Every year Auckland Transport release a Statement of Intent (SOI), which is a document essentially saying what the organisation will be doing over the next three years and how that aligns with council priorities. This is one of the key tools the council has to control AT. The process in the past has generally been for AT to create a draft SOI, the council to provide feedback and then AT to consider/incorporate that. This time things were a little different though. Back in December last year shortly after being elected, Mayor Phil Goff looked to stamp his authority over Auckland Transport by setting new expectations for the agency. Those expectations included comments such as:

  • requiring “a courageous balancing of movement and place, and bold commitment to reallocating road space towards public transport and active modes”
  • “expanding bus lane networks, extending bus lane operating hours and removing or modifying on-street parking”
  • telling them to work more closely with the council, particularly calling out how AT have been ignoring the Council’s publicly consulted strategy for the City Centre.
  • Calling for action in some specific areas:
    • refreshed targets to aggressively pursue strong growth in public transport
    • calling for our electric trains to be faster, especially through shorter dwell times
    • maintaining momentum on delivering the cycling programme

After AT came up with their draft SOI for the year, the council provided their feedback at the end of April. And it’s fair to say they weren’t impressed with ATs efforts. It appears that they just bunged the councils expectations in with some comments to each of the points rather than integrating the expectations into the document. A couple of example pieces of feedback are below but there are many more like them.

  • The Statement of Intent should be more forward looking and more comprehensively respond to the challenges set out in the Letter of Expectation. For example, instead of noting the improvements that have already been made to the bus lane network, we expect to see what improvements will be made in the years ahead.
  • A clear sense for the public of where money is planned to be spent is required. This was a key aspect of the Letter of Expectation

At the last AT board meeting the final SOI for this year went for approval and it certainly seems an improvement on what was presented as a draft and for previous years. It also seems like AT at least took on some of the feedback the council provided them.

One of the most noticeable areas for this is in the Work Plan, the part which lists the key initiatives they plan to work on and deliver during the year. Below is just the section looking improving public transport and gives a lot more detail that was available in draft version and previous years. However, it doesn’t include all PT projects and there are more, such as the CRL and the Manukau Bus Interchange, listed in the Building Infrastructure section. One of the more interesting comments below is the bus lanes with 15km expected this year and just which roads are being looked at.

The area that concerns me the most happens to be the same issue we’ve had in previous years, the targets. Below are the PT ridership targets for the coming years. While they’re meant to match the council’s long term plan, they don’t feel overly ambitious in the latter years, especially after the council told them in the letter of expectation to “aggressively pursuing strong growth in public transport use and active modes with refreshed targets“.

The cycle targets also show the dramatic impact that is expected once the government’s Urban Cycleway Fund (UCF) and the Council’s Transport Levy run out. The SOI does note that from 2019 onwards they’re indicative figures saying, “There is likely to be further investment made in line with national and Auckland priorities“. I’m hoping we’ll hear soon the government (and opposition) promise to extend the UCF

Overall it seems their new SOI is, if nothing else, the easiest to read and understand yet. So, for the most part it seems that they have incorporated the council’s feedback which is pleasing.

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  1. A target increase in total public transport boardings of just under 2.1% from this year to next year. That shouldn’t prove too hard when Auckland’s population is increasing by 3% per year.

    1. Even easier with the new network rolling out where you have to board several times to make the same trip as before.

      1. Yes the outer Auckland Area is not well serviced in terms of ease of access and time spent on PT in the new network areas.

      2. Or attract new users that didn’t previously use PT as it’s now easier to reach the final destination.

        1. Whilst the changes might attract some new users will probably lose current ones. Looks to me on the North Shore as though the trips that I need to make will actually be more difficult, involve a lot more walking and take much longer.

    2. Absolutely – this seems like “business as usual” rather than an aggressive pursuit of more patrons to shift people off the roads and onto PT.

      1. Still surprised by the 2.1% especially since much of the 3% population growth will be students and apartment dwellers and of course pensioners in the many new retirement villages all of whom are natural bus users. Are they planning a significant price rise or death to the goldcard?

  2. More bus lanes on Park Rd? I wonder what AT is planning there, as most of the length already has bus lanes.

    1. Not in both directions however, and there is always delays with buses heading East along here. Ultimately the road is already too wide, it’s time that road space was taken away from cars here and re-prioritised to buses and cycle lanes.

      1. That’s why i’m curious as to the way they plan to tackle that – I don’t think there is enough width between Park Ave and Grafton Bridge to have another lane (unless AT removes all the on-street parking and widens the road).

      2. I’d say Park Road reprioriized for pedestrians to be honest, who far outnumber cars and buses on this street and who have the lowest priority of all. At least two pedestrian crossings are needed here, most glaringly at the top of the top of Domain Drive.

        Too many people in Auckland are forced to walk across roads dangerously due to missing or unresponsive crossings.

  3. A very quick win would be ‘fixing’ Dominion and Mt Eden roads bus lanes. A few hundred meters of extra lanes around intersections could very cheaply make a huge difference to bus travel times, unlocking the potential of the discontinuous current lanes

    A modest extension of hours would be good too.

    I think this would be worth it even if the Dominion Road upgrade (always on the horizon holding back any improvement) is actually just around the corner this time. AT don’t seem opposed to temporary infrastructure elsewhere, such as the Pitt st shared path etc

    1. Yes I agree. AT seem to prioritise cars at intersections, which stuffs up the public transport, cyclists and pedestrians. Quick improvements to reallocate the lane space and reprioritise the phase signals to favour buses and active modes wouldn’t cost much.

  4. Great to see the bus lanes for the ’33’ great south rd bus which runs Papakura to Otahuhu. it will be interesting to see where the bus lanes are implemented.

  5. The SOI gives me no confidence that AT are agreeing not to disrupt the Council’s agreed central city plan including the Victoria St linear park. The closest to a mention seems to be this from p13:

    “City centre public transport access

    Continue investigations to address bus congestion in city centre, including investigations into light rail on selected arterial routes.

    – Prioritise rapid, high frequency public transport.
    – Develop creative, adaptive, innovative implementation.”

    Also p25 shows capital spending going *down* over the next few years, from $765m in the 2017 budget year to $554m in 2019. That’s a 28% decrease. What is going on?

  6. So pleased to have this, Matt. Thanks! We can insert Goff’s words to AT into our draft local plan submissions. We’re calling for a reallocation of road space to active and public transport modes. When the mayor has instructed them thus, there is no excuse for AT to continue taking footpath space and trees … instead cycle lanes and bus lanes need to come from road lanes, and footpaths should be widened where possible!

    1. Heidi: your comments about footpaths is applicable to retail and leisure areas and near bus stops but not necessarily in all suburbs. If you visit North Shore you will find most of the Eskdale domain is bounded by no footpath – just a curb and then roadway. We do not suffer – in fact if the council tried to put in a footpath it would have to be over my dead body. When it is wet we walk on the footpath on the other side of the road and when it is dry we walk on the lovely grass. I think the difference between where I live and you live is the lack of pedestrians – here it is exactly one kilometre to the top of our road and I would expect to walk it without meeting another pedestrian. We need and deserve and have a single footpath just wide enough for two people to walk side by side.
      A few years ago there was the opportunity to put a simple cycle lane along the top of the domain where it could have been conveniently about 5 metres from the traffic but instead they replace an aged fence with a brand new row of posts embedded in giant chunks of concrete – spent $60,000 doing it.

      1. How do you encourage more pedestrians and active modes, so that the next time the cycle infrastructure gets built.

  7. It’s becoming harder and harder to see the difference between this blog and AT. We desperately need some leadership from the AT hierarchy and the mayor so that AT works for all Aucklanders, not just those privileged enough to live in the right areas to utilise the PT system.

    There is not one shred of advancement for long suffering Auckland motorists who have to deal with induced congestion courtesy of over-engineering and priority given to other road users who don’t exist. For anyone who works outside the CBD there will be no PT reach improvement in the next five years.

    I laugh at the notion of improving dwell times. What the heck has AT been doing for the last year?

    The result of this plan if you can call it that is will follow trends over the past five years. Auckland will become further congested, less livable in real terms and the suicide rate will likely increase as Aucklanders get driven insane by their unlivable city.

    1. and unless we provide viable effective alternatives to SOV transport this congestion will continue to increase

    2. 800 more cars a week, so say the news reports. Auckland’s drivers are digging their own grave.
      Meanwhile the consistent increase in PT usage has mitigated the effects of these extra cars on traffic congestion.

    3. At least it is no longer called the ‘most livable city’ – Goff’s instant abandonment of that slogan has made me look on all his other actions favourably.
      I once wrote a letter to AT and dealing with their incompetent public relations department has left me with a strong dislike of AT.

      1. Bob – At least AT, however imperfect ,are much more forward thinking than NZTA but the fiscal power balance is with the latter. But we have to change this……………..

        1. Fair point. Just grumpy about the public relations. A decent organisation would have the bosses answering not hirelings. Compare with the couple of times I communicated with Chris Darby and George Wood – quick and personal reply. Less speedy (all most certainly for good reason) but willing to defend his actions Jonathan Coleman.

        2. I think maybe 5 communications in the last decade. What did you do when you heard the Port was being built into the harbour and the mayor didn’t know and the council meeting to discuss it was in the same week? I had an opinion and decided to share it with my representatives. Couldn’t care less if they considered reading my email was a waste of their time but if they did they were too polite to mention it.
          But you might be right – George Wood decided not to stand; maybe he couldn’t handle the hassle.

    4. Belittling the serious metal health crisis we have in this country with your pathetic comment is a new low, even for you.

      1. Valid point, Conan, but I wince every time someone on this forum uses the term “insane”. Very insensitive.

    5. Hey TRM what’s your background in fighting for the rights of disadvantaged people? Some might say you’re just cynically using the issue of equity because you think it supports your car-first philosophy. But I have more faith in you than that, so let’s hear some of your stories from the front line of fighting poverty and inequality.

      1. As I’ve stated many times on here I support a multi-modal system.

        Tell me what’s multi-modal about AT’s approach for the next 5 years? AT acts like vehicular movement in Auckland is perfect and can’t be improved. The truth is a long way from the “reality” AT try to sell to the populous.

        1. Its not perfect, but vehicular movement has obviously been prioritised for many years and so the opposite needs to happen to balance that out.
          But AT are still spending most of their money on roads so I’m not sure what your point is…

    6. The rail system runs through the heart of West Auckland, South Auckland and Glen Innes. What are you basing your claim that only the privileged have access to it on?

      1. Yes, exactly the suburbs that have go all the rail investment and will benefit most from the CRL, not to mention the south and the west were the first to receive the new bus network improvements.

        Based on ignorance and arrogance I assume, or a desire to argue against ‘the evil rich collusion in the city centre’ for ideological reasons rather than reality.

  8. ‘Statement of Intent’, that sounds pretty serious.. Sorta like a ‘todo’ list of goals to achieve. Perhaps herein is the reason that P2 at NM is still closed. The opening of P2 was not in the 2017 SOI so the reality is that there was never any chance of P2 opening. This SOI must then rank higher in importance compared to passenger health and safety, passenger convenience and maybe any issue that just makes plain common sense. Not in the SOI must mean NO WAY.
    If anyone from AT bothers to read this blog then would you please consider including the opening of NM P2 in the 2018 SOI or if its too late for that then the 2019 SOI.

  9. What really annoys me is that AT can’t get even the simple things right. I turned up at Wellesley St at 0709 for a 0715 Outer Link to Newmarket. A bus arrived at 0723. When it was clear that the driver wasn’t leaving immediately I inquired why. Surely this is the 0715? He looked at his screen and said it showed the 0715 had left. This is just bullshit if their systems are giving them information that simply isn’t true.
    I note that the AT monthly reports no longer include information about timeliness, or whether buses even run at all. If there are no measures they will never be held to account.
    Mayor Goff needs to apply a Vunipolo grip to the management of AT and shake until we get some improvement.
    I also note that evening services from the city to Browns Bay, Long Bay have recently deteriorated in their adherence to timetable.
    i suspect that AT’s very conservative targets are simply an acknowledgement that they don’t expect to achieve anything much. Aim low and you are seldom disappointed!

  10. Was there something in the SOI that AT was relinguishing control of the CRL development? from wholly AC owned entity (AT) to a new govt crown entity, the CRLL?
    So Auckland pays the price of govt begrudingly paying a portion of the development cost by effectivly handing management of the development costs, finances and overall control to the CRRL
    No doubt now that English,Joyce,Brownlee &co who saw no future for rail, will be forefront in taking credit for the ultimate success of the CRL

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