Time is running out to submit on the Auckland Plan and 10 year budget. Please do, if nothing else just go there to support the all important Regional Fuel Tax, without which very little can be achieved.
Matt discussed it earlier here.
Now I want to raise what I see as a missed opportunity in the 30 year Auckland Plan. The lack of any targets. Why do I think this is important?
Taking the transport section alone (John covers housing supply here), while the three Directions and seven Focus Areas are spot on, there are no defined ways to achieve the outcomes they identify, so they can be more susceptible to being ignored as vague ‘aspirations’ without compulsion for action by Auckland Transport, other CCOs, NZTA, or Council officers themselves.
Here’s an example, next month Auckland Transport launches an in-service Electric Bus trial with two BYD full e-buses on the City Link route. This is part of a programme that proposes enforcing an emission free only new bus acquisition programme from the next PTOM round in 2023. No new non electric bus ever again acquired in Auckland. In time, as the new e-buses replace the oldest and most polluting current buses the fleet will become completely emission free, which will likely take to about 2035-40. This is a huge and potentially massive improvement for the city.
Mayor Goff represented Auckland at the event and participated in the signing of the C40 Fossil-Fuel-Free Streets Declaration to procure only zero-emission buses from 2025 and to ensure that Auckland’s city centre has zero emissions by 2030.
This programme is happening because the Mayor Phil Goff signed up to the C-40 Fossil-Fuel Free Streets declaration, which sets firm targets and dates. Without that commitment Auckland Transport may well have found other uses for its energy, attention, and budget. Found reason to wait and see, talk for a few years about risk, and not being too hasty, etc, etc. If the Council and people of Auckland want action from their CCOs one of the most powerful tools in their armoury is to be very clear and explicit, especially over long time frames. And especially when the people you are trying to instruct are engineers. People who are really good at action and task, often less so at interpretation and nuance.
And the Auckland Plan is at exactly the right altitude for ambitious and significant targets. So much can be achieved over 30 years, step after repeated step. Things that now seem permanent can be entirely replaced over that timeframe, but only if the journey is started upon, and pursued. And the bigger hurdle or these two is the former. The arguments for kicking a can down the road in a highly contested project environment, of delaying the start of a long term change can become deafening in the absence of clear direction and targets.
And with long term aims, which require multi-term commitments such as the Three Directions identified in the plan, it is important to beware of the urgent displacing the important. The day to day occluding the vital.
So what targets do I think we need to add?
This requires more work than I am able to do in my spare time but happily there is a really good recent model that we can use as a guide. The Mayor’s Transport for London Strategy. Everything about this document is great.
The language is plain and direct, the arguments for the targets are clearly evidenced, and the targets are explicit and dated. Nothing vague, no opportunity for anyone tasked to enact it to claim it these are merely ‘nice to have’ aspirations, or hopeful forecasts. These are targets.
So let’s do a quick and dirty Akl version of these, obviously these two cities are very different, but they both inhabit the same planet at the same time so the pressures, technologies, and needs of their citizens, are in fact are the same. The starting point of our systems and of course the scale of these cities are different, but really, in terms of demands on their transport agencies, pro-rata, we can see they are in pretty much the same boat. So with adjustments:
- Modeshare. For Auckland, having such incomplete Transit and Active networks it’s probably best to focus on peak times. Currently peak modeshare spilt Transit and Active v Car is about 25/75%. With the work underway we can more than reasonably expect that to make 33/66% in ten years, and easily 50/50% in 30. Are these figure ambitious enough to have as targets? This metric needs work.
- Every Aucklander, within their capabilities, to get 20mins of exercise as a part of their journeys everyday by 2041. Yes.
- No one killed on or in an AKL bus by 2030. I would hope we already achieve that most years. A good nearer term target.
- Zero deaths or serious injury from road crashes in AKL by 2041. That is ambitious (as it is in London too) given current trends. But it is obscene to have any other target, is the year right?
- Zero emissions from buses by 2035. Yes.
- Zero emissions from all vehicles in the City Centre by 2030. Yup.
- Zero emissions from all vehicles by 2040. Ambitious, by with a near term acceleration of mode shift and EV uptake we could get close.
- Reduce Vehicle Kilometres Travelled per capita by x% per annum? The quantum here needs work too, but not the direction.
If we’re aiming for something, shouldn’t we say so clearly, in order to move towards it more directly? What do you think?