Today is the last day to submit on the Council’s Long Term Plan and Auckland Transport’s Regional Land Transport Plan and if you haven’t already, you need to get your submission in before 4pm.

If you’ve been reading the blog recently then hopefully the need to submit has been made clear. The council is trying to force a very binary decision with the two options being

  • The budget plan that scales back spending in a way that seems deliberately designed to force support for the more expensive option. It’s a stance that’s managed to annoy all the transport advocacy groups regardless of what modes and priorities they support.
  • The Auckland Plan Transport Network that includes almost every project every thought of and many of which either aren’t likely to be needed or at least not to the scale envisioned. This plan also brings with it additional funding requirements either through tolls or

In effect it’s a clayton’s choice with the city being asked to either condemn itself to poor transport outcomes regardless, either through not enough investment or too much in the wrong types of projects. The kind of binary decision the council is pushing has been exemplified by the absurd stunt that has been set up outside the Downtown Mall.

LTP Transport Arches
I believe the numbers combined are up over 50,000 now

I think it’s absurd because it’s effectively been boiled down to a mind-numbingly stupid level. There is very little information given about the financial implications of each option so faced with a basic or advanced choice most will obviously choose the advanced one. Of course that’s if they even bother thinking about which portal they walk through and most people I’ve seen walk through it were just carrying on in a straight line from where they came from, oblivious to the options. It gets even stupider when the council say that it has no weighting on the LTP in which case one has to ask why they even bothered. Note: There are some more comments from me on this in an NBR article last week (paywalled)

Thankfully our good friends at Generation Zero have come up with a Goldilocks option that focuses the projects needed to fix our city. You can read more about it at http://www.fixourcity.co.nz/ or read the posts they’ve written here or here.

Gen Z Goldilocks

If you haven’t submitted yet, here are a few extra reasons why you should.

Based on the numbers the council have released so far there are a lot of demographic groups who are under represented. This was shown by Peter in this great post.

LTP submitter demographics vs Auckland demographics

While initial figures showed strong support for more public transport, walking and cycling investment a lot of the submissions are likely to come in during the last few days including those from organisations. Some examples of some of the feedback we’re seeing from these groups and from politicians who are scaremongering is below.

Cameron Brewer is flat out making stuff up to suggest that we and others are pushing for motorway tolls to pay for PT projects.

“As it stands, it seems the Green Party, Generation Zero, students, the cycle lobby, and public transport bloggers have all got their submissions in pushing for road tolls to fund their own Auckland Plan pet projects at the expense of everyday Auckland drivers.”

The Road Transport Forum (the Truck lobby) who seem to support building everything but only if it’s paid for by selling assets. In other words they want lots more roads but don’t want to have to pay for them.

Interestingly both the AA and the NZCID are also saying that we need a third option. They don’t quite say what that they think that option should be but that neither of the options presented is good enough. Below is a press release from them both this morning.

The Automobile Association (AA) and the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development (NZCID) believe that neither of the Auckland Council’s Long-Term Plan budget options is up to scratch, and are calling on central government and Auckland Council to develop an alternative strategy that delivers better outcomes for Auckland.

“Neither the cheaper option nor the more expensive option is going to address Auckland’s traffic problems in the long term, or deliver on the public’s expectations, ” said NZCID Chief Executive Stephen Selwood. “So our message for officials is: It’s time for Plan C.”

AA infrastructure spokesman Barney Irvine said the congestion gains of the more expensive option (the Auckland Plan Network) were underwhelming, despite Aucklanders paying an extra $300 million per year through rates, fuel taxes or a motorway charge.

“Congestion is expected to get worse over the next 20 years, regardless of which option we go for,” he said. “After that, it might ease under the Auckland Plan Network, but only by a little. When you think that most households would be paying $350 extra a year – with regular motorway users paying up to $1500 more a year – you have to question whether it’s worth it.”

Mr Selwood said that the starting point for a new approach needs to be a transport accord between local and central government.

“At the moment, the Government is rightly concerned about the outcomes that result from the proposed transport investment and land use plan,” said Mr Selwood. “You can’t make long-term decisions about the Auckland transport network when the results are so poor and Council and Government are so far apart.”

Pleasingly, said Mr Selwood, Mayor Len Brown has clearly stated his desire to reach an accord with central government and transport Minister Simon Bridges has also signalled Government’s willingness to engage.

As part of an accord, Mr Selwood said that central government and Auckland Council need to agree on an improved transport investment strategy, and ensure that urban intensification and transport investment are better integrated. If they decide to look more seriously at a motorway network charge, he said, they need to make sure it’s also considered from a demand management perspective – not just as a way to raise revenue – and that the combination of intensification, transport investment and demand management improves accessibility and provides meaningful travel-time savings for users.

Mr Selwood said that many other stakeholder groups – from the public transport lobby to the freight lobby – are saying similar things.

Meanwhile, the AA has carried out its largest survey yet of its Auckland membership – an online survey of 6000 Auckland Members, backed up by an in-depth survey of a 100-strong AA Auckland panel – to better understand how people feel about the Council’s budget options.

Mr Irvine said the survey results showed that Auckland AA Members preferred the Auckland Plan Network to the cheaper option (the Basic Network) – 46% support versus 30% support – but not to the point where a meaningful consensus could develop behind it.

“There’s a big difference between support for the Plan and willingness to pay for it,” he said. “A lot of our Auckland Members would be happy to pay a little for improved congestion outcomes, but less than 20% would be prepared to pay what’s required for the Auckland Plan Network.”

Mr Irvine stressed that it wasn’t just cost standing in the way.

“Many of our Members look at this plan and don’t see a great deal in it for them,” he said. “There’s also a perception that Council needs to get its own house in order – in terms of financial management and accountability – before asking Aucklanders to open their wallets.”

Both Mr Irvine and Mr Selwood cautioned officials against pushing ahead with the current plan, when it does not have strong support, as it could hold back progress on the transport programme long term.

It’s not mentioned in the press release but one aspect that’s really interesting is that the AA’s own polling says their members want more choice in how they get around.

If you haven’t done so then make sure you give your feedback and lets make the ETB, Option C.

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11 comments

  1. Absolutely agree. The Council is presenting unrealistic and unpalatable options. If you do the survey and do not like the options – DO NOT SELECT ANY. In the comments fields simply tell the Council that the choices are rubbish and tell them what you think. If enough people do that the farce will be exposed for what it is.

    1. My last Council Submission I opposed a project put forward, as it was nother sneaky project that wasn’t in the public consultations sent out a month earlier. In fact the consulted on projects were cut while this one was greased through. My submission is not on the public minutes with the others. In another example, My last submission for Heritge funding for a local artifact they deleted off the Agenda. If they don’t like your opinion the councila delete it and carry on with their own agenda aligned with their own pet projects. Meanwhile if your part of the club, all is good trees come down, funding for your trusts or heritage home , deputations of your concerns, consultancy jobs. Its a democratic illusion. The submissions make not a jot of difference.

  2. I think this binary decision is actually a good thing. In the end the advanced option will be found too costly, the basic too shit, and a middle ground will be found. whnewhnwhen you deal with politicians you have to push ghe the boundaries and then find a compromise in the middle.

  3. Why am I being made to choose a rates increase or tolls? Why can’t I choose both to result in a modest change to rates and a reduced toll?

  4. This survey had the subtlety of one being given to prisoner on death row. Would you prefer the base model hideous old gas chamber or the all new bells and whistles electric chair that is now in the form of a comfy “Laziboy” recliner, your choice of fabric pattern! Who was the cynical genius who put this together. What the hell is a UAGC???

    And tolls seems to suit the ratepayers of old Auckland City Council district quite nicely, whist the rest of us will hammered by them.

  5. By the way I think the thing set up down town is great to try raise awareness. People walk in a stupor on these issues so I think the effort was worth it even if the choices are slightly simple. Middle ground always wins.

  6. Those stats really do tell the story of New Zealand at the moment. Those who feel their contribution is worthy or their participation in society is valued and those who think not or have given up. One of the main reasons I think this is, is the highly cynical nature of modern day politics, its killing us. When the CEO of Ports of Auckland does what he wants to fill in the harbour, well what’s the point of doing a survey, who will listen anyway? The way the survey is worded certainly doesn’t help. And arguably internet access will be an issue as well.

    I can’t help but feel there is a growing gulf in our society of those who have and those who have not causing this marginalisation.

  7. I submitted my opinion via the gen zero site with extensive comments. Seems fairly obvious

    I almost feel bad about being middle-aged, middle-class, pakeha male, but if others who are under-represented don’t bother about spending 20 minutes and making a submission, then what can I do? I do encourage my daughters to get involved and they might, but apathy seems pretty common, which is why we often end up with the same old people making the same decisions with the same results; more roads.

    I am interested though in what people like Cameron Brewer want if not a reasonable middle-ground approach? Surely the right-wing/ACT party stance would favour user pays (road tolls) so that ‘everyday Auckland drivers’ fund their own.roads and pay for the congestion that they help cause. I suspect that if car drivers understood that relatively small additional investments in cycling/PT means less cars and less congestion for them, then they might be more sympathetic.

  8. I’m not surprised at the participation stats. As I have stated on here before the people pushing these changes are well off white people who can afford large rates increases and evidently don’t care too much for those who can’t..

    I suspect the people who aren’t submitting are looking at both the options and have gone into a state of depression. One option is for a massive increase in rates and the other option is for a humungous increase in rates. The problem is by only providing these two options the Council has already framed the debate in that we are going to have sky high rates increases in Auckland. If I was on the poverty line I’d be trying to bury my head in the sand.

    Other factors are that the current mayor isn’t going to survive the next election, the current councils inability to reign in it’s wage bill, the council’s endeavour to establish mini overseas embassies and the phallic symbol art recently installed. It’s hard to generate enthusiasm in a city when there is bad news story after bad news story on council spending.

    I really wonder why the foot voting contraption was installed. I doubt many of the people walking through it have a developed understanding of either option and many probably don’t even notice what each door is for. Yet another example of wasteful council expenditure. Hard to see value for money.

  9. Two things on this-

    “Kiwi”‘/ NZer was not an option, so I ticked Other. The Council person who took my form said they removed that as an option. This explains why “other” is 6000% over-represented, also sums up nicely how Council doesn’t like giving us options it doesn’t approve of…

    At 6pm Saturday the counters on the two gates were

    Advanced 30025

    Basic 18039

    It’s not scientific and many people walked through without noticing, but a lot actually chose.

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