Auckland Transport is not (just) a transport agency, it is a change agency.

Auckland Transport (AT) is the lead agency of change to our public realm in Auckland. AT has to front increasing amounts of change in both small and large ways, to our streets, to our daily experiences, and is therefore is the main focus for anyone, reasonable or otherwise, who has a view on these changes.

And much of this change has its roots in areas not directly to do with transport provision. Transport infrastructure and services being, after all, only means to an end, not ends in themselves. Changes may be precipitated by the need to replace a water main (eg Franklin Rd), or redevelopment of a major site (Wynyard, Onehunga, etc), provide more housing (everywhere), or simply to improve the safety or place value of a street (K Rd). Regardless, AT has to lead the re-purposing of streets, roads, and places that may not have had much of a conscious redesign for a generation or more. And it can no longer just put back what was there before, that is no longer sufficient, nor can it simply cater to one kind of user.

Why, what is so special about Auckland, and what is so special about now?

1. Growth.

See: https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2018/03/08/aucklands-untold-growth-story/

Auckland has grown, is growing, and is likely to grow, at a scale and rate unknown in the rest of the country:

‘…ever since the 70s, Auckland has been big and fast-growing enough that it’s had higher total population growth than the rest of New Zealand combined.’ (above)

It is 36% of the nation’s population, 38-40% of the economy, and home to 50-58% of the nation’s coming population growth.

The accumulated growth of the last few decades has also precipitated a kind of identity crisis, as what was a largish town morphs into the scale and complexity of a city, with all the concomitant pressures and opportunities. Most vitally the need to adopt city-shaped solutions to city-shaped problems. This is that particularly urban characteristic of the drive towards the exploitation of space in every direction: tall buildings, burrowing underground, and crowded public places. More people; each with less space. Spatial efficiency is the currency of the urban condition; it the source of its economic power, its drive and excitement, but also many of its problems.

Becoming a city means more than just changes in infrastructure and patterns of habitation however, it also requires a change in self-understanding. Who are we now? Not everyone will accept this change at the same pace, and some, not at all.

It is easy to mistake the familiar for the necessary and the final, and therefore find change inexplicable.

And this all especially plays out in that very particular type of public realm that are our streets and roads. A city is a place where more and more is demanded of these zones; they all have to deliver more services, from moving more people and goods in more kinds of ways, to hosting more communications and fluid systems, to being destinations and public rooms in their own right, to hosting trees and other amenity to filter the air and the light, and remind us citizens of beauty.

They are also a huge signifier of the values of the community; the city’s brand. In the serious international competition for talent and trade, the quality of our city’s public realm is as important as our cultural institutions, our sporting and arts events, our food culture, parks and waterways, and our personal welcome. The street matters more than ever before.

As the Road Controlling Authority with responsibility for this realm AT simply does not have the luxury of being a steady-as-she-goes, business-as-usual organisation, while the city is growing so fast and needing to catch up on so much missing amenity, it can’t act as the kindly uncle, keeping things as they were. Just because someone has been able to use a street in a certain way in the past does not confer the limitless right to continue that use. For example, driving a private vehicle in the very centre of the city is increasingly going to become a historical activity. This is simply a fact of geometry; it is a wasteful use of limited space that will increasingly no longer fit. It is AT’s role to deliver changes in its realm as much as to manage continuity.

Auckland is currently an outlier as New Zealand’s only city facing these pressures at such a rate and scale, and it makes it more akin to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, than Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin (though these forces are now beginning to spill over to Hamilton and Tauranga from Auckland). This is both a challenge and an opportunity. Meeting change without growth is extremely difficultly to fund, this has long been the problem Dunedin faces, for example, at least with growth there are, or ought to be, the available resources necessary to fund change.

However the bigger picture and its framing is key. ‘Why does our street have to change? We like it as it is now, stop spending our money.’ AT, and its parents and partners, need really good evidenced answers to these questions before they are asked, and these need to be owned and offered at the beginning of all projects and plans. And these need to include the vision as much as the traffic count.

2. The city has to be central in our response to the crises of the times.

Globally, increasingly, and certainly in New Zealand, most people live in urban areas. So in order to tackle the many and interrelated problems facing humanity, they must be tackled in our towns and cities. If behaviour change is required, then our cities must be changed to incentivise that. And again, the design and capabilities of our streets have an critical role to play in this.

In broad terms our streets urgently need to be made:

1. safer and healthier

2. less polluting and better places

3. more efficient and productive

And because in urban areas dependency on the private motor vehicle is at the centre of what needs to change, the above can be summarised as increasing the availability of options for how people can viably use our streets and roads. Changing them from prioritising one mode to in most cases accommodating all modes, and in some cases reducing or restricting vehicles in order to prioritise the missing or suppressed ones.

  • Motor traffic is killing and maiming our citizens at increasing rates, we know that slowing and calming traffic physically through improved street design is a key to fixing this.
  • Lack of exercise as we go about our daily routines is burdening individuals and society with increasing illness and morbidity, and its public costs. Building in the opportunity for physical exercise into place and movement is vital to address this.
  • Hyper auto-mobility is a massive contributor to both local and global pollution, and imposes increasing external costs on us all. Enabling people to make alternative choices for more journeys is key to improving environmental outcomes.
  • And the spatial inefficiency of the private car as the primary mobility tool is a poor fit with the growing urban services economy and is the single most expensive way of organising urban mobility. Our prosperity depends on squeezing greater efficiency and choice out of our streets.
  • The attempt to fit volumes of traffic anywhere negatively affects the quality of that place. A beautiful and busy city is both a prosperity and wellbeing enhancer.

So each time a street is dug up for whatever reason it is entirely sensible to rebuild it in order to meet the needs of the growing city, and to seek address those wider crises we face. And where this requires a change in the inherited auto-prioritised pattern, that parking or traffic lanes will be reduced, this needs to owned as a feature and not as a bug of these changes.

The great news is we can fix our city one street at a time. But to do so we requires sophisticated design and clear actions and communications.

And to remind ourselves this is all occurring in a wider the context where so much is already underway that is transforming Auckland from a one dimensional auto-dependent town to a thriving multidimensional city. Here is a quick list of what the next decade will bring, with the support of the Regional Fuel Tax and change in priorities of the new government and Council, delivered by various agencies in including AT:

  • CRL + upgraded rail network, including Puhinui Airport Interchange, and Intercity services.
  • Light Rail at least Wynyard to Mt Roskill or through Mangere and the Airport
  • Eastern Busway to Botany and bus lanes on Pak Highway,
  • Extended Northern Busway
  • The start at least of a North Western Rapid Transit system
  • All supported by an expanded New Bus Network (more Frequent services, especially focussed on Interchanges)
  • A substantial extended cycleway system and greater pedestrian space especially in the City Centre
  • Improved and more integrated ferry network

Auckland Transport and its partners are in charge of substantially transforming our city, so it is vital that this undertaken confidently, to do this:

  1. AT needs to be funded sufficiently to lead change well and be given explicit targets to aim for.
  2. AT needs to own its role as a change agent and not simply as transport service provider in order to avoid falling into the trap of promising the impossible; of both changing things and keeping everything as it is.
  3. AT needs to collaborate well to achieve excellence in design, and to communicate the reasons for proposed changes, confidently, clearly, and explicitly.

Auckland is in the midst of a coming of age moment, experiencing growing pains certainly, but is stepping out onto the world stage as it never has before. Our city is blessed with such great natural bones, the opportunity to lift the quality of its built environment towards honouring that standard exists in plain sight on our streets and roads. We need AT to take it.

‘The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas, as in escaping from old ones’

-John Maynard Keynes

*Render by Auckland Urban Development

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58 comments

  1. Great post.

    This is where the new CEO Shane Ellison is so important. He has to drive massive cultural change through what has been a very conservative and fearful organisation. He needs to make staff there innovative and confident. And he needs to ensure a new communications team develops a clear articulation of what they are doing so staff aren’t thrown in the deep end.

    Signs look positive so far….

    1. Auckland Transport’s Shane Ellison needs to ensure his organisation has everyone involved onboard, including contractor staff and unions, and approaches change with meaningful engagement and input and actually listens. AT’s history to date of just dictating aloof to what the public, the council’s elected representatives, public transport user representation groups and unions want is not the way forward for getting the best outcomes. AT needs to have the public (and ratepayers) and their staff onside, as it is well known that organisations which have a good public image and good culture with high morale, are far more successful.

      1. Actually, AT does listen to the public hence why we get the same old stuff. If you listen to the public, it is mostly loud, well-connected rich, old white people who complain a lot because they want nothing to change.

        The voice for the status quo is louder than the voice for change. This is currently fact.

        This whole forum is a bubble that doesn’t reflect the views of the vast majority of Aucklanders who are blissfully ignorant and ok with the status quo.

        1. Change management is not easy. It is more successful when there is engagement with all stakeholders. That includes an amount of listening to well-connected rich white people, as well as other groups. To not do so would risk being bypassed or undermined by the excluded groups. A ratepayers’ revolt; newspaper click-bait; smashing up traffic islands; a quiet word with chief exec in the Koru club lounge: Each of those outside-of-process interventions has the potential to derail change. A strategy is required to deal with obstacles to change; not for the next project, but forever. Getting a project through despite opposition is not really going to help with the next project.

          The more disparate groups are brought within the process (‘engaged with’), the more opportunity there is to respectfully educate those people why there is a need to change and the more opportunity there is to possibly learn of other and possibly better solutions which achieve the desired aims but perhaps don’t upset the apple-cart to the same extent. Whilst some people may lose something because of a specific change, if they feel that there are greater societal benefits resulting from the masterplan (of which the small change in question addresses only one aspect) and the change agents have taken the time to explain all of this to them and also responded to their concerns, to the extent possible (and explained this to them as well)…then it’s going to make it less likely that they turn to their points of leverage to try to undermine the change from outside the process.

          1. But first AT need to have a coherent masterplan that they themselves believe in. And they need to have some capability to communicate it and develop methods of two-way communication with different societal groups. And some organisational policies around how they do this equitably.

            There’s some work to do, but it needs attention, because it’ll be harder in the long run not to do it.

          2. Yes, completely. One of the most frustrating things for me has been the lack of honesty and attention to detail in Council and AT public relations documents. They are too easy to pick holes in, when they should be the best sources of well-researched well-balanced educational material. Examples:

            – “Where we spend your rates” describing only PT spend, and ignoring that most transport spend is on roads
            – The video about the Regional Fuel tax https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2018/03/14/regional-fuel-tax/ showing new cyclelanes and buslanes alongside the existing roads, instead of showing the road space reallocated to the cycle lanes and bus lanes as is required, given that our road corridors can’t be widened
            – The video about the cbd: https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2017/10/16/councils-city-centre-video/ in which the cost for infrastructure required for new housing in the suburbs or in the cbd is incorrectly compared, and the issue of low rates leading to unmaintained infrastructure is ignored
            – An avoidance of discussing how our rates are used to maintain roads damaged by trucks

            In the absence of good documents from our local and national governments, how are we supposed to properly discuss these issues at a community level? Critical thinking about the reliability of sources of information in this digital age is being taught with varied success at schools, but it’s happening very little in community organisations.

          3. Indeed! If you and I and most of the people contributing to this blog find issue with AT’s openness, processes, informational veracity and competence (see for example: https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2018/01/26/auckland-transport-goes-rogue/ and various posts around the Linear Park vs Midtown bus route options stitch-up), then we should not be surprised that other groups are similarly unimpressed, suspicious and uncooperative to the point of trying to bring AT to account. Those groups may in some cases be utterly uninformed and making poor, reactive, one-issue arguments, but how can that change when AT is obviously unreliable and uncommunicative?

    1. At least! I always accepted that in time the Sky Tower would become a minnow, but I never expected that time to be only 25 years after it was opened.

      I remember living outside of Auckland, watching the news with awe and excitement as they covered the rise of the tower each night.

      As excited as I am that my adopted home city is growing up (boom boom!), I’m a bit nostalgic about the Sky Tower.

      Reading this article also reminded my of the photos of Hong Kong by Fan Ho, the place is practically unrecognisable when compared to the city now. Gives me more of a kick in the rear to do more street photography, knowing that in just a few short years the city could be so very different.

    2. Yes! Would be great for the skyline to have a taller sky tower! Would raise it in the same way they built it… jack it up in the concrete column. The column would need to be strengthened for the extra height, weight and bending motion. The base would have to be strengthened further and probably have some more brace struts further up. Take it to 500m including the mast would be pretty impressive. Might need a counterweight due to the extra movement.

  2. Good article Patrick. I firmly think if everyone got the point that Auckland is no longer a big town but rather a city then I think we would get better outcomes for our city. Often in the discussion people just take their experience (either in the past or a town outside Auckland) and just multiply it. So Auckland has congestion on the roads then build another road – of course that might work in a town but it can’t in a city.

    1. I think that part of the issue is culture. Both in terms of our classic “she’ll be right” and “number 8 wire” mentality.

      Auckland is a very different city than we as Kiwis are culturally used to. Unfortunately we still think of the city in very much “any NZ city” terms when finding solutions, instead of looking for lessons abroad.

  3. While I agree that AT is a major player in changing the way our city looks and functions – it is by no means the only player as your post suggests. One of the major roles of Local Boards is “place making” which is largely about our town centres, public parks, and other public spaces. Auckland Council has a division called City Transformations which is a policy and design unit that works on town centres and major city projects, providing advice to the politicians who allocate the money and approve the plans, usually after extensive public consultation. Construction or implementation is in the hands of delivery agencies such as AT and Panuku, supervising outside contractors.

    So taking the case of Mount Albert as an example this is not (as the press seem to assume) an AT-lead project. In 2010 the newly established Albert-Eden Local Board inherited a “legacy project” (with funding) from the old Auckland City Council for rejuvenating the rather tired strip shopping centre at Mount Albert. Over 7 years we worked with the local community, businesses and affected property owners to come up with a plan for rejuvenating the town centre, with assistance from the City Transformations team. AT became involved because almost all of the Mount Albert project is in the public realm (i.e. Council owned land) and because most of that is roads and footpaths AT had a key role but it is not “their” project.

  4. Great post, Patrick. Goff said to AT in his letter of expectation:

    “I will be expecting you to work more closely with Council and the other CCOs, and strategically align your operations to Council-mandated strategies and policies…
    • Outline in your SOI how your organisation contributes positively to local place making and urban regeneration, and how your decision-making is influenced by these priorities”

    AT’s attitude that parts of Council working on placemaking are subordinate to AT is probably what Shane Ellison needs to tackle first.

    1. When most of council strategy/policy is fluff, it leaves lots of room for AT to do whatever it wants. AT is busy placemaking all the time, for cars.

      When AT doesn’t have a clear strategy on what it is meant to be focusing on as an organisation, they just do a whole bunch of little bits of stuff in each of their own silos.

  5. People at AT therefore must take ownership of decisions it makes or fails to make and the consequences thereof.

    All I see at the moment is an organisation that pays out some fairly sizeable pay cheques to its executives but yet the buck stops with no one!

    Birkenhead’s Rawene Rd carpark collapse debacle that is set to cost ratepayers dearly from very poor decision making is an excellent example of their trademark ineptness where no one takes responsibility meaning nothing ever changes.

  6. Fantastic post Patrick, you have given me a great idea. If driving in the central area is a historical activity as you say then perhaps I can apply to Heritage New Zealand to protect private vehicle capacity with category II protection.

    1. Heritage NZ talk about ways to fund the gap between the cost and value of heritage projects. I thought you’d be interested they list rates relief as one of the options. It could be useful, as the cost and value of your idea will be wildly different.

    2. And you better tell the car people that are bringing in 800 cars per week. I see there were three car carriers in port yesterday. Aucklanders don’t seem to be very cohesive.

      1. Yes THREE car carriers in port yesterday all at the same time. I haven’t checked but is there space left on the wharves for any other cargo this Monday morning? Can Auckland’s roads cope?

          1. It’s probably the same three vessels, complete with brown marmorated stink bugs – its just that someone bribed Customs to look the other way. In one years time, no doubt there will be Herald headlines saying “MPI says too late to combat Stink Bugs – they’re here to stay”

        1. He’s a seasoned politician, isn’t he? Democracy requires transparency! But what a strange report anyway. Important to read to understand the volumetric proportion of the imported vehicles that are heavy vehicles.

          “The question confronting ACIL is does either of these options present a better means of managing adverse amenity impacts than POAL continuing to invest in its vehicle processing capability at Auckland’s downtown port?”

          Yet “Amenity and environmental benefits were not estimated.” Nor were plenty of other costs for each scenario. Fine, but the authors would surely know that the headlines would include the difference in cost between the scenarios as if all these costs were included.

          Rail was analysed for transport of vehicles just as part of the sensitivity analysis; the further economic and social benefits of making the necessary rail improvements weren’t included. And most worrying of all:

          “While there are small benefits to using rail over road to transport vehicles, such as no increases in injuries and fatalities from crashes, these benefits are relatively small compared to the substantial infrastructure and other costs which would be incurred for rail to be used to transport imported vehicles.”

          1. The part that really shocked me is that this crazy system of arm’s length agencies and businesses means one distant part of the Council can shop for reports that justify their existing opinion, meanwhile another part of the council wastes time breaking the law to keep the report quiet. All done on our dollar.

          2. Hold on? The costs for rail infrastructure are high?

            Do they know how much widening the motorways has costed us?

          3. I suppose only a green politician could say there is too many cars in Auckland and a council controlled port company won’t let any more car carriers berth in Auckland. I would like to see the reaction though especially if Goff did it.

  7. An eloquent post backed up with obviously serious analysis and contemplation. It triggered 3 thoughts.

    An example of change and the natural resistance to it is provision of parking. When visitors leave my house I consider what I provided them: maybe tea and biscuits but I don’t think about the provision of parking in my yard. If I lived in an apartment in the CBD I would think very differently. It is all to do with increasing numbers and decreasing spaces leading to a change in how the public thinks.

    AT is quite deliberately undemocratic. Imposing change should be the result of instruction by our democratically elected representatives. So if Mayor Goff says kill PT and build me roads then that is exactly what AT must do (until sanity returns). AT is the servant of the people but a good servant should be anticipating new demands so when Mayor Goff says build me a rail link to the airport then AT should reply: here are the plans and the costs and it could be is use by this date. So Auckland Transport is a transport agency, it is NOT a change agency but it would be very dumb not to be prepared.

    Auckland ‘ is 36% of the nation’s population, 38-40% of the economy ‘. That is stunning! Surely it must make Auckland the least productive metropolitan city in the world. So Aucklanders are less than 10% more productive than the rest of NZ whereas most cities have significant economies of scale (agglomeration) that make them over 50% more productive. It is even more astonishing when you consider how sparsely populated NZ is with serious geographical obstacles to productivity and there are no cities of comparable size to Auckland stealing our productivity. The comparative failure of Auckland’s economy seems to be a discussion everyone is avoiding. At least Blues rugby supporters admit to having problems. How can Aucklanders ask for government assistance with our infrastructure if we are not giving something extra back to NZ?

    1. What do you think contributes to the relatively poor economic performance of the city, Bob? I’d say overinflated house prices must prevent investment in business and innovation. Plus the mismanaged transport network will be contributing (it shouldn’t take more than 2 hours to get from my place to the Polyfest by PT, for example. Your place is probably similar, depending how long your walk to the bus is). And meanwhile the sprawl and the underinvestment in environmental planning is eroding the very ecological base on which we rely for life.

      The very change that AT and Council need to implement – intensification, improved transport, and better care of the environment – could only improve the economy.

      1. Heidi: Not just house prices; innovators are often well paid so house prices are a factor but maybe not as important as the related cost of office and workshop space. Now retired the only story of innovation I’ve heard of personally is the Brewery set up by Aucklanders in Oamaru because they could afford the facilities there.
        I agree with you about PT and even intensification. Our environment would always be my 1st priority (way ahead of productivity concerns) but Auckland’s environment compares well with other cities (one of the reasons I live here). So I agree with your analysis …. except why as Auckland’s population booms does relative productivity fail to boom and actually seems to go backward? So here is a fourth rather intangible factor: Auckland is growing to quickly; faster than our planners can react or even be expected to react.
        If I was in government I would turn off the incentive that brings low-talent middle-class students from aboard to study meaningless courses at our pitiful PTEs – they come for residency not education. Of course if we return to a rapid net loss of population with Kiwis going to live abroad we could always turn that tap on again. Let Auckland grow but grow gently. I have relatives who adapting to NZ diet expanded too fast and now have stretch marks – I reckon the same thing is happening to Auckland and its infrastructure. It is not the eventual size but the speed of growth that (a) leads to minimal innovation resulting in low productivity and (b) keeps this blog so fascinating.

        1. High house prices stifle innovation because people who have high mortgages cannot borrow money to set up a business.

          1. Balanced against inheriting a house and then putting a mortgage on it to have instant liquid capital. Maybe the temptation to have a good time overwhelms the innovative instinct.

          2. Balanced against the average kiwi being in their 50s when they inherit a house and much more risk averse (for obvious reasons)

        2. The kiwi lack of productivity (not lack of innovation) is well known and studied overseas. Kiwi businesses grow until they can support the owners bach, boat and beamer and then thats it. Kiwis tend to be more productive outside of work (DIY, hobbies,sports etc). I tried to find the link to the study, but I couldn’t.

          1. Yes, but I don’t think we need to be worried about it. As part of a rethink about the usefulness of GDP anyway, and as part of a rethink about valuing people, happiness and environment instead of measuring how well we’ve played the big boys’ banking game, I think the mindset is probably healthier than that of some competitive places.

    2. The GDP stats are a bit complicated:

      1) They’re based on ‘nominal’ dollars so Auckland’s share of NZ GDP fluctuates depending on things like whether dairy prices are high that year. Since 2000, GDP per capita in Auckland has ranged from 5%-15% higher than the NZ average. Similarly, Taranaki GDP per capita was really high in 2008-2009 because oil prices were high.

      2) Since Auckland is such a big share of NZ’s population, it’s mathematically quite hard for it to outperform the national average by much. E.g. for Auckland to be 50% above the national average GDP per capita, it would need to be double the GDP per capita of NZ-excluding-Auckland. for Auckland to be double the national average GDP per capita, it would need to be four times the GDP per capita of NZ-excluding-Auckland.

      On the latest figures, GDP per capita in Auckland is 14% higher than GDP per capita in NZ-excluding-Auckland. But that fluctuates from year to year.

      3) The GDP stats aren’t super recent; they only go to the year ended March 2016. Auckland had more like 34% of NZ’s population at this time (and 37% of GDP).

      4) Auckland’s had a lot of migration and an influx of international students in the last few years, so that would have brought GDP per capita down a bit.

      Certainly Auckland’s productivity hasn’t been as good as it should be, and there’s heaps of potential to improve this. Transport + intensification = agglomeration is a key part of it.

      1. OK Auckland has had plenty of low wage and effectively low skill immigration recently but it has expensive lawyers not just the small time conveyancing lawyers in rural areas, it has most of the IT and high tech jobs in NZ, it has head-quarters for Fonterra with plenty of well paid executives while rural NZ has low paid dairy workers, Auckland has high paid PR and HR jobs, big accountancy firms, etc. So I’ve no explanation for our lack of performance. Maybe if the international students were not working the figures would look better? But students working in US cities doing menial jobs to help pay for their studies is common and USA cities are on balance successful.
        I agree that good public transport would help but even poor as it is Auckland is hardly unique in its transport failures.
        Geoffrey West’s book ‘Scale’ makes a strong argument that like for like a doubling of size results in a 15% increase in productivity. His main example applies to the average distance to a petrol outlet but given the ethos of most contributors his factor applies to everything including bike repair shops, medical facilities, study centres. So all things being equal Auckland should greatly exceed productivity in the 65% of NZ that is not Auckland and certainly by over 15%. And that productivity bonus should be growing not shrinking.
        Searching the internet for help in writing this comment I couldn’t find any data to support (or deny) my assertion that Auckland should be more productive but I will borrow this quote: “”Preserving and enhancing a good physical environment and quality of life is essential to the long-run success of a Metropolitan Economic Strategy.””. Between my initial comment and this reply to John Polkinghorne I’ve been swimming in the Harbour and that is not something I would have done when I worked in NZ and London.

        1. You really shouldn’t swim in the harbour, particularly if it has rained in the last three days. The water is disgusting.

  8. Patrick, your writing is beautiful. I really must buy your book.

    The content is also important. Council needs to give AT firm, clear direction and hold them accountable for the change that the city wants. Council needs to back AT over the change too; support them in the face of public backlash.

  9. “Improved and more integrated ferry network”. Fat chance, Fullers have unilaterally decided to halve the daytime frequency of Waiheke ferries from April 9, only after consultation with the accountants, not passengers. This hot on the heels of AT launching a new bus network for Waiheke, which includes a half hour service from Matiatia, half of those buses will now deliver to and collect from non-existent ferry services.

    1. I agree that it’s disappointing that Fullers think that three ferries an hour are needed at times when there is a competitor on the route (Explore), but just one an hour once they’ve put them out of business.

      AT might seem to be impotent in the face of Fullers’ behaviour, but actually they supported Fullers to monopolise access to the covered wharves, giving them extra slots when they asked for them, after having previously refused the same access to Explore. As a consequence Fullers maintained their highly visible presence to tourists by the ferry terminal and Explore’s customers had to queue in the rain in a less visible location. Explore cited that as a major factor in their failure. (I would suggest that the other factors were Fullers doubling their service in response to competition, scheduling their boats to run a few minutes before Explore’s boats, and not running buses to meet the Explore ferries – NB Fullers run the Waiheke Bus Company too).

      Isn’t it anti-competitive practice to put on extra services that run at a loss, to force a competitor out of business? And if they don’t run at a loss, why are they removing them now?

      It is surely time that the legislation is amended so that the Waiheke service is brought under AT’s direct control. But even if not, AT should not be complicit with Fullers when they move to exclude competitors.

      But regarding the buses, the additional services will make it easier for people to move around within Waiheke – to the shops and back, etc. The percentage of bus trips which aren’t part of a trip to downtown Auckland will likely increase, having become more feasible with the doubled frequency.

      1. “Isn’t it anti-competitive practice to put on extra services that run at a loss, to force a competitor out of business? And if they don’t run at a loss, why are they removing them now?”

        Yes, absolutely. This route (and Devenport) needs to be brought under PTOM as soon as possible and AT needs to grow a spine dealing with Fullers too.

        1. I just thought of another example. AT withdrew a bus route (1a) from Waiheke a couple of years ago because the road was narrow and windy and they decided (under pressure from the Waiheke Bus Company?) it was too dangerous a road to be running it on. Big trucks still use it of course and no improvements are proposed, despite the local board wanting footpaths for the kids walking to school and despite it being on Te Ara Hura, the round-island walking route.

          Then the double-decker buses run by the same company (a Fullers subsidiary) started running on roads that were less good than the one the 1a was withdrawn from. (The 1a was operated by a very modest-sized bus). One of the double-deckers fell off the side of the road (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11842908).

          A visiting engineer whose son was playing my son’s cricket team told me that Fullers put pressure on AT and his engineering firm to improve the roads that the double-deckers run on. Recently I saw that they’ve been doing significant road widening of that quiet rural road. Meanwhile the busy multi-modal road that the 1a used to run on is unimproved.

          Double-decker? Double standards! (Sorry, couldn’t resist coming up with my own slogan).

  10. According to its governing legislation, the purpose of Auckland Transport is to:

    “Contribute to an effective and efficient land transport system to support Auckland’s social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being.”

    If anyone wants them to do more than that, they have to change that legislative purpose.

    Plus give them shedloads more funding than they get now.

    Plus be mandated by its Council to be more than that.

    None of the above is occurring.

  11. Auckland Transport has No legal or legislative place to create such dramatic change in our city. It is unlawful & arrogant for Auckland Transport to assume such a role. Patrick Reynolds has no qualification in this area and is a patsy for multi national corporations attempting to take control of our public assets. Resist this neo liberal assault. Fight back, Challenge every word this group of middle aged, entitled, white men are spouting! This myopic minority have no power over the majority.

    1. Fair point though. AT is a transport organisation tasked with moving people and goods whether that is by car, bike, flying drone, llama etc. Relying on more cars and wider roads to solve the problem is utter insanity. I agree that AT is a the largest land developer in Auckland but it isn’t AT’s role to focus on what happens when people get to their destination.

      1. “it isn’t AT’s role to focus on what happens when people get to their destination.” How people move through a place affects the place. Of course AT are involved with placemaking. Places are defined by transport infrastructure – location, mode, accessibility design all create the places. Indeed, even belief structures become defined by transport infrastructure. There is nothing normal about burning fossil carbon to access our environment, yet because of the infrastructure investment of the last 60 years, a belief that it is normal to do so and not normal to walk or cycle has grown. As our modern day transport agencies, AT and NZTA have a job cut out for them not just to correct the errors made by the historical transport agencies but to correct the misconceptions these errors have incubated.

        1. You confuse aspirations and consequences with responsibility.

          AT’s primary responsibility is to make sure people and goods are moved in the most effective means safely. This is outlined in their vision/mission approved by council. Nothing in there about making places nice for people. Most of the time cars are the answer to the equation. Simple as that. ATs role is not to force everyone to live in apartments to justify PT. Nor is it their role to purposely make congestion so bad to justify putting in a wider footpath. No where in their KPI is anything about place making.

          Being a place maker is not their role and they are not being judged on that.

          Auckland Council is responsible for place making by forcing AT to do things contrary to it’s role.

  12. Rather than over-burdening AT with a “change agent” status that they are not resourced or mandated to carry out, would it not be more efficient to scale AT right back, transfer all its major delivery functions to NZTA and expand them, to ensure that central government transport policy integrating rail, motorway, regional road, and housing development is undertaken in an integrated manner?

    NZTA are well practiced at forming alliances and PPPs to deliver multiple, complex, and high risk outcomes.
    AT are not. (not their fault by the way)

  13. “CRL + upgraded rail network, including Puhinui Airport Interchange, and Intercity services.
    Light Rail at least Wynyard to Mt Roskill or through Mangere and the Airport
    Eastern Busway to Botany and bus lanes on Pak Highway,
    Extended Northern Busway
    The start at least of a North Western Rapid Transit system
    All supported by an expanded New Bus Network (more Frequent services, especially focussed on Interchanges)
    A substantial extended cycleway system and greater pedestrian space especially in the City Centre
    Improved and more integrated ferry network”

    It’s a good list of projects, but is it too little too late? AT expects car trips to be 21% higher in 2026 than 2013 and this will be post the CRL opening. Where are these extra vehicles going to travel?

    Some places will be horrendous in the longer term. The mode share for cars in Takapuna will only drop from 82% to 76% by 2046 despite the number of dwellings tripling.

    If AT are an agent of change they aren’t doing a great job, or even a good one. It’s hard work because while many want to improve their environment, do their bit for climate change, and reduce congestion they are waiting for someone else to do their share first.

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