Public transport patronage is falling in North America, and it’s worrying people.

As a February 2017 CityLab article shows, almost every city in the United States is experiencing falling public transport patronage. While transport experts aren’t sure exactly why it’s happening, everyone is concerned:

New York City’s subway system has posted its first dip in ridership since 2009, according to data from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The news follows a news week full of reported transit passenger declines in Los Angeles and San Francisco. And, for years, nearly every city in the U.S. (with a few notable exceptions) has posted negative percent changes, too.

Which raises two questions as old as public transit itself: Where do the riders go, when they go? And how can cities bring them back?

Some of the factors behind these declines are national, as the transportation scholar David Levinson points out via email. The economy is expanding, and oil prices are plunging. People are buying more cars and driving them more often, both to work and to weekend activities that are better served by vehicles. American cities continue to suburbanize, and as they do, taking transit often becomes a less attractive option. Immigrants, long a strong base of ridership for agencies, are increasingly moving out of urban centers… and buying and driving their own vehicles.

Meanwhile in Auckland…

The public transport results for March are always the most anticipated of the year because we’re eager to see just how much March Madness lived up to its reputation.

While we still need to wait for the full set of results to come out at the next board meeting however, I asked Auckland Transport if we could have March’s results. They kindly provided me with the high-level numbers, and they’re spectacular.

Overall there were 9.41 million trips taken in March. That’s almost 1.3 million or 15.5% more than March last year, a huge result. Even taking into account the factors above, AT say the growth was a decent 7.6%. The result also means that for the 12-months to the end of March we had 86.99 million trips, up over 5 million on the same time last year.

Auckland is experiencing significant increases on all PT sub-modes – rail patronage is up massively following electrification, but bus patronage is also rising significantly, and ferry patronage is rising a bit.

Importantly, this is happening at a time when petrol prices are relatively low, incomes are rising, and vehicle kilometres travelled are rising rapidly. (In fact, more rapidly than I expected.) That suggests that Auckland’s current public transport successes are the result of structural improvements to the transport system, rather than people shifting to an inferior alternative due to high petrol prices. If our performance has deviated from the North American cities that we traditionally compare ourselves to, it’s because we’re doing it right.

The reason why we are getting better outcomes is that we have made some fundamental changes that will make our public transport system work better, on an ongoing basis. This includes:

  • Reforming public transport contracting and planning in the early 2000s to bring network planning back under public control
  • Governance reform to create a single regional entity responsible for planning the city’s transport network – first the Auckland Regional Transport Authority, then Auckland Transport
  • Reinvestment in the legacy rail network, with each stage building on the success of previous ones – first the purchase of ex-Perth railcars in the early 1990s, then Britomart in 2003, then the Western Line double-tracking, then rail electrification in 2014-16, and finally the start of the City Rail Link (due for completion in 2023ish)
  • Development of entirely new rapid transit corridors – first the Northern Busway in 2008, then commitment to the Eastern (AMETI) Busway and the Northwest Busway (both due in the early 2020s?)
  • A ground-up rethink of the city’s public transport network to enable many more frequent connected services, which is now being implemented with positive results for patronage
  • Extension of bus lanes – slow at first, but hopefully picking up steam
  • Successful rollout of an integrated ticketing product (HOP) and integrated fares to enable cheaper transfers – I’ve heard that HOP is now used for over 90% of PT journeys, which is high by international standards and a testament to the usefulness of the product
  • Reform to on-street parking management to ensure that parking management techniques (from time limits to hourly parking prices) are used to ensure the availability of parking for people who care most about getting it (and provide others with a price incentive to get on the bus!)

If we keep up the momentum on these changes, we can expect public transport patronage to continue increasing at a steady clip for the foreseeable future.

But wait, there’s more!

Auckland has also been moving forward in virtually all other areas of transport and urban policy. In transport, we’ve also:

  • Completed the city’s motorway network with the $4bn Western Ring Route and Waterview Connection. Love it or hate it, we’ve finally finished building the plan laid out by De Leuw Cather in the 1950s. And while this has undoubtedly had an opportunity cost – the resources spent widening roads could have been used to build busways – it hasn’t prevented us from moving forward in public transport.
  • Started to build up our network of safe, separated cycleways. We’ve built on the success of the Northwestern Cycleway with Grafton Gully, the pink Lightpath, and Quay St, all of which are getting a rising number of riders, and the impending Glen Innes to Tamaki Cycleway and Skypath. Cycling is on the rise in Auckland as a result.
  • Agreed in principle with central government to implement variable, demand-responsive congestion pricing, which will have a fundamental effect on the efficiency of the city’s overall transport system and let us get the best use out of all of our networks.

The missing link, unfortunately, is a commitment to safe streets for all, a la Vision Zero. As I’ll discuss more in upcoming posts, poor road safety outcomes are a blight on our communities that we need to focus more on. But in the mean time, here’s some great cycle demand statistics from BikeAKL:

In housing policy, we’ve undoubtedly got some problems. As the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s new Housing Affordability Measure shows, housing affordability in Auckland has generally worsened since 2013:

However, it’s not like we’ve just been sitting on our hands watching this happen. In 2016 we completed the Auckland Unitary Plan, a ground-up redesign of the city’s planning rulebook that triples the number of homes that can be built in the city. That’s a big deal – while it’s not perfect, and isn’t necessarily the ‘silver bullet’ for housing affordability, the first step towards having enough homes for everyone in the city is allowing them to built.

As I wrote back in December 2015, I’m optimistic that we can solve our housing affordability problems. It may not be easy, but we have started the process. We can succeed if we let reform build on reform and improvement follow improvement, as we have done while reforming and rebuilding our public transport network.

The great Auckland turnaround story

If Auckland continues to get it right – not just in public transport, but in cycling and transport pricing and housing policy and urban planning – it will have accomplished something that few other cities have.

The problems that Auckland is facing, or has previously faced – falling public transport patronage, rising congestion, poor walking and cycling, and unaffordable housing – are common in many places. Some cities have fixed some of these problems, at the cost of worsening others. We have the opportunity to do better in all areas.

Forget about Auckland being the world’s most liveable city. How about Auckland being the world’s best turnaround city?

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68 comments

  1. Compared to many cities Auckland PT “turnaround” started from a very very low base, so comparing us with NewYork is pointless. We had the odd train running for about 12 hours, 5 days per week using 1930’s/40’s carriages with similar infrastructure in the early 90’s and similarly disparate bus services. Yes it is great PT take up is on the rise but AT just may be more accurately accounting for paasenger numbers versus the old system.

    We don’t have “some problems” with housing in Auckland, we have huge problems and the flow on effects of overpriced accommodation and debt drven speculation has ramifications far beyond what you may think some unlucky first home buyers are experiencing and into the most insignificant areas of life. Police report a substantial rise in domestic violence not to mention suicide and mental health problems and when a human basic such as an affordable roof over your becomes a problem, so does the seemingly insignificant. We are told this morning that we are apparently we are falling behind with demand, building half the dwellings needed versus immigration growth.

    And although this is is only one story, its a portent of things to come from the building intensification nirvana where some think we will end up with funky Parisian apartment lined streets. The reality is tower blocks going up next to single level suburban dwellings are none to appealing when you’re the one being watched in the house below!
    http://m.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11854629

    1. No offense, but your immediate negative reaction is part of the problem. We’d make more progress if we realised that what we’ve been doing is starting to succeed, and celebrating and asking for more.

      For the record, Auckland’s PT trips per capita have increased from 34 in 2001 to 51 in 2015, and further since then. That’s a 50% increase in 15 years – I’m not aware of any other Anglo city that’s experienced similar growth. Obviously we’re still behind the big Australian cities and some, but not most, North American cities, but *as I pointed out at length in the post* we’ve put in place the reforms that we need to catch up and exceed them.

      1. No offense but Peter but your eternally positive attitude to part of the problem.

        The problem is you define success by public transport trips. That’s like claiming the forest is successful based on one clump of trees growing taller.

        If you talk to the man on the street about Aucklands “transformation” I doubt their summary would be anything like yours.

        1. This blog uses public transport patronage and trips per capita as one of many metrics of success. If you had read the posts on this blog in full, you would realise that they place a heavy emphasis on quality, frequency, and happiness of customers as other metrics of success and failure, and have criticised AT and AC many times for not having a customer focussed approach.

        2. “If you talk to the man on the street about Aucklands “transformation” I doubt their Isummary would be anything like yours”

          Always that man on the street (never a woman, eh)? Always ready to support your feelings, eh Matthew?

          Well, tell you what is better than anecdote: The fact that support for more funding for public transport has repeatedly led massively in the budget consultations in Auckland, AND in associated demographically-weighted surveys.

          https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/2015-LTP-Final-Changes-in-transport-Investment.jpg

          Seems that the average man on the street is much closer to Peter than to you.

          1. Max, this survey supports neither proposition. What it is saying is that a tremendous number of Aucklanders want more spent on public transport.

    2. I wouldn’t have thought three level terraced housing was exactly ‘tower blocks’. There ugly buildings of every type. One thing for sure though, the more desirable the neighbourhood the nicer the aesthetics of higher intensity housing as the people choosing to live there are much more likely to demand housing that looks good.

      His suggestion that property values will lower are laughable, they generally go up when the plan allows for more housing. If he doesn’t like what his neighbours are doing with their private property then he can always cash in and find somewhere else to live that suits him better.

    3. Three level houses will go up next to two level houses? The horror. The unimaginable horror. Actually, I can’t imagine the horror, what is th horror in this?

      1. Note the weasel words in the Herald article, as I like to use the phrase, in the article about the existing house there “….picturesque Mt Albert house peeking above the tall hedges..”

        1. The horror is that the new 3 storey houses may only be as tall as the two storey villas that they stand next to.In simple terms, the horror is that the complainants could be so stupid.

  2. I like optimism, but I think there’s a touch of rose-tinted glass here.

    Yes, PT usage has improved, but average commute times haven’t dropped; if the best we can do is “not get worse” then I’m not sure I’d be trumpeting that to the hills.

    Housing affordability is horrific – it’s now having far-reaching socio-cultural impacts (my primary job searches right now, for example, are out of AUckland – my last four bosses all upped sticks and moved either overseas or to the provinces). It *may* improve in the future, but again, I’m not holding my breath.

    Apart from that, there are other concerning signs about Auckland. After years of decline from the late 2000s onwards, crime rates are creeping up again. Sporting success, once Auckland’s calling card, has left – our last NPC in 2007, our last super title in 2003. Homelessness is increasing, as is active begging.

    So, is there hope? Sure. But we haven’t “turned it around” yet. Yet.

    1. Actually, the best *anybody* can do with average commute times is to avoid worsening them. This is pretty well established: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marchetti%27s_constant

      Rising use of rapid transit and cycling means that fewer people are *exposed* to congestion, which is a good thing.

      You’re right that housing affordability (and the flow-on impacts on homelessness and employee recruitment) is the major problem facing the city. But it’s important not to think about that as something inevitable or irreversible, just as Auckland’s decline in PT use in the 80s and 90s wasn’t inevitable or irreversible. I’m tentatively optimistic that we can also turn that ship around, and if – if! – we do, then Auckland will have a great story to tell.

      1. Believe me, I hope we can turn it around.

        But it is possible to reduce average commute times for a given distance (if people then move to a greater distance that still takes the same time, that’s their call). Does it take longer to get from Henderson to the CBD now than in 2010? 2005? (bus, train, or car)

        Nobody has the appetite for real change. Auckland Council is scared, and constantly blames central government for their own lack of ‘cojones’.

      2. We won’t see turnaround on the housing issue until the government, of whatever stripe, faces up to the need to build very large amounts of public housing, not only for destitute (or near destitute), but also for low-middle income earners.
        There’s no way the private sector is going to get close.

        The only way we would see any hope of large scale private sector delivery was if there was significant further liberalisation of the planning rulebook. Which I can’t see happening.
        Large proportions of the resource consents being approved by Auckland Council are part of a wasteful speculative game that is being played out. The proportion of consented developments being built is quite low.

      3. Peter, I am sure that we can easily improve average commute times on many routes. For example all of our trains could run quicker, with less dwell times at stations.The NEX busway could have a dedicated bus lane from the city to Akoranga.
        I am in the group that says AT have made some progress, but overall it is too slow and too slight.

    2. Do you actually know that commute times haven’t dropped? When the busway was brought in my commute changed from a one hour car pool to a 30 minute bus trip, it literally halved.

      I imagine for most of the 30,000 other daily users of it there are similar outcomes, because quite frankly why would commuters have shifted to the bus wholesale if it didn’t give them a better commute?

    3. I would go further than rose-tinted and call it borderline Pollyanna-ish. Auckland is a worse place to live than I remember it ever being. It is too expensive, inequality has increased, there are too many people everywhere you try to go, houses cost too much, there more beggars than ever and people are living in cars. Schools are now staffed by people who will retire soon or by the very young teachers who live with their parents. The middle group have either left or are leaving soon.

      We got here because we put a pro-business party in charge of immigration and anti-sprawl numpties in charge of urban planning.

      More people are using public transport? Maybe there are more people eating cheaper food items as well, and more people foregoing lots of other good things in their lives to get by.

      1. and some footpaths have been narrowed to the point where people have to step out onto the narrowed traffic lanes to get past wheelie bins, and traffic has steadily increased to the point of revolting. All a result of car-friendly policies for too many generations.

        ‘anti-sprawl numpties” – I’d love to understand your point of view here. Can you give good references, and I’ll read up. Apologies if you’ve done so already – I am relatively new as a regular reader.

      2. I would much rather use public transport than drive .Like many others I do not consider it inferior to using a car, quite the opposite. I begrudge the occasions when I have to drive. Fair enough if you think otherwise, but don’t think your views reflect some sort of universal truth, that most people deep down really wants to drive. That is simply wrong.

        1. OK sure. Some people like to eat tripe. Most regard it as something you would eat if you had little choice. But don’t for a moment think the tripe preferers are in a majority.
          If most people shared your preference for riding public transport then there would be little need for bus lanes. They don’t so there is.

          1. “If most people shared your preference for riding public transport then there would be little need for bus lanes. They don’t so there is.”

            Most people on Dominion Road public transport, most people going into the CBD prefer public transport. It’s almost like where we have provided a level of public transport provision anywhere near to that of driving then people choose public transport.

            I like to think of driving as caviar; it’s really expensive, it’s not very good for you, and some people’s physiology means they can’t use it. Public transport is vegetables; it’s cheap, and much better for you, and sure, some people would rather have something else, but when they have to pay the full cost of food, they’ll almost always choose vegetables.

          2. Where there is good PT infrastructure and a frequent service I prefer PT. Where there is a lack of PT infrastructure and slow/infrequent service I prefer to drive.
            Given the growth in PT numbers experienced whenever new infrastructure is put in place, service improved etc. I suspect that there are a significant number of people who would think similarly to me. I have seen people in very nice business suits on the Northern Busway, I doubt most of them are there because they can’t afford to drive.

          3. “If most people shared your preference for riding public transport then there would be little need for bus lanes”

            Yeah, and if most people preferred not to be robbed, we wouldn’t need to lock our doors at night.

          4. “If most people shared your preference for riding public transport then there would be little need for bus lanes. They don’t so there is.”

            That, my friend is absolute untruth. Its a tragedy of the commons situation (externalised car costs are not factored properly into the costs, so people choose it because they get a free ride):

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons

            Also, in short, as long as public transport networks ARE bad, with little priority (as they are in Auckland), there are strong advantages to the INDIVIDUAL to driving in many situations. For the individual, as of right now, this may be a rational choice, even if it makes things worse for everyone, because a more efficient urban transport mode is neglected.

            You are basically saying “Unless everyone’s an early adopter / hardcore fan, it must be the wrong way to go!” – well, if things went like that, we’d never see change.

      3. Public transport use isn’t increasing because people are getting poorer – in fact, incomes are generally increasing. It’s not increasing because the cost of driving is going up – in fact, petrol prices are relatively low and vehicle kilometres travelled are going up.

        Public transport use is increasing because we’re making public transport better. More people are using a product that’s getting better. That’s the story. There is more rapid transit, more bus lanes, higher all-day frequencies, and a simpler fare system. Other similar cities that aren’t making PT better are experiencing declining use.

        And yeah, like I said, housing affordability is the key problem right now. But we have moved part of the way towards a solution. For instance, if you think that the former Metropolitan Urban Limit caused the problem, you should be rejoicing that we’ve now (a) greatly expanded the area available for development within the Rural-Urban Boundary and (b) allowed private landowners to apply for plan changes for development outside the RUB. If policy caused the problem in the first place, why would you assume that policy reform wouldn’t fix it?

        1. Because I don’t believe we have had any meaningful reform. We have the same people doing the same things. It isn’t going to matter to them that the RUB is larger than the MUL. When a developer applies the same arm’s length CCO’s will line up with unreasonable demands and we will continue to get the same result as before- more sections than every approved but no increase in the numbers of houses approved each year. We simply don’t have the Councils that were supportive of growth anymore. Rodney, North Shore, Papakura and Franklin who paid a share of trunk infrastructure are long gone. Instead we have the old Auckland Council and ARC thinking where they stymie growth and hope someone builds flats instead.

  3. Well, Sunday bus trips are definitely a turn around story. Not long ago, I’d be the only person on a Sunday bus. Now, the Sunday bus is a happening place. Big groups of young people having funny conversations, older ones looking on amused. More social connection than a motorway offramp, that’s for sure.

    Without articles about how we’re improving, the three car households, the neighbours popping out to the dairy in the car, the fumes I have to breathe as I put my life on the line going out on my bike – all that would beat me down. I think I’d not have the energy to go and “fight” for the changes required. So thanks Peter.

    And Waspman, there’s nothing I hate more than being in a group of people being unrealistically positive, so I also know where you’re coming from. There’s a time for pause and positive reflection. There’s a time for calling a spade a spade. But I thought this article was fine.

  4. “However, it’s not like we’ve just been sitting on our hands watching this happen. ”

    Lol. On housing? Really? The council may not have been sitting on their hands, but the government sure has.

      1. Actually Nick Smith came out last week to tell us housing is now more affordable than when National came in in 2008. Funny fucker, isn’t he?

    1. I don’t think they’ve been doing enough, but they haven’t been doing *nothing*. In the “good start but please go faster” camp is stuff like:

      * Several rounds of changes to the RMA to incrementally speed up some planning processes and make it easier to consent dwellings
      * Pushing independent hearings processes for Auckland and Christchurch to fast-track rezoning – note that Housing NZ was a major submitter arguing for a lot more development opportunities on its own land
      * Coming out with more national direction, particularly on urban development to encourage councils to get their zoning codes right vis a vis future demand
      * Tweaks to the tax system, in particular to remove the ability to claim a tax write-off for depreciation on buildings and introducing a capital gains tax for a small subset of property transactions (ie homes bought and sold within 2 years, without owner-occupation)
      * Letting the Reserve Bank implement maximum loan-to-value ratios for residential lending and then tightening them up for investors.

      An optimistic perspective on this is that it’s a set of policy tools that can be dialed up in the future if we’re not getting the results we need (ie more housing affordability). A more pessimistic view would be that it’s fiddling while Rome burns. We will see.

      1. “A more pessimistic view would be that it’s fiddling while Rome burns. We will see.”

        I think that you meant “realistic”, not “pessimistic”. The actions are all positives that should have been done years ago. They clearly aren’t sufficient and now 40,000 people are homeless while young people are exiled from the communities they grew up in with little chance of ever returning. The only group in any position to take further action are the government who could start building houses tomorrow, but won’t.

        An optimistic perspective on this is that they are ignorant to the problem due to being sheltered from it’s effects by their wealth. A more pessimistic view would be that they are sheltering their wealth from the effects of fair housing costs by feigning ignorance to the housing crisis

        1. I think the optimistic perspective might be more likely to change hearts and minds.

          As a rule, I find it easier to persuade people if I respond to them by saying “Yes, and…” rather than “No, but…” The second approach satisfies our own desire for argumentation and competition, but at the cost of provoking a reflexive negative response in the person we’re talking to.

          1. Good point with regards to framing, but your “but” doesn’t seem anywhere near an appropriate scale for the problem it addresses.

          2. Yes, we’re obviously dealing with a large problem! I think it’s entirely appropriate to (a) acknowledge the magnitude of the problem and (b) put the full range of options on the table for fixing it. That, to me, is the pragmatic response to the situation.

      2. My impression is the other way around — while doing some token measures both government and council have been very careful to avoid prices stagnating or coming down.

        Eg. the UP merely went from suicidally bad to merely catastrophically bad. Remember those maps a few years ago where almost the entire isthmus was zoned SHZ? The final version still has some of that zoning, while everyone fully knows the extant buildings and lot sizes don’t conform to that zoning code at all. So yes there was improvement. But it’s like in the shops: “$20 with 50% off” sounds better than “$10”.

        1. Fair point – the misalignment between zoning and existing built form is something I’ve also been perplexed by. If you’re interested in sending us a guest post on the topic, please do! I think it would be a really valuable discussion to have.

  5. I for one certainly hope that the Nats get turfed out on their asses for the almost criminal way they have run the country pandering to foreign investors etc and not giving a stuff about average kiwis.
    Then again Labour isn’t much better (still it has been a long time between drinks for them so under Little/Ardern they might be better). With the Christchurch rebuild winding down the government needs to be actively targeting those builders etc and getting them to work in Auckland. The government (housing corp if you like) should be building 10,000 houses in Auckland pa to go with the 7000 houses currently being built. It would still take 11 years at that rate to get rid of the shortfall in Auckland. After that they could ease back to around 5000 pa and let the private sector (which should have more capacity by then) build the rest.

    As for the rest of the post – mostly good. I’m not sure why everyone from almost all quarters say that the motorway network is now complete? It has been well advised that there will be a motorway connection to complete the WR between SH1 and SH18 (a distance of about 2km with flyovers needed).

  6. Nice article Peter – yes, definitely heading in the right direction. And if we don’t occasionally celebrate those achievements, where are we finding the energy to fight for more and better?

    Cycling is coming from an even lower base – but are we to go moan about how all our improvements pale in comparison to the Netherlands, which never fell below 10% cycle mode share?

    Its like looking at someone who’s been in hospital for a decade and then telling him, a month later “Mate, you’re pretty bad at running marathons, you know that? Have a look at these other fellows!”

    Progress is never easy when you’re trying to change institutional, societal, ingrained bias for something.

  7. Re the comments on dropping public transport usage in the USA – I wonder if part of it could be that more people are working from home, or in small home offices, rather than large office buildings? I doubt that all the people in New York are moving out to the suburbs. Working from home? > Don’t need to commute to work. > Less Public transport used.

    But another mundane yet plausible reason is: less people in that age group. The Baby Boomers were a massive statistical blip on the radar and their actions (whether driving cars, buying houses, or taking public transport) have a huge effect on any line of statistics. Boomers getting older and stopping work? > Don’t need to commute to work. > Less Public transport used.

    Possible?

    1. Yes, easily could be, although that might be true for Auckland too. NZ statistics show the 65+ group walk much more than younger adults, as an example of how it could matter. Mind you, I don’t know how many of the age group have actually moved out to Nelson, Tauranga, Napier, Whangarei, etc, in which case the effect wouldn’t be so obvious here.

      1. Citi Bike’s fast growing numbers, especially for short trips may indeed be clipping some Subway numbers, as suggested in this article:

        https://ny.curbed.com/2017/3/15/14933604/citi-bike-nyu-study-shorter-commute-time

        It is intuitive to me that London’s bikeway boom is also partly because of Tube crowding, slow bus speeds, and high cost of PT there.

        The bike, through separated lanes, is the key missing link in cities between walking and Transit. Especially bike-share systems. In AKL the time for that is coming as bike way network improves. It will, I think, need to be an e-bike one here because of the topography. Daft mandatory plastic hat law is also a barrier to this however.

  8. I’m optimistic about the future in Auckland, is just slow in change & you might not see positive things in some areas. the ones with the most negative attitude are those probably creating the traffic & sitting in the congestion for half the day.

  9. I doubt many Aucklanders would agree with the message of this article.

    This “transformation” period has been carnage. I’ve never had so many friends leave Auckland permanently. No city can be considered a successful city when there is such an exodus of middle class and poor. However you wont hear about it on this blog because the people who run it are wealthy Green Party supporters who are insulated from the effects of their policies they advocate.

    The result of this transformation has been a city for the privileged. For those in the inner-city I imagine it’s pretty good. For the not so fortunate it’s hell. Auckland is a congested mess. But worse, there is nothing to do in Auckland. Our attractions are a country mile off being world class. Multiculturalism has destroyed any sense of nationhood or city pride.

    Every transformation housing project is vigorously opposed by local residents who are seeing their local communities destroyed. But don’t worry writers, just keep on pumping up the tyres and ignore the failure of your ideas.

      1. Perhaps The Real Matthew is referring to immigrants of the same racial group as our current hegemony i.e. white English/South African immigrants, who have occasionally been noted for anti-NZ statements on forums, and who have been perceived as showing little if any willingness to embrace the Kiwi identity, including cheering against the All Blacks when RSA/Lions play them.

      2. Multiculturalism is one of my biggest sources of national pride. It’s one thing that we do better than almost anywhere else.

    1. My local community is being destroyed by MacMansions, multiple SUV’s per household, people who only drive in and out of their street like walking is a pleasure in a park you need to drive to, and by the enormous amount of through traffic that has been generated by road building and greenfields development.

      And will soon be destroyed further if prioritising all that traffic over a cycle lane results in the pohutukawas being cut down on the side of our main road.

      The only solution is to stop that traffic, and have denser development right here, I’d be doing it myself if I was a wealthy National Party supporter who’d made lots of money from investment rental housing, but I didn’t go down that path because I don’t believe in helping hike housing prices.

    2. Unreal Matthew, I honestly have no idea what you are on about. You appear to be saying that there is “carnage” in Auckland, and that many people “so many friends” are leaving Auckland permanently, with an exodus of middle class and poor. But there are many many people, both middle class and also poor, attempting to move to Auckland as well. And then you say the people who run this blog are wealthy and vote for the Greens. I can’t figure out how any of that ties up and how that, somehow, whether people are coming or going, its somehow all the fault of people who run a blog.

      What would be useful, quite seriously, is if you could tell me / us what you would do. Are you advocating for more houses? More cars? More roads? More people? More attractions? More city? More suburbs? More buses?

      Basically, just what the heck are you on about?

      1. The majority of migration to Auckland is international migration; there is very, very little (if any) net internal migration to Auckland.

        Do you think Maori are better off post-colonialism than they were pre-colonialism? Of course not. And Auckland is not better off post-immigration. If you say we are, well, then you also have to say colonialism was good for Maori.

        1. Straw man much?

          Here are some important differences between today’s migrants and British colonists, ie my ancestors.

          * Today’s migrants come here, generally work in businesses or other organisations run by New Zealanders, and pay fair market prices for any property they purchase. (Except insofar as property values are distorted by laws that New Zealanders have voted for.)

          * British colonists came here and set up an entirely parallel economic structure to shut out Maori from the economy. After an initial period of purchasing land under the Treaty, they then started a war to seize the Waikato and other regions, confiscated a lot of Maori land, and then kept illegally alienating Maori land until the 1970s or so.

          So yeah, I think that today’s migrants are treating the locals a lot better!

    3. In one blog comment thread, I’ve had people accusing me of being both a National Party stooge and an out-of-touch Green Party supporter! Certainly I can’t be both!

      Here’s the thing, Matthew: I share your concern about a lot of these issues. In fact, I’m directly exposed to Auckland’s housing affordability problems as I am renting.

      However, I am *also* fundamentally more interested in proposing solutions than endlessly complaining. And in this case, the solution to not having enough homes is… building more homes. Yes, there are some barriers to achieving that; and yes, it’s going to be disruptive to some. But the alternative (not building) is far worse, and will hasten the pricing-out of low- and middle-income people.

    4. You make some valid points Matthew. However, whilst I think quality of life has fallen in Auckland in some areas of life for sure (housing, traffic congestion etc), I think it has improved in others (PT, general cosmopolitanism, retail and entertainment and more competition in those spaces)

    5. So your solutions are? Passports to enter the city limits? Smash the machines that take our jobs? Arrest the runaway destruction of the planet with compulsory birth control – particularly for the wogs? Anything so we can continue on exactly as we used to with no need for change or adaptation?

      Just like you, the people here recognise the problems associated with structural change, but they want to pragmatically deflect the asteroid out of harm’s way, while you want to stand Canute-like and command it to go back the other way. I’m not with you because I’m not with oblivion.

  10. “a single regional entity responsible for planning the city’s transport network”

    Auckland’s urban motorways are controlled by Wellington, and they are the primary shaper of where and how people live in Auckland.

    The ideal of one entity for planning Auckland’s transport network remains elusive.

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