Yesterday, the second Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) report was released, with the third and final report due in August. ATAP is the council and government working together to come up with an agreed transport plan for Auckland, one that ultimately performs better than what is currently planned.

The first Foundation Report was about agreeing on the assumptions they would use (such as land use, growth rates etc), and looked at how the currently planned transport projects would perform in the future based on these assumptions. There was a lot of interesting information, but ultimately the report found that by 2046 the outcomes weren’t great, and highlighted that we need to improve our plans or face even greater congestion.

Now we have the Interim Report (2.1MB), which explains the outcomes and thinking so far from the work to look at how our transport plans could be better. The work so far includes looking at a range of transport interventions to see how what impact they have.

So far the media have focused on one very specific outcome of this interim report – road pricing – but there are a lot of other important points that needs to be covered. Perhaps more than anything, the important thing from ATAP so far is that it hints at thr old business saying of ‘joined up thinking’. That’s because it doesn’t just take a “build more stuff” approach, but looks at a mix of building stuff and also managing demand. So let’s go through what I thought were some of the key and interesting points found in the Interim Report.

Revenue Assumptions

While the purpose of ATAP is to come up with a better and aligned transport plan, it’s also important to consider how much that might cost. To that end, the ATAP team have taken a stab at how much money might be available to spend in the future. Investment in transport in Auckland has been much higher over the last decade, as the city has gone into catch-up mode, however they’ve projected that level of investment forward based on a couple of options. Continuing the current investment:

  • as a share of Auckland’s projected GDP – currently estimated at over 2.5%
  • on the same per capita basis.

Because productivity is expected to improve over time, the share of GDP measure results in a lot more transport spending and over a 30-year period results in total difference of around $23 billion. The two approaches are shown below, with the current expected spending also shown as far as is currently budgeted (10 years). The lump in current investment is the result of a heap of big projects on the books including CRL, East-West link, Puhoi to Warkworth etc.

ATAP - Interim Report - Revenue

Testing Alternative Packages

ATAP have tested alternative scenarios and condensed these down to two packages as shown below.

ATAP - Interim Report - Test Packages

These have then been modelled, to see how they perform relative to the Auckland Plan Transport Network from the Foundation Report. The outcome isn’t great, and they say that while there can be some improvements made in some areas, they are not to the level that would be needed to make a material difference. The colours on the graphs match the colours above.

ATAP - Interim Report - Package Modelling

The graphs above are at a regional level, but at a sub-regional level, things can be quite different. The Foundation Report highlighted big issues with accessibility from the South and West.

The big improvement in the Northwest for PT is the result of building the Northwest Busway, highlighting once again just how stupid it is that the NZTA aren’t building it right now as part of their motorway widening.

ATAP - Interim Report - Package Modelling - South + west

The report also gives a lot of backing to Auckland Transport’s plans for light rail – although without actually mentioning it. It talks about how a number of bus corridors to the city centre (North Shore, Northwest and Isthmus) will be subject to significant capacity issues unless something is done. The example given is of Symonds St showing that by 2045 it is well over capacity.

ATAP - Interim Report - Symonds St

The Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing gets a specific mention too, which is unsurprising because as currently planned, it’s by far the single biggest transport project ever planned in New Zealand. What is surprising, though, is that ATAP seems to pour a bit of cold water on the road-building side, saying that it doesn’t improve congestion and seeming to suggest that perhaps a PT-only crossing might be more appropriate.

Improving access to and from the North Shore

  • The bridge and its approaches are a pinch-point on the transport network, particularly during the evening peak in both directions.
  • An additional crossing significantly improves accessibility to/from the North Shore, but does not appear to substantially improve congestion results.
  • Projected growth in public transport demand appears likely to trigger the need for a new crossing within the next 30 years. There is potential for a shared road/PT crossing, but the costs and benefits of different options require further analysis.

High cost of potential solutions

  • Because any new crossing will be tunnelled, there is a significant opportunity cost arising from this investment. Fully understanding key drivers, alternatives, cost and benefits will be crucial before any investment decisions are made.
  • It makes sense to protect the route for a new harbour crossing in a way that integrates potential future roading and public transport requirements.

The congestion issue is highlighted in these results, showing it is just as bad or actually worse.

ATAP - Interim Report - AWHC

New Opportunities

New opportunities represent some of the potential changes that could be made to the system but which are not currently in plans. It’s possible that they might not all become reality, but they were included in a bid to see what impact they could potentially have.

Part of ATAP’s terms of reference was to look at the impact of road pricing as a demand management tool. While the media have picked this up as “motorway tolling”, the outcome ATAP is talking about is quite a different beast. In essence motorway tolling was about raising as much money as possible and trying to do that efficiently. Road pricing for demand management is primarily about trying to get more efficient use of the road resource we have. ATAP is talking about pricing roads regardless of whether they are motorways or local roads, across the entire region i.e. a network-wide solution.

Their hypothetical solution looked at having varying charges between 3c and 40c per kilometre depending on time of day, location and the type of network the travel occurs within. As a comparison, a rough estimate suggests current fuel taxes are about 6c per kilometre now. An example of how the pricing could differ is shown below.

ATAP - Interim Report - Road Pricing Differences

This would still need some infrastructure investment, particularly on PT to give people options and these were included into a fourth package for modelling. As you can see, this fourth package (in blue below) performs significantly better than the other packages above when it comes to congestion.

ATAP - Interim Report - Manage Demand

This initial work suggests that the package of ‘road pricing plus extra public transport investment’ makes a massive difference, for both congestion and accessibility as shown in the two images above. ATAP says more work is needed to determine the exact impact, but it seems that road pricing is likely to have a major role in Auckland in the future. This has also now been confirmed by Simon Bridges, whose predecessors were very negative about earlier tolling ideas. This is a significant change and a welcome one.

In addition, ATAP also considered the impacts of technology, such as higher occupancy vehicles, most likely through ride-sharing and connected vehicles. They say the results are encouraging but also warn they likely reflect a best case scenario. Furthermore, as they don’t include any potential impact on overall travel demand (which could be significant), those savings could disappear.

ATAP - Interim Report - technology

Emerging strategic approach

ATAP say they asked the question of Should we build more or should we address demand? Ultimately, they suggest the outcome is likely going to be a mix of infrastructure and demand management. They highlight that there are likely diminishing returns on infrastructure, since it is increasingly expensive to provide to the existing urban area, so building our way out isn’t an option. This is an issue being faced all over the world.

All of the work above leads to the high level strategy ATAP will take – which is not all that different to what we’ve seen suggested before in various documents.

ATAP - Interim Report - Emerging Stragetic Approach

Overall, ATAP seems to be on the right track with the approach they’re taking. With the government, the council and all of the relevant agencies working together, it’s likely we’ll end up with a lot more agreement on transport in Auckland than we’ve had in the past. Have you read the document, if so what are your thoughts?

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  1. The announcement of variable road pricing within a decade is an absolute game changer. Unfortunately, as you point out, media are a bit uninformed and aren’t reporting well the distinction between demand management and revenue raising. Also Len Brwn appears to not get it either as he is being quoted as interpreting the announcement as a revenue raising measure.

    What has been announced really has very little to do with the councils previous proposal for revenue raising motorway tolls

    1. Well except it can also be used to fund more of the transport budget as well as manage demand; the two are not incompatible. I heard Brown talking on the radio that it should be used to replace the Interim Transport Levy, that’s an option. It depends what we want to fund. And there’s no doubt that for pricing to work best better alternatives are required and that will take investment.

      Note that ATAP modelled it being introduced in 2026; well post CRL, AMETI, New Network, possibly LRT… that would certainly all help. Though if it is such a powerful weapon, and they suggest it is; reducing congestion by a third from today’s levels in over a decade!, wouldn’t it be better to get on with it sooner?

      1. I agree, the sooner the better. But going from essentially no recognition of the “step change” effects of variable road pricing and basically no mainstream discussion of it to the Transport Minister saying we will have it within a decade is frankly a huge announcement and could put Auckland ahead of the curve on this. I.e. this could be a major competitive advantage for Auckland in the global competition between cities, to me it is that big.

        I admit I didnt hear Brown’s interview directly only the quote pulled by the media so he may have been more on the ball than the quote gave him credit for, but focusing on revenue raising is focusing on a potential side effect frankly (and possibly not even a desirable one).

        I agree investment is still needed but the thing about pricing is it will reduce the aggregate investment required. So we wouldn’t necessarily need more funding in aggregate than currently.

        1. Yes its good at last to have someone more forward looking in the Minister’s chair. But also you will note that having woken up to the infra deficit in Auckland they are very keen on finding other ways to pay for it than their own balance sheet… And Road Pricing does offer the double whammy of reducing spending demand and providing a regional source of funding…

        2. Yes fair enough.

          Its not just the minister, I haven’t heard anyone in an official or political position articulate the profound positive impact of road pricing that this report shows. (except possibly the productivity commission and/or the Act party, I would have to check). This is a whole new conversation that the minister is actually leading. Very exciting times.

        3. The conventional political wisdom has been on the right that its political suicide, like capital gains tax [‘I already own the road’], and on the left that it’s regressive. I’m pretty sure officials and technocrats have offered it many times before but have been swatted aside at the political level. Certainly Joyce and Brownlee rejected it out of hand when we brought it up, I think then there was a measure of keeping centralised control away from Council too… To be fair the timing is more ready for change now so Bridges is perhaps riding that to some degree too, but he is much more keen on new solutions than either previous minister.

          I see Goff has come out strongly in support. And Julie Ann Genter, surely the Lab/Green Transport Minister in waiting, has been advocating this for years so there is surely no way back now.

    2. Yes road pricing will decrease congestion – by making it unaffordable for poor people to get to work. They will either have to use Auckland’s mostly terrible PT network to get to work (which is hardly affordable itself if you live quite far from the city), or have even less money in the hand every week, or quit their job and go on the dole. All so rich people can zoom around a bit faster.
      Maybe if they significantly improve the PT system first it might make some sense – but that doesn’t seem to be the proposal…

      This whole idea that lots of people are choosing to drive in heavy congestion when they have other alternatives seems quite odd. Surely the congestion itself is the ‘price’ of driving in congestion.

      Alternatively they could use technology to somehow charge a road price only if there is a reasonable PT option for your trip (but that wouldn’t catch many people at present…)

      1. Well the evidence from Stockholm was that 20% of car trips disappeared. Some shifted to PT and Active, but many just were not taken. There is no evidence of this causing hardship but rather that these trips were actually felt by those who had been taking them to be not worth it at the fairly low charge of 2 Euros. This was all that was needed to move people out of the habit of driving all and any time for all sorts of pointless reasons.

        I really don’t understand why driving is so special that it can’t handle direct charging? This is the same stupid argument that makes PnR free, but the bus or train charged, nuts. Is it harder for lower income people to pay any cost than others? Yes, shouldn’t even more essential goods be free then like food, or electricity?

        What we have now is the classic Soviet bread shop. An undercharged good, driving, becomes scarce [congestion] because of twisted price signals.

        1. Driving on the motorway is not free – it is paid for through fuel tax (with the exception of RONs which I personally disagree with). At the moment drivers get charged the same amount regardless of how many other users are wanting the resource – the result being a lower grade of service at peak times. But this isn’t unusual even in ‘free’ markets – I don’t pay more per byte of broadband at peak time, it just goes slower, and I don’t pay more per kw/hr for their electricity at peak, its just all averaged out. I could choose to have a fixed rate of service at variable cost (for example, Flick electric co do this) – but like the vast majority of people I’d rather not.

        2. I’d also like to add that I probably wont be personally affected much by congestion charging / road pricing – I just remember the congestion zone being a ‘rich person only’ zone when I lived in London, which I am personally against.

      2. Jimbo, I live in a working class area, about 25km from the CBD, there’s a pretty damned good PT system about 15 minutes walk from my house, costs just $200 per month. That would barely cover the cost of fuel for a small car, let alone the people mover most out here prefer. A toll of up to 30c/km on the motorway would add maybe $4.50 each way to commuting costs. Anyone working off-peak (like a cleaner) would likely pay no toll, or just a few cents per km.

        1. $4.50 x 2 directions x 5 days x 2 people = $90 per week. There are a lot of people who can’t afford that, not just cleaners.

  2. That is a huge increase in bus demand on Symonds St, more than I have seen previously. If so then light rail really does look like it’s absolutely needed in the long term.

  3. Three main messages from ATAP:

    1. Time of use road pricing is essential. Do it.

    2. Waitemata harbour crossing is a waste of money. Don’t do it.

    3. Technology. Cool, especially in long run.

    There, saved everyone else from reading the the report.

    1. Thanks Stu as that was an extremely painful document to read written by what seems to be a bunch of wonks let loose with the Powerpoint and PDF maker.

      Road pricing is a big yes as is several key P/T projects but heck did the document need to be so full of jargon. It lacked human scale and doesn’t even marry up to the biggest influence of them all the Unitary Plan. Next time the ATAP might want to put in the zoning maps with key employment centres and residential areas like the 2013 MoT Commuter report did? Least that report was easy to read and understand on what needed to be done.

        1. Given it is what the media and blogs are reporting off (well hope they are as the pressers were extremely light) a but more PR’ish would have not gone a miss. Even Todd Niall of RNZ said the document was vague and full of jargon.

    2. Yes, so i expect the Transport Minister will shortly be disowning this ‘council report’ which is based on ‘faulty assumptions’, just as they did the government/council CCFAS study.

    3. Stu, would add to your main messages:

      4) As per the scenario they ran, ‘time of use’ pricing has to come along with extra investment in public transport. Because if you price the roads, some people will change the time they drive, some will switch to PT, and some will just not travel. Need extra investment in PT to add capacity, especially since that’s the mode that can drastically increase the number of people who can be transported at those peak times.

      Dang, didn’t manage to get that as concise as your ones…

    4. Message 4: Walk and cycle are not important; we’ll put pretty pictures of them in our document but we’re not seriously considering them…

      Policy wonks still can’t seem to get it in their head the exponential nature of traffic delay vs volume. You don’t need 30% of people to switch from cars to walking/biking; 5% will make a big difference for starters. And it’s a helluva lot cheaper than PT or motorways… (and it can also connect well with PT to make it a more viable competitor to driving)

      1. I asked about Active mode in ATAP and they answered that because funding was already agreed to continue [Urban Cycleways] it was considered out of scope.

        In my view Active mode is indeed the sleeper here, it is already trending to make a material dent in volumes in the Central City in response to new infrastructure [cycling] and rapid dwelling growth [walking].

  4. Matt and Stu: All these theories are just that. People will continue to live where they can afford and work where they can get a job. Waving a magic wand won’t change those basics. All that will happen is the poor will get hardest. They live further out and travel greater distances to go to work. So just another tax. Why don’t you guys think about ALL people across Auckland and not just single apartment dwellers. There are families out there too. Come up with real solutions not just knee jerk responses to issues. Ask people in Papakura or further south, or those out West, (not all train users, PT, cyclists) or even North (no trains), how they feel about added taxes to join congested roading that isn’t up to scratch – just to get to work each day. Stick with theories though, repeated often enough they get into law, but change nothing.

    1. You know Matt and Stu didn’t write the report covered here by Matt’s story? Maybe there are others out there with an anti car agenda too?

    2. “how they feel about added taxes to join congested roading that isn’t up to scratch”

      Why would I ask them about that? The strawman scenario you have stated isn’t one we are talking about. Maybe I would ask them about their thoughts road pricing to use decongested roads, and also let them know it is the only viable solution to decongestion. People with families from Papakura? Maybe I’d ask them how much they would value being able to spend an extra hour with their kids each day.

      1. An hour in the car or and hour on the train (could be more if you don’t work in the CBD and don’t have a direct service) doesn’t add anytime extra with the family.

        1. You are quite right that an hour equals an hour. Not sure what your tautology is trying to demonstrate though.

          Have a look at figure in Matt’s post showing the four maps of Auckland region next to each other. (The second one in the post where they are arranged as a row. One of them is a vibrant green. That is what I am talking about.

        2. It currently takes just under an hour to/from the CBD to Papakura, a little more if it is busy up to 90 minutes if the traffic is bad and this will only get worse unless there are extra motorway lanes. It takes 56 minutes from Papakura station to Britomart, add a minute or two once Parnell opens (longer again when the CRL is built). It is not going to get any faster on the train it will get slower with every extra station that gets added and congested through Quay junction. Remember the train times are station to station not point to point.

        3. Yep.

          So, this comment subthread was talking about people driving, you have brought up the train but I wasn’t discussing it.

          The point I am making is – people will pay more to drive from Papakura. They will also get significantly reduced travel times. More time with the family if that is how they choose to spend the time savings.

        4. So a few people will be better off (those that can afford to pay) driving while everyone else is not while taking the PT.

        5. @Bigted… although with CRL train timetable reliability will increase meaning they need to pad the timetable less (coupled with improvements to dwell times – hopefully getting rid of the expensive and unnecessary train managers) and further track improvements should shave around 5 minutes off the trip time by rail meaning is should remain under an hour 95% of the time versus roads where it will be at least an hour and highly variable up to 1.5 hours.
          The other thing of course is that people tend to be more productive when they catch the train vs driving (be it using the time to relax so they are good to go at the other end, or catching up on emails etc, or using the time for social media etc making more quality time the rest of the day).

        6. Our understanding is that simply moving to single operator control there is up to 10 minutes to found on the three main lines. This ought to be a priority for AT. Now. Huge increase in capacity and efficiency.

        7. Bruce removing the TMs will worsen the problem created when they removed to POs from the trains, sorry but I can’t see any increase in speed by not having someone to keep the little sh*ts in check that already cause the majority of the problems and damage.

        8. I agree with Bigted on this alone. TMs are not the problem with dwell times. Observation of Wellington trains shows that 20-30 second stops are achievable under the same rules and procedures. Driver only operation can only swap about 3 seconds per stop for a big drop in reliability and consistency of trip times. Losing that on-board staff member swaps one wage onboard for one on the platform or elsewhere to mitigate the indirect effects of losing on-board supervision.

        9. The TM’s are an overpaid archaic leftover of the past century. Drivers are more than capable of controlling the doors.
          We would be better having a presence at platforms and having police do regular patrols on trains. TM’s can’t do jack-shit to stop anti-social little punks from causing damage or making a nuisance towards paying passengers so their job basically becomes work-welfare.

        10. No, I’d say Bruce has just observed them in action on the trains. They just tend to turn a blind eye to anti-social behaviour, and I’ve noticed they do the announcements, even though they have to get the driver to radio the information to them. The only reason I can think of for the driver not doing the announcement is that the TM needs to justify their existence.

        11. @Bigted, no not at all. I just don’t like to see scarse PT funds wasted unnecessarily. I would say that at a minimum you would be looking at $4m pa on wages alone for TM (based on them earning $50k pa which is probably on the low side). I would rather see that spent on extra police (Transit Police) to make the trains actually safer and to get the fare-evaders, and those that are anti-social or who cause damage off the trains. This in turn would encourage more patronage and even increased revenues from former fare evaders paying their way. I’ve traveled a lot and haven’t seen many places with more than 1 person (ie driver) operating the train. In many places there is nobody at all!

        12. @Bigted, no not at all. I just don’t like to see scarse PT funds wasted unnecessarily. I would say that at a minimum you would be looking at $4m pa on wages alone for TM (based on them earning $50k pa which is probably on the low side). I would rather see that spent on extra police (Transit Police) to make the trains actually safer and to get the fare-evaders, and those that are anti-social or who cause damage off the trains. This in turn would encourage more patronage and even increased revenues from former fare evaders paying their way. I’ve traveled a lot and haven’t seen we places with more than 1 person (ie driver) operating the train. In many places there is nobody at all!

        13. We are still waiting for legislation that will allow ‘transit police’ and it doesn’t appear to be coming anytime soon. Don’t tell the fare evaders put it is not actually illegal to catch a train and not pay.

    3. We all have our theories ricardo, yours are just different from mine. Let the best theory win.

      Before we start debating theory, however, i think we should try and agree on some basic facts.

      Fact #1: road pricing is a user charge, not a tax. A user charge is what you pay to use something. A tax is what you pay to fund some governmenr activity. This is not a tax, from what i understand. This is not semantics.

      Fact #2: I’ve supported road pricing for over a decade. Thats on record here, in major newspapers, and at transport conferences. Moreover, I’ve always supported revenue neutral road pricing. What thee taketh, thou shall giveth backe etc.

      Fact #3: i agree that its important to implement road pricing schemes so they are not regressive. No argument there.

      1. But Ricardo surely makes a fair point. Without exemptions, road charging is highly regressive. It benefits the transit-rich at the expense of the transit poor.

        To make it equitable, only vehicles registered at properties with access to frequent public transit should pay this charge. Otherwise it is unfair and effectively robbing the poor to benefit the rich.

        By the way I like the idea of road charges replacing the transit surcharge – if it can be made non-regressive then it could incentivise AT to expand the reach of public transport and therefore expand its own investment funds.

        1. Only if you truly are transit/active mode poor and absolutely have to travel which is a tiny, tiny, fraction of all trips.

        2. A lot of people still have no choice but to commute by car – according to AT only 30% of West, South and North residents will have access to frequent public transport with the new network. So the bus might well move more quickly, but if you have insufficient services then what is the point?

          Because the funds are flowing from the 70% without frequent transit to the other 30% and to isthmus residents, unfettered road charging is a regressive tax. It’s doubly so in fact, because imposing road-dependence also imposes a whole new set of vehicle-related costs on those left behind by AT.

          Not totally opposing road-charging here – but it needs to be applied with care and equity.

        3. At some point people need to have some responsibility for their housing choices too though. I have little sympathy for people that move out to the sticks to get a cheap house on a big piece of land, then complain that their commute takes and hour and a half and/or argue vigorously for huge amounts to be spent on new motorways or impossible rail lines to serve their particular neighbourhood.

          The effectiveness and amount of transit depends on the land use, the density and the form of a neighbourhood. Not all are created equal, and many sprawling suburbs designed around car access are functionally impossible to serve with good frequent transit.

          The cheapest housing in Auckland is a small flat or apartment on the city fringe or near a suburban centre, right in the places that get excellent frequent transit. That’s why they get excellent transit, because they are full of a development form that makes excellent transit possible. When people say that housing is cheapest in outer suburbs with long commutes, what they really mean is that land is cheapest out there, not the housing. They are choosing land at the expense of locking themselves into car transport with no hope of every getting frequent transit. That is a choice, a judgment call based on what they value, and it’s not one based simply on cost.

          I don’t think it is unfair to charge people to drive long distances at congested times, any more than it is to charge a market price for bread or milk.

        4. @Nick R… you’d be surprised at how small a lot of sections are in “the sticks” as you call it are. People are moving there so that they can afford something (barely) because the rest of the city is just way too overpriced (mostly due to foreign buyers but also government policies regarding capital gains and building productivity). Apartments are great when you are young, or if you are wealthy and can afford a large one… for everyone else they just don’t cut it in a developed country that isn’t a city state (a la Hong Kong, Singapore). Even London and New York most families don’t live in apartments but move out of the inner areas to the outer areas where they can get a semi-detached townhouse or similar and they are cities of 10 million not Auckland’s piddly 1.5 million!
          Your comment quite frankly makes you sound elitist/snob…. Let them eat cake!

        5. “A lot of people still have no choice but to commute by car ”

          citation needed.

        6. A semi detatched townhouse is exactly what I am talking about. That sort of typology allows for efficient frequent service. Separate houses on cul de sacs don’t, even if they small in land area. People who chose these things are making judgement calls, you value a larger house and green space for your family, fine, but people have to accept that comes with consequences and trade offs.

          I have make my choice on housing and it requires me to walk fifteen minutes to a station followed by forty minutes on the train to get to work (or a very arduous drive). Again that’s fine, but I’m not expecting anyone to ever put a frequent bus service through my street because my street wont support one. David B’s suggestion that my poorer neighborhood be exempt from paying a congestion charge because we don’t have frequent transit is off. Most folks in my neighbourhood chose to drive and create congestion all the same.

        7. @Sailor No citation needed, that is every bit as obvious as the fact that most people can’t conveniently get around on a bicycle. Sometimes the real world just sucks, and wishing that away will achieve nothing.

          @Nick It is also illegal to build a semi detached townhouses in most places. They’re about to make it illegal to build a house on less than six-hundred square metres in parts of our inner suburbs. Outside the central suburbs, the cul-the-sac and loop maze is all we got. Look at our delightful new additions like Millwater and Stonefields. People may make poor housing choices because those are the only choices available. Again, the real world sucks, and wishing that away will achieve nothing.

        8. “But Ricardo surely makes a fair point. Without exemptions, road charging is highly regressive. It benefits the transit-rich at the expense of the transit poor”

          Well what you are saying is when we start charging people for the full cost of road travel we should do the same for PT to make sure we aren’t favouring particular groups of people. To which I say agreed.

          Important to remember that once you have congestion free roads, bus based travel will be much higher quality. Most places have bus based travel, so the idea that there are vast areas which will be “transit poor” is overstating things.

        9. But we do already pay for PT by charging those who benefit from it. 50% is from direct charge to users, 25% to Ratepayers and 25% to other road users. The later two groups clearly benefit from PT services, but indirectly. Would it be better if PT users covered 100% of the cost?, I don’t think so because these people are not the only beneficiaries, this would be less user pays. Would it be better if we ran PT services more efficiently and effectively so that these transfers are lower: yes indeed.

          Witness how the subsidy to rail is currently diving per trip km as 1. Capacity utilisation is vaulting and 2. Electricity is now the fuel source (mostly).

          Go driverless and around 50% of operating cost can be slashed; then we get real options around service expansion and fare reduction. That’s a revolution.

        10. Whether a road pricing scheme is regressive or not depends on how you redistribute revenue.

          In ideal case, everyone below median household income would get more than they paid in.

          Despite being financially neutral these households (and everyone else) now faces incentives to avoid the peak.

          Job done.

          Basically, you can’t say whether or not road pricing is regressive until you’ve decided how you raise and spend revenue.

          ATAP says let’s have that discussion. Common sense approach i think, and good to see the minister agrees.

      2. It depends on that assumption that people have alternatives to driving. Over here I’d say that assumption is wrong, and for a lot of people that congestion charge will be unavoidable, and thus de facto a tax.

        Problem #1: Mentality. A lot of people have the same feelings about cycling as they have about driving the wrong way on the motorway—it is completely unacceptable and you should never, ever do it. Lack of infrastructure is not the only reason why we’re stuck with a few % of bicycle mode share.

        Some people feel the same way about crossing the street on foot. And buses have a tendency to either drop you off or pick you up on the wrong side of a street.

        Problem #2: lots of people just can’t get to work in a reasonable time using PT. They may complain about spending 40 minutes instead of 20 minutes driving to work because of congestion, but often the alternative is 1½ hour on a bus.

        Problem #3: Areas with good PT access are obscenely expensive, so how are we going to make sure this doesn’t end up being a regressive measure anyway?

        1. See above – road pricing will facilitate good PT by removing congestion, speeding up buses. But of course this needs to be planned and implemented.

          People don’t want to cross the road? Really?

        2. What I meant is: there are people around who would not agree that crossing the street on foot is acceptable.

          Auckland is the only place where I have ever seen people waiting in the middle of streets, on the centreline, to cross the other half of the street. I can’t imagine how that would be a pleasant experience, especially during rush hour. There is a minority who don’t even find it acceptable to walk on the footpath, because you get in the way of cars exiting driveways.

          Most people, probably subconsciously, behave as if pedestrians don’t exist. The next time you walk around, observe how fast people back out of their driveways, obviously assuming there will be no people on foot. Another thing I would find unthinkable before I moved here, is that people still speed up when there’s someone crossing the street a few 100 metres in front of them. People are just not supposed to be on a street if they’re not driving.

        3. Ok, I agree about people crossing arterial roads by foot. It makes me rather nervous for them when I travel by motorbike or car. We should improve this at bus stop locations. But I dont think this is really a show stopper.

          I make it a habit to stop and wave people through or proceed slowly with caution. I dont want to kill anyone. But I am also amazed at the lack of regard for human life that some drivers show.

        4. I don’t think anyone would describe Glen Eden, Swanson, or Papakura as obscenely expensive, yet all have excellent access to good PT.

        1. I hold those opinions.

          Ricardo frequently likes to comment on what others think without asking them.

          Which is a bit rude.

    4. Ricardo – quick question, although I know you don’t usually reply once you have left your original troll. How do you envisage funding ‘bringing the roads up to scratch’ and also how would you ensure that it is not regressive? I would have thought our current funding system of fuel taxes is quite regressive as the less well off people have to travel further to work thus pay more fuel tax.

  5. Attention will be focussed on the road pricing aspect, but was good to see this:

    There appears to be significant potential to increase road network productivity in Auckland, particularly the arterial network. This requires:
    •a stronger focus on network-level strategic planning of arterial roads to provide an effective basis for prioritisation, and addressing the trade-offs between competing activities on the network
    •taking advantage of new ITS technologies to assist with network optimisation
    •a stronger commitment to addressing incompatible activities, such as removal of parking on arterial roads

  6. One sure fire way to increase the price of everything including the costs of PT. Transport operators already have a FAF (fuel adjustment factor) built into their rates that goes up and down with the price of fuel, there will end up being a toll adjustment too and it is you the end user that pays. Public transport crews are paid a travel allowance to get to and from work that will end up increased to cover the tolls cost and that ends up being paid by every rate payer via AT.

    1. Why would public transport vehicles be charged for road pricing? There hasn’t been any suggestion that would be the case, and it would be counter productive to the demand management goal of the scheme.

      As for PT crews, well first of all I wish I was paid a travel allowance to get to and from work, but second of all, if their travel to work ends up adding to peak congestion then they should pay the peak de congestion charge. However I expect that very few PT crews are driving to work at peak times, given that they are driving *for* work at peak times.

      1. In an ideal world there is no reason why PT wouldn’t be charged equivalently for road use. Once the congestion externality is internalised, arguments for cross subsidisation of PT evaporate.

        1. In an ideal world we’d all be svelte from years of riding around the city in protected cycle lanes 🙂

        2. Mean while in the real world there will be human crews for a long time yet.
          Anything you buy will still be delivered to the shop you buy it from by road so you will be paying tolls indirectly on everything you buy.

        3. Assuming there is a $20 toll on the trip, and the trip takes 20 minutes less because of tolling it will make goods cheaper.

        4. Whats the big deal on tolls adding to transport costs? Everything delivered to the shop already pays petrol tax. The delivery charges already account for time list to congestion. The shop already pays rates and charges GST. Why if the tolls are time-of-day based, and revenue neutral, and the shop is restocked outside of peak hour traffic, you might find the overall cost of goods sold reduces!

        5. Dan C in your world maybe but in the real world everything will go up to cover the extra charges the delivery companies charge to cover their tolls.

        6. “Dan C in your world maybe but in the real world everything will go up to cover the extra charges the delivery companies charge to cover their tolls.”

          And everything will go down as the delivery companies gain efficiency by being able to run twice as many trips per driver and vehicle.

        7. Bigted what? Please provide actual coherent comments if you want to engage with me.

        8. @BigTed, back here in the real world delivery companies price in competition with one another to gain more business and reduce prices when their costs decrease.

        9. Sailor Boy as long as you believe that it must be true, I hope that makes you feel better.

        10. Pretty much every economist on earth also believes it and it is backed up b research.

        11. I don’t think it would be bad anyway, a bus takes up as much space as about two cars, but has forty or fifty people on board at peak times. So the internalised congestion cost per person on the bus would be 1/20th that of a person driving in a car.

        12. Exactly. This is really the (or an) argument for bus lanes in the absence of road pricing – buses are high value with high willingness to pay compared to other vehicles.

        13. There was no mention of the PT vehicle themselves paying the tolls (but it would be expected they would be caught in the same web) but the costs being added to the labour cost of PT due to the crews being charged tolls to get to work (remember there are not PT options for most of the PT providers), most already get a traveling allowance so it will end up increasing and being passed onto the ratepayer through AT.

        14. You realise that far and away the largest cost of running buses is paying the driver (hourly) and running the bus (hourly) which will both get cheaper as they will take fewer hours to service the same route at the same frequency, thus reducing costs? And before you try spin some yarn about the saving being used to increase margins, remember that AT sets minimum standards and then goes for lowest price bidder on bus contracts which is why Tainui won 1/3 of South Auckland routes by reducing wages. Reduced cost to operators reduces costs to consumers.

        15. Sailor Boy buses still run to timetable and trains don’t go any quicker just because there are less cars on the road.
          jezza what is the relevance of who gets how much, the point is that AT pay so the ratepayers that fund AT are the indirect payers.

        16. “still run to timetable” Timetables aren’t gospel, they can be changed as congestion decreases.

        17. Sailor Boy PT operators have ‘timed stops’ and if you get to one early (most buses struggle to keep up) you must wait till time before leaving, these are set by AT while sitting in their ivory tower.

        18. Jezza – there’s one small allowance on days where you’d have to travel outside of the hours where public transport is available and another compensation for using your own vehicle to travel to a location further away than your own base/office/depot. Current practice sees very little of the second thing and the first would by definition never attract peak pricing.

        19. James it is not the end of the day that requires the allowance that will likely get hit with the peak charge. If you need to drive due to an early or late start you will also need to drive during the day when tolls are likely to apply.

        20. Thanks James, that makes sense. There may be a small operational cost increase to provide these allowances for those that have to drive to another depot when congestion charging is in place but that doesn’t seem like much of reason to not put a system in place if there are going to be wider benefits.

        21. The cost of bus/train drivers having to pay the charge to drive to the depot at the start of the day, why is this even relevant? What about the cost to teachers driving up the cost of education?
          With hundreds of thousands of aucklanders commuting every day, the transport system cannot be designed around handful of commuters whose occupation happens to be bus driver. Even if AT decides to fully refund their charges, the impact on public transport costs will be less than the cost of diesel going up 0.005c/litre.

  7. I am concerned that the report suggests that good public transport access should not be a priority, due to the up-front cost of securing a suitable route in the airport precinct (p.36). It won’t get any easier to get a good route in the airport precinct and to connect it to new development there.

    1. Especially given that the airport are planning to completely rebuild the terminal and a new runway.

    2. What is wrong with sky bus?

      I must admit I have always been a bit confused by “rail to the airport”. I know it is a big growth area out there, but surely rail should be based on demand. Is this a route with relatively high demand? I read elsewhere that “rail to the airport” gets prioritised in cities irrationally because politically, people can see themselves using it even if they only go to the airport a few times a year.

      1. If you consider it more as rapid transit to Onehunga, Mangere Bridge, Mangere Town Centre and big job node, and a big office employment development district (that happens to be at an airport) it makes a lot more sense.

        Rail to airport terminals alone rarely works except in the biggest, busiest world cities, or where airports sit across regional train networks like those of continental Europe where one airport serves a dozen cities and towns within an hour or two.

        That is why rail extensions from Puhinui would be a bad idea, they’d only serve the airport itself and do nothing new otherwise.

      2. You also have to consider rail development as a proactive measure. You shouldn’t build rail for demand now, you build it for demand in the future. Thinking and acting solely for the now (the now of days gone by) is exactly why we are so short of options today. As you note, buses are fine for now, but they won’t be forever, especially if they’re remain so unattractive an option to so many people.

        1. “especially if they’re remain so unattractive an option to so many people.”

          But why is this? Are we not investing in the bus transport enough?

        2. Right now it must be a combination of historical inadequacies (buses have always been crap – Joe Bloggs knows it and believes it always will be), and that analysis of current demand fails to account for the fact that “demand now” is hindered by both the above perception and the self-sabotaging nature of services levels provided. neither of these things have to remain true, but it will take possibly as much as a whole generation of disbelievers (both usership and leadership) to exit the system before we see progress. In reality, slow, incremental progress on changing minds and raising quality seems to be working, albeit painfully slow and incremental and driven by a lack of alternatives.

        3. On the contrary, I believe as soon as you provide a better quality option be it bus or rail based, people will use it accordingly. Just look at the high level of correlation between absolute patronage and patronage growth rates for the Northern Busway and each of the rail lines. Arguably you would expect more growth on the rail lines as they have more recently undergone service improvements and should therefore be experiencing more “catch up” growth. So I think the idea that people wont catch buses because of the vehicle type has been disproven in Auckland.

        4. Quite right, I suppose in that the Northern busway and double deckers have really bridged the gap between the usual buses and what trains offer. My fear would be that taking up a BRT solution would just end up delaying a more hardwired, connected and capacious rail solution, and making progress in capacity/rapidity/frequency all the more expensive in the end. Granted, that need is a long way off, but as we know, taking the cheap and easy option has not served us well in the past. I’m increasingly sure that we’ll be stuck with a “baby steps” approach on this front… again.

        5. I dont see BRT as a blocker for eventual rail. If anything the opposite. It secures the right of way, which is the main thing. But also provides a quality of service that will grow patronage to the point that rail might one day be essential. I dont see sky bus on its own acheiving that.

          Rail to the shore for instance, would seem allot less necessary if everybody on the shore drove to the city because the bus was so crap. Instead BRT is so successful that we are trying to figure out what to do with all the busses, and rail is the obvious answer.

        6. Buses are not fine for now; buses are subject to congestion and journey time variability. Why should Mangere and the Airport zone not also be part of the RTN? There are huge severance and accessibility problems in south west AKL, as well as growth and traffic congestion ones, and an effective RTN through there anchored at the Airport is long overdue.

          Unfortunately because of predatory delay and casual or deliberate route sabotage, and unreasonable demands by the Airport Company, the obvious extension of rail from Onehunga will now never happen. I deeply regret this.

          The best we can hope for is Light Rail run on a separate RoW, which in itself is no bad thing, but it looks to me like a complicating burden to add to the otherwise rational and necessary Dom Rd/Queen St LRT project. I may be wrong…?

          Time will tell.

        7. I dont have an issue with it and it may well be an appropriate corridor for heavy or light rail. I just havent really seen any detailed analysis of it to show it is viable or needed above say bus priority. It does seem to be a project that is “conventional wisdom” but with an unknown origin.

        8. Buses are fine with bus lane though and they are relatively cheap and easy. Surely if heavy rail to airport horse has bolted and alternative is $1 billion lrt extension then we should look at the BRT option?

          Ive also never felt rail to airport was fait acompli.

        9. Well that is where the Otahuhu branch-airport line idea has a lot of merit. It saves on building a bridge across the Manukau (and double-tracking Onehunga), is potentially a faster route anyway (especially from the South). Eventually if the Avondale-Southdown line is needed then it can connect in with the Onehunga line.

      3. Last time I tried to use the SkyBus, it was over 20 minutes late and then so full that it drove past me without stopping. I arrived over 30 minutes later than planned and just missed the check-in time. It cost me about $150 to rebook my flight. That’s just a personal example from someone who currently lives in the South Island.

        Three reasons why rapid transport to the airport might be a good thing:
        1. It is a transport hub with large travel demand throughout the day. Apart from some areas in the CBD and maybe a few shopping centres, there are few unique points in a city where so many journeys end and start. In addition, it is really easy to persuade travelers through the airport to go by public transport, as visitors are often less likely to have their own car and people departing from the airport are less likely to take their car due to high parking costs.
        2. If we look beyond the city, having good public transport connectivity at one end of the journey is also likely to increase public transport use at the other end.
        3. It is politically more feasible to get rail to the airport, as you say. So, why not use this political momentum to provide good connectivity to this part of the city?

        One further comment about this is that New Zealand has been doing quite poorly in using the tourism boom to invest in infrastructure that would be feasible and benefit locals through the additional demand that tourists provide. I think that other countries have made this connection of using tourist numbers to enable services which may not be feasible if they were just aimed at locals.

        1. To balance your anecdote i caught airbus twice per week every week for about 1-2 years and found it not too bad.

          And with bus lanes it’d be even better. Note that when i talk about BRT im not just talking about current airbus route. Could also be BRT from botany to airport via manukau and papatoetoe, where people passengers from city can connect.

          Or alternatively brt from onehunga to airport. Again where passengers from city connect. People who don’t want to connect can then simply use airbus while people from rest of city have access too.

          Lots of options not sure which is best but all should be investigated imo.

        2. What happens every afternoon is Queen Street gets congested, buses get stuck, and the Airbus takes half an hour from the ferry building (yes it was a while ago) to Aotea Square. One group of people you can ask are taxi drivers. They know to drive to the airport via Dominion Road, and stop at bus stops to pick up more stranded passengers.

          So I’m assuming you didn’t take that bus southbound in the afternoon.

          But the problem here is not that buses are bad, just that for whatever weird reason we can’t have bus lanes on Queen Street.

        3. The other problem with sky bus is that is 16 bucks each way. Are there any other public transport routes in auckland where you pay about $1/km?

          I live on the route and have been longing to try it, but from home it’s $16 for a 14km journey in 42 mins. And there’s generally 2 of us, so $64 dollars return. vs drive in 15 minutes, and park next to the terminal for $50 (weekend trip to Welly).

          From town in peak hour traffic it would be a better proposition, but still quicker/cheaper to cycle home and take the car.

        4. Yes I don’t understand why we don’t have a conventional high quality bus route at same price as others.

        5. The skybus being $16 is probably a lot to do with how much they pay AIA to go there but also mat not be subsidised by AT.

        6. Their strategy seems to be to position themselves as a cheap alternative to taxis, rather than a spectacularly expensive bus.

          Since it’s changed ownership the service has changed. Instead of just operating like a normal bus where you get on, pay the driver, and get off at a stop near your destination, they have about a million additional staff with ipads who mill around and attempt to scan tickets and marshal people prior to the bus arriving, then you have to transfer onto a separate shuttle for most of the CBD destinations.

          So not only expensive but rather stupid too.

  8. The idea that they can ‘decongest’ the roads with a user charge is hilarious. Especially if there’s another 700,000 people on the way. They wouldn’t have the balls to set it that high.

    Tell ’em they’re dreaming.

    1. Sorry Tony, its happening. I know its uncomfortable when your preconceptions get overtaken by the real world moving forward, but there you go.

      1. You seem a bit confused by the comment Matthew. It probably is coming. But it will do diddly squat for congestion. It will be political suicide to levy a fee high enough to clear the road.

        1. “It will be political suicide to levy a fee high enough to clear the road.”

          Actually it is politically highly attractive. Stockholm is the example Matt gave in his interview this morning – the residents very much want their decongested roads!

        2. It depends on what you are talking about. Clearing the road, no. Maintaining minimal congestion at peak times, with more consistent and predicatable times, probably. Remember this only affects three or four hours a day, five days a week. The rest of the time there would be little or no charge.

      2. Unfortunately Matthew, Tony is right but you just like Sailor boy that think that it will make noticeable difference at dreaming.

        1. People like you probably said the same thing back in the 80’s before they reformed the electricity sector. Fact is the vast majority of our economy is governed by market pricing. There is some precedent!

    2. I’m sure this has been tested overseas a number of years and there must be some success to contemplate.

      1. I’m sure has RHarris. I’d also be pretty sure they still have congestion.

        In Matthews world the charge would be so high most people couldn’t afford it.

        I guess it all depends on your own measure of success.

        1. The outcomes are affected by so many variables, it is going to take a long time to get any certainty about the outcomes of practical experiments. Important variables include; where are poorer city-centre employees homes located; where are wealthier drivers homes located; how much alternative, less-congested locations are there for employment to decentralise to; what is the shape of the urban land rent curve and how much housing “by location” is affordable to whom; will the charges flip the traffic flow from “broken down” to free-flowing, or “price off” drivers in the overall (price set too high), or not be high enough to eliminate the breakdown congestion?

          Actually congestion itself is a strong enough incentive for location decisions and price movements in real estate. One important input, is that the lower and flatter the urban land price curve, the more opportunity there is for employers and workers to co-locate efficiently. Generally the higher and spikier the land price curve, the longer the average commute time, because more people are “priced out” into “Hobson’s choice” locations.

        2. Actually the charge only needs to be so high that about 80-85% (the vast majority) of people still use the road in the same way. You dont need much reduction in use to make a massive difference to congestion. Its a non linear relationship.

          Tony you should really read about the Stockholm experience.

        3. Exactly, Matthew. Actually it can be even better than you say, see my comment at 4.45pm.

          I say with correct pricing, you could get the number of vehicles through a given corridor, that are currently taking 3 hours with stop-start speeds prevailing for much of that time, in not much more than half the time, at twice the speed. Maintaining flow should be the main objective. The problem with ramp metering is that it substitutes a delay at the ramp for a delay on the highway, and in any case it is not maintaining flow on the highway as fast as should be possible. The pricing, varied by time, should motivate enough people to change their travel time away from the spikes in demand that are making flow break down, so as to eliminate these brief overloads that then slow the flow down for the next hour or three.

        4. It ain’t me you have to convince Matthew. It’s all them Baby Boomers who are shit scared of 3 story appartments.

  9. Most of the comment so far has a focus on the cost and recovery method. But this is also a behavioural change tool to encourage people (drivers) away from the current method of park (arse)and drive and or to chose an alternative method ie public transport, walk and ride and bike if your close enough.
    The guru’s all comment on congestion costing millions but you have to realise congestion is a symptom of too many cars and other vehicle’s not the roadway itself. If a road motorway is reduced in size say like the harbour bridge the traffic bunches up like ants looking for another way past. So it is with human nature the drivers wont changed until they are forced to do so by shear lack of road space or economic depravation due to road pricing. So the question is “what can you have if you cant have more” the answer is the same or less. Its just something you have to get use to. However AT are going to have to engage brain and gear to accommodate the eventual shift of mode when it arrives and preferable to do this before the proverbial hits the fan. Building more of the same (roads) is not going to cut it.

    1. Yes. Id just like to point out that even with road pricing ATAP acknowledges need to build lots more PT and more roading investment.

      What is clear is that without pricing we can’t manage supply and demand. Which to be honest is not rocket science: we’ve known this for years.

  10. The move to road pricing is overdue. But the whole world is even slower to recognise the relationship between fixed-route PT investments and property price responses.

    Actual modelling for planning purposes is missing this “force of gravity”, and even conceptual writings rarely contain the needed insights like this one:

    Anthony Downs: “A Growth Strategy for the Greater Vancouver Region”, 2007:

    “…The cost of land poses a key dilemma for urban planners everywhere who
    want to concentrate jobs together so they can be best served by public transit.
    Such concentration raises the costs of land near centers; in fact, it would
    confer a monopoly advantage on landowners who owned such land and could exploit
    firms trying to locate there. Now firms want to locate elsewhere to cut their
    land costs.

    Planned concentration of jobs in a few centers is not consistent with private
    ownership and control of land. Some type of collective control over that land
    would be necessary to prevent monopolistic exploitation of land values. In
    theory, this could be done with high land taxes in such areas and special zoning
    rules. But adopting those devices is politically difficult in a free enterprise

    “…A similar but less intensive dilemma concerns land near transit stops,
    where it would be most efficient to concentrate high-density housing and jobs.
    That also creates ownership monopolies over such land unless it is specially
    controlled or taxed. Yet focusing development near transit stops is a key to
    using more transit…”

    1. Funny then, that in the absence of regulation to force businesses to concentrate in centres, businesses have in fact concentrated in centres.

      1. Certain TYPES of businesses have remained concentrated in centres, and in some exceptional cities, like New York, have gone from strength to strength (whether this is socially or economically beneficial is another question – “Occupy Wall Street”, anyone?). In fact overall, dispersion has been the norm for decades, in so far as transport improvements have occurred. This has enabled all sorts of virtuous economic and socio-economic effects. This should not even be controversial. Typically, city centre employment as a share of regional employment has fallen from circa 50% to below 20% since the 1930’s. The best work for non-experts to read on this subject would be Robert Fishman: “Megalopolis Unbound”. If you Google search “Peter Gordon”, “employment”, and “dispersion” you will get several papers on the subject. Glaeser and Kahn also did one; and Alex Anas has done some too.

  11. What far too few people realise about congestion pricing, is that done right, it increases the amount of vehicles getting through a given lane in a given time. Therefore, it is not so much a question of “pricing off” some travelers, as increasing the number of travelers, reducing their trip times, and getting some revenue in return.

    This is because of the relationship between demand and flow. It is possible for more than 2000 vehicles per hour to get through per road lane; however, when you get spikes in the number of vehicles trying to use the road, the flow jams up and the speed drops even to “stop-start” levels – below 1000 vehicles per hour. This is why congestion delays by city are almost exponentially different – once you have network breakdown, you have delays several times as high as otherwise, not just a few percent different. NZ’s expert David Lupton is clear on this.

    If you set the charges at the right level to avoid the spikes in demand that overload the corridor, flow should be maintained between 1600 and 2000 vehicles per lane per hour, which is a lot more than 1000 per lane per hour, which is what we end up with a lot of the time. This is so much of a win-win scenario, it is a no-brainer to do it. The problem is the complexity and the failure of so many experts, let alone the voting public, to understand it. By the way I am told that 3300 per lane per hour has been observed in some countries as a kind of record – requiring both speed and unsafe following distances!

  12. I’ll keep it brief my longer opinion is on CBT

    1. I think why a decade has two reasons one Singapore would have tested there GOS dynamic congestion charging by that point and two by 2026 suitable options will exist to swap to including but not limited to CRL, AMETI Stage 2 and possibly 3 completed, NW busway, stage 1, 2, 3 of central LRT network and AWHC whether shared or rtn only.

    2. My big concern about this report is where is the talk about rail freight?

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