This is a guest post by Caroline Shaw, Ed Randal, Alistair Woodward and Michael Keall

NZ is the most car dominated country in the world, but transport patterns vary across our urban centres. The six largest NZ cities have had different histories and priorities, which over time, has led to quite diverse transport arrangements (see Table 1). Note the higher proportion of trips taken by bicycle in Christchurch, walking is most common in Dunedin and Wellington and levels of public transport are highest in Wellington.

We recently published a paper in the New Zealand Medical Journal (open access after September 2018) which has estimated the effects of these differences in transport systems on the health of citizens and greenhouse gas emissions. Specifically, we asked what would be the benefits for residents of Tauranga, Auckland, Hamilton, Christchurch and Dunedin if these cities had the same mode shares of sustainable transport as Wellington City (where around 35% of trips are taken by walking, cycling or public transport).

This research was undertaken using the Integrated Transport and Health Impacts Model (ITHIM) which was developed in the UK, and adapted for New Zealand by the researchers from the Universities of Otago and Auckland. Briefly, it consists of three parts, an injury model, an air pollution model, and a physical activity model (these are the main pathways through which transport impacts on health). Mortality (deaths) and morbidity (cases of disease) caused by transport-related injury, air pollution and physical inactivity are calculated based on the current transport patterns of the six NZ cities. Carbon dioxide emissions from light vehicles were calculated using kilometres travelled by cars, vans, 4WD, utes and small trucks in each city and average fuel use per kilometre. We then assumed the mode share of all cities was the same as the current spread in Wellington (table 1). Using ITHIM we calculated the effects of this new scenario on levels of transport-related physical activity, air pollution, injury and kilometres travelled in those cities, and hence changes in health outcomes and carbon emissions.

The results of this ‘Wellington’ scenario on premature deaths avoided and carbon emissions reduced are shown in Table 2 (the disability results can be seen in the full paper). All cities would reduce the number of people dying prematurely. Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga could reduce premature deaths by 49-57 a year. Light vehicle carbon emissions would reduce by 20% in Auckland and 32% in Hamilton. Most of the health gain arising in the other cities as a result of shifting to Wellington’s transport patterns would be due to increased physical activity in the population (from more walking and cycling), but also importantly due to reduced injury. This may seem counter intuitive since we know that cycling or walking has higher injury risks per km than travelling by motor vehicle (and this model does take that into account). However, getting people out of vehicles into other forms of transport is good news for everyone, since fewer vehicles on the road mean fewer crashes resulting in death or injury.

We are not arguing that the Wellington transport system should be the one that other cities in NZ aspire to. Indeed, the scenario rather improbably assumes reduced levels of cycling in Christchurch; and we know that cities globally have been able to achieve far greater increases in sustainable transport levels than those that are modelled here, often in short time-frames (e.g. Vancouver). But getting close to the Wellington mode share would, in most respects, be a welcome first step, and is clearly feasible.

This study showed that to get the biggest health gains policies should promote walking and cycling but to get the biggest improvements in greenhouse gas emissions, public transport is the key. Ideally cities should have a balanced transport portfolio – all three of these modes should be prioritised. The carbon emission reductions in this model only include averted tailpipe emissions from small vehicles. They don’t take into account any extra emissions from fossil fuel powered public transport. However neither does it take into account that many of the trips avoided in the ‘Wellington’ scenario would be the short, least fuel efficient trips and any savings from reduced vehicle ownership in those cities and the embodied carbon associated with production and end of life destruction of vehicles.

This research shows how important it is for cities to take into account the health impacts of the decisions they are making around transport. These numbers are not trivial; about 200 premature deaths per year could be avoided with this scenario. This is equivalent to around half our annual road toll, and not dissimilar to the number of deaths we might expect a colorectal cancer screening programme to prevent each year. Local and regional councils need to more explicitly account for the health and environmental impacts of their decisions (using a model like ITHIM is one way they can do this).

We have had a transformation in our thinking about housing in the last decade. Housing is now more than just a roof over our heads, housing is something that keeps us warm and safe and healthy (in an ideal world). We need to have the same transformation for transport. As well as moving trucks and people, it’s about creating cities we want to live in, about meeting our carbon reduction commitments and about improving mental health and cancer prevention.

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  1. Wonderful, thank you. Let’s aim far higher than Wellington’s mode share or Vancouver’s speed of change. It’s not like the direction we need to go in is in any doubt.

  2. Is NZ really the most car dominated country in the world? Cool! I love it when we beat the world. Punching above our weight and all that.

    1. Yes. 4.22 million motor vehicles as of December 2017, and 3.8 million adults. Compare USA at 273 million vehicles and 250 million adults. NZ comes out slightly ahead.

  3. I have my doubts about the value of the census data being used to give proportion of public transport use. This is because the question only allows one mode of travel to be chosen (“what is the one main way you usually travel …?”), whereas all public transport journeys are a mix of walking + one or more legs by public transport (e.g. ferry + bus). Whatever, PT use is way under-reported – 3.3% is given for Auckland versus the usually accepted figure in the 10-15% range.

    1. Hi Graeme, we used the household travel survey data for the trip data in the model (including PT). Census was just for population and household car numbers in Table 1. Cheers Caroline Shaw

  4. Excellent study, although I cant help but feel that the 2013 data is out of date…Considering some of the improvements to public transport and cycling that we’ve seen since then, I’d hope that our numbers are starting to look a bit better already.

  5. “Specifically, we asked what would be the benefits for residents of Tauranga, Auckland, Hamilton, Christchurch and Dunedin if these cities had the same mode shares of sustainable transport as Wellington City (where around 35% of trips are taken by walking, cycling or public transport).”
    I can answer that. The upper limit on Tauranga, Auckland, Hamilton Christchurch and Dunedin would be somewhat smaller than Wellington City. The jobs and homes would have gone somewhere else.

      1. There was never much alternative choice to those cities. Vancouver is as far south as you can build a Pacific city in Canada. Further north is just bleak and futher south is somebody else’s country. Seattle and Tacoma were the two original options for Washington State. I think growth was something to do with the railhead. But regardless the development there post WWII (the period when cars were common) was in part the result of huge inflows of government money to Boeing. Tax payers paid for military aircraft to be designed and tested and those air frames were used to build a business. The real question is how many more people would have gone there had they spent more on roads.

        1. Heidi may be referring to the most recent gains both those cities have made in making strong gains in PT and active mode share.

        2. If those diabolic inequitable cities can improve PT and active mode share, can’t we do the same? If the best reason why not to make the improvements is that jobs and people will move to smaller cities in NZ, plenty of people will see that as a win-win…

  6. The statistics shows Auckland is lagging in all criteria regarding cycling, PT and walking. What a failure in planning from last decade.

    1. Quite right. Despite a large population and a fine climate, Auckland is under-performing even by the standards of small NZ cities. That’s what needs fixing.

    2. “What a failure in planning from last decade.”

      Well half right. We are still in that cycle of lack of planning. Apart from the CRL due in 4 years time what major PT projects are on the way to make a significant difference to PT passenger numbers?

  7. Really interesting perspective. I think this is one of the main ways that we need to focus on modal shift. NZ has serious health issue, partially as a consequence of our transport choices.

    Yes walking/cycling/PT is better from making best use of road space, but we keep forgetting to communicate the huge health benefits and long term cost savings in healthcare from healthier people. It may be impossible for individual projects, but it is a pity that this is not really taken into account for BCRs of transport projects.

    Healthcare is important because it is real and quantifiable.

    As for emissions, meh. Ours are a drop in the bucket, even if we bankrupted ourselves to eliminate ours overnight we will still face climate change effects thanks to China/US for decades to come. Auckland light vehicle emissions cost $40 million a year in terms of carbon price. That is $20 a year per Aucklander. At those prices you could never justify spending any money to reduce emissions because it would cost huge amounts of money to get even a minor reduction. The average driver emits 5 tons a year. That’s $100 of carbon. That’s the price of two weeks of PT for me.

    Carbon from petrol is a fixed amount. Just stick on another petrol tax tied to the price of carbon. All owners are now paying the cost of their emissions. If the carbon price goes up, so does the price of petrol. People will drive less. But dont try and spend money in transport with the goal of reducing emissions. That’s just nonsense.

    1. That’s a stupid argument Ari. In terms of emissions-per-person NZ is way ahead of China and probably not far behind US. And I suspect a fair proportion of emissions from China are due to manufacturing for Western markets, or Western production that has been outsourced there.

      The world’s population is made up of individuals and those individuals that consume / emit the most must be prepared to make the biggest reductions. This will be greatly facilitated by government policies which go hard-out to reduce our world-beating over-dependence on cars and diesel road-freight.

      1. Except the big part of ‘our’ emissions come out of the mouths and butts of livestock. If those animals are not farmed here then they will be farmed somewhere in the world that creates even higher emissions. Are we really supposed to put on a hair shirt because we are a farming country? Are we truly supposed to pay money for credits to former eastern block countries because they had really dirty industry in prior years? Do we even believe that any of this crap will turn things around? Not sure that I do, not while there are very large countries that are either not committed or expected to win from climate change. In my view the best thing we can do is have a carbon tax as that would reduce carbon output but keep the money here and we should put more focus on preparing for change rather than pie in the sky turning it round nonsense.

        1. Resigning ourselves to preparing for change is resigning our descendants to misery. How much can we prepare for? Only a few generations of change. We can get geared up for Denge River fever. And we can spray for new pests that find it possible to overwinter and breed here. Over time we’ll accept more environmental refugees, contribute more of our taxes to trying to bring peace to climate change-caused strife. At some point it even becomes no longer acceptable to have annual holidays to Europe. 🙂 We’ll spend more money repairing damage to infrastructure from storms and higher high tides while horticultural businesses fail because the flood/wind/drought damage is frequent and catastrophic. For a while we’ll try to retain welfare for those whose businesses depended on security of weather and soil fertility. And we’ll spend more on medical treatment for infections and diseases, and emergency treatment of pregnant women who have become dehydrated on unexpectedly hot days. The situation will get worse with each decade. But eventually it’ll become pure dog eat dog, as you know.

          Meanwhile on the industrial factory farming front, milk powder sent to China is giving them allergies and degrading our waterways and soils to be fouled. Even if others don’t follow suit and stop selling China products they are better off without, we can certainly stop ruining our environment for it. But I think we need to accept our marketers’ role in skilfully growing their demand for a product they are better off without.

          The better alternative to just preparing for change – the only solution – is to put our own house in order and to put international pressure on others to do the same – think what the TPPA could have been if a few countries had imposed some carbon emission requirements, for example (once the US was no longer f**king it up). NZ could change direction and lead the world in reducing fossil carbon use through good planning, and sequestering carbon through agroforestry, silvopasture and rotational grazing. These are not pie-in-the-sky solutions. They require us to leave fossil carbon in the ground too, yes, but we can recapture most of the carbon we need to remove from the atmosphere if we are given a chance. Not soon enough to stop all misery now. But eventually. If we can’t turn ourselves around here, with all the biological resources we have, no-one can. And someone needs to.

          Ignorance is stopping us, and we can overcome that. But don’t let cynicism be the stronger barrier to change.

        2. In which world was it ever acceptable to have annual vacations in Europe, from NZ, if evaluated on a carbon emissions basis? Have you checked how much emissions are involved? Four imperatives if we are to turn this around: eat less meat, drive less, fly a lot less, and have fewer children.

        3. Yes quite, Paul. I should have put (sarc) next to that sentence. Plenty here think that we need to reduce carbon emissions in transport (as we do) but won’t face giving up flying.

        4. Hands off my annual trips to Europe! My ancestors have been taking that journey for years. So based on the short history of this young country it is now a cultural and traditional practice with heritage status that I must be permitted to undertake.

          And boats are too slow… 😀

          Also I pay my $40 to plant some damn trees in Kenya somewhere! Although I have no idea if the trees actually get planted or someone just keeps the money and sends me some digital certificate to make me feel better.

        5. It’s not just you, Ari. It’s many others here. It’s the school trips. It’s the families. Twenty years ago very few families were taking the kids overseas each year. Now every family in my street bar mine and one other are doing so. Most twice a year. And it’s the so-called “aware” lefties, and dinkies. And plenty of boomers.

          What was a rare treat is now “normal” practice to do every year. We do each need to work out our own carbon budget, and look at just how few people in the world have this privilege. Then consider the 10,000’s who have already died from climate change, and the millions dispossessed of their land.

          And I know, I’m finger-wagging, but it just seems like complete hypocrisy for writers and commenters here to be concerned about transport planning from a climate change perspective, yet still fly frequently. Pooh bah.

        6. I agree annual trips to Europe are excessive, surely the novelty would wear off. However, I don’t think it is fair for those of us who have already done a reasonable amount of travel to turn around to others that haven’t had the opportunity yet and say that they can’t.

        7. When the cake is all gone, does it matter that it was not fair Joey didn’t get a piece? Zero carbon is going to require much lower consumption, and there will be an inter generational and collossal unfairnessness about it. I almost think that is going to be the biggest challenge to the world making the change needed.

        8. I think we absolutely need to be discussing it. Instead my generation is actively encouraging the next generation to be doing far more than we did. And I’m saying it to all generations, Jezza – at least in my house, my parents’ generation can no longer get away with boring us with all the details on the next trip, or bothering to bring their screeds of selfies, or saying “It’s my one luxury”. One of us will say straight up, “Another trip? You really want to steal from your grandchildren, yeah?” Or “Gosh, that’ll use your entire carbon budget for the next few years. What are you planning to do for food, heat and transport?”

          I’m not trying to cut out an OE – I’m trying to cut out my relative heading off on an OE knowing she’ll be back in 3 months for her friend’s 21st, and then back at Christmas, and then… We didn’t do that. It’s the excess, the annual Europe trip that needs to be challenged first.

        9. Fully agree, it is still possible to enjoy some overseas travel without needing to take multiple long-haul flights a year.

          I think aviation will change dramatically in the next 30 years as the reality is we are not going to be extracting oil at anything like the rate we do now as vehicles go electric. This will flow on to other fuel users as they will have to fund to cost of extraction themselves.

        10. And right there is the problem Heidi. If we put on the hair shirt and go without all the energy that makes modern living so much better than what our great grandparents great grandparents had we end up making no noticeable difference to the world climate. At best we can then claim we were a good example to others, others who will go right on burning oil and enjoying a better life with higher incomes and better health systems and opportunities than our society will have. Bollocks to that! Some people might enjoy going without to try and set an example to others but most of us are not that pious.

          It is time we got used to the idea. Time to buy a house that isn’t going to flood and time to tell the rest of the world their carbon credits are a scam and we won’t be buying any thanks. Too many countries are too committed to oil for us to make a jot of difference to them. So we the hell should we go without?

          Our contribution would be more effective if we started raising bunds around Kiribati and lifting other low pacific countries so they can be viable. And yes that will involve using fossil fuels to do it. The Dutch have done it for 100’s of years, time to get going in small Pacific states.

        11. Can’t believe that I am agreeing with Miffy for once. We should sort our own house out (we can get to net zero pretty easily by planting up a load of forestry and decarbonizing the transport sector). Our electricity is already practically fossil fuel free.

          Then we should be helping our own cities and the pacific to cope. Our carbon taxes should fund that. The US are never going to sign up to anything meaningful, so what’s the point of an international agreement?

          That also sets a far better example than signing up to any international carbon scheme would. We get to say ‘we sorted our house, we’re saving others, you’re killing them’ and then be done with it.

        12. Yes to carbon tax. Yes to stopping the carbon credits nonsense. No to thinking we can’t be part of turning the situation around and just have to prepare for the changes.

        13. I agree, Paul. Also, I think there are two questions here: What should our country be doing? And what should I be doing? Or: How does our country become a carbon sink? And how can I live happily without indulging in historically abnormal practices that I can only ‘justify’ because of the luck of my birth?

          Annual trips overseas are wantonly wasteful of fossil carbon even if our country managed to become a carbon sink. Whereas live/work/play locally provides a good life, even a modern life of many conveniences, without having to wear hair shirts.

          mfwic and Ari just need to sample one of my tree-ripened bananas drizzled with juice from one of my tree-ripened pomegranates and modern life might take on new meaning…

        14. Re fruit, Heidi: as I tap this message out I am 20m from a tui tucking into pears on one of our trees. Every so often it audibly expresses its approval of the fruit….delightful.

        15. On a good year I make dozens of bottles of pear cider. When the harvest’s bad I can at least enjoy the tui and piwakawaka. Very good year for pomegranates this year, especially up at the community garden, and the persimmons are pulling the branches down to the ground… 🙂

        16. Pears, apples, crab apples, quince and avocados are all tree-ready here. Monster chillies ready as well (technically a fruit). Add kotare, ruru, quail, lapwing, pheasant and eastern rosella to the interesting bird list.

          Season of mists and mellow fruitfullness…

        17. I over-wintered my annual capsicums last year with a small cloche, and this year they’ve been smaller but prolific… ever done that MFD? Just wondering if it’s worth doing it a second year in a row. I have avocados fruiting for the first time this year – three different varieties. A few late peaches, grapes, second harvest of raspberries and strawberries; yellow guavas and feijoas starting. Still ripening are the apples, crab apples, medlars, three enormous bunches of bananas – all different sorts – and my first cherimoyas… but the council mower got my kiwifruit vine on Monday. 🙁

        18. I haven’t done the cloche thing yet, Heidi, in spite of having designed a novel (from a thermodynamic perspective) type which I am keen to try out. The day jobs have gone berserk and in my “spare time” I am busy building another 30 m² of glass cover to get our two new hort. products through the winter.

        19. Dayjobs grow like chokos, which are all over my olives… 🙂 I once had a job dismantling and rebuilding a glasshouse. Except the first pane of glass came apart into one piece in each of my hands and a third piece in my knee.

          Btw – to get us vaguely back on topic – did you know that homegardens (either traditional tropical homegardens or permaculture multistrata perennial homegardens) get the highest possible rating for carbon sequestration? (According to Eric Toensmeier in “The Carbon Farming Solution”).

        20. “did you know that homegardens…”

          No. Seems counter-intuitive somehow. I would have thought that a tropical forest would have better but haven’t researched it.

          Sorry to hear about your severed kiwifruit. They do grow back fast though.

        21. Do tell what tender things you’re adding to your business, MFD. Did I ever mention that I visited a livestock and fruit orchard near you that also sells plantain? They harvest it for a herbal supplement company every two weeks over the summer. Just pick it out from amongst the herbal ley and pasture – no sowing or particular cultivation required. And are certified organic, of course.

        22. Adenium Obesum is one of them, Heidi. We have just delivered our second trial shipment at a well-known plant chain in St Lukes. The other is commercially sensitive until we start selling.

          As for plantain…I had no idea it had any value. Must stop killing ours!

        23. Oh, pretty. To Juliet, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet… and by coincidence, one of Romeo’s lines is, “Plantain leaf is excellent for that.” I think it was Red Seal buying the plantain. I use it for lots of herbal remedies, and also in salads.

        24. The numbers mentioned in AklConversations last week was 49% rural and 51% urban. And 40% of the urban was transport.

          All of us need to do something. Not just one sector.

        25. Replying to mfwic umpteen comments above:
          “Except the big part of ‘our’ emissions come out of the mouths and butts of livestock. . . .”

          What gets overlooked with the ‘livestock argument’ is that whatever gets belched and farted from animals ADDS NO ADDITIONAL CARBON TO THE BIOSPHERE!!
          Got that everyone?

          Step 1: Runinants eat grass
          Step 2: Ruminants convert grass to CH4 (methane)
          Step 3: Methane naturally oxidizes to CO2 in something like 10 years
          Step 4: CO2 is absorbed by new growth of grass.
          In other words, a bio-fuel cycle.

          This is in stark contrast to the process of digging up fossil fuels which have been safely buried for millennia, burning them and liberating ADDITIONAL carbon into the biosphere.

          Now OK, I accept the argument that CH4 is a much more potent GH gas than CO2, but it is very much part of the natural cycle of vegetation-rotting in anaerobic conditions (whether at the bottom of a lake or in a cow’s intestine). I accept that we are increasing its prevalence by livestock farming. But unless I am much mistaken, the reality is that if we stopped livestock farming today, all the additional methane produced by this activity would disappear within 10 years and we would be back to clean, green, square-one.

          But with fossil carbon, once it’s out, it’s out. It won’t go back into the ground any time soon, and definitely adds to the quantity present in the biosphere.

          COWS – GOOD
          CARS – BAD

          I trust that people can grasp the difference.

        26. Largely, yes. But we have the warming caused by methane locked in, even after we stop farming cows.

        27. Cows = good if they are part of an ecosystem that hasn’t been pushed beyond its carrying capacity.

          Cows feeding on perennials that trap their effluent and incorporate it into deepening soil teeming with life = good. Carbon sink extraordinaire.

          Cows feeding on imported food in monocultural pasture on soil that turns sour because it can incorporate no more effluent and sheds it into waterways that become foul and polluted = bad. Basically it’s factory farming on grass. Carbon emitter extraordinaire.

        28. Isn’t the use of nitrogen-based fertilizer to keep the grass growing part of the problem? Is that not sourced from fossil fuels?

        29. Since we’re all part of the Agenda 21 conspiracy 🙂 are you all aware that “the French Government has embarked on an ambitious regenerative agriculture program aimed at sequestering large amounts of atmospheric carbon with improved soil monitoring. This ‘4 per 1000’ initiative was announced at the 2015 Paris Climate Meeting COP 21” and apparently New Zealand is a signatory to it.

        30. Hi Paul, Yes, but it’s unnecessary and hugely counterproductive in a good farming situation. If you provide nitrogen as a fertiliser, it harms the nitrogen fixing biota in the soil. What’s required is high organic content in the soil, preferably through the natural cycles of growth and decay of the plants themselves. High organic matter in the soil assists the whole soil food web of biota. Both water and nutrients are held by organic matter, and whatever the plants need are provided in small quantities whenever a small organism or part of a root dies and is digested by something. Using a soluble fertiliser to provide the nutrients as chemicals just kills that whole process and reduces the organic matter in the soil, sending the system into a spiral of worsening fertility and ability to hold onto moisture. That’s what we’ve done wrong.

          What cows need is to be moved daily onto a fresh area of woody perennial fodder crops, grasses and forbs, including nitrogen-fixing plants. Using this strategy, the soil grows in height, depth, improved structure and fertility while more and more carbon is sequestered in the rich soil food web.

        31. Thanks @heidi. What I was thinking in the cows good or bad discussion was more about what happens vs what should happen, and my question is about the former. A comment seemed to track milk production as if it involves no fossil fuel. My question was intended to test that assumption in terms of current practice, with fertilizer in mind. If fertilizers are made from fossil fuel, and animal eat the grass, their methane in some part comes from fossil fuels. Yes?

        32. @Dave, it would help if you look at the whole article in that sentence: “we have the warming caused by methane locked in,”.

          If we farm and it releases some methane, and that methane causes (say) 1 degree of warming, the earth is still 1 degree warmer after the methane breaks down.

          That warming is ‘locked in’ and will take decades to dissipate while we have stronger storms, melting ice, rising sea level, and permafrost melt (more methane release), all as a result of that heating.

          The methane is gone, its effect is not gone.

        33. Hi Paul, Yes, N fertiliser production uses natural gas (usually) and a huge amount of energy (usually fossil fuels) to fire the process. The N is actually taken from the air. Other fertilisers aren’t so energy-intensive in their manufacture, but they all require fossil fuels to transport and spread.

          While you would imagine that the increase in factory farm dairying would mean that farmers aren’t applying any bought N to pasture as they’ll have so much effluent from the dairy shed ponds, unfortunately they are. For example, here’s a current Dairy NZ Farmfact, which references trials in the Waikato (so I imagine we’re talking intensive dairying):

          So that’s fertilisers: unnecessary (apart from small amounts of trace elements), damaging to ecosystems, and causing climate change. I’ve already discussed loss of soil carbon. Then there’s all the other aspects of the food supply system which bring emissions from the food supply system up to half of all current emissions.

          So what’s the worst contribution to climate change to date? It’s actually the loss of soil carbon, described by Toensmeier as “agriculture’s most damning contribution to climate change”. Here is a quote from his “Carbon Farming Solution” book:

          “Deforestation and agriculture have caused the loss of 320 billion tons of carbon from the terrestrial pool in the last 10,000 years, almost half of which has been since 1850. Burning fossil carbon for energy … has moved 292 billion tons of carbon to the atmospheric pool… and is projected to emit another 200 billion tons in the first three decades of the 21st Century”

  8. Given the researchers have compared other cities to the Wellington city council area, the wealthier bit which excludes Lower Hutt City and Porirua City, then perhaps their conclusion should be that it is healthy to be wealthy.

      1. As a rule, those are the ones using cars and trying to beat the traffic.

        As another rule, if they are on PT then they were probably at work very early too.

        Regardless of how you get into the city, once there you are usually in a precinct that lets you easily do all your micro-trips on foot. I am in Albany for a week a month and, for all that I can see the other businesses I might need from where I work, they aren’t close in the same way. (Mind you, I still walk to them).

    1. Yes, for a more accurate comparison, they should have used the stats for the Wellington urban region rather than just Wellington City. All the other cities in the study have unitary local government.

  9. It is a bit easy to get hung up on the pursuit of false accuracy. I like this piece and the underlying analysis, because it illustrates the do-ability and benefits of the general vision. The call is to planners to think about how the things that make Wellington work might be replicated across other cities, but deliberately so instead of as some accident of history.

    1. Let’s see the things that Wellington has that might be replicated across other cities seeing it’s being held up as some kind of example.

      Integrated ticketing? Nope, still using ancient cardboard tickets on the trains with ‘conductors’. And of course, cash only, none of these new fangled cards. Want to go from here to there on multiple modes of PT, that will be another fare everytime you change. Oh and the cost of using PT in Wellington is off the scale.

      Cycle lanes? Try biking from Wellington to Petone on the ‘cycleway’ and you end up on the side of the motorway 800m short of Petone.

      Walking? This is where you get skewed results by only looking at Wellington City. Not too many people walking from Whitby or Aotea, they are as car dependent as any new development in the other cities.

    2. But at the same time, it is important that the analysis is accurate on the important points. The analysis is on the basis that ‘Wellington works’, while if you include the highways leading into Wellington each day, you might conclude that Wellington doesn’t work as well as the initial analysis suggested. So the analysis based on ‘apples for apples’ that would include the metro area rather than the city itself would not be in pursuit of false (or spurious) accuracy, but for ensuring the basis for comparison is fair.
      I have a problem in that carpooling is not taken into account. A person traveling as a passenger in a car has the same impact on the system as a person traveling as a passenger in a bus.
      I do not find the ‘Wellington works’ finding to be credible, so find the whole piece to be lacking. It would be great if the authors could look at the whole metro areas and provide more accurate material.

      1. Sorry but this is typical Wellington snobbery about what is and isn’t Wellington. Let’s be clear, no one outside the inner city areas sees or cares about the supposed distinction between Wellington City and Hutt City. Or Porirua City. It’s Wellington from Pukerua Bay(really Kapiti Coast) and Upper Hutt to Island Bay and Seatoun.

        1. I agree with you – at least I think I do. The analysis has been done as if Wellington is just the City. It needs to be redone looking at the metro area that includes all the places you mentioned, IMHO.

        2. Yes, Wellington is, which reflects the way the roads and rails tie these areas together.

          We know the rails make a huge positive difference to the function of the regions roads – as evidenced by the counter-factual when the Hutt line was taken out by that storm.

          The lesson from Wellington might be more about the way it is a cluster of multi-use areas. The whole point is not to compare apples with apples, but to consider the value of some of the more salient differences.

          Cars still serve when your transport needs span several areas in a day – just take another look at the figures provided in the article, which show plenty of car use – but many Wellingtonians have times in their week when they can deal with everything in some relatively close area and can forego the car.

          No one said Wellington has it completely right – indeed, the article suggests more could be done, which I think gels with the other comments in this bit of the thread – but what it does say is that there is already some experience of getting more PT and active mode use happening, in NZ, that can be looked at, thought about, and drawn on.

          In terms of what is holding Wellington back, and as a regular PT user – in both Wellington and Auckland – I know first hand the nuisance value of separate ticketing systems, and the relative costs per journey. But as a parent of school age children, the big problem for me in Wellington is the way transport runs perpendicular to the natural intra-area lines of communication. Getting the kids to school safely and on time, and home again, is far more of a constraint on our household’s daily travel options than ticket prices and ticketing systems.

  10. Great article.

    I also note:

    1) Other NZ can’t easily achieve the Wellington mode share (with current land use patterns) as Wellington is strongly topographically constrained with many trips along the same corridor to/from the CBD (vs Chch which is almost flat and circular)

    2) Land zoning is the major problem limiting mode share & designed by urban planners who don’t have to bear the costs.
    The market would respond much more elastically to transport costs without the zoning (near inelasltic response due the cost of trying to zone change).

    Not only that, the low density enforced by the urban planners, results in the low density sprawl in which car travel is the only viable alternative. Transport planners are left to treat the symptoms as best they can, as they can rarely deal with the cause (zoning).
    There should be no zoning, only effects based limitations. This was the original intent of the RMA.

    3) To deal with the health effects an air pollution excise tax should be added to fuel costs.

    4) The expected real future carbon price path should be included in the business cases for transport projects (as far as I understand everything still assumes base year costs). We have a carbon price on petrol linked to the ETS.

    5) The assumed value of life in NZ could be higher which would increase the number of safety works. The value adopted is moderate and some other jurisdictions have higher values.

    6) We don’t have congestion tolls (or the longer term full road pricing). There is little disincentive to drive in the peaks, except congestion, for mandatory Home to Work and Home to Education trips

    7) Parking strategies – no NZ cities have comprehensive CBD parking strategies to use parking pricing to reduce peak demand from commuter trips (in lieu of congestion tolls). This would require a levy on private provider parking as well as higher prices on long term public parking.

    8) No NZ cities yet have comprehensive off-road cycle networks. We still pretend that on-road painted cycle lanes are safe. Approach based traffic signal phasing with protected phases for peds and cyclists would also help.

    9) NZ emission standards aren’t too bad. We adopt nearly the latest overseas standards for the year of import.

    9) We don’t have a vision zero approach to road safety.

    1. kiwi_overseas, any chance you could write a post about the carbon price being linked to the ETS and how this skews every official analysis of transport issues?

  11. Remember when in the quest to lower C02 diesel vehicles were seen to be better for the environment due to their lower C02 output. Unfortunately better for the environment does not necessarily mean better for human health.
    Diesel vehicles especially older ones should be limited in urban environments as they emit some really nasty stuff at a rate significantly more than petrol.

  12. Great article. Interesting ideas within the limits of the study. Would have been good to include the Napier/Hastings urban area, which is 133,000 people according to stats NZ. Funny how Dunedin always gets counted as a major city, despite slipping behind Napier/Hastings, Hamilton and Tauranga over the years with slower population growth in the far south.

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