Change and Continuity

Rather than just look ahead a short distance I thought it may be productive to project forward a decade or so into Auckland’s future urban form. Partly as this is surprisingly easy because of the long lead in times for urban infrastructure, we know what’s coming, and partly because a longer look ahead gives us a better sense of the what the coming change is likely to mean.

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”

-Bill Gates

I think this is absolutely true of cities too. Outside of natural disasters and wars (recent Chinese cities excepted), even profound change is mostly incremental; over one year little appears to happen, but over ten, many gradual changes can add up to a lot. Looking at the approved and funded programme ahead in Auckland transport infrastructure and built environment, it becomes plainly obvious that we will have an entirely transformed city by the end of the next decade. Let alone compared to a decade ago from now, at the start of the SuperCity. Or even more startlingly different from the mid 1990s; when we had no Rapid Transit, no Britomart, no Busway, our lowest ever PT use, and an entirely vapid and near moribund city with a very weak centre. This is extremely encouraging, and suggests much bolder policy response is likely required for the city in order to more fully reap the benefits of this transformation.

Auckland is currently in a phase of both accelerating growth and, even more interestingly, morphological change: it is changing its physical pattern after half a century or so of growth to a single pattern. Since the 1950s and last big change of direction with the removal of the trams and the all in bet on driving, when Auckland grew it was consistently on the motorway and detached house pattern. This century that pattern has become complicated by other typologies, there is still auto-dependent detached dwellings focussed growth, but now there is more variety in dwelling types and locations, apartments and other attached housing. And more movement options; more people using Transit and Cycling and Walking as primary modes (cos we can). And the fastest growing dwelling area is now the old city centre.

“I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’ And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two.”

-Jeff Bezos

This is a fascinating framing. Especially coming from Bezos. It suggests that perhaps success in that sector may have as much to do with attention to permanent realities than with wild optimism about what can be ‘disrupted’ with new tech alone.

Before turning attention to what probably will be unchanged let’s just look at what we can confidently predict will be different in Auckland in a decade, just from current policies and projects:

Transport in Auckland

  • The CRL will be operating.
  • We will have more trains, higher frequencies, longer spans.
  • Electrification will have been extended, new stations south of Papakura, the third main and parts of the fourth will be in place. Battery trains will probably be extending services on the western line beyond Swanson.
  • Britomart will be completely rebuilt with new public space at its doorstep.
  • There will be Light Rail at least to the end of Dominion Rd, probably all the way through Mangere and to the Airport.
  • Queen St will be clear of traffic, the laneway network will encompass the entire Queen St valley.
  • The Victoria St Linear Park will be there.
  • The Eastern Busway will be operating, to Botany, hopefully with bus lanes to Howick too.
  • There will be a Rapid Transit service on the North Western.
  • The Northern Busway will be extended.
  • The Wellesley St Bus station will be complete.
  • The two downtown bus stations east and west, will be operating
  • e-buses will be joining the fleet: Fossil Free Street Declaration.
  • The Ferry basin will be upgraded with higher capacity and new public space, new and better ferry services will be operating.
  • Puhinui Station will be connected to the Airport by rapid shuttle. Manukau connected to Botany by BRT too.
  • The New Network will be a decade old, no doubt revised and bus priority will be extended throughout the city.
  • SkyPath, K Rd, and other significant cycling projects will be complete, including many local routes focussed on stations and schools. E-Bikes will be ubiquitous.

Beyond Auckland:

  • Some form of Regional Rail will be operating, at least between Hamilton and Auckland
  • The North Auckland Line will likely be restored and extended to NorthPort.

It is important to clearly outline what this means:

  1. This means a full city wide Rapid Transit network. Currently we have around 3+ Rapid Transit routes; Northern Busway and the Rail lines, in a decade we will have doubled this network to six. Every point of the compass will be served with the addition of NW, East, and the Isthmus/South West. The existing ones all improved too. Taking the City Centre as an example: In capacity terms this means that not only will 100% of future Central City growth be able to be met by Rapid Transit but also there will be capacity to replace all current driving demand too. This is nothing other that a total transformation. In the mid 90s, when we had no Rapid Transit, 80% of people entering the CC did so in a car, that figure is now below 50%. By the end of the 2020s that 80/20 ratio will have reversed; a much much more intense and bustling city will be much less reliant on people driving and parking for access. The streets and parking buildings can be, will need to be, repurposed for new uses: streets will be massively packed with people walking and the remaining space will be taken up with cycling and with delivery, service, and special access vehicles. And of course surface Transit; buses and Light Rail vehicles.
Likely Rapid Transit Network change 2018-2028. Note Red line continues to Pukekohe, Yellow line quite likely to Botany too. Onehunga Line not included in first map as frequency too low to rate as Rapid.

2. The Queen St valley, from west of Symonds St to east of Hobson St will be largely car-free, and have a profoundly improved and increasingly admired character. This will become one of Auckland’s defining characteristics: This intensely used city centre, one valley really, spilling over its ridges, fenced in still and intensified by the motorway cordon. This will become a powerful asset, once the cluttering and polluting waste of this precious space is saved from the car. What has been a problem will become a city feature. Complete the Laneway Network:

Laneway Circuit

Transport infrastructure is of course merely an enabler, and this change enables a much more vibrant and intense city centre to support and drive the prosperity and wellbeing of the wider city. So what else is already underway that will be completed with in a decade:

Major city developments completed:

  • Commercial Bay
  • Convention Centre
  • Major apartment towers such as Pacifica, Customs Residential, The International, The Antipodean and more.
  • I count 4000 apartments underway and due for completion by 2020, plus around 1500 Uni student beds (another 10k CC residents in just two years): could City Centre population double towards 100k by the end of the 2020s?
  • Wynyard Quarter south will be complete, and spreading north with its new park.
  • Hobsonville will be complete with commercial centre at the ferry terminal.
  • So many wider city projects under Panuku will be underway and parts complete, all over the city.
  • Manukau, Sylvia Park, Newmarket, Westgate and other Metro centres will be much more advanced.

I’m sure I’ve missed many things but none of the above is speculative, most is already funded or underway, and none of this change requires some kind of magic new technology. This is revolution through evolution.

To Bezos’s question; what will not have changed?

Let’s start high altitude; universal laws of physics and geometry will not budge. This is at the heart of Jarrett Walker’s issue with Elon Musk’s misunderstanding of cities. Cities are engines centred around spatial efficiency, no technology will change that. The telegraph didn’t, the telephone, the telex, the fax, the mobile, the internet… against every prediction, that the city and its defining characteristic of human density would finally be rendered obsolete by a new technology has been proved false.

Cars and driving

Now this is where I think there will be more continuity than change. With a couple of exceptions. As stated above the city centre, and to a lesser degree the city’s other Metropolitan Centres, will perform better with fewer cars, the revolution in Rapid Transit, cycling and urban living will enable this and the economic incentives are clear. The increasing need for spatial efficiency in a growing city in a finite area means that the private car, no matter how it is powered or controlled, can only have a decreasing role to play in dense centres.

However, outside of these centres neither our current lavish road networks nor our increasing vehicle fleet are going anywhere soon. So it is likely people will slowly adapt to mainly driving in the suburbs and out of town, and using other modes to access the work, education, the city centre in general, as is common in other cities with starkly different suburban and urban forms.

Ok so what of driverless cars? Quite apart from the question of what impact they may have on cities there is a need to ask, after Bezos, will they be here at all in any meaningful numbers in our period? Not many at the rate we currently turn over our vehicle fleet. The average age of our current fleet is 14 years, and around half of cars imported into the market are second hand. So in a decades time most cars on our roads will already have been built, i.e. many will not have any post 2020 technology, let alone any post 2025 technology. If that average age continues then in 2028 the average car will date from 2014. Not driverless. So one thing likely to be similar is the number of privately owned cars requiring drivers that will still be running around in a decades time. Something similar applies to electric cars, although as that is already proven and available technology so will have a greater penetration of the market. It is possible that we will have regulatory attempts to speed up the uptake of electric vehicles, or perhaps even some huge multinational may import a huge number of bot-taxis, but there is no sign of this as yet. And it seems unlikely that Auckland will be among the first cities for Uber or whoever to seek to take over. We remain technology receivers.

So more electric cars, but no driverless ones at any volume in a decade. Driving is likely to be more restricted but not yet truly disrupted.

The timeline above looks roughly right to me, and this is for the US. Level 1 are basically cars as they currently are. Level 5 is what is required for completely autonomous bot-cars running around without drivers. This technology is much further away than the intermediate stages, but is what’s required for the true disruption of this market; for the end of car ownership, all of us using autonomous bot-taxis and no longer owning vehicles ourselves. The impact of this technology on our cities is the subject of a great deal of speculation, here, here, and here, for example; an indication that it is further away than boosters would have us believe.

So now we can turn to the more speculative changes through this period:

  • There will likely be a regional wide e-bike share.
  • NZTA will be planning a Rapid Transit only next harbour crossing in this period; Light Rail, or Light Metro, on a new crossing.
  • MicroTransit (on demand vans) will likely be operating focussed on Rapid Transit Stations, replacing infrequent and underused buses at the fringes.
  • Kerbside parking on arterials and in centres will often be replaced by Transit lanes, bike lanes, or pick up and drop off and loading zones.
  • e-bikes will have boomed.
  • carshare, City-Hop or similar, will be widespread, enabling more car-free households.
  • Will we have road pricing before 2030?
  • How will the new government’s proposed Urban Development Agency have impacted on the city? Or Kiwi Build?
  • Some form of Carbon pricing will be affecting transport cost and choice, and the housing market.
  • will electrification of the line to Hamilton be completed, will we see an switch to electric freight trains at least within Auckland (I hope so)

So in summary, steady incremental change will likely prove revolutionary over time, and brave new technology is likely to have less impact than it may seem.

“What’s dangerous is not to evolve.”
Jeff Bezos

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  1. On the note of overestimating the capacity for change within a year, shouldn’t there be/is there an improved train time table on the way?

        1. So true! But then arguably the Busway doesn’t qualify either because it only has a partial separate right of way. In both cases it proves the 80/20 rule.

          However that is no excuse for not fixing those rail frequencies this year. And improving bus priority all over the city.

        2. +1, rail frequencies are low hanging fruit. Let’s pick them. Extending the busway with the SH1/18 motorway interchange is good, dig once policy. Let’s do that. Building the NW Busway when we did the Causeway and Lincoln to Westgate would have been good, dig once policy. Who, other than Bridges, has been sacked for that failure.

          Recently there seems to have been an obsession with big bang projects, building the whole lot in one go. We could build an interchange at Te Atatu for 5 million and get a huge benefit by simplifying the whole bus network out west. We could put bus lanes on Pakuranga Road tomorrow and upgrade the bus stops at the corner of Pakuranga Road and Ti Rakau Road for a big chunk of the benefit of those bus ways.

          RTN needs Class A right of way, decent stations, and 10 minute frequencies all day, but it’s not an either or. 20 minute frequencies are better than 30, class B- right of way is better than mixed traffic. Bus stops with large shelters, lot’s of info, a safe crossing point, and a top up station are better than an adshel stop with a 300m walking transfer.

  2. A very informative and thought provoking post. Overall persuasive and the basis for dozens of posts and probably numerous comments.

    Searching for areas to comment on these emerged.
    1. “Will we have road pricing before 2030?” – surely earlier; why so long?
    2. The description of Auckland in the nineties (just before I arrived) as ” an entirely vapid and near moribund city with a very weak centre” made me wonder heretically if that might have been better than what we have now. It might have worked if Auckland’s population had declined – quite possible if planners had considered NZ emigration with minimal immigration and also ignored the drift from country to the city. Imagine 1990’s population with their houses and something like our current roading (OK hard to finance with small population). The poor would have been missing out on PT but on the other hand at least they would have had a home not a garage/motel to live in and the non-poor would have had cars and the ability to go fairly briskly at any time to where ever they wanted to go.
    3. Which brings me to the ‘centre’ moribund or otherwise. Auckland CBD seems to be the obsession of most of the posts and comments on this website. OK we generally know only our own suburb and the CBD rather than greater Auckland. Therefore a long post about say Birkdale is unlikely to spark general interest. The CBD has a history when Birkdale had strawberry farms. Then consider simple geometry: if travelling to another suburb chosen at random you have a 50% chance of crossing or at least traveling adjacent to the CBD. So sometimes this website seems like it is almost dedicated to the CBD but most Aucklanders barely interact with the CBD which is a mainly children and pensioner free zone. That is half the population and then how many working adults actually work in the CBD – obviously many of the articulate ones who use this website but us ordinary folk (my neighbours being social worker, distribution manager, handbag maker, builder, tattoo artist) have no need for a CBD. Which brings me back to a theory derived from decades of working with computer databases: effective communication is a network not a star. For two reasons (a) ill-balanced traffic load (b) resilience. The well informed and persuasive readers of this site should be prodding our city planners into thinking about what they can remove from the CBD not what to put in and how many busways are needed to serve it.

    However a great post and I particularly liked the plans for the ‘Queen St valley’. Why are we waiting? We need it now.

      1. Birkdale needs no improvement – it is perfect and delightful (at least as far as I recall it when I last lived there in 1976 🙂 )

        1. MikeM: Well said. I suspect the only way to improve Birkdale is to get one or two grumpy cantankerous goldcard holders such as myself to move out. The harbour bridge falling down would help a little too.

    1. Why are we waiting? People fighting this off I guess? IIRC there’s a few high profile examples on High Street.

      Maybe it’s like what Max Planck said about science. We advance one funeral at a time.

      1. Did Max Planck say that when he was writing propaganda at the beginning of WWI or when he was working at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute when they were promoting chemical weapons?

    2. “thinking about what they can remove from the CBD”
      Like what? Surely if they move something from the CBD they are making it much less accessible to most people. For example if they moved Vector Arena to Birkdale it might be better for you but definitely not for myself. People can’t move at the speed of light like computer network traffic.
      I can’t think of a single example of something that should be removed from the CBD other than cars.

      1. Off the top of my head: all tertiary education – having children who studied at Auckland and at Massey uni I cannot see why the former is needed in its current location. And all those low-grade PTE establishments
        Then the law courts and all the layers will follow – obviously the law courts should be in a convenient location so maybe Warkworth is out but no where in the city is actually convenient for juries, witnesses, etc.
        Then like NY and London move the port or at least its giant car park.
        Then Council offices should be somewhere else – somewhere a normal cross-section of Auckland humanity lives [please not in Birkdale!].
        I’m sure you can think of other activities that are in the city that might thrive elsewhere.

        This still leaves a CBD for tourists and for evening entertainment and office jobs but less claustrophobic.

        How can we say Auckland CBD is great when it involves so many people spending so much time and money travelling? I did ask Len Brown about this and he said “all great cities have a great centre” – which is debatable but then he tended to stay overnight in hotel rooms so he had little idea of getting up and having breakfast while it is dark outside merely because you are trying to beat the traffic into the city.

        CBD – it is just a vanity project for planners – wastes far too much time and resources that would be better spent elsewhere. OK like gun ownership in the USA the Auckland CBD exists and I’m not expecting it to be wiped out with Victoria park returned to the ocean and Hobson st planted with Kauri but it could be a lot better than it is by abandoning the concept that everything revolves around it like a medieval court and the King.

        BTW still like the plan for ‘Queen st valley’.

        1. I think the moving out is a fallacy. The CBD is, let’s say, moderately cumbersome to reach from most parts of Auckland, but it’s not insurmountable. Moving it north to Albany may make it easier for people living up north, but to people in living in the south and west, it will become a lot more cumbersome. Especially on public transport.

          Unless the plan is to duplicate those institutions a couple of times. Which is not going to happen, the ability to serve the entire city is the number one advantage of big cities in the first place.

          Or, imagine a company, even just moving across the bridge to Smales Farm will add, what, 20 or 30 minutes of commute time for anyone living south of the bridge. So that move just decimated the amount of people who would consider commuting to you. Similar problem if you’re expecting clients to come to your company.

          And surely that’s not a problem for many companies, but those companies will already be somewhere else, where they are paying a lot less rent than what they would pay in the CBD.

        2. Your points seem to be based on a preference to drive to a destination and park. Because it is hard to park in the CBD you seem to think it is a bad location for business. You would prefer to drive from Birkdale to Manukau for Jury service?
          If we had a decent PT system would you still think the same?

        3. There are a number of contradictions in here.

          You want to make things easier to access by moving them away from the centre and away from the best PT hub so more people will have to drive and many people will have to travel further than they do.

          You mention office jobs remaining in the city but lawyers and council offfices, which are office job, moving to new locations.

          Don’t you think if the lawyers and council move somewhere then other businesses that depend on them will also follow? It sounds more like you are proposing for the CBD to be relocated so you can complain about it in another location.

        4. “CBD – it is just a vanity project for planners – wastes far too much time and resources that would be better spent elsewhere.”

          On residents alone, it is bigger than Gisborne and many other “urban” centers in NZ. When you add in the daily visitors – workers and students – it would double, if not more. It would not surprise me if that daily resident population is bigger than Dunedin.

          And that’s before I add in tourists.

          Central planning to disperse government, educational and commercial activities, like you are proposing, Bob, has been tried in NZ before and failed.

        5. 100,000 daily commuters, 50,000 residents, plus all of the students. At midday on a normal weekday, there are more people in the Auckland city centre than there are in Hamilton

        6. All up its over 250,000 people that visit the city centre each day. That’s closer to Hamilton and Tauranga put together.

        7. Cheers Nick, I wasn’t sure of other numbers so I just went for those that I knew off of the top of my head. That’s a truly staggering number. 1 in 6 people in the metro area, on any one day.

        8. You could probably move many of the office jobs, where people go to sit in front of a computer. Imagine if we removed 20 or 30% (60% eventually ) of the office jobs where location of the worker is largely irrelevant. I.e. All office jobs to start from the premise that they are virtual, and only need to be specifically located if absolutely necessary. It would have a large impact on property prices through, both commercial and residential. It could be potentially extended nationally and internationally, as well. I have done quite a bit of remote, working and with multi country teams.

          Networks and communications facilitate this and a great deal of infrastructure is in place already and being expanded almost exponentially, unlike physical transport systems.

        9. Well, you tell companies that they aren’t allowed to ask their workers to work in an office and see how well it goes down. You don’t think that if they thought is was better, they would have done it already?

        10. But a lot of office workers don’t want to work in a business park (for example) at the back of an industrial area in Ellerslie or Manukau.

          A CBD office job is desirable, when a huge number of food, retail, event, social, networking, and recreation amenities are close by.

          Remote working doesn’t work for everyone, I’ve tried it and can only tolerate it for a few weeks at a time.

          Commercial Bay is expected to serve 10,000 workers. The CBD isn’t going anywhere.

        11. Peter this idea is also so persistent, but it simply isn’t observable. The rise of comms technology correlates strongly with the return to the city. Dense city centres are booming, not shrinking, as this technology improves and spreads. This is well understood, the value of direct human contact and interaction is not replaced by these technologies. And the most valuable growth in employment is the urban services sector, i.e. this is a good thing.

        12. Bob what you are calling for is a persistent fantasy of the anti-urban. And is the idea that was vigorously pursued in the 2nd half of the 20thC. It does not work, it is the cause of so many of our current problems; particularly traffic congestion. Note the multi-centre village city idea with everyone staying local is just simply not observable anywhere on this planet; it just doesn’t happen. It is, in short, a nonsense. It is like trying to make a circle without a centre; nothing but circumference… a geometric impossibility. Where you end up in the pursuit of this is what we had in AKL (close to B, we are now firmly building C, thankfully), and to some degree still do; a set of weak nodes beset with all the problems of a much bigger city but without the economic, social, or cultural, performance:

      2. Yeah seriously? Does he want to remove businesses/facilities/residences/attractions from Auckland entirely, or does he want to move them to a peripheral location?

        If we have a centrally located regional facility, what good is there moving it to the edge where it becomes so much further away from most people in the region?

        1. If you need to go to the law courts which is easiest – Sylvia Park, New Lynn, Albany or 24 Waterloo Quadrant? And before you say getting to say Sylvia Park at 9am is difficult from where you currently live to what extent is the delay caused by the traffic to the CBD? I used to travel from Birkdale to Ardmore and the erratic congestion was usually caused by travelers to/from the CBD.
          Move something large like the Uni of Auckland and where ever it goes good transport links will evolve (but better if planned in advance).

        2. If the plan above is completed, UoA will have direct access to six of the eight rapid transit lines.

          Getting to Sylvia Park at 9am (from where I used to live in Auckland) would take approximately an extra half an hour. It would take that much long from everywhere west of New Lynn and everywhere on the North Shore.

          While many people like to blame the city centre for congestion, only 30,000 or so vehicles enter over the two hour peak. A far higher number go to the airport, to the industrial areas in Highbrook and East Tamaki, or Mt Wellington and Penrose. The city centre is congested because it is the centre of everything. traffic is funneled through there. This is the same reason that there is severe congestion at Mt Wellington. There are only about 5 route from the isthmus to the old Manukau City.

          Christchurch tried moving everything out of their CBD 7 years ago. How is the congestion down there?
          It’s worse.

          Rapid transit lines often end in the city centre. You have indirectly claimed that this is because they are only about linking to the city centre; this isn’t true, that rapid transit network links Papakura to the airport, Westgate to Smales Farm, or Panmure to Onehunga. The lines just end in the city centre (and the airport, Albany, and Manukau) because those are good anchors that ensure good use along the full length of the line.

        3. If you want a city with it’s University outside of the CBD you can always move to Christchurch, Hamilton or Palmerston North.

          Do you have any evidence that most traffic is heading to the CBD? Most traffic heading in that direction is not evidence, many cars will continue through the CMJ or exit before getting to the city.

        4. Bob –
          But how many students would then choose a different university if it was out of the centre? What if half of the lecturers decided they wouldn’t bother teaching there anymore if the UofA moved to Westgate, or Botany?

          Most of your suggestions have been tried before, look at AUT in Albany, look at MIT in Otara. UofA tried to move a campus to Glen Innes and it didn’t work too well at all.

        5. “What if half of the lecturers decided they wouldn’t bother teaching there anymore if the UofA moved to Westgate, or Botany?”

          Based on conversations with my university student daughters (and my memory of my student days) that may not be a bad thing. A good percentage seem to just read out their notes so why not dispense with them and use the on line lecture notes?

        6. For me, putting the high court in New Lynn would be just fine because I live in New Lynn. Until I move away from New Lynn of course. But for you is New Lynn a good idea? And for someone who lives in Albany? For someone who lives in Pakuranga? Manukau?

          Assuming we only have one high court, it should be in the middle of everyone to be closest to everyone. That’s simple geometry Unless you are proposing duplicate high courts dotted around the place? Odd’s are you’d be sent to to the wrong one on the wrong side of town.

          I’m experiencing this with medical treatment at the moment. I had to go to one clinic at Middlemore, another at Greenlane. None at Waitakere near where I live so far, just the wrong side of town. I’d be much happier of all my appointments were at Auckland central.

          They tried to move the university out of town by the way, stuck it in Glen Innes. I hated it when my postgrad course was shifted there, ended up driving from Milford to Glen Innes every day for a year until I transferred back to the city. Everyone hated being sent to the wasteland of Tamaki Campus, except a handful of people that live out that way. Remote from the population, remote from part time jobs, remote from the student life and activity.

          It’s probably telling that the uni has shut down and sold that Tamaki Campus, and is consolidating in the City Centre with a new campus in Grafton.

          Also the vast majority of traffic using Spaghetti junction is going between the motorways. From the north one lane of traffic pulls off to downtown, the other four keep going past. Even if the CBD didn’t exist at all you’d still have a large congested central junction.

        7. Many good and relevant comments but the concept of a distributed city still is sensible.
          We already have it with for example light industry and their are no large car sale yards in CBD – you want plumbing supplies – not many in the CBD – so comments about office workers being upset if their office is moved out of the CBD is rather snobby for Auckland’s blue collar workers.
          Law and students are in the CBD for reasons of historical inertia and they could be moved. The argument claiming UoA has to be in the CBD rather fails when you consider it has a large campus in Epsom.
          Most of the arguments are chicken and egg – only CBD has decent PT therefore everything has to be in the CBD (except for workers with dirty hands). It is too crowded and too mono-cultural – office workers aged 20 to 60.
          A networked PT system rather than our star shape would resolve many of the issues raised in these comments.
          I do wonder why we have to keep squeezing more and more in. Then I realise that is how speculators make their money. In the main the CBD is noisy and dirty and claustrophobic. Just a small change of direction to relieve its cancerous growth will do the trick. Just ask ‘does it have to be in the CBD?’ occasionally.

        8. “Law and students are in the CBD for reasons of historical inertia and they could be moved. The argument claiming UoA has to be in the CBD rather fails when you consider it has a large campus in Epsom.”

          UoA is definitely in the city by choice, They tried decentralization and it utterly failed. They sold the Tamaki Campus and are trying to leave the Epsom Campus too, all to consolidate to a near contiguous campus from Khyber Pass Road to Parliament Street.

          “It is too crowded and too mono-cultural – office workers aged 20 to 60.”

          You clearly don’t spend much time there. There are students, service and retail workers, construction workers, plenty of children splashing around in the viaduct or exploring Queen Street on the weekends and school holidays, retirees in the modern apartments.

          “Just a small change of direction to relieve its cancerous growth will do the trick”

 I wasn’t aware that cancer’s proved 20% of the money needed to create a functioning city?

          “A networked PT system rather than our star shape would resolve many of the issues raised in these comments.”

          The airport line will have a one kilometre catchment with approximately 200,000 jobs. That isn’t possible without very dense concentrations of employment at both ends and in the middle (Onehunga/Penrose).

        9. Bob – law firms serve a lot more than just court cases. There is no guarantee that law firms would move away from their client businesses in the CBD, it is more likely they would just start charging travel time to get to the courthouse, which of course generally would fall on the taxpayer.

          The reason we keep squeezing more in is because of the restrictive planning rules in the suburbs surrounding the CBD and also spaghetti junction. These constrain the CBD, which is why it stands out so much. A similar pattern is seen in most new world cities.

          I agree we need a more networked PT system, which is what CFN2 proposes, however the busiest routes will always be towards the centre as they are in every other city in the world.

          I think you have missed the point regarding disappointed office workers. The point is if their employer moved out of the CBD they would likely look for work with another firm in the CBD, which is a significant business risk to any firm looking to move to the suburbs. Rents are much higher in the CBD than anywhere else, yet many businesses choose to be there, it is clear there must be good reasons.

        10. There is no way in hell my business would move away from our clients in the City Centre, not that our staff would want to be elsewhere anyway. If our clients spread out across the suburbs, we would still want to locate in the centre of the region so we could service all our clients easily.

  3. It is pretty cool what will probably take place in the next ten years. But I’m not sure it is actually that impressive compared to other cities (most of which already have better PT and active modes than us). I was shocked when I want back to London after 10 years – almost everyone had started cycling! Granted it is much flatter. People that go to China are always shocked at how far ahead of us they are.
    Yes we are finally doing the CRL, yes we may do light rail to the airport, yes there are a few busways, yes there will be some cycleways (but most people will still not have decent cycling options). But it all seems like catch up on the last 10 years when we really achieved almost nothing.

    1. “But it all seems like catch up on the last 10 years when we really achieved almost nothing.”

      Jan 2008 to Dec 2017

      Northern Busway opens
      Western line double tracking
      Rail electrification
      Manukau Branch opens
      Onehunga branch opens
      Integrated fares
      Smart card ticketing introduced
      75% of new bus network opens
      Major interchanges at Panmure, New Lynn, and Otahuhu open, Manukau nearly completed
      First protected cycleways open
      New bus lanes/transit lanes
      Double decker buses introduced
      Rail ridership doubles
      Northern Busway reaches parity with rail line ridership
      Shared space network opened

      1. If you look at a PT map of Auckland 10 years ago, not much has changed except the northern busway (agree this is a biggie), a couple of rail spurs, and a new bus network which is largely the old network with most of the ridiculously infrequent routes removed.
        We have nice new electric trains and they are a lot more frequent due to double tracking. But they still aren’t that frequent, especially off peak.
        We have hardly any new bus lanes. The bus services are still very infrequent and slow. In most cities the worst routes have 15 minute frequencies, not the best.
        Our new smart card system is the worst I have used. Oyster was better 10 years ago.

        Most of this was low hanging fruit.

        1. “In most cities the worst routes have 15 minute frequencies, not the best.”

          That’s rubbish. I doubt Green Bay has a single bus route with better frequency, Gisborne doesn’t, Rotorua doesn’t. Not only that, but those aren’t even the best in Auckland. Dominion Road and Mt Eden will be 10 minutes or better.

          “Our new smart card system is the worst I have used. Oyster was better 10 years ago.”

          You’re conflating fare policy and smart card system. 72 hour top-up is a fare policy issue, lack of daily caps is fare policy, auto-blacklisting is a fare policy issue.

          “If you look at a PT map of Auckland 10 years ago, not much has changed”

          That depends whether you look at a map of coverage or a map of usefulness. The western line is clearly far more useful now as an example.

        2. “In most cities the worst routes have 15 minute frequencies, not the best” – I meant in most international cities, a 15 minute frequency would be considered infrequent.

          The smart card system is pretty bad. I have to take my card out of my wallet and hold it on the reader for a couple of seconds for it to work, Oyster was instant through my wallet.

          The other day I wanted to catch the last bus (7PM on a Saturday I kid you not). It didn’t appear on the track my bus app. I rang the call centre and they had no idea where it was. It didn’t turn up so I ubered. 3rd world.

          The journey planner app is terrible. It doesn’t auto complete train station names! There is a back button that completely clears your journey instead of taking you back to the search results.

          There are so many things wrong with the PT system that even with the long list of things that happened in the last 10 years, it still feels like we are going backwards compared to most cities.

        3. “I meant in most international cities”

          I’d agree with you, but let’s look at new world comparator cities our bus frequency is miles ahead of Houston, Dallas, and Cape Town. And if you think that the new network only removes infrequent routes from the city, you’ve clearly not tried to use the suburban service for all day mobility.
          (Prague, Ho Chi Minh City, Boston, Copenhagen, Düsseldorf, Athens, Munich, Atlanta, Bucharest, Helsinki, Budapest, Kiev, Hamburg, Bangalore, Rome, Oslo, Dallas, Cairo, Houston, Lima, Lagos, Caracas, Auckland, Cape Town

          I see now that you are moving on to general complaints. We’ve done a huge amount in the last decade. Ask someone on the North Shore or in south Auckland how to get to the CBD on the weekend in 2007 or 2017 to see that difference. Try and buy a ticket in those two times. Ride an ADL on the Pukekohe line.

          It feels like we are aren’t getting ahead because we are comparing ourselves to Melbourne, Sydney, Seattle, and Vienna instead of Christchurch and Wellington. We’re still chasing, we’re just chasing better cities, and in many cases, we are catching up.

        4. The worst? You can’t have used many then! Hop works instantly through my wallet, I do that every day… but try a Myki in Melbourne, yeesh!

          Perhaps I’m lucky by my local bus now runs every ten minutes until late night, seven days a week. Bring on more of that!

        5. As a South East England based kiwi, back in the Waikato and Auckland for a month, I find it highly annoying that I cannot use my contactless debit card (paywave in Aus/kiwi parlay) or my mobile phone to use public transport in NZ (rail or bus).

          I ditched my oyster cards 5 years ago as there’s no longer a need for them.

  4. I think Bob has started some good discussion.
    1) What are the Metropolitan Centres for? What will they become? Total decentralisation from CBD does not seem likely, but what can be expected? Metro Centres do have Tertiary institutions, and District Courts. I would say that what each needs is a point of difference, that makes it more attractive for some special purpose than the CBD, otherwise the CBD offers better regional access.
    2) Low car access to CBD (50:50 with PT) has been mentioned, and still motorway congestion occurs. Hourglass geography still has hourglass transport links, so decentralization (which has existed ever since Penrose industry) does not seem to decongest the transport through routes. Some study of motorway origins & destinations may be needed, to refresh the regional network model, and look for trends and interventions that might help.
    On the other hand: Congestion is the reward of the successful city.

    1. “I would say that what each needs is a point of difference, that makes it more attractive for some special purpose than the CBD”

      Easy. Albany is closer to the upper North Shore and Hibiscus Coast.
      Botany is closer to East Auckland. Papakura is closer to the far south of Auckland and the Waikato.

      Metro centres are perfect for offices and retail that need scale, but not regional level scale and for residents that want to live in their community, but in an apartment and close to rapid transit. This might include things like small business accounting firms, Tanzanian cuisine restaurants, and an apartment for me 5 years ago.

    2. Schools are an interesting example. Consider:
      – Kindergarten
      – Primary schools
      – Secondary schools
      – Tertiary education (universities, etc.)

      As you go down in this sequence, students will have more different options, and an school will need a larger pool of students and thus a larger catchment to have reasonable class sizes. So you’ll observe that from most places there’s a primary school within walking distance, while going to university will involve a longer commute to a more central location (or you may even have to rent a place closer to university).

      Universities will not disperse into the entire urban area any time soon, and likewise you won’t see those primary schools coalesce to a single big one with 50,000 students in some central location.

  5. My predictions for the next 10 years are: 1/ someone will build another office tower in Takapuna- and go broke as a result; 2/ Nothing will be built on the site on the corner of Victoria Elliot and Albert St; 3/Unseasonal spring storms will kill lambs in the South Island each and every year.

    1. That site is a typical case of unproductive land banking.

      Unless council apply some land banking tax, nothing will be built.

    2. My prediction is that someone will build an office tower in Takapuna and it will be successful because AT will build the parking building part of it. This is the part that has prevented construction up to now because every developer has realised the parking part will be totally uneconomic.

      Of course the AT parking building will fail, but they will be not be disheartened because future demand will be catered for.

      1. I was trying to think of a suitably dark, cynical reply to mfwic’s sunny comment, but you’ve surpassed anything I could come up with, Take-ite. Well done. 🙂

        But go on, mfwic, what else? Something about zoning, traffic modelling, cyclist death rates or the poverty in South Auckland schools?

        I predict in 10 years’ time that 2/3 of the trees planted by AT this year will be about to be chopped down for road improvement projects. How’s that?

        1. I had to get rid of a bunch of trees in 1991 to put in the bus shelters in Takapuna. So the contractors dug around them, eased them out of the ground, wrapped the root balls in sacking, lifted them onto their trucks and took them to the dump. They went through this charade so the oldies didn’t complain. People dont just plant trees in the way of roads.

        2. Chuckle. I expect we’ll be seeing this soon for the trees planted in the way of Pt Chev’s cycleway. And they’ll be replanted if at all possible. 🙂 Would you like that pohutukawa with or without myrtle disease?

  6. You don’t move it as a unit, you apply a concept of networked distributed offices, so north people go to the north office park, South to the south, same for east and west and yes central. Then you add virtual office space on top of that. E.g. In the UK IBM have offices all over the country. Every employee has a local office, but their team is virtual and you use various offices as per your need and or you work from home as well, depending on what you are doing at the time.

    1. IBM has 22 offices in the UK. 1 per 3 million people. It would make sense for a company that big to have 2 in New Zealand, one in central Auckland and one in central Christchurch or Wellington. This is largely what big, highly specialized companies like PWC, AIG, or even ASB do with their offices already.

  7. That assumes there is no government changes that cancel projects and proposed new projects, then get cancelled again as another government change. At the end nothing get built.

  8. Maybe the coolest thing that will be happening in 10 years’ time is that, having made plans and improvements, we might by then be really aspiring higher and our plans might be radical.

  9. Why I am optimistic for the next 10 years. One reason only and it is the quality of most of the arguments made on this website. Rephrase that – it is the simple fact that this site exists – at various times I’ve lived in London and New York but their town planners never had the benefit of the continual feedback of our better informed (certainly exclude myself) contributors.

  10. For those who keep promoting the advantages of driverless cars, Stuff had a an article in call today (10 Jan 18) – ‘Driverless cars ‘demand overhaul of major cities’, says Ford president’

    The moral of the story, cities globally are not planned for driverless vehicles and NZ is no exception.

    Have a read –

    The experts in the USA are talking at least 10 years before fully functioning driverless vehicles could cope operating without a driver.

  11. Insightful, thanks Patrick. I hope that within 10 years we have a default urban speed limit of 30kph and rural speed limit of 70kph.

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