One of the aspects I thought odd about the NZCID report released the other day was the revival of the 1965 De Leuw Cather motorway network plan and a comparison of Auckland’s motorway network to the motorway networks of “other liveable cities”. Here’s what they say:
The comparative decline of Auckland’s once ambitious motorway system, which for half a century has enabled the city to function in spite of deferred investment and poor public transport, can be seen in comparison to other liveable cities. Figure 31 superimposes to scale the motorway networks of various comparable metropolitan areas with populations between Auckland’s existing 1.5 million and its 2045 future of up to 2.5 million (Brisbane, Portland, Vienna and Vancouver each have urban populations of around 2.3 million, Zurich around 1.8 million). In all cases, the motorway networks today are more comprehensive than Auckland’s is projected to be in 2045
The limited reach of Auckland’s strategic road network in comparison to the city’s international competitors is not the only problem. Disproportionate dependency upon several key parts of the network where capacity is constrained has ripple effects across the entire transport system. Pinch points around the CBD, Mt Wellington and Greville Rd compress traffic, stymieing movement many kilometres away throughout busier periods. Although Greville Rd is now being addressed, there are no plans in the next thirty years to address capacity issues at either Mt Wellington or around the CBD.
Similar efficiency improvements to capacity-constrained parts of the strategic network appear less problematic in most liveable cities. While Vancouver has enforced a moratorium on motorway improvements near its congested urban core (but has expanded the network elsewhere), other cities address bottlenecks. Vienna’s Prater Interchange, for example, is currently undergoing a major renewal and capacity improvement to meet demand.
Superimposing other cities motorway networks over Auckland in is just plain silly, for a few reasons.
- it ignores the unique geographical conditions of each city which severely affect how their transport system has developed.
- it ignores the urban of these cities. Some such as Vancouver, Vienna and Zurich have quite dense cores and no motorways running through them
- it ignores the other transport networks that help to complement the motorway networks
So let’s have a look at some of the factors for these other cities (maps not to scale)
Vancouver was one of the few Anglophone new world cities to not build motorways in its city centre – which came about as locals rejected the plans to do so. To mimic Vancouver for motorways we’d be pulling out the central motorway junction and motorways would just be in outer suburbs.
In the 1980’s Vancouver decided to start building their fantastic Skytrain system. Now over 30 years later and with a number of additions and extensions the network has over 117 million boardings as of 2013. That’s out of a total of over 350 million boardings for the entire PT system. The city has also been improving its cycling facilities and seeing good growth. As of 2015 for trips to work it is estimated that 10% of people cycle, 24% walk, 24% catch PT and only 41% drive. Below is Vancouver’s rapid transit network and that is also supported by a large number frequent bus routes – much like Auckland Transport are starting to introduce later this year.
To be more like Vancouver is we’d need to invest in our PT and active networks and not new motorways to and through the city.
Vienna is a great city with a lot of history and no motorways through the middle of it. Like Vancouver the motorways stop short of the city centre with one passing to the side of it.
Of course within Vienna there is also a fantastic PT network consisting of extensive U-Bahn, S-Bahn, tram and bus networks. The U-Bahn was opened in the mid 70’s and that alone carries over 1.3 million trips a day. The map below shows just the U and S Bahn
With Zurich, again there are no motorways blasted through town with them stopping short or going around the city and most of them through the countryside rather than through an urban area like the NZCID propose.
Despite the motorways, it is estimated that about half of all trips within Zurich take place on their extensive train, tram and bus networks. The map below is just a small sample of their tram network
Of course as I mentioned yesterday, at the time of the De Leuw Cather road network that the NZCID lament was never fully implemented, they also produced a rapid transit plan even saying it was needed first to avoid many of the issues we’re now facing.
If the NZCID want us to have transport more like some of the cities they mention then we’ll fully support that, but that would mean focusing on getting PT and active modes sorted first so their Eastern Ring Route would have to stay on ice for a while.