The more I look at the events and data of 2015 the clearer it becomes that this has been a profoundly significant year for Auckland. It is my contention that this year the city reached a critical turning point in its multi-year evolution back to true city pattern. I have discussed this change many times before on this forum, most notably here, as it is, I believe, an observable process that has been building for years. Generally it has been gradual enough, like the growth of a familiar tree, as to easily pass unobserved, but now I think it has passed a into a new phase of higher visibility. The group who see it most clearly are people returning from a few years overseas. Many ex-pats express surprise and wonderment at the myriad of changes in quantity and quality they find here on returning.

HOPETOUN_6234
Changing City: New apartments with views over the city and harbour, a Victorian school and park, 20thC motorways, and the new LigthPath.

Below is a summary of evidence for 2015 being the year Auckland returned as a city, in fact the year it crossed the Rubicon onto an unstoppable properly re-urbanising path. Later I will add another post on how 2016 and beyond is certain to see the city double-down on these trends, and why this is very good news. This transformation is observable in all five keys areas:

  • Demographics
  • Transport
  • Development
  • Economy
  • Politics

DEMOGRAPHICS. New Zealanders returning in big numbers are one of the key metrics of 2015. Along with new migrants and natural growth, the other change driving Auckland’s demographic strength is fewer people leaving, all of which, of course, are a vote of confidence in the city as a place to want to live and to likely fulfil people’s hopes for a better future. Population growth for the year was at 2.9%, the strongest rate since 2003, the strongest in the nation, and biggest raw number on record. See here for Matt’s [Population Growth in 2015] and Peter’s [Why is Auckland Growing?] posts on these issues.

Auckland LB Population Change - 2015 2And importantly for my thesis many more people are moving into the centre, particularly into new apartments. This is a evidence that the The Great Inversion is happening in Auckland as it is all over the developed world; the return of vitality to centre cities all over. Auckland’s urban form is reverting to a centred pattern; with proximity to a dense centre as a key determinant of value.

City Centre Population - 1996-2015 2

TRANSPORT. The huge and sustained boom in rail ridership way in advance of population growth is the headline transport news of 2015, and is the result of the upgrade in quality, frequency, and reliability of the service brought by the new electric trains. Sustained growth of over 20% is very strong; this year every four months an additional million trips have been added to the running annual total; 13 million in March, 14 million in July, 15 million in November. I am not overstating it to say that these numbers change a great deal: They change the argument for further investment in rail systems in Auckland, and significantly they change growth and development patterns across the city:

2015-11 - Rail Patronage

BRITOMART JULY 15_3388

Elsewhere on our Public Transport systems the news is great too; The New Bus Network is just beginning, and is already showing huge growth in the few areas it is in effect. This year we have also seen new ferry services, including a new private Waiheke service that means there is much more like a real turn-up-and-go service there [started late 2014]. Ferry modeshare is holding its own at 7% which is a strong showing given the explosion in rail and bus numbers.

Importantly AT is now routinely rolling out long overdue bus lanes across the city. And now that they are doing this confidently and more consistently, surprise and anguish about this more efficient re-purposing of roadspace by car drivers has fallen away to nothing- there surely is a lesson there.

So total PT ridership cleared 80 million annual trips this year, for an overall growth of 8.1%, a rate running at nearly 3x population growth, evidence of a strong shift to public transport at the margin. Growth that is certain to continue despite capacity issues becoming pressing at peak times on both buses and trains.

2015-10 - Total Patronage

HOP card use also became strongly embedded this year [except on the ferries] which is another sign of a maturing system.

2015-09 - HOP Use

More population and a growing economy of course means more vehicles and more driving on our roads, [see: What’s Happening to VKT?] but because of the powerful trend to Transit outlined above the per capita number is flat to falling. This is a historic shift from last century when the two tended to move strongly in lockstep.

2014 VKT - AKL VKT + Pop

Another discontinuity from last century is that GDP and employment growth have also separated from driving VKT, as shown in the following chart from Matt’s post linked to above. Another sign that the economy too is shifting on the back of public transport, and not driving as much as it was last century:

2014 VKT - AKL Econ 2

So whereas investment in the rail network has been answered by an extraordinary boom in uptake the multi-year many billion dollar sustained investment in driving amenity has not led to massive uptake. It is hard to not conclude from this that 1. We are far from discovering the latent demand ceiling for quality Transit; only the degree of investment will limit it. And 2. Driving demand in Auckland is saturated; this mode is mature, well served and not the area to invest in for new efficiencies or growth.

2015 also saw the launch of the Urban Cycleways programme; a multiyear government led investment in infrastructure for walking and cycling. This, like the Transit boom is another shape changing departure from the past. Although the active modes are not well counted [what a culture counts shows what it values] it is clear that the shift back to the centre is also accompanied by a growth in active mode transport. This is one of the great powers of Proximity; the best trip is the one that isn’t need because the potential traveller is already there, or near enough to use their own steam:

LightPath_5971

DEVELOPMENT. All over the city investment is going into building projects of various kinds, the retirement sector is particularly strong, as is terrace house and apartment buildings, all three at levels not seen for a decade and together support the argument that Auckland is not just growing but also changing shape into a more more city-like pattern, as John Polkinghorn has kept us up to speed on all year on the Development Tracker:

Auckland Dwelling Consents to Sep 2015

Significantly there is also renewed investment into commercial projects especially in the City Centre, led by Precinct Property’s 600 million plus Downtown rebuild and tower, and Sky City’s massive Convention Centre and Hotel project between Hobson and Nelson. Additionally Wynyard Quarter is also moving to a new level soon with a mix of Hotel, Residential, and Commercial buildings. Somewhere in the region of 10 billion dollars of projects are underway or close to be in the City Centre. And as Peter clearly illustrated recently this is in no small part due to improved regulatory conditions [The High Cost of Free Parking].

ECONOMY. Cities exist simply because of the advantages for humans to be in close proximity to each other for transactions of all kinds; financial, cultural, social, sexual. And Auckland is beginning to show real possibility of opening up an agglomeration advantage over the rest of the country now that it is really intensifying. The latest data on Auckland’s performance shows a fairly consistent improvement over the last five years

GDP Growth Dec 2015 AKL

POLITICS. Two major political programmes begun this year will have profound impacts on Auckland for decades to come. The first is the Auckland Transport Alignment Process. Something we haven’t discussed on the blog because we are involved in it and are awaiting the first public release of information which will be soon. Then we will certainly be discussing the details of this ongoing work. But the importance of this process is already clear; it is a reflection of a new found acceptance but the government that Auckland’s economic performance matters hugely to the nation and that transport infrastructure investment is, in turn, critical to that performance. We are of course striving to make the case for a change in the balance of that investment in Auckland away from a near total commitment to urban highways now that motorway network approaches completion [post Waterview and Western Ring Route] and that the evidence of success from recent Transit improvements, particularly to the Rapid Transit Network, is so compelling. There are hurdles here in the momentum and habits of our institutions and politics but also huge opportunities to really accelerate our cities’ performance across a range of metrics through changing how they are treated.

The other political shift is another we are yet to cover in depth but soon will, and that’s the agreement in Paris on Climate Change. This does indeed change a great deal. The city and the nation will have to ask the question of all decisions around urban form and transport how they fit with the new commitment to reduce our carbon intensity. This will clearly lead to a further push for higher density and greater emphasis on Public and Active Transport, as these are current technology and long term fixes to this global challenge. Unleashing further the urban power of proximity and agglomeration economies. So much of the conversation around New Zealand’s carbon intensity is around the agricultural issue and this tends to ignore the opportunities our cities offer, particularly Auckland, and particularly the Auckland transport systems, to this problem.

Cities are emerging as the key organising level that are most able to react to this problem as discussed here in The Urban Planner’s Guide to a Pst-COP21 World:

In many ways, Melbourne’s experience represents a coming-of-age of the urban sustainability movement. The private sector is listening to cities and responding. Now it’s up to cities and national governments to continue the conversations that began at COP21 and continue the evolution.

“The commentary for a long time has been ‘nations talk and cities act.’ We’ve been part of that dialogue too. That’s changing now,” said Seth Schultz [director of research at C40 Cities]. “National governments are coming to organizations like ours and saying ‘help us. We get it.’ I want to change the trajectory of the conversation. Cities are a vehicle and everyone should be getting in that vehicle and joining in for the ride.”

So in summary 2015 has seen:

  • Completion of Electrification of the Rail Network and the New Trains
  • The start of the New Network
  • New Interchange Stations
  • New Buslanes
  • Improvements to Ferry services
  • Start of the Urban Cycleways Programme
  • CRL start
  • ATAP
  • Paris COP 21

I will follow this post with another looking ahead to what is going to be a huge 2016/17. Here’s a short list to start with:

  • Fare Integration
  • Further Interchange Stations
  • Western Line frequency upgrade
  • New Network rollouts
  • Queen St Buslanes [so overdue]
  • More Cycleways
  • SkyPath underway
  • CRL seriously underway
  • Huge city developments begin
  • ATAP concludes
  • Council elections
  • Progress on Light Rail [it could be closer that many expect]

For all the frustrations and compromises that we’ve highlighted over the year I think it’s very clear that there are many very hard working and dedicated people in AC, AT, NZTA, and MoT and their private sector partners and it is their collective efforts in a very fast moving and changing field go a long to making Auckland the dynamic and exciting city it is fast becoming. I am keen to acknowledge their efforts. Onward.

I also want to personally thank my colleagues here at the blog, as it has been another big year for us, Matt, Peter, Stu, Kent and John, from whom I continue to learn so much, it doesn’t look like we are going to be able to give this up anytime soon…

Also I would like to shout out to colleagues over at Bike Auckland, our sister site, they’ve had a fantastic year, so cheers to Barb, Jolisa, Max, Paul, Kirsten, Ben, Bruce and the rest.

And of course to y’all, the reader, you are what really makes this thing work, so if what we do here makes any kind of difference, ultimately that’s because of you.

Kia ora tatou…

WIRI DEPOT JULY 15_6623

Share this

67 comments

  1. I think this is an excellent piece, but an incomplete one. There are many other aspects of a city – harm and nuisance (crime), sports success etc, that need to be incorporated.

    But, yes, Auckland is better today than it was last year. Is it better than it was 10 years ago? 20? 50?

      1. Another great piece from the Transport Blog team; right on topic. This reader is going nowhere. As an ex-pat Brit who moved here in 2007, Auckland’s transformation is obvious, palpable, necessary though most importantly, going in the direction it should. Many of us travel to many world cities and all successful cities have things in common. Auckland needs these things with the real skill being to retain its unique Kiwi qualities. A city moving from good to great.

  2. Thanks for the work!

    In other news AT just posted a somewhat cryptic (or not) CRL post… hinting that it might be about to get the go ahead (from government) this week!!!!

      1. turns out it was just AT chest pumping (and all good for doing it) for the start of their part of CRL. They even had a cake with a EMU coming out of a tunnel.

    1. Mr Cashmore says that widening motorways will ‘free up roads for commercial traffic’. And this is the governing body’s representative on that joint working group.

  3. Also just did a quick calculation of the rail numbers… based on growth over the past couple of years we should cross the 20 million threshold in September 2017.
    However based on the increased growth since electrification then we could cross this around June/July 2017… In other words 2.5 years ahead of the government’s target of 2020.
    Gonna need more EMU’s!

      1. Even if the dwell times are resolved (as they should be) the framework for deciding on additional EMU should be decided upon early, allowing for transparent reporting on how progress to the trigger point for commencing the acquisition project is going.

        1. Yes hopefully the dwell time issue can be quickly resolved which will give a bit of breathing room but ultimately 20 million is about peak capacity so far as peak time travel is concerned (without CRL that increases train productivity) and as I posted before we are likely to be reaching this around mid-2017 so that only gives us around 1.5-2 years to have new EMU’s in service. General consensus is that it takes around 1 year to receive new trains so that only gives us 6 months to order them (remembering that say 12x 3-Car EMU will take around 6 months to be delivered). That should give around 2 million annual extra peak capacity (or 4 million total if non-peak grows rapidly)

    1. Correction: Wellington has got it half-right. It is still a hugely auto-dependent city that has slowed in its improvement and transformation.

      Scratch the surface with a project like the Island Bay Cycleway, and discover that there’s a resistance to many things that Auckland is now getting on with.

      1. Wellington is fascinating. Fairly extreme geographical constraint meant it was built on Public Transport, or you could argue was built for PT to succeed. However after building the city on the full range of systems; horse trams, electric trams, cable cars, trains, electric trolleys, buses, the powers that be spent the last 60 years trying ram the private vehicle through that unforgiving topography. Now it suffers from an underpriced over supply of parking and driving amenity and the urban intensity that remains, and has recently been returning, is in spite of this enormous institutional effort. Sadly they are still at it, worse than probably anywhere in the country because they have so much more to spend there than they should, pro rata.

  4. Development – Dwelling building permits per 1000 people: Vancouver – 10; Australia (all of it) – 8; Auckland – 5.5. The world’s contemporary economies have managed to convert a property boom into a building boom, reaching for new records. Auckland is struggling towards the mediocre.

    http://www.vancouversun.com/business/building+permits+record+high/11036921/story.html?__lsa=f80c-0d12
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-01-08/building-approvals-hit-highest-level-on-record/6006788

    Economy – A city’s economy can be inflated in the short term by creating artificial shortages to drive up local prices and generate windfall profits for rent seekers. Things to look out for are an over inflation and potential unaffordability in an asset class. Long term these policies are not great.

    1. About that, question for the economists: do rising house prices have influence on that GDP graph?

      And the property market: part of it is missing. It is not possible for a single family to buy a lot of land and have their own home built. Only developers can buy a large lot and develop a group of houses (or even an entire suburb) at once.

      This is where the PAUP gets interesting. There are different rules for the individual vs. the developer [1]: For instance, the “Mixed Housing Suburban zone”: a single house has to be on at least 400m². But developers who can acquire a large lot can build one house per 200 m². And they have a less strict height boundary as well. Did I misunderstand something or does this more or less enforce that only the bigger developers can have houses built?

      1. I will try. There are three ways to measure GDP and all three give the same in theory but different in practice due to the way things get measured. Production, spending or earnings. If you build a new house it will be included but if your existing house goes up in price it should be excluded. The idea is it reflects production and an asset increasing in price is not something produced. Often there is more accurate data on spending so it can give a better estimate. But the impact that a rising house price has on your behaviour might affect GDP. You might choose to spend more and save less which increases this years GDP but reduces later years. It might divert money from investment into speculation etc.
        http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/economic_indicators/GDP/GrossDomesticProduct_HOTPSep15qtr/Definitions.aspx

    2. I agree. The lack of development in Auckland is astonishing given the growth in prices and population that the city is experiencing.

      And this is a collective/systematic challenge to all levels of government: How can we make it easier to build more houses?

    3. Yes the consents chart above shows that there has yet to be a supply response to the price boom on the scale comparable to 2003/04. Aside from the fact that we don’t want the poor quality of much of what was built then to repeat, it is pretty clear that the trend is certainly in the right direction, and it is the apartment type that drove that previous boom is till not up to full speed yet. Finding sites with a sufficient building envelope at an OK price is a constraint, I suspect over capacity in construction sector will bite next year too, big time. CRL, Commercial Bay, Con Centre, Herald site tower, Alexander Park, etc etc… anyone out there any good with a hammer?

    4. I despair. This is an extraordinarily stupid article even by the standards of the herald and the crooked realestate industry (colluding as usual). http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11564057
      One area, Grafton, gets a apartments built, therefore has a lot of sales at a lower price point (good right?) this of course lowers the average sale price for the area. Another, Eden Tce, only has detached houses, so its average is unaffected by the exact typology that we need to help the dwelling affordability problem, shows a higher average. Mendacious douchebags chasing higher commissions claim these figures prove Eden Tce more desirable than Grafton, cos, traffic from apartments and no shops. Eden Tce actually has ZERO shops, Grafton has much better amenity. Averages tell us very very little. Herald is desperate to gain realestate listings so it repeats self-serving brain-dead nonsense from a sector without ethics.

      1. Eden Terrace actually has a load of apartments in the area around Basque Park, and in Charlotte St and Fleet St which look north and west across the Motorway. They have had a variety of standards but a lot of them are occupied by students and city workers. A lot of the quaxers I see on the New North Rd buses get off opposite the Mahatma Ghandi centre with their bags of groceries and head across the road.

          1. My map says Eden Terrace and the PAUP GIS has Fleet St (for example) as Eden Terrace – but no problem. I agree with your point.

  5. I like your comment acknowledging the work of AC AT NZTA, MOT and their suppliers in shaping and delivering improvements to Auckland. As one who routinely works with these entities Its a pleasant change. It’s often easy to criticise officials, consultants etc. when you disagree with their views or the solutions they propose. And change in viewpoints, although slow, is happening. I see it now more than ever in the discussions I have about future transport- active modes, operating better ahead of building more, design for future vehicles and patterns of urban use.

  6. Yes it was a good year for cyclists.

    I arrived on the North Shore a few years ago, and one of the weirdest things about this city was the lack of cyclists. I’d see maybe a couple of bicyclists a month. Not sure how things are on the Shore now.

    In the CBD there are noticeably more people cycling now than before the lightpath opened. You regularly see parents with little kids on their bikes now. You never saw that a year ago.

    I’d say one more thing to do for 2016/17 is figuring out why those electric trains are slower than the diesels. The train on the southern line only barely outruns the bus along Great South Road.

  7. Well done on your as a small group of volunteers on a minimal budget, but it has taken a lot of time and dedication. There is a definite place for community-based lobby groups such as this. The “old media” are missing a large potential readership by insufficient coverage of the issues you have been exposing. Politicians (local and national) are limited in how far they can go without a feeling of community support in a particular policy direction. Public servants are even more limited in how far they can stretch or re-interpret a direction that has come from their political masters.

  8. Still one of my biggest issues with Auckland is that many of the central city apartments that are proposed or are currently under construction are still not of a very high standard. There have been a lot of high quality and aesthetically pleasing apartments built on the city fringes, and it would be great to see the same happen in our city centre too.

    1. Yeah, that’s my issue too. Apartments here are ridiculously small considering how much land we have (indicating developers are just squeezing in as many as they can to make enormous profits) and they aren’t very well built at all. The ones pictured above a very expensive too – I looked at buying one but the prices didn’t stack up (obviously others didn’t agree because they have pretty much all sold, although I suspect to speculators). If Auckland wants to have a future we need to find a way to build decently sized, quality, AFFORDABLE apartments. Hopefully the new Unitary Plan rezoning will make it so…

      1. “the prices didn’t stack up” → well that’s not unique to apartments.

        And IMO apartment size is the least of the problems in the CBD. We have a council with zero ambition of making the area around a lot of these apartments a bit nice, which means streets where pedestrians still are not really welcome. And some silly decisions made by the builders. Saving a couple of $100 per apartment by putting electrical outlets in only one corner of the living room is stupid, nobody would ever do that when building a home for himself.

        And the Unitary Plan, to me it seems a bit naive to think that affordability is a concern at all. For starters, large parts of Ponsonby and Grey Lynn will be downzoned to 1 / 600 m². It seems more about making sure the developers keep 100% control on the supply, and keeping the most well-off happy.

        And then, surprise surprise, someone else pointed out that Auckland, compared to a few other cities, has a very low rate of construction of new housing.

      2. Nick you can’t have it both ways; either the apartments are too small and cheap or they are too big and cost too much! Which is it? The apartments in the building above are certainly not cheap with their huge decks, zillion dollar views and over supply of parking, but all sections of the market needs supply at the moment, and even new generous and expensive apartments in the city fringe are cheaper than the existing detached houses in the area, and are taking pressure away from elsewhere.

      3. Is it wrong to say that the problem is not building “affordable” housing, but building “enough” housing? Logically if housing supply only satisfies 30% of the demand, then roughly the 30% richest people will get a home and the rest won’t.

        How does the former work anyway? How will we preventing the well-off from standing in the front of the queue? And if it is somehow achieved, what about the rest of the queue? Do we organise a lottery?

        And does it not restrict development to the opportunities where the non-“affordable” housing makes enough profit to subsidise the affordable housing?

          1. If someone wishes to purchase a medium density housing estate just adjacent to the railway station at Swanson on the Countryside Living zoned land. The housing will take advantage of the excellent accessibility to our rail network and be timed to complete construction with the CRL. It will lower our dependence on fossil fuels. It will be impossible to create this enviro-friendly development in Auckland City, because we ration on location.

            Bad zoning practice make costs too high, profit in construction cannot be achieved.

    1. Yes. Next year we will address Len Brown’s record. I am confident that his role in the transformation of Auckland will, over time, get its due over other events. His mayoralty has, in my view, set the city up for a very exciting decade and more.

      And the task for his successor is to continue his work, only more so. A pretty good chair to slip into, especially as Len’s single biggest problem; a surly and unhelpful government is showing every sign of coming round. We hope.

        1. Patrick – is being involved with the Auckland Transport Alignment project a double edged sword? Will you lose your ability to criticise and hold the government to account? The fossils at the MoT and NZTA deserve nothing but contempt in my opinion and yet now they want to come to the party as the numbers are showing how out of touch they have been for years!

          1. Fair question but we’re not at the heart of it- really influencing anything. While we still feel there’s a long way to go, much has changed over the last few years, there’s much more openness to new ideas, there’s still a great deal of defensiveness too, but I certainly think it it is more worthwhile to engage and try to understand and hopefully influence thinking up close than stay pure but further away the action.

            There are some very big intellectual challenges to come too i think- this is a sector that must face up to its environmental responsibilities much more in the years ahead, and it must accept its place and demand shaping role more too. It is still deeply committed to predict and provide, and its thinking is too divorced from the rest of society I think. The issue of so-called externalities for example…. There is much to explore on these issues next year, when I find the time!

          2. Scott we’re a stakeholder which basically means they’re sitting down and listening to our views – but they’re also listening to the views of other groups too. We’re trying to engage positively and of course raise many of the issues we raise on here to hopefully ensure they’re accounted for.

  9. Indeed it has been a watershed year.

    – Rates rises at an average of 9.9%
    – A Lame Duck Mayor polling at 5%
    – House prices out of control
    – A unitary plan that is dividing the city
    – Out of control pay rises for top level Council employees
    – Stadium reshuffle debacle

        1. quote from Patrick, below: “the political courage and selflessness of the Mayor and those Councillors that voted for the Transport Levy”,

          this is the “lame duck” the nose-out-of-joint right wingers keep on whinging about? frankly guys, put up or shut up, if you wanted Len out you should have stood someone other than an American restaurateur no-one had heard of

    1. The ‘caught with pants down’ incident couldn’t have been the main cause of Len’s popularity fall. John Key pulled pony tails without consent. I guess it’s the rates increase that has done the damage. As these are tied to capital value increases, hopefully when property values settle or fall, people should feel a lot happier as their rates bill will settle out. Let’s get those nasty capital valuations falling again.

      1. That’s not how valuations work. If all capital valuations fall by 20% then rates won’t fall rates per household and a base charge are applied and then the rest is divided up to capital value.

        1. Never said rates will fall, but the capital value increases have played a part in rate increases. Once prices settle out this should moderate rates.

          I’m also being a bit sarcastic here in that many complain about rates increases but I don’t hear the same outcry about capital value increases.

          1. Thanks, so “..rates calculated using the 2014 property valuations”… There is also some adjustment occurring under the single rating system from commercial to residential, plus transport levy.

  10. Patrick,

    You say “Proximity” (with a capital P!) and show a well-composed picture of Lightpath? That’s Bollocks — with a capital B even! Lightpath doesn’t open up any new destinations (other than itself as a novelty, arguably), and as a solitary route, it is less direct or less connected than Pitt St or Queen St.

    It’s true that Government’s, NZTA’s and AT’s cycle network strategy has been unfocused, and so failed to service the city centre. But that isn’t the root problem ­— proximity is. That means asking how densely the routes are arrange within a bike-optimal area (i.e. is it a grid?), and whether the routes lie on streets, at eye level, between the front doors of buildings (i.e. is it a street grid?). That is: are we efficiently maximizing proximity between the greatest number of people to the greatest number of destinations by bike?

    So the shift to tweaking motorway paths in the city centre rather than bikewashing bitumen further afield surely hasn’t done much for Proximity, at least not in the year 2015.

  11. Aaaaaand again we conveniently ignore bus patronage numbers, which appear to be flatlining.

    The single most important, efficient and cost-effective means of public transport in Auckland and it’s largely given the side-eye by transportblog because it doesn’t conform to the Legoland fantasy of trains and cyclists, like we’re some kind of low-rent Denmark.

    And now the buses are all being hoisted off to some arse-end temporary development at the bottom of Albert Street. Except, wait, no, they’re just being spread out over the city even more, so screw connecting.

    Meanwhile – still no integrated ticketing; skyrocketing rates bills; more and more crappy apartments; truly ungle developments from Wynyard Quarter to Queens Wharf to the CBD to Albany. Yeah, a real watershed year if you’re a cyclist or catch a train. Meanwhile, the other 1.4 million of us…

    1. Well that’s not really true is it. Neither that I ignore buses in the article, or that ridership is on them is flatlining. Certainly the figures show a differentiation between Rapid bus and ordinary bus. This is no surprise and is completely consistent with the rail figures; the moment the service is consistently improved to Rapid Transit quality and frequency, whether a train, bus, or boat, Aucklanders pile on. That’s the message. Hence the importance, mentioned above, of bus lanes, the single most important way to improve user experience and service reliability, and the New Network, the coming redesign of the system. Hibiscus Coast, which already has the new services has already jumped 15%.

      The changes are I agree agonisingly slow, dependent as they are on both the long consultation process and the funding and construction of new infra; stations and Rights of Way. How I would wish for more speed, and more certain and sooner funding for the bus system [AMETI!], after all it does the heavy lifting in Auckland even as rail returns to take its rightful place at the core of the Network.

      There’s a lot I would like to change about the buses as well as sorting out their RoWs, including replacing the older stinkier ones, preferably with electric systems, but that’s another story…

    2. i thought bus patronage had been doing fairly well, especially in the areas which have been re-structured and/or received improved service. I think patronage on the NEX services were up by a similar order of magnitude to the rail lines, i.e. ~15%? Looking forward, we have the New Network plus double-deckers to be rolled out. I think it’ll be fine …

  12. A really big event I should have included, but forgot, is the political courage and selflessness of the Mayor and those Councillors that voted for the Transport Levy. Without this many vital things would not be underway today, like the Otahuhu interchange station.

    The Auckland transformation I speak of above is, of course, dependent on funding. And currently only State Highways, Public Transport opex (but not capex), and local roads have secure funding. Oh and new cycleways for this and two more years, but even this still required the Levy for the Council’s share.

    Securing funding for the completion of a full Rapid Transit Network in our one city of scale should be the top priority of every politician who understands the value of a successful urban economy here and therefore more diversified and stronger national one.

  13. Just received this from AT regarding the Nelson Street cycle lanes:
    “A significant number of submitters proposed that the alignment of the cycleway be changed to the west side of Nelson Street and continue through to Market Place to access Wynyard Quarter, the Viaduct and Quay Street.

    AT is still assessing the effects of this option on the operation of the intersection of Nelson Street, Fanshawe Street, Sturdee Street and Market Place. This requires careful consideration of the impacts on pedestrians, people on bikes, public transport and general traffic. If these are acceptable then we will assess its other impacts before determining whether to progress with this option. “

Leave a Reply