The Auckland Plan is the region’s long term vision and spatial plan. The first version was created in 2012 following amalgamation and it is required to be reviewed every six years, which is now. Today the Council are launching consultation on the revised plan, called Auckland Plan 2050, along with the latest 10-year budget.
There’s a lot in it to cover so for this post I’m going to start by looking at some of the transport section.
The transport section is divided into three directions which are supported by seven focus areas. These are:
- Direction 1: Create an integrated transport system connecting people, places, goods and services
- Direction 2: Increase genuine travel choices for a healthy, vibrant and equitable Auckland
- Direction 3: Maximise safety and environmental protection
- Focus area 1: Make better use of existing transport networks, including a greater focus on influencing travel demand
- Focus area 2: Target new transport investment to the most significant challenges
- Focus area 3: Maximise the benefits from transport technology
- Focus area 4: Make walking, cycling and public transport preferred choices for many more Aucklanders
- Focus area 5: Better integrate land-use and transport decisions
- Focus area 6: Move to a safe transport network free from death and serious injury
- Focus area 7: Develop a sustainable and resilient transport system
Probably my biggest criticism of the new plan directly relates to my post the other day about the need for a defined and quantified vision. Reading through the plan, it, like many other documents from the council or Auckland Transport sound fantastic but is not backed up by any solid targets for what the city should aim for. For example, it talks about needing to change how people travel but doesn’t say just what should be. Having an undefined and unambitious plan will be about as effective as not having a plan at all.
Much of the plan has come directly from, or been heavily influenced by the Auckland Transport Alignment Project. Given there’s already a review of that underway with changes in priorities likely, the plan will need to be updated to reflect that before being signed off.
This section is all largely straightforward. There are two noteworthy parts though. The first is this schematic of the strategic road and transit networks. This appears just to be the two maps from ATAP smashed together and whilst each part isn’t new, I found that by presenting them together it does provide a useful context.
The second noteworthy part is mention of needing passenger services between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga. It has its own page and if it sounds a lot like our Regional Rapid Rail plan, that’s because it its, complete with our RRR map and all. One part I quite like, is mention of that will be needed to make it successful. That’s because just chucking some old, slow trains on the route isn’t likely to have great outcomes.
For rail to be successful, it will require a substantial programme of investment that includes:
- new, faster trains
- completion of the City Rail Link to enable use of Britomart station by regional trains
- track upgrades within Auckland (including a third or fourth main line on busy sections of track) to separate fast inter-regional trains from commuter trains
- track and station upgrades outside Auckland.
This is where things start to get more interesting. As the headline suggests, the plan talks more about needing travel choice, noting:
As Auckland grows it is essential that more people walk, cycle or travel by public transport. This will reduce pressure on our roads and free up room for freight and commercial travel. More walking and cycling will also have significant health benefits through increased physical activity.
As mentioned earlier, there’s nothing to say what levels PT, walking and cycling should be. There is however this chart showing trips to the city centre over time. As you can see car use has remained about the same since 2001 whilst the overall number has increased and that increase has come from greater PT use. Current projections show non-car modes increasing significantly in the coming decades. But, these are projections, not targets.
As part of enabling more travel choices the plan notes that we’ll need to separate public transport from general traffic. It has a useful page on the success of the Northern Busway as a reference. It includes this point, something that should be pushed out to the public more.
The success of the busway has delayed the need for further harbour crossings, saving billions of dollars. It is so popular and effective that many services are becoming overcrowded.
This chart shows the Northern Busway and its forecast growth. It is already moving an increasing number of people and that it will continue to do so well into the future, surpassing 50% of people on a bus by the mid-2030s
The section also talks about how we’ll need to redesign our streets so they’re “about people and places, not just moving vehicles” which is good to see clearly defined.
Auckland’s worsening safety record is called out, with deaths and serious injuries on our roads almost doubling since 2012.
Finally we see a plan in New Zealand mention Vision Zero:
Reversing this trend requires new approaches to safety. We should be guided by the ‘Vision Zero’ movement, which aims to eliminate transport-related deaths and serious injuries.
The focus areas largely talk about the stuff above in more detail. One of the more interesting ones are these maps showing strategic road and rail networks as a map rather than a schematic and breaks projects down by when (roughly) what decade they’ll happen. It also shows where the major development areas are and as you can see, most are on or along a rapid transit line. The projects and timing of them are what came out of ATAP previously. With a new version of ATAP on the way, it will need to be incorporated into this document.
And the road map. It’s not clear why the Warkworth to Wellsford project ends in a paddock east of Wellsford.
Overall there are many things to like about this version of the Auckland Plan. However to me, the lack of any defined goals for how the city will be in the future is something the council need to address.