on extension to the existing system at Britomart it would increase capacity. Simply allowing a proportion of trains to pass straight through and turn around elsewhere would help de-congest Britomart. It is not only the CRL concept that can achieve this. However if North Shore rail is built as a separate or incompatible system on which through-running onto existing lines at Britomart is not possible then only the CRL can free up the present dead-end terminal.

          It should also be remembered that even in the absence of the “decongestion” role, the CRL will have major other benefits such as improving rail’s penetration into the CBD and condsiderably shortening CBDWest journey-times. It is also likely to be a quicker and earlier win than North Shore rail in the scheme of things.
          Ultimately Auckland needs both.

  12. I’m still waiting for the local body politician (or anyone prominent really) to stand up as say “the AWHC makes no sense whatsoever”. I’ll give credit to Len Brown for championing the CRL, but Len unfortunately favours ALL infrastructure projects, from rail to roads – including the AWHC. To me it comes down to this: we could build the AWHC (which probably won’t solve any problems but just shift traffic issues somewhere, or we could build the City Rail Link *and* a rail link to the shore for about the same price. Whether you build another bridge or a tunnel, a rail only crossing of the Waitemata will be magnitudes cheaper than another motorway crossing. The Port Mann Bridge in Vancouver is probably illuminating. The Skytrain probably delayed an upgrade of the bridge by decades… and now that they’ve spent billions on a new bridge (widest in the world now I believe), the project is bleeding money because traffic projections (and hence toll revenue) are below what they anticipated.

    1. Has Len Brown said that he is really enthusiastic about building more roads or is he just being careful to appear even handed? He already has plenty of political opponents eager to find fault with everything he says and does while in office. It may be he is just avoiding the appearance of being anti-roads so they don’t have even more to bludgeon him with.

  13. Can someone tell Michael Bassett:
    1: People that drive to and from the shore say the bridge is the least congested part
    2: Waterview will remove cars from the bridge (if not why have we spent so many billions on it?)
    3: The CRL removes cars that would otherwise be on the southern and the western motorway, the bridge only helps Shore people
    4: A second harbour crossing is unlikely to improve travel times for anyone – all of those cars need to go somewhere
    5: A reasonable toll on the current bridge to pay for the new crossing will remove so much traffic that the crossing wont be needed

    1. Why Jimbo will the CRL remove cars from the Southern Motorway?. Those people already have the option of using rail so only a small number who are not prepared to bus or walk from Britomart to the K Road end of Queen Street will be benefited and might be removed. as for West, again, all of those people already have the option of rail to get to the city, but will now have a slightly shorter trip. CRL adds no new stations to the western or southern line as such, just central city stops which are already actually assessable via buses from Britomart.

      1. “Why Jimbo will the CRL remove cars from the Southern Motorway?”

        Frequency. That’s what stops many using the trains already. If it’s turn up and hop on folk are much more likely to use the train.

        1. Lefty, considering when I caught the train I had the option of a 6.15, a 7.20 or a 9.30 and found that those options worked fine, I don’t entirely accept that frequency will impact that much other than for those who are probably still more likely to drive rather than wait 5min for a train and thus probably are not likely to use the train anyway… why wait at all when they can drive and not wait (and yes, I know the argument that it will take them longer in the car anyway. What does impact is that you can get a seat for a longer trip and the capacity of the train.

        2. You said your options were: 6.15, a 7.20 or a 9.30. Do you think most people would find it acceptable to wait over an hour between trains?

        3. Wagon, when its the only options you have and you want to commute by rail then you have to wait, and a lot of other people do the same thing every day still on the wairarapa line. I’m not suggesting that infrequent a service here. The service has to be balanced with demand and numbers wanting to use it and obviously there is a point where demand increase if you offer more frequent service, but the idea is full trains make money so if you base the frequency around something like 75% capacity and then work the number of trains out on that then changing from a 10min wait to a 15min wait is insignificant. If people expect to waltz up anytime and catch a train every 5min then they are being totally unrealistic in their expectations.

        4. David your evidence argues against your position. Anything greater than a ten minute frequency and it’s no a Rapid Transit system. The CRL will certainly improve service frequencies and variety of destination for all points on the current network and therefore make using it a much more viable option for many more people.

        5. Patrick, your reply shows your bias unfortuneatly as does your reply above regarding public transport on the shore and ferries. Ferries are fine, but come on, they only reach a very small number. Interesting Gulf Harbor is fighting for additional ferry services but can’t get them. Do you support that?. It shows an emphasis on public transport for those south of the bridge and not for those north of the bridge. for your info, at certain times the buses running on the Northern Express are standing room only, but the fact that the buses have to jump back on to the motorway at constellation slows the whole system down.

          With respect to the trains from south, are you wanting a public transport system or a rapid transit system?. Waiting 15min for a train might not be a rapid transit system, but its certainly a public transit system and if aucklanders are too lazy to wait then maybe they simply don’t deserve it. Peak time Wgton from the Hutt Valley used to run every 30min with some closer to Wellington filing a gap meaning a 15min wait. Wgton has for yours patronage that well and not really complained. Are Aucklanders too lazy to use an adequate system?. If they will only patronage a gold plated every 10min system then maybe Aucklanders need to pay for it from fares.

        6. This blog has been a constant supporter of extending the busway at both ends, so a strange question. You should be addressing concerns around the northern extension to the Government, who seem to believe this can only be achieved as part of a $500m motorway interchange.

          Again, your second paragraph indicates you haven’t taken any time to read any of the carefully prepared backgrounders available on this site. Patrick and co are big fans of the turn up and go approach to public transport. I’m not sure if you would characterise this as lazy when compared to the current default action of most Aucklanders which is to get into the car and drive everywhere.

        7. I am waiting for a good PT system and as there is no good PT system without a Rapid Transit system at its core, of course that is a key aspect. And that ,means the Northern Busway and the Rail Network, with required frequencies. High frequency, turn-up-and-go, service is at the heart of all successful systems worldwide because it gives users reliability and the freedom to change plans knowing there will always be a train or bus there, within a short wait, and that it will move you speedily [ie not in traffic], and at most hours of the day and night, in sufficient comfort and safety is the aim. And it is well with reach for Auckland. And the CRL is the key and most transformative project to get there.

          Of course ferries are by definition limited [they need water], but combined with the Northern Busway and the coming expanded feeder bus network on the Shore means than that part of the city will be well served for some years, especially compared to other areas. It is fixing the Rapid Transit network in the rest of the city that is the next task. Next decade the Shore Line from Aotea, Wynyard and the Shore will be required.

          An infrequent service is not fixed by people being less lazy.

          I am not sure what you mean by ‘bias’? I am simply arguing for what is logical, I don’t work for a bus company or something, there is no gain for me personally in Auckland getting the quality PT system it needs to thrive. I’m just ambitious for my city.

        8. It isn’t that Aucklander’s are to lazy to wait David, it is that people the world over enjoy having the freedom of turning up and catching a train immediately. Just because Wellington runs a shit service does not mean that Auckland has to. As a Shore Boy I would actually argue that after the RPTP the Shore will have the Best PT of any of the old cities BECASUE of the frequency, rapid busway routes, and the least congested motorways, and probably the smallest catchment for it. Why on earth do we need to build a whacking great motorway?

        9. Firstly Sailor boy, I’m not arguing to build whacking great motorways, although I would argue for an extra lane directly around motorway to motorway interchanges at both ends of SH18 and the new constellation motorway-motorway interchange to complete the system and ring road. Wellington does not have shit service, it has a very good service that is well patronised and has been for far longer than Auckland has. People adapt to the frequency of the service and it actually works well in that respect.

          Patrick, the bias I’m referring to seems to be to push for better and better services from the south continually, but to ignore north of the bridge. It’s all very well to say that the north has a fantastic bus servce etc etc, but the reality is that a lot of people simple do not want to use a bus service. It turns many off PT. Unreliable buses, drivers who are arrogant, speed, turn the air con on in summer, try to be formula drivers and late brake is the std. My wife travelled from Albany to the city for 12 months by bus. She had all these experiances and it was not infrequent to get texts saying she thought the driver was trying to kill them all. The end result was that she stopped using the service and now drives. Public Transport fail. I myself commuted for 5 yrs by bus and 10 by train. I would not commute by bus again. I would in an instance by train as my wife would. The reality is that many would do the same, not commute long distances by bus, instead choosing car over train. A college regulariy commuted to the city from Whangaparoa by bus. Worse case was 2.5hrs one day each way on the same day. I had 1hr by car on the same day from orewa. He stopped using bus after that. So the turn off for many is bus. Look at the limited number using bus form the shore as opposed to car. You note that the bus from the north is not at capacity. It may never be.

          What i am arguing is that we have limited money to spend, very limited. Bang for buck maybe the best solution is rail north first followed by crl and increased southern trains, and rail; to the shore might save the cost of the second road crossing which I suspect will not be required with the western loop etc. Your argument that rail to the north next decade after crl, may be too late to try this as planning for a second harbour crossing needs to start soon if you assume a 5-10 year all up construction and planning and a 20year life span for the clip ons. I agree that if the clip ons are not an issue, and I have seen reports they still are, then the equation changes, but I would like to know more about the clip on lifespans as that is important to the order of things.

        10. “What i am arguing is that we have limited money to spend, very limited.”

          No doubt. Why then is your primary project of choice a $500m interchange with limited value?

          You do really need to take the time to read the blogs on the CRL and why a North Shore line isn’t really a goer without it. You might just gave to put up with those crazy drivers just a bit longer, pretty much like most of Auckland’s PT users.

        11. David.

          We all agree that money is limited which is why we must strictly do the most pressing things first and I’m sorry but the Shore already has a very plush system, better than anyway else in the whole city. And which will be considerably improved with the upgrade of the bus system with the New Network, and that does not yet need upgrading to rail. Additionally the CRL is a necessary first step towards adding a Shore Line. The CRL will transform Auckland into a Metro city, it will follow naturally that the next Harbour Crossing will need to be a rail one after this transformation. There will be no more road lanes across the Waitemata.

          You personally may prefer trains to buses, and you personally may travel more on the Shore than elsewhere, but in designing the best system for the city as a whole all people need to be considered not just one individual.

        12. Conan, what 500m interchange with are you referring to?. The motorway to motorway junction at sh1-sh18?. Hardly a limited value project if that is what you are referring to and as an important part of the eventual network as the Manakau – SH1 interchange.

          Patrick, I’m not the only one who prefers trains to buses or cars over buses. There are many, just look at all those who choose to drive south and it will give you some idea. They have all made the choose. Nope the system can not be designed for one person. Your preference is the CRL and to spend public money on public transport south of the bridge, that’s your opinion. One person. Yes there are many on here who support you, but again individual opinions. There are many individual opinions who choose to differ and have good reasons to differ, even Michael Bassett who started this debate. He is entitled to an opinion and to be heard. I may not agree with it, but he is still entitled to it. As for if CRL is the necessary first step, again your opinion as is the description of the plush bus system on the shore. If it’s as plush as you claim why do people choose to avoid it?. Do you travel on it every day?. Whats your experience of travelling on it?. I don’t believe it is the first step, you are welcome to try and convince me it is, but so far I have seen no argument that convinces me that it will be anything other than an improvement of an existing system that we already have to largely people who already have access to the system, and Conan that includes reading alot of the past comments and blogs.

        13. And just going back to my original query before we got on to crl and public transport, I have found this article from the herald which suggests a 10-20 yr life span from 2009 for the north bound clip on before restrictions come back into play.


          If this is the case then the argument about the requirement for a second harbour crossing becomes more important. 10 years from 2009 is only 5 years away now. I imagine that there has been more advice since and it would be interesting to see this so an informed debate about the priorities could be made. Surely no one is suggesting we could reduce the harbour crossing by half and instead build crl?, with a new crossing after that.

        14. The NZTA website for the Auckland Harbour Bridge box girder strengthening project, completed December 2010 states:
          “Current improvements to the Auckland Harbour Bridge clip-ons (box girders) will ensure they stay in good condition for the next 30 to 40 years.”

          So the clip-ons will be in “good condition” until 2040-2050.
          I’ll take this to be correct and a more realistic assessment of the bridge condition over the pessimism and bias being expressed in the 2009 Herald article.
          In which case we have quite a bit of time to plan.

          Replacing individual spans of each 2 lane clip on, as required, should offer a cheap solution with little disruption. It seems reasonable to assume a span could be replaced over a summer holiday period, either using a large floating crane or gantry launched from the road deck.

          The cheapest cross harbour rail solution would probably be single track, QEII square to Onewa interchange, 3.7km, using low height carriages with a live rail rather than overhead conductors. However, this would only allow 10 minute frequencies and require mode changes at each end.

        15. David some facts. The numbers just don’t support your view.

          1. The CRL is overwhelmingly supported http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/7178504/Aucklanders-back-rail-plans

          2. The Northern Busway is a huge success, all expectations of its use have been completely beaten, it is immensely popular.

          This doesn’t mean it is perfect. Far from it, it is actually only Rapid Transit [ie separated from traffic] for 41% of its route. The worst sections are in the city [not on the bridge where buses, like cars, are usually not held up]. With the coming improvements to Fanshawe and Customs Sts [with Stations] overall journey times will drop meaningfully. And the local services on the Shore, which are all also getting changed and upgraded.

          I do use the NB, but not daily as I have no daily need to go to the Shore, and when ever I do I am reminded of how good a bus trip can be. Once onto the new bus lanes on Fanshawe St it’s basically an express service with no stopping until Takapuna or Akoranga all day, there is no other bus service in Auckland like it, and, in fact there’s no train journey like it either. The views from the bridge are wonderful. I guess the closest is the Eastern Line ride from Britomart, which is fast, with few stops and is lovely over Hobson Bay. But the frequencies of buses up the busway, one every couple of minutes, makes it a much more useful service. When heading to the Shore from the city there’s no need to check a timetable; why would you?

          I agree that later this year when the Eastern Line has the new trains that will tip the balance, but only once we get to at least ten minute frequencies, then we’ll have a new standard to match. Which can only be achieved for the whole rail network with the CRL. The CRL will offer frequencies of a train every 2.5-3 minutes…. take buses off the streets, and give everyone, including Shore residents, an amazingly efficient and comfortable option for getting around a lot of the city. This will provide the necessary demand to make those frequencies economical. It’s reach is extended by bus interchanges like those now at Panmure and New Lynn

          THEN rail quality can be extended to other logical routes, through Mangere, across the Harbour, Mt Roskill….

          It will happen. But not if we blow all our public money on unneeded, expensive, duplicative road lanes across the Harbour.

        16. 70% of city commuters from north of the harbour already take the bus. Say what you like about you and you’re wife’s preferences, but north shore commuters already chose the bus over driving at more than two to one for getting to town.

      2. “so only a small number who are not prepared to bus or walk from Britomart to the K Road end of Queen Street will be benefited”
        Adding a 15 minute walk onto the journey time makes the train significantly less attractive. If the car takes an hour and the train/walk takes an hour, a lot of people will drive. If the car takes an hour and the train takes 45 minutes with no walk, a lot of people will take the train. And if it is raining, that 15 minute walk is even less attractive. If you think the walk is not an issue, then I assume we can remove all cars from the city and have people walk from car parks situated outside the city too?

        The CRL also allows higher frequency, less delays getting into and out of Britomart, and better connectivity to non-city destinations.

      3. Most motorway projects are based on time savings achieved of 5 mins or less. The CRL provides up to 23mins. All for less than 2/3s of the cost of the western ring route.

  14. As a regular user of the Harbour Bridge from Albany to Remuera in a car let me state the obvious to those that haven’t actually driven in the rush hour traffic….its not the Bridge that causes the traffic delays. Its getting the traffic onto and off the Motorway that is the problem.
    Heading South once you clear the last on ramp (Esmonde Rd) traffic is free flowing over the bridge and usually at the speed limit. The hold up is from Albany to Esmonde where traffic is entering the Motorway.
    Same deal in the evening heading North. Your journey over the bridge is usually free flowing until you get to Esmonde or Northcote where it all reduces to a crawl.
    A second Harbour Crossing will achieve nothing if your still going to use the one Motorway to feed it.

    And….why is it pretty much assumed that all vehicle trips will end in the CBD? I’d say the majority of vehicles are heading elsewhere in the City…

  15. From the sounds of the comments, a North Shore rail line would probably alleviate more traffic than the AWHC, since it would reduce the amount of traffic getting on the motorway in the first place (and leave more room for Brownlee’s precious precious lorries).

  16. David, before composing your questions and replies I suggest you spend a bit of time reading all the back issue blogposts on the site especially those tagged CRL and CFN. All your questions will be answered and you will quickly become a fan and advocate of Matt, Stu, Patrick and others who regularly post such well thoughout blogs to this site. A little homework will help you just as much as it would help poor Mr Bassett. You at least have the wherwithall to engage with this group which is great.

  17. Waterview will ease congestion, but rail must ideally be the long term plan to connect the growing city and create a properly functioning CFN for the North Shore.
    Rather than a further multi-lane motorway bridge and the traffic congestion it will create suggest phased building of:

    (1) single lane cross harbour tunnel from Shore to proposed Aotea station area operating NEX buses in peak direction, with buses returning via existing bridge.
    (2) second parallel tunnel for NEX so the system can run both ways.
    (3) post CRL, long term convert tunnels sequentially to rail without disputing NEX peak direction travel .NEX and all stations eventually converted to rail (light or metro as decided)

    Off course a two lane tunnel might be a better option, but assume either way costs would be less than further motorway, potential people movements could be greater and the advantages of connectivity would make this worth thinking about.

    1. Jeff, I think there are a couple of issues of starting with a road tunnel and converting it to rail use (I’m sure other commentators will elaborate on anything I get wrong). The first is the size of the tunnels. Tunnels built to accomodate buses would have to be larger than tunnels built for rail alone. The second issue is ventilation; extracting fumes from diesel buses requires more equipment than electric trains. Given the comments that traffic on the bridge is not the issue, but rather traffic merging on to the motorway elsewhere (which the NEX avoids for the most part due to the busway), it would seem like a staged approach is unnecessary. If you’re going to build a rail tunnel – build a rail tunnel. (Or bridge as the case may be).

    2. Any tunnel needs a safety/evacuation tunnel in case of fires or other dangers, so the “initial” tunnel is really two adjacent tunnels. (Chunnel has exactly this, linking to the two rail tunnels with fire and air tight doors over the whole length).

      And in that case of tunnels make it a driverless Metro system to the NEX station on the North Sore from Aotea rather than buses, cheaper to operate and doesn’t need to manage fume extraction.

      Then add the second train tunnel (actually the 3rd tunnel as the first two are train tunnel and safety/evacuation tunnel.)

      But how much $ that 2 part staging saves I don’t know – from the TBM in Waterview, the actual tunnel boring and tunnel lining phase is measured in terms of 6-10 months or so for the 2.4km Waterview 3 lane wide “bore”.
      Which is then to be replicated with a second bore after the first is built and TBM turned around (takes about 3 months for that apparently) in about the same time, so by end of next year both Waterview tunnels should have been bored.
      Then the TBM disassembled and junked. So a little over two years end ot end for 2x 2.4km 3 lane wide tunnels.

      So you could built the initial tunnel under the harbour pretty quickly – but wouldn’t actually get much of a “one way at a time” service going that much sooner than doing the two tunnels in the same stage and kitting them out together.
      And as for saving $, I doubt very much it will save much $.

      1. And hot off the press from NZTA about the TBM in Waterview: http://www.nzta.govt.nz/about/media/releases/3451/news.html

        Half way on the first tunnel, and expected to finish end of September – about 10 months from start to stop on first tunnel.

        And on the waterview tunnels it says:

        “On her arrival at Waterview in September, Alice will be turned around over the following three months and re-launched on her southbound journey early next year, building the second (northbound) tunnel as she goes.

        Construction of the two tunnels will be completed at the end of 2015, when they will be fitted out with the services needed to operate them. These include ventilation fans, communication systems and fire protection. Sixteen cross passages – one every 150m – connecting the twin tunnels will also be built.”

        So thats just over 2 years whoa to go.

  18. Perhaps Bassett is using this article and media release to “talk up” his name before he announces he is standing for the upcoming election? I would think ACT will be his party of choice?

  19. “I prefer to shelve the CRL and let the Government build the AWHC.”

    At the next local government elections be sure to vote for that. At the last one I think you’ll find that a clearly stated pro CRL mayor and council were elected by all those Aucklanders wanting to travel by car.

  20. Of course all predictions are foolish, but the AWHC as proposed is an eye watering stupid project: 5Billion to solve a non-existent problem. I may have too much faith in the rationality of our institutions but this idea is unaffordable and fully crazy.

    We had a regular goon on this site who said oil price was about ‘to fall like a brick’ and was very full of his special information and insight…. I do hope he bet the firm on that; he’d now be crying into his pint of Bitter in Oxfordshire and trying to troll a minor blog in NZ; how sad would that be…?

    And I stand by my prediction that we will not build additional road lanes across the Harbour to the city. Soon enough even the National Party will discover what century we’re all in.

    1. +1 Patrick.

      By the way, the aforementioned goon has been very quiet of late. He was very good at putting up erroneous but commonly-encountered “more-motorway” arguments which could then be effectively rebutted. Has he been banned once and for all or has he just gone away? I kind of miss the guy and the lively debates he stirred up!

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