At the Auckland Conversations talk by Janette Sadik-Khan, Auckland Transport chairman Lester Levy talked about creating a “Statement of Imagination”. It turns out that AT have been working on this since the beginning of the year. They say it will be by the end of the year and then they will formally include it as part of their statement of intent from next year. Crucially it appears that AT are taking a bit of a clean slate approach and reviewing what it is they are actually working towards. This is important as so far they have largely just been working on legacy projects. Here’s what they say about it.

Inclusion of a new section – “Statement of Imagination”, outlining Auckland Transport’s bolder and different strategic approach that will be detailed in the next SOI (2015-2018). The work on strategy, strategic themes and the Statement of Imagination has been underway since the beginning of the year and is being directed by the Board together with management. It will be completed and revealed by the fourth quarter of 2014 and will direct the next Statement of Intent. It will define and clarify the dominant strategic themes critical to prioritising Auckland Transport’s activities. In particular, given the strong signal of a sinking cash lid for our capital activities, we will revisit some existing major projects. Scaling these projects back, allocating fewer resources to investigating projects that won’t be implemented for decades, and developing innovative investment strategies will free funds to deliver short- to medium-term game-breakers that significantly improve the way we move around our city to get to work, schools and universities, do business, deliver goods and have fun.

As mentioned this does appear like it could be quite a significant piece of work and one that could potentially help in re-orienting the direction of transport spending in Auckland. If I could make a suggestion it would be the Congestion Free Network and it’s something we presented to the board on in February so hopefully it’s something that’s stuck with them in their discussions on the Statement of Imagination so far.

CFN 2030A

However while the Statement of Imagination is some time away AT’s Statement of Intent for 2014-17 will be discussed at their board meeting next week. I’ve talked about it before and the main issue I have is the changes in patronage targets which sees them dropped across the board. The drop in the rail target is particularly absurd as they are very close to reaching their target for 2013/14 and with the electric trains coming on stream it’s likely to deliver even more improved patronage growth. As it is the proposed target would require patronage growth over the year of only about 700,000 trips. The graph below shows the SOI target proposed and the ones from recent years.

Draft 2014 SOI Rail Target

One thing that is different this year is AT are allowing for the public to make a brief submission on the draft SOI at their board meeting. We’ll be looking to do that but if you want to too then the details are here.

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    1. Wonderful what Alexander Dragunov has done in photographing stations and trains around Europe. Oh, to get Auckland’s transit network into a state where one can take similar striking photos… Turn that Statement of Imagination into reality AT – get some decent service and facility runs on the board by end 2015.

    1. I understand your preference for intent rather than imagination.

      Nonetheless I think it’ll be interesting to see how they might interact. Should, for example, HOP uptake run ahead of forecasts then we might be in a position to move to a no-change given/automated collection system much sooner than anticipated. In which event it would be great to signal such initiatives in the “imagination” category just so people know what’s coming.

      1. Agreed and right now anything future looking is way better than the current AT SOI – which is more and more in keeping with showing a complete “Lack of Imagination”

  1. I’ve nothing against imagination, in fact I encourage the using of.

    However, if given a choice, in respect to planning, I’d simply prefer a conditional list of intent, if “this” happens “then” we “are” going to do “this”.

    For example.
    If, we build a great motorway to the airport, then we will put in rail at the same time
    As opposed to
    If, we build a great motorway to the airport, your imagined future, may include a railway ( or not, it just , sort of depends, on who’s doing the imagining, at that point in time)

    1. I don’t understand your concern. As the article says, it is intended that the 2015 Statement of Intent will follow on from the Statement of Imagination. Literally, imagination will feed the intent.
      It won’t replace it.

      1. I’m in favour of plain English.

        Words like “imagination”, in the context of planning, can be used as excuses for not doing things, as easily as doing do.

        “We aspire to have wages equivalent to Australia”, is meaningless, without a concrete plan for getting there.

        Imagination is simply a qualification for the job, the more , the better. Perhaps I’m splitting hairs, I certainly hope so.

        1. I agree in that a “statement of imagination” is not a substitute for a “statement of intent”. But it won’ty be. The statement of imagination will direct where the statement of intent goes, to continue with your analogy, it will say both ““We aspire to have wages equivalent to Australia” and “This is how we’re going to do it: x, y, z.”.

          Hm, just realised the acronym for both is SOI. Perhaps this is why corporates instead call it a “Vision Statement”.

          1. Vision Statements, even marketing has it’s purpose.

            BP made a big thing of it’s “vision” to be clean and green, tell that to The Gulf Of Mexico.

            I’m not against imagination, but it’s the equivalent of showing your workings, in an exam, and I’m not that interested.

            What I am interested in, is People In Governance, putting their name to actual goals, so we can fire them, when they’re not achieved, and hire someone, more qualified for the job.

            Voici le soleil, voici le soleil,
            L Herbert

          2. Yeah, bad example. An oil company will never be clean and green – it’s pointless having a vision statement directly contradict your raison d’être. Make it achieveable and have it guide both governance and management. It needs to come from the board, not the PR department – and this is coming from AT’s board.

  2. Lester Levy is such a breath of fresh air for AT. Even though there hasn’t been any huge changes under his watch, it feels like the momentum is there and things could improve in a real hurry.
    A few years ago the CFN looked like some imaginary best case scenario – now I’m wonder if we should be dreaming even bigger? There seems to be some big gaps through the central isthmus (only Dominion Road light rail and only 2030). How about BRTs on Sandringham and Mt Eden?

  3. 1 year to produce a statement of imagination… Would hope for a little more urgency.
    Is it about imagining what the future should look like and how to get there OR imagining new ways of doing the current projects?

  4. I think it is a great idea to put the Congestion Free Network into their statement of imagination. The idea that people will be getting on a train at Mt Roskill in 16 years is surely a figment. Perfect fit!

  5. They must have spent a year trying to find some imagination?

    They need a statement of action, not a statement of stuff that wont happen or will be watered down to mundane outcomes.

  6. A reply to Andrew

    Either WordPress has a reply limit, or the mysterious overlords of Transportlog , have enacted one

    “Yeah, bad example. An oil company will never be clean and green – it’s pointless having a vision statement directly contradict your raison d’être. Make it achieveable and have it guide both governance and management. It needs to come from the board, not the PR department – and this is coming from AT’s board”

    Opinions differ. Personally, I think BP is a perfect example of the usefulness of Vision Statements. Reality may vary.

    I’ve enjoyed this tete a tete, very much. I enjoy everything about Transportblog.
    Much as contempt, beats fear, engagement, beats apathy, every time.

    In any case, I suspect we don’t actually disagree, at all, which I like to imagine, is evidence, that just because you speak the same language, it doesn’t mean you can communicate.

  7. Is there any place in future thinking for the old harbour link canal/lock between the harbours at Otahuhu? If this is no longer a factor in transport planning then do we need the harbour crossings to be as over planned as the present southwest motorway bridge and could the rail links to the airport be built over water at lower cost than some of the existing ideas? Is there any pans for removal of the original Mangere Bridge (fishing pontoon) at Onehunga?

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