We made it to 2018. We’re expecting another big year and so with this first post of the year, I’m going to take a look at some of the things we can expect to happen.

City Rail Link

The city’s biggest transport project will continue to roll on through 2018. On the current construction sites of Britomart, Commercial Bay and Albert St we’ll continue to see progress. This year we’ll also find out who will be building the main tunnels and stations.

Light Rail

We expect that we’ll hear a lot more about light rail this year, including hopefully more details about when we might actually see construction starting. We’re hoping that a first section, at least from Town Hall to Wynyard could be up and running by the America’s Cup. That would also allow for progress to be made on making Queen St better for people.

Eastern Busway

It seems an age since anything actually happened with the Eastern Busway but this year we should see the resource consent hearings. However, assuming it’s approved, and this isn’t a Board of Inquiry process so there are bound to be appeals, it’s unlikely we’ll see any construction actually starting this year. We’ll hopefully hear more about the next stages too, including extending the busway from Pakuranga to Botany.

New Network

We’ll finally see the new bus network fully rolled out with the isthmus network expected in the July and the North Shore in September. The networks rolled out so far have already had a positive impact and we expect the same will occur with these final two. In July we’re also expecting better weekend frequencies on trains, although still not up to level required by the New Network.


We’re having a new census this year, in March, and it will be particularly interesting to see how measures like Journey to Work change. This year journey to education is also included with should help give a much better picture of travel.


We’re expecting to see a lot of progress on cycleways this year. Some of this includes:

  • Nelson St Stage 3 (Market Pl to Quay St)
  • Ian McKinnon Dr
  • Karangahape Rd
  • Eastern Path
  • Tamaki Dr
  • Victoria St West

We’re also hopeful there’ll be some progress on Skypath

Road Safety

Road safety is likely to see a lot more focus this year with it being a priority for the new government. We can expect a lot more initiatives aimed at turning around the the current trend of increased carnage on our roads.

East West Link

It’s likely we’ll hear more about plans for an updated, cheaper and effective alternative to the East-West Link.

Harbour Crossing

We’ve been hearing noises that the NZTA are looking to get on with the designation for another harbour crossing. It’s likely we’ll hear more about it this year. We know that a PT crossing is needed sooner than a road crossing so a key thing to watch will be how this is dealt with (if they deal with it at all).

Councils Long Term Plan

Every three years the council needs reset it’s 10-year budget and the 2018-21 version will kick in from July. Consultation on it is likely early in the year. Last time the result of the consultation helped to ensure the council invested more in walking, cycling and PT than they had in the past.

The updated Auckland Plan

Like the LTP, we’ll hear more about the updated Auckland Plan this year with public consultation expected soon.


The government are promising to build a lot more homes as part of their Kiwibuild policy. We expect to hear a lot about that, and hopefully how that can tie in with plans for transport, such as Light Rail.

There’s bound to be a lot more going on it 2018 with plenty of up’s and downs.

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  1. Congestion charging. That is the missing element. Three things take time: government decisions, council decisions and computer software development and all three are needed.
    Firstly the government should permit all vehicle related fines (parking, speeding, congestion) to be added to the rego and all vehicle regos to have an optional email-id. Immediate savings in postal charges and convenience (our household shares a pool of vehicles and a letter arriving usually two weeks after a speeding offence has us trying to work out who was driving there at that date and time).
    Then the government pays for the software that allows adding fines to rego, reporting fines to vehicle owner, showing total fines due when changing vehicle ownership or re-registering. Note this is just a module that other software can interact with. The obvious first users would be linking the police speeding fines software to it.
    Finally our council can decide to add parking fines and Puhoi tunnel charges to it. Then start discussing the possibilities of congestion charging.

    1. Excellent recommendations Bob – the Government and AT should seriously look into this. Something Greater Auckland should advocate and promote.

      Tolling gantries should be erected on all the motorway onramps across the city, which will really make people think twice about using their cars for journeys (and when) and to seriously consider using public transport instead. However there needs to be a full frequent comprehensive public transport system alternative available first, which could be largely put in place by the end of 2018 with a concentrated effort made by the Government and AT. Large park and rides and new rail stations should also be built on the outskirts of the city on SH1 at Drury and SH16 at Kumeu to make commuting by train more visible and accessible for commuters driving into the city from further afield.

      1. When you talk about large park and rides, I hope you also mean that they will not be free. If free they will just be over used as the current ones are. Park and rides should charged at the rate that a feeder bus would cost. When I ask people about charging for park and rides, I ask how much they think they cost to build. They are always surprised by the $10 – $15 thousand per car park.

        1. When I was staying in Redwood City in June “97” there was a park and for the users of the Caltrain system and they were charger a fee of 50cents per day[24hr period] for the use of the park’n’ride . All you had to do was pay it into a vending machine and place the voucher on the dash , and push bikes where free if you wanted to leave them there . That is something AT should look at . Even a flat fee of $2 would help or just charge it to the Hop card which could be done through the Hop machine and done the same way as a cash ticket

        2. Wayne, the thing is there really aren’t many feeder buses and the coverage and frequency are pretty poor outside the urban area. Basically if you live around Kumeu etc or around Pukekohe (but not Pukekohe itself) then you have next to no options but to drive. This blog has itself on several occasions admitted that trying to provide PT to rural areas is often too expensive and hard. In which case a park n ride certainly makes a lot of sense.

        3. Park and ride sometimes makes sense. Free park and ride rarely makes sense, especially if you want to provide more park and ride!

        4. You either provide free park ‘n ride for outer urban stations in recognition of the fact the people there have no PT option from home, or you encourage them to drive to their destination.

          I think the reason this blog is against the concept is because it enables PT to support people who live in an environment that goes against the compact city concept. Put simply, you don’t want people living on lifestyle blocks 30km from the CBD, so you don’t want to support them in any way shape or form. Even if it means they will drive all the way instead.

        5. Park & ride makes sense in some locations, such as on the fringes to support people further out. It doesn’t make sense closer to town though. However even out on the fringe it’s not cheap to provide so a small charge is appropriate. For one thing to stop it being filled up by people who do have other options

        6. PT access from home isn’t free, why should parking access be free?

          You seem to be suggesting that people living in the suburbs taking a feeder bus should pay, but folk who live on a lifestyle block should have a fully subsidized parking lot built and run for them free of charge.

          How is that equitable?

        7. Geoff – unless the charge causes the PNR to not be full then it will have no impact on the number of people who chose to drive to work instead. The only difference is the people who choose to drive will be those who think the charge is too much as opposed to those that didn’t get there in time.

          The winner from this is other PT users as less of the PT budget gets tied up paying for the PNR.

        8. “In which case a park n ride certainly makes a lot of sense.”
          I am really struggling to see why it makes sense. And if so for whom? But I am happy to be convinced so give it a go.

        9. A Park n Ride payment could be done through the Hop card. A one or two stage charge, just swipe your card as you enter. It’s just like you are paying for part of your PT trip.

      1. Thank you for that link. However it contains this “”A decision on whether or not pricing will be introduced has not been made. The project aims to investigate whether pricing is right for Auckland. We expect this work to take at least two years, and the final report will make recommendations on whether to implement pricing and timescales for this. The Government and Auckland Council will then need to decide whether to introduce pricing.””

        For this issue this is the wrong approach. Quite suitable if you are thinking of a specific expensive piece of infra-structure such as a new busway or a new harbour bridge. This issue should be tackled like Sam Morgan developed TradeMe – first get the underlying software in place then add the customer interface realising you can tune the code daily.
        To rather repeat myself the government needs to act now to provide the basic charging module. This would cater for the vehicle licensing and national police first and then councils can join in.
        The introduction of an Auckland (or Wellington, Hamilton, Christchurch, etc) congestion charge could proceed quickly and adapt to results not try and anticipate them. Why take two years deciding on a charge for crossing the Harbour bridge and then discovering you have got it wrong? Just decide you want say a 10% average reduction in traffic, set the charge to $1 from 8am to 9am and at the end of a week increase of decrease times and prices as required. Note the same vehicle number plate identifying software (as used at Puhoi tunnel) provides accurate usage data.

        1. “set the charge to $1 from 8am to 9am”
          Respectfully that will achieve little. I suspect most of those who drive do so because they have free parking. Let’s give the thing a decent nudge, just like London did, and start at $20. And let’s encompass the afternoon peak which I believe is stronger than the morning way. The money raised would pay for a substantial amount of new infrastructure and also help targeted fare reductions to drive further public transport growth.

  2. It will be interesting to know what plans will be made for rail services to Pukekohe in 2018 – will AT’s Battery EMU idea get NZTA funding approval or will the alternative option of fully refurbishing the ADL DMUs be implemented to run services until full electrification is completed to Pukekohe and possibly start a new Henderson-Huapai rail shuttle service? The Government could possibly purchase the ADLs from AT and transfer them to KiwiRail for ownership (along with purchasing the remaining SA carriages for establishing a suburban rail service in Christchurch and between Hamilton and Auckland with) and carry out the refurbishment themselves and lease back the ADLs to AT until the electrification is completed. Post electrification completion the refurbished ADLs could then be redeployed to Tauranga to start a new suburban rail service there between Apata-Tauranga CBD-Mt Maunganui-Te Puke.

    Will the first stage of Regional Rapid Rail occur with Labour and the Green’s commitment during the election to initially establish a new regular rail service between Hamilton and Auckland, and between Auckland and Tauranga using the Silver Fern railcars, which will need to be refurbished. The Tauranga service needs to run through to Mt Maunganui to have maximum appeal for attracting would be users out of their cars on this route to be a success.

    With the planned Eastern Busway, the Government should get involved with this with AT and look to build this instead as a new light rail route between Panmure-Pakuranga-Botany-Manukau and Pakuranga to Howick, to tie in with other proposed new light rail routes to be developed across the city. Light rail would be much more attractive and popular for enticing commuters out of their cars compared to buses, as well as being more complementary to the urban environment, and with being electric, would support the new Government’s commitment to reduce the country’s net carbon emissions to zero.

    During 2018 priority needs to be made to build much needed large park and rides with new rail stations on the outskirts of the city where the State Highways and rail lines intersect with each other in the major growth areas of Drury and Kumeu.

    Also a new rail station needs to be built at Walters Road in Takanini to serve the massive amount of residential growth occurring in this area to make train services more accessible to new residents moving into this area, as well as serving the existing large residential area and large retail centres on either side of the railway line in this locality.

    1. Auckland Council have committed to paying for the battery EMUs even if NZTA decline funding so Pukekohe will be getting these.

      1. Auckland Council have only committed to their half of funding the Battery EMUs Battery EMUs are subject to getting the NZTA funding half:


        AT can’t buy them if they don’t have the full funding commitment.

        If NZTA doesn’t provide its half of the funding for Battery EMUs, AT would be much better to put the funding Auckland Council has committed for Battery EMUs into fully refurbishing and upgrading the ADL DMUs, as they are going to be around for a while yet until full electrification to Pukekohe is completed.

        Also with upgraded ADLs with fire suppressent equipment installed, there is potential for a new diesel rail shuttle service to be started between Henderson and Huapai, which is much sought after by the community in the rapidly growing area around Kumeu and Huapai.

  3. Industrial relations and the PT contracting model will be another big topic during 2018 with the still ongoing disputes between AT / their operator contractors and the unions representing bus and train staff.

    1. I agree with you about PT contract modelling. Its need to be sorted, This is an expensive exercise for the bus operators, not good for drivers wages, benefits and working conditions and stops bad decision making like decommissioning of Wellington’s trolley bus fleet.

  4. whey dont they just cell it bus on rail link instead thats all it is and there is more beater and faster light and heavy rail

  5. The Census questions on transport and travel have thankfully changed, and for the better.

    They do include travel to work as before, except it is now surveying the main travel mode you USUALLY use to get to work. Which has been a big gripe for a long time, that as asked previously, it only looked at travel on one day every 5 years.

    So they now want to know the main mode you usually use to get to work. Main mode being the one that covers the most distance (not what takes the most time) of your journey to work.

    An big improvement on just what that particular mode was on Census day – as has been asked every census up to now. The question change also means the “Did not go to work on Census day” “cop out” option is not available/relevant anymore.

    And the additional changes to capture main mode for travel to Education, covers all education institutions (i.e. from Primary level upwards) again for the usual way/mode you travel to them, not just how you got there on Census day.

    Unfortunately some of the more interesting requests for information on this travel behaviour like how many modes you used for the journey to work/education trip (to see information on trip chaining e.g. walking, bus, train, walking) for example). Or how many who travelled to education were driven there by, or carpooled with their parents/others as part of their travel to work – which could provide real insight into the travel to/from education to help explain the “free flowing traffic during school holidays” situation we all know about/look forward to. But they were ruled out as too complex for the population to be asked.

    One other useful change is they now will ask how many private motor vehicles a household has – by exact number up to 5 [or more]. Previously it topped out at “3 or more”. I think a 3 or more private vehicle household might have been exceptional back when that was first asked, but it has long ceased to be out of the ordinary over 25 years ago. So this enlargement of the question responses to cover up to 5 vehicles is useful, even if well overdue. This number doesn’t include work vehicles, only private ones. And as a side effect of this question they are also going to be able to know [for the first time] the true number of [private] motor vehicles in each household.

    So a national population of motor vehicles will be able to be tracked along with people. Which will be useful to know what proportion of those new vehicles are actually replacing older vehicles and likely whether or not they are mostly just added to the national motor vehicle population [as many suspect happens]. i.e. do old cars die and get scrapped/recycled, or just end up being driven around Manukau and/or rusting in the backyard?

    It does also seem that you will be able to fill in the forms online using tablets and mobile phones this time around. So hopefully with most of the data entered online
    (via whatever means used) is now “self entered” rather than written down on paper forms, then encoded and keyed into the Stats system months after the fact, will mean it takes even less time before the results start being able to be released after the census.

    And given the scale of the population growth changes around the country and Auckland in particular, since the previous [and delayed] 2013 census, the information from these new and changed questions as well as overall population numbers will be eagerly sought by many organisations and individuals – including no doubt, a few of those who frequent this forum.

    More details about what is included (and also what is not, and why) can be found at the Census 2018 content report available here.

    1. Thanks for those details. The household car ownership details will be interesting, but it is disappointing that the work vehicles will be excluded. Many of the households with 4 or more vehicles around include a couple of work vehicles. Both work and privately owned vehicles contribute to on-street parking problems, and to car-dependent mindsets.

      1. That link above has more details, but for that particular issue they said this:
        [Emphasis mine]:

        “During consultation it was suggested that motor vehicles used for work purposes only should be included. However, this would be inconsistent with the focus of this data, which is motor vehicles available for private use and therefore any purpose. We will not include vehicles used for work purposes only for 2018. It is recognised that excluding these vehicles means that this data cannot be interpreted as providing a full picture of demand for road space or parking. Some information on use of work vehicles is available from the travel to work data.

        It is not for road space/parking requirements that they gather this information.
        Actually it seems more for Civil Defense and other purposes.

        They actually state this about that metric: [Emphasis mine]

        “The census data on number of motor vehicles indicates the number of motor vehicles that a household has available for private use. This data is used for planning transport services, studying energy conservation, and in developing the New Zealand Deprivation Index

        Which means that some folks in Government still equate owning/using a car with “economic well being” and/or financial success. Something which all those better off families living car free in Central Auckland might like to take issue with that particular use case, over how deprived they feel as a result.

        The most useful data from this question will be the households with zero private motor vehicles – that is the most valuable type of households for an inner city area. So AC and others need to track these as the type of resident that longer term will form a growing percentage of the population. These should form a indicator species of how well your transport policies are working everywhere.

        Of course, choosing to be car free because you have good alternatives and not having any private vehicle access because you are deprived – are different situations. But which will both appear under the “zero private vehicle access” numbers.

        So I think that they will need careful & sophisticated analysis to tease out the latter from the former.

    2. Fortunately the MoT Household Travel Survey programme has recently restarted (first results now online), so you will be able to get some idea of trip chaining and other general travel patterns at the national level and for the main urban areas (because it’s a limited sample, the numbers start getting a bit ropey for smaller areas).

    3. While I agree having it tied to one particular day wasn’t the best for data gathering there are limitations with the new question as well.

      On any given day there are a number of people who might have a course or a meeting in a different location to their usual workplace. The new question ignores this and assumes people always travel by their most common mode.

      1. Yes, I’ll be particularly interested to see what effect it has (positive or negative) on some of our smaller modes of travel (asking for the “main” means of travel only also biases against the active modes used for shorter parts of the work journey). A “normal” workday will always include some proportion of “abnormal” travel patterns (including not going to work at all due to sickness, holiday, etc) and that is useful to know too.

      2. Agree. When sample size is so big, the snapshot of actual mode used on-the-day would be far more useful than impressions of “usual”. This will exclude counting all the secondary modes – which for many people could be a substantial proportional of their commuting.

    4. I see that change as a problem. We actually want to know how many people travel on a typical day so removing the ‘did not go to work today’ option kills that result off completely. Also asking people how they usually travel makes it subjective. At the moment the question is as close to revealed preference as it can get. ‘How did you travel to work today?’ leaves no space for value judgements or bias.
      If you are not interested in the proportion that didn’t travel on census day it is easy to leave them out and just report those who did travel in your work. So long as you state what you are actually using then nobody can complain.

      1. Agree absolutely. I don’t like the usually travel thing, asking people to make subjective judgements about what they might do is a huge no no for surveys, they teach this on the first day research methods 101. You ask people what they actually did.

        A bigger issue it averages out the smaller stuff including a lot of the variability in travel choices.
        Say I ride a bike to work twice a week and drive three times a week. That’s a 40%/60% split on bike/car. Ask me how I got to work on a given census day and there is a 40% chance I say bike.

        But ask me how I usually get to work, there is a 0% chance I say bike.

        Or you could do it again where I often get the bus, except the days I pick up the kids from daycare when I take the car.

        Or I walk during the summer months, but do something else ‘normally’ when its wet or cold.

        Across a population of 1.5m Aucklanders, this question could effectively remove a huge amount of the trips actually occurring on any given day.

        It’s kinda the statistical equivalent of National claiming they won the election with a minority because the majority of the vote was split across three parties. Ask New Zealand how it “usually” votes and the answer is National. Ask it how it actually voted and the answer is National, Labour, New Zealand First and Green, with most people not voting for National.

  6. This is a comment that relates specifically to Rapid Regional Rail (RRR), however I feel it is relevant to this post as I hope we will see significant progress on RRR in 2018.

    I think that RRR trains should not terminate at Britomart, but rather travel through the City Rail Link and then head south again. For example, Tauranga to Te Kuiti Via Aotea.

    This would double the number of RRR trains that could run to/from Auckland, and make RRR accessible to more people, with stops at Aotea, Karangahape, and Newmarket.

    The only downsides I can see to this proposal, are that the RRR trains would have to be powerful enough to climb the gradients of the the CRL and dwell times would need to be managed in the city stations to avoid delaying other trains.

    However with this running pattern, I suspect that there would be enough capacity for the 8tph proposed in RRR stage three, avoiding the need to build a intercity station at Quay Park, or a third approach tunnel to Britomart.

    1. Great suggestion, RRR right to Aotea. Only if the trains are dual mode as diesel can’t run thru the tunnels. Would there be pathway for this as it would appear the crl will be maxed out with metro trains.
      Should the future solution be RRR running thru Britomart then oner the new rail tunnels/bridge go north shore line on up to whangerai

    2. $3.x billion is being spent on the CRL to provide capacity for metro trains, every RRR train running through the CRL removes a metro service. It’s the same reason Intercity trains in Sydney terminate at Central and don’t run through the City Circle to Wynyard, the busiest station on the network.

      I don’t see adding a third tunnel at Britomart as a major issue, we managed to build a double tracked tunnel in 1998 when it was extremely hard to get funds for PT. I’d say 8tph RRR is a long way away anyway.

        1. A third track could largely be built within the existing rail corridor between Westfield and Parnell via Newmarket – this really ought to be built in conjunction with quadruple tracking between Westfield and Papakura to accommodate future new inter-regional trains and increased freight traffic once the Marsden Point Branch line opens to NorthPort.

          Newmarket station could become the new main inter-regional station for Auckland by rebuilding the Newmarket West platform and have all Western Line services run via the direct link between Parnell and Grafton.

          In conjunction with the above, the proposed new Henderson-Otahuhu direct service should instead run Henderson-Pukekohe once the line to Pukekohe is electrified, with a connecting ADL diesel shuttle service between Henderson and Huapai. This will provide a direct rail service from one side of Auckland to the other via Newmarket.

  7. I hope AT focus this year on stopping the illegal parking on footpaths and in cycle lanes and bus lanes. It seems silly that AT will go to some expense to reallocate roading to active modes and public transport, while this illegal parking is reallocating it back to car users away from pedestrians, cyclists and PT users.

    1. Agreed. Or allow electronic submission of requests for a parking officer. I don’t have the time to sit on the phone for 5 minutes waiting for the call to be picked up.

    2. I hope AT will start to charge commercial rates for parking so that more appropriate revenue will be derived to pay for more useful services. It would please me even more if AT exited most of their parking buildings as I don’t think they have a function to provide “social parking”.

  8. Thanks as always to Matt and the GA team for fantastic, thought-provoking content in 2017. Looking forward to more in 2018!

    There is a lot of good things to look forward to with regard to PT and active modes, but surely, with regard to the Skypath, we can hope for more than some progress?
    This must be the year when, if not construction beginning, significant strides are made. For such an important project, not much has happened lately.

    I know there have been funding issues, but does anyone know what is going on at the moment?

  9. I am hoping Auckland Council uses its 2018 LTP to finally adjust services towards an intensifying city. As Auckland intensifies, I’d like to see changes in the following ways:
    – goals for travel time that require PT investment
    – more ambitious goals for what I call “social lubricant”; the council services that avoid problems. Things like quicker responses to noise control, quicker responses to leaking pipes, quicker responses to social nuisances like illegal signs, panhandling, or illegal parking. The Council has to do all those “sub policing” tasks and as Auckland gets more crowded, demand is rocketing. This will take money

  10. Interesting that work vehicles will not be included. Our household has three vehicles, but only one, the work vehicle, is used to get to work. My neighbour has five vehicles, three of which are work vehicles, and the neighbour down the road has a score of 1-all. Not a recipe for an accurate census result.

  11. Are you all the children of the Neo Liberal 3rd Reich? Why not just all live together in a gated country commune, No cars, no parking, just use your own legs! Save us all a shit load of time & money.

    1. Sieg heil Lisa, you have discovered our nefarious plot.

      Even as we speak the good gentlemen of Transporblog are loading up their immaculately restored Bf-109E1/B fighter bombers (being hipsters, they have chosen the rarest of all the 109 variants – nothing says artisanal like small production runs).

      Soon they will rule the skies above Auckland, bombing and strafing everything that isn’t a cycle lane!

  12. The good news is that expressions of interest for the first section of the Eastern Busway will come out this month. It’s expected that main works will commence in October.
    Additionally the demolition of existing houses and property will start this month too.

  13. What about the new rail timetable coming into effect around June/July?

    I don’t have much faith given AT’s track record. A lot could be done, such as more frequent weekend services, better offpeak services (15 minute minimum) and the obvious dwell issues.

    Also going beyond the timetable issues, there could be better demand management with off peak discounts. We’ll wait and see I guess.

    1. One of the primary reasons behind expansion of the rail timetable being repeatedly delayed is there are not enough staff as it is (staff keep leaving for rail jobs in Australia which have better pay / conditions) meaning even the current timetable is reliant on staff doing overtime.

      If the current unresolved industrial situation between AT / Transdev and the RMTU deteriorates and staff stop doing overtime, you can see what is going to happen.

      Wouldn’t be surprised to see the proposed July timetable change date pushed out again.

  14. I’d like to think we are a bit more than hopeful about Skype. The new govt is committed to it, its already got consent, surely major announcements are imminent.

  15. If they haven’t announced exactly what is happening and when with the third main by the end of the year then I’ll be concerned. In saying that I said the same thing about extra EMUs last year and they only just snuck in with confirming that.

    1. Hopefully the Government might be considering the option of quadruple tracking the NIMT between Westfield and Papakura, which KiwiRail mentioned in the third main case business case report, could be built for $200m. With the shear scale of what will be required with building a third track with all the disruption, station rebuilding etc involved, it would make far more sense just to quadruple track the line in one go – do it once and do it properly. Four tracks are definitely needed with growing passenger and freight traffic, and having express lines will enable new express suburban services from the south to Otahuhu to be introduced, which will be very attractive for getting people out of their cars, particularly if a new station with a large park and ride were to be built beside the SH1/SH22 motorway interchange at Drury.

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