There were a couple of news articles that caught my attention over the weekend.

Public Transport in Christchurch

The Press ran a great piece on Saturday about the trade-off between driving and public transport.

Commuting by bus could save Christchurch drivers about $7500 a year, but mean spending an extra two weeks in traffic. DOMINIC HARRIS crunches the numbers for commuters.

Drivers could make huge savings on weekly journeys to Christchurch for work, pocketing thousands of dollars a year by ditching their own vehicles for public transport.

Taking the bus would also save up to $7 a day in parking – or $1680 a year.

But the financial gain comes with the sacrifice of convenience and what for some is a frustrating caveat – spending up to two weeks longer a year stuck in traffic.

The article goes into some detail with a number of scenarios highlighting the trade-offs, which boil down to you can either save money or save time. In all cases, catching a bus took longer than driving. It’s probably also not helping that the shape of the city has changed thanks to the earthquakes and public transport has still not recovered to the level of usage it was before the quakes.

Thanks to Axel Wilke for getting me the most recent data

There are other factors that will determine the level of usage but imagine how different the results would be if there wasn’t the time penalty for using PT. Of course, this applies not just to Christchurch but to other cities, including Auckland, too. The few routes and times of the day where we’ve made public transport time competitive with driving we see significant levels of usage, for example over 70% of people entering the city from the North Shore do so on a bus thanks to the busway and bus lanes on routes like Onewa Rd.

On the question of more motorways, at least there is some hope.

But Professor Simon Kingham, a transport expert at Canterbury University who was recently appointed chief science adviser at the Ministry of Transport, believes part of the answer to congestion may actually appear counterintuitive – to build fewer roads.

“There is evidence that congestion can suppress demand. You talk to anybody and ask them if they have changed their plans or the time they are going to travel because they know the road is going to be congested, people say ‘yes, of course I have’.

“When roads get congested people either change modes [of transport] if there are alternatives, or they go at different times, or they don’t travel.

“But as soon as you create more road space you actually release more people who use those roads. So if we were to build extra lanes and roads up to Amberley, we would actually find more people come and use those roads.

“If you close roads, what you find is that people don’t want to sit in congested traffic, so a number of people change what they do – they either travel at a different time or by different mode, and that’s where you need alternatives.”

Kingham says it would only take between 5 and 10 per cent of people switching from driving to solve congestion in the short-term, but that would require good quality alternatives.

Sprawl king says he has the answers

On Sunday the Herald ran a piece about one of the country’s biggest property developers. In it, he effectively claims to have the solution to our housing crisis

“But the more I look at it, the more I firmly believe that these people – both Labour and National – don’t actually want to solve the problem. They don’t want to hear what’s going to fix it and have gone so far down the wrong road it’s ridiculous. We will still be ploughing the same field for the next 20 years if they don’t stop chasing their tails and actually adopt a plan that works.”

He believes the Government needs to embrace the expert knowledge of New Zealand’s successful developers who have “weathered the storms over the years and come out the other end”.

“I want every New Zealander to have their own home, their own lawn to mow, roof to paint and driveway to sweep. With that ownership, goals and dreams, comes a lot of pride and self-respect, and I believe that a lot of our drug, alcohol and family violence problems would disappear overnight, if we can just empower the people to realise their dream to have and own their own home we’d grow a nation of proud people, not people looking to self-medicate because they are drowning in unrealised potential.

“Buying a home in today’s climate puts a massive strain on people’s lives – their marriages, businesses, health. Everything is at breaking point; there’s no head room left as the prices spiral out of control. It’s just wrong. I just don’t get why we can’t do it. It is perfectly logical and if one of the governments of the day just stops for a breath, resets its destination, gets back on the bus and gets the job done, it won’t even take long once they fully understand where they need to go and how to get there.”

He’s willing to stake his reputation on solving the crisis – and will happily stake his own hard-earned reserves on it.

“If the Government won’t help the community achieve this, then I’ll roll my sleeves up and pay for and do the job myself.”

Of all the benefits of owning a home, painting a roof or sweeping a driveway have to be some of the last things I imagine most people want to do. Mowing lawns would probably fit in that category for most too. Perhaps not the best examples to use. And far from just being the financial strain, other things that put a huge strain on people’s lives are long, soul destroying commutes, which is relevant given his history earlier in the piece suggests what his solutions would be.

He has helped mastermind some of Auckland’s most substantial new housing developments, including Milldale, Millwater, Silverdale, Flat Bush, Pokeno, Karaka, Tuakau and Drury, turning over billions of dollars, while personally owning great swathes of land.

These developments are some of most ‘drive till you qualify’, auto-dependent developments in Auckland. Developments that are some of the most difficult to serve with quality public transport which only serves to exacerbate Auckland’s congestion issues. For example

Millwater’s loopy street pattern makes extremely difficult to run a bus that doesn’t exclude a large number of houses.

Flat Bush’s ‘off-line’ results in buses between Manukau and Botany having to take a lengthy detour which is a poor outcome for all others who might use that route.

And of course Pokeno which is outside Auckland but has no public transport (or other amenities) but is sold on its proximity to Auckland and most residents still battle the Southern motorway daily.

He even highlights in a Kaikoura development a trend that’s been employed a lot in Auckland over the years by land bankers, selectively releasing land to prop up values.

He also bought the balance on the open market, while rethinking “a new pricing structure” and direction for the sites – surrounded by a long-established golf course, winery, prime fishing spots, 3km of walkways, and 170,000 newly planted native plants – and has decided to limit the number of sites for sale annually.

“I want to ensure the land values reflect the quality and cost invested in the development and the world-class scenery on offer. It’s only by doing this will we be able to realise the full potential of the development and economic benefit

The guy has clearly been successful at what he does but that doesn’t mean it’s an example we should look to replicate on a larger scale.

City Rail Link and Mt Eden development

Metro Magazine ran an interesting article on the redevelopment of the area around the Mt Eden train station following the completion of the City Rail Link. One of the most interesting parts was right at the end highlighting how much the market has changed in a short space of time about carparks with apartments.

“My dad converted the old Hellabies on Hohiperi Street [behind what was then the Winstones building],” says McEwan. “We’re picking sites now where cars aren’t important. In 2014 when we did 38 carparks for 24 apartments in Grey Lynn, nimbys said that was terrible, not even two carparks per apartment. This year, we’re halfway through selling 59 France [former Kings Arms] and we’ve sold 19 carparks for 50 apartments.”

“Younger ones aren’t buying cars, they’re walking everywhere,” he says. “You can buy an awful lot of Uber rides for the price of owning a car and a carpark. They have faith in technology solving problems, and they’ve not grown up with that urban divide between western suburbs and eastern suburbs.”

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93 comments

  1. Apartments in theory sound all well and good but buying one carrys some pretty big risks.

    There are reminders all over Auckland of leaky buildings because for some reason we as a nation lost the ability to build watertight homes. And many apartments I have seen, not shrouded in a plastic skin, bear all the hallmarks of leaking.

    Long after the developer has liquidated their company and renamed it something very similar, poor home owners are being financially ruined.

    1. $750k buys you a possibly run-down three bed, 40 mins from the CBD at peak and gives you a lawn for pets and as much parking as you can eat. An apartment for $750K gets you… two bedroom.

      There is not the value in apartments to justify the compromises required in lifestyle or mobility. Maybe at half the price, but not at $1:$1 for what can be less amenity.

      1. Location and proximity to whatever is not an amenity? Not wanting a pet, lawn or parking is not an amenity? Im not saying these things are for everyone, but (advocating?) regulating away the choice because you dont like/want it?

          1. 🙂 Even if it was true, who wants to spend 50 minutes driving! I feel very sorry for people who have that as their only option. But when public transport takes

            https://i.imgur.com/8gF9sdg.png

            My friends in Helensville drive to Albany and take the NEX.

            Again, when the discrepency between public transport and driving is so large, we need to either stop considering Helensville as a commuting suburb – and intensify in areas where the commute time is reasonable – or install bus lanes and better PT as a priority.

            Instead, we have NZTA intending to make the whole situation worse through more road building.

          2. id rather live in a micro apartment in town than a car dependant mansion in the middle of nowhere anyday.

      2. I was reading about the Mountain View leaky apartment disaster with a repair bill of $43.6m, it probably would have been better to knock it down and start again. The building is leaking. has non-compliant fire safety systems and even the internal structure needs reinforcement (translation: it could fall down at any minute).

        1/ Why is no one – not the builders, sub-contractors, developers, or council building inspectors – in jail for this? How can no one be held accountable for these shoddy and non-compliant buildings that are literally about to fall down that were sold to a public who purchased them in good faith??

        2/ At what stage will be finally admit the ideologically driven housing regulations reforms of the 1990s have been proven to be an utter catastrophe?

        Fixing the corruption, ideologically-driven regulatory stupidity and greed that has characterised the building sector since the 1990s is critical to getting public (let alone the banks who issue the mortgages) buy in to the concept of apartment living and going up rather than out.

        1. The real crime here is the former Auckland City Councils belief in the early ’00s [Lead by one time mayor John Banks] that letting developers put up [poor quality in every sense of the word] residential housing on land zoned business or industrial with little or no requirement that any of the usual amenities be provided for, by simply allowing developers to slip any old crap through the system by calling it an “Innovative housing development”. Ignoring reverse sensitivity issues and just every other bit of good advice in the process as well as the usual land rezoning consent process under the RMA.

          Allowing these “wanna be” apartments like this permitted all sorts of then protective rules to be thrown out the window. Shame is council also let the developer, in effect, “throw the windows out the window too” – hence why they invariably leaked like sieves.

          Net result, what you see here today – 99 owners and their banks and mortgages caught up in a mess they had little or nothing to do with.
          No wonder banks are so leery of lending on Apartment developments as a result of getting their fingers burned so badly in these crap examples.

          Be interesting to see how many of those Auckland City Council “Innovative housing developments” haven’t ended up being leaky, the big ones I can think of being the Mt Eden developments on the former Colonial Ammunication Co and related sites, the developments on Symonds St between the motorway, Symonds St and Khyber Pass which all leaked like sieves, as well as this one in Mt Wellington were all rectified at least once since they were built.

          Its likely that demolish the lot would be the sensible answer, but where will you get [as owner] any guarantee that what you replaced it with wouldn’t end up costing a lot more time and money than planned or that you wouldn’t end up in the same leaky building boat 10 or more years down the track?

          I have little faith that big name overseas developers will do a better job than locals either because they’ll end up using locals for most of the work and/or they’ll simply set up their construction companies so that they are wound up as soon as the last of the work is completed. Then who in NZ can the owner get redress from?

          Currently its always the council as last man standing because they issued a consent to something. Clearly not a good outcome for ratepayers that the council is always last man standing. Needs to be completely changed.

          We almost need a modern version of “EQC” cover to provide a social insurance cover for badly built buildings – something that all developers and new build buyers pay in to. But we also need to beef up the inspection regime so that these bad outcomes are designed out, poor products kept out, and poor/illegal construction techniques prevented from happening in the first place.

          1. Yes, good suggestions. Wasn’t BRANZ, and ideologically-driven regulatory changes (as mentioned by Sanctuary), part of the problem, too. Important to keep the leaky building problems separate from the lack-of-amenity problems, no?

      3. I would describe not having to mow a lawn, not having to sweep a driveway and not having to speed the weekends maintaining a run down house… as amenity.

        1. Nah, being able to fire up the bbq with family and friends in the garden on a nice summers day, kids playing dogs barking beer flowing and getting in the para pool is way more amenity than being stuck in a 2 bed concrete box apartment without a blade of grass in sight.
          As for cutting grass and sweeping drive I’d rather take that exercise than I walk in my concrete box or risk street walking

          1. Barking dog…
            Excellent exercise walking, valuable affection and protective family member, great security when ppl away or in house, woofing alarm device, deters thieving scum and trespassers, excellent companion for children and elderly, cheap to feed and maintain…
            I have ak cbd apartment collegues who not permitted to have pets

          2. My apartment has my bbq on the balcony with a garden, also another bbq/party area on the lawn, plus I could take the bbq in the lift up to the rooftop.

            My apartment is also fully compatible with beer, kids playing and of course the pool.

            No concrete either, except for the superstructure of course. My “box” has carpet, timber floors and painted gib..

          3. And you get the trampoline out for kids or kick around a football or set up wickets for family cricket or throw the stick or ball for the dog to retrieve or have kids on swings or do a hangi or get your eggs from the chickens you keep or the fresh garden veges you grow or greenhouse you cultivate in – so no difference really in apartment living? Eh?

          4. Well it is next to the domain, so yeah pretty easy to kick a ball around and throw a stick.

          5. Point is, Bogle, most people in the burbs don’t have time for their gardens. In addition to the wasted fuel for lawnmowers and weedeaters to have it ‘look’ a certain way, they spray chemicals to cope with the edges and weeds. All of this pollutes the ecosystem, and often for not that much use. And in the wealthier suburbs they use some of their income to pay someone else to manage it for them.

            If you make good use of your garden, that’s great. Nobody’s trying to that away from you as a possibility. I do too; I have fruit trees and grow my veges from seed I save, and I have chickens. But the hundreds of people between me and the next person doing the same would possibly be better served by well-insulated, well-designed apartment with access to a shared space. Shared spaces managed either cooperatively or by a paid manager will allow for a more compact city with better access to amenities, and more socialising in the shared spaces. All good.

            And even for the likes of me, I think I’d better off with sharing my garden space, and that’s what I’m working towards.

      4. “There is not the value in apartments to justify the compromises required in lifestyle or mobility.”

        Speak for yourself. I consider living out in the wops and the 2hrly commute each day as a compromise not worth the value of the “run-down three bed, 40 mins from the CBD”

        1. and I guess I’d consider the ability to have pets as companions, space for kids to run around in and enough room to keep tools, a garage and projects as more important than the myriad of compromises an apartment presents for no actual monetary saving, considering what you’re giving up (an extra bedroom, second bathroom) etc. I hope over time I am wrong and a three bedroom apartment is a realistic option for people, instead of costing more than the equivalent three bedroom house – like I say, there’s a cost-benefit issue and apartments seem to represent relatively poor value for most people.

    2. Houses were leaky too you know. And then you’re all on your own with regards to repairs.

      At least with apartments you pool risk, share costs, and possibly gain economies of scale.

      Maintenance / repairs for my apartment over last decade have cost much less than for a house.

      1. True but I look at Parnell Terraces at Quay Park as one of many examples and its all bad. Being part of a wall sharing body corporate you lose control whether you have the money or not, along with the shirt off your back

        At least if you have a leaky home you can repair as you can afford it.

        1. I have at least two friends who tell the horror stories of finding out you have purchased a leaky apartment, the poor and out of date legislation around body corporates, and the pressure on people to somehow find hundreds of thousands of dollars above their mortgage to pay for repairs – in one case known to one of my friends leading directly to a suicide in her building.

    3. Must be an Auckland thing. We seem to be able to build most apartment blocks in Wellington without leaking too much – Stadium Gardens as the exception. Dunedin, meanwhile, when I last looked, had had only 4 leaky building claims in total, ever. Might be more now, but I think there are some clear lessons here about building apartments:

      Climate matters – Auckland is significantly moister and hotter – perfect for growing mould.
      Quality of builders – sorry Auckland, but you’ve got some really crap builders up there – possibly related to unskilled migrant labourers and not enough supervision.
      Quality of inspection services – clearly, Dunedin Council does not let builders get away with shoddy workmanship. Meanwhile in Auckland, sub-contracting out inspection services to third party inspectors is still clearly not working.
      Speed of working. Slow and meticulous works better than quick and dirty, every time….

        1. Indeed. Possible, but thankfully not actually true.

          I suspect there is an element of dour Scots to factor in there too, and possibly building materials – descended from a culture of hard granite stone in both Scotland and Dunedin. Different from the porous scoria stone that was sometimes used as cladding in Auckland.

          1. I think it has more to with 30+ years of little or no population growth in Dunedin. Hard granite stone may be a good idea in Scotland but in plate boundary NZ, it’s actually a liability, I certainly wouldn’t want to be on Rattray or Princes St when the Alpine moves again.

          2. “Dunedin is a long way from the Alpine Fault”

            True, but there are other faults …

            Akatore Fault is just south of Dunedin. 3x ~M7 quakes in 12,000 years. A quake that size would do a fair bit of damage.

            There was a M4.9 in 1974 that did a lot of chimney damage in South Dunedin, St Kilda & St Clair area (MM VI -ish type damage). Nice soft sediments there, great for increasing shaking. Likely was on a fault just off the coast.

      1. Yes I’m sure the road to prosperity is to not invest, have slightly lower taxes, and therefore eat a few more biscuits and gravy

      2. In defense of the unspeakable, it doesn’t follow that biscuits and gray are uneatable (apologies to Oscar Wilde). Biscuits (a sort of scone) and gravy (a Béchamel sauce traditionally made with bacon fat) served with sausage meat (basically finely ground fried mince) in it is a pretty traditional American breakfast, and quite tasty when cooked well.

    1. The Koch brothers symbolise everything that is wrong with the US and the wealthy.

      And strangely enough I found the BART incredibly efficient, safe, quicker and better value than any Uber!

    2. To be honest, big right wing money is killing everything to do with the public, not just the transport. But that’s what just happens when the top 1% of people in the USA own more wealth than the bottom 90%…..
      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/12/06/the-richest-1-percent-now-owns-more-of-the-countrys-wealth-than-at-any-time-in-the-past-50-years/

      Sample thought process: “Why should my hard-earned money go in taxes to support annoying public vehicles driven by illegal immigrants to steal jobs from hard-working Americans, and drive on these free public roads and get given priority over my Mercedes? I should be free to hoard my money but they should pay their taxes or be deported… etc” Trumpian views are killing American public life, not just from Trump.

      Thank goodness we live in a place where, when the Government says “Auckland, we gonna put your road taxes up”, people don’t go on a rampage, but just say “Damn” and then “Fair enough…”

  2. Every time I go by Pokeno I just wonder to myself (and anyone within earshot) ‘who would choose to live here?”

    It is:
    1. Right up against the motorway, which is cambered to make sure that all the noise travels into the Pokeno ‘valley’
    2. Made up entirely of Auckland sized parcels of land, so all you can see out the window is your neighbours house

    You live in the middle of nowhere, with all the downsides (long travel times, lack of variety, lack of anonymity) and none of the upsides (lack of noise, space, views)

    It’s like a variation on building apartments in Kumeu – I feel like the point has been missed. Am I missing something? Are they SO cheap that they make up for the obscene commute?

    1. Pokeno is a disaster on so many levels, even the rates are high, there’s not enough community to share the capital costs of the infrastructure… it has only happened in that form because better alternatives are so restricted. And it could be good, with a rapid transit service and a better planning code it could be a compact village around a station and community actually in the countryside, not a sprawl-burb instead of the countryside, and a long drive instead of a life.

      1. You act somewhat surprised Patrick.

        What do you expect from a town that let itself be renamed for a year by some DOT COM company from the early 2000’s DOT COM boom and bust – that no one remembers anymore, as a publicity stunt.

        The only attraction Pokeno ever had was the one developers saw NZTA gave it in its proximity to the motorway Expressway on and off ramps.
        In turn given as a sop by NZTA when they moved SH1 out of the town around the same time.

        And of course, the fact it was outside the Auckland region, made it so much more attractive to developers as the Auckland development rules didn’t apply.

        Waikato Regional Council simply didn’t imagine for a second anyone would want to move south of Aucklands redrawn “border” with Waikato and not go and live in Hamilton. If they had have given it any thought, they would have tightened the rules in time for these places to ensure a proper, planned and coordinated development occurred in conjunction with Hamilton. Now its too late, its happened.

        1. The development at Pokeno has nothing to do with the Waikato Regional Council, it’s part of the Waikato District Council area. The Waikato District Council is very keen on this type of urban development as it adds a whole lot of new,well off ratepayers for a local authority where the main towns are Huntly and Ngaruawahia.

          1. Thats all fine and dandy for WDC then, until those Auckland escapees start demanding Auckland style facilities, like some form of PT to Hamilton and Auckland, rubbish collections, libraries, swimming pools, recreation centres, public meeting halls, fully paved roads, well maintained footpaths, clean drinking water and town sewerage scheme that doesn’t smell or stop working any time rain falls. Decent shops.

            The usual paraphernalia that ex and wanne-be Aucklanders have [or will] come to expect as of right for their rates $.

            Problem is as Patrick pointed out many of those come with a big city price tag or require a population density to encourage them, but that area doesn’t have a population base to enable or pay for those.

            So either new Pokeno folks will end up paying for those directly [paying twice for the privilege], or will in time give up and move on for sunnier climes where they aren’t charged high rates, a long commute times and get no decent services for their rate $.

            And maybe WDC has big ideas for its region, but its up to WRC to temper those plans and also ensure that the regional part of Waikato Regional Council means and delivers better outcomes for all in its area. ‘cos right now it looks like every council in Waikato is out for itself.

          2. Not quite true. Pokeno happened because it was outside the Auckland Regional Council area so their Metropolitan Urban Limits (MUL) didn’t apply. When it was planned it was part of Franklin District Council. The ARC’s MUL prevented development at Drury or Runciman so it went further south instead into the Waikato Regional Council area.

    2. Here’s two more stupid things about these houses:
      – 1: they still cost $600,000 and more.
      – 2: despite looking a bit cramped, those sections are pretty large (I’d estimate 500m² or so)

      I guess in a messed up real estate market in Auckland, anything is possible.

    3. Not to my liking either, but each to their own. Personally I think people should have complete freedom to choose where they live and what they live in – as long as they don’t expect to be subsidised for their choice. Its that last part that is difficult to fix.

      1. “as long as they don’t expect to be subsidised for their choice.”
        Right, which is the problem with building suburban fringe neighbourhoods. This is an example from the States, but things function reasonably similar here to be relevant. Basically, dense, inner-city neighbourhoods are subsidising even the basic infrastructure, not to mention the blown out roading projects residents then demand. And the example city is still of the old impoverished inner city demographic. Imagine the disparity here where city centre property values are so high? https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2017/1/9/the-real-reason-your-city-has-no-money

        1. Yes, and before miffy pokes his head up to talk about the costs of adding infrastructure for intensification in the existing parts of the city, I’m getting my two cents’ in first. 🙂 Generations have kept their rates low by not maintaining and upgrading our infrastructure. We could have had separated sewers completed 30 or 40 years ago, and now we would perhaps be upgrading those pipes for intensification. Instead, we didn’t do what was required and the cost for doing it all now is being used as an excuse against intensification.

          1. I can’t believe that WaterDon’tCare are still trying to avoid separating sewers in St Marys Bay and Herne Bay. The people of Boston prosecuted their local government and won to stop them polluting the harbour. Perhaps we need to try the same.

          2. Apparently there was quite a heated St Mary’s Bay residents meeting recently. Overflow from the main interceptor going into that sort of area, if I heard the gist right? Might be worth looking into, if I wasn’t stirring so many other pots. 🙂

  3. Robertson’s nonsense highlights why Auckland needs this blog. Whenever government policy goes wrong, as with urban sprawl, there are always vested interests that benefit. They fight to preserve the status quo no matter hiw much it costs the public. In the cae of freeways and urban sprawl the beneficiaries are the usual suspects – housing, car and road builders, oil companies, and their banks.

    Lest I sound alarmist, this NY Times article highlights how much it is happening in USA to preserve their “natural preference” for cars and roads and sprawl.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/19/climate/koch-brothers-public-transit.html?emc=edit_nn_20180619&nl=morning-briefing&nlid=6064817220180619&te=1

  4. “In all cases, catching a bus took longer than driving.”

    Next time someone says to me “You can’t expect me to take PT; it takes too long.” I’ll say, “You must expect to see a buslane installed then, to reverse that situation.”

    1. Personally, the time is a feature if the route integrates nicely with whatever else I have to fit in (usually only tricky when parenting related); credit the smartphone, perhaps, but PT let’s me take advantage of it. Predictability counts for a lot and PT is pretty good like that, on main routes anyway, too.

  5. I was starting to think that the quote from the sprawl king was a spoof. Six paragraphs of A-grade meaningless platitudes about empowering people to realise their dreams, without the slightest hint of how this is to be done.
    Maybe I’m unfair, and there are some concrete recommendations in the rest of the article. I haven’t clicked through. Let me guess: ‘We need more of what I make my money from doing.’ Tell me if I’m wrong.

    1. Is it fair to say that Sprawl King has played a part in some of Auckland’s PT problems?
      If he sold the land to developers, couldn’t he have put safeguards prior to sale to ensure well designed PT was a condition put in place before settlement?

  6. “You can buy an awful lot of Uber rides for the price of owning a car and a carpark. They have faith in technology solving problems, and they’ve not grown up with that urban divide between western suburbs and eastern suburbs.”

    Yes, but on the theme of midweek reading, look at what Uber – and disappointingly, MoT’s Richard Cross – are looking at now. Uber Flying taxis:

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12072921

    “New Zealand is seen as an attractive place to test and trial these solutions because of our supportive environment for R&D, relatively uncrowded skies, trusted regulatory regime, and because New Zealand is a good place to do business,” Cross said. “The Government supports innovative transport solutions that have the potential to contribute to a safe, secure, sustainable and resilient transport system.”

    There is NOTHING sustainable about helicopter taxis. I’m sure New Zealand is seen as an attractive place to test and trial these solutions because we’ve got congestion, and the direction we’re heading with our road-building is only going to make it worse. So these ‘solutions’ for the super-rich are just about them being able to avoid our congestion while avoiding paying enough in taxes and rates to fix the real problem.

    Richard Cross and the MoT should be ashamed of themselves. If any public money is being spent, it should be on how to prevent such disastrous, climate-changing, unequitable ‘solutions’ from ever entering New Zealand.

    1. The main “attraction” for Uber and others testing this stuff here is lack of liability laws like the US has thanks majorly to NZs ACC.

      Meaning if an Uber dive bomber Flying Taxi crashed and killed anyone inside or outside the Uber we the tax payer simply pick up the tab. Uber carries on unaffected and worst gets a slightly higher insurance premium on their liability insurance for property damage. Thats it,

      Elon Musk was right when he said flying taxis are a dumb idea because you’ll continually have stuff falling out of the sky all the time. Its one thing to live on a busy road and have the odd car through your front fence, garage or house every now and then.

      Its quite another to end up with a [whole, or just a whole lot pieces of a] flying taxi through your roof or crashing on top of you as you walk or drive the streets.

      MoT or any Government Department is stupid for being involved. It’s not going to solve any problems and will make a whole lot more problems along the way as well.

    2. Go easy on Richard. He has inherited an ITS strategy and ‘facilitative regulatory environment’ for technology trials from the previous government; I am unsure how much time anyone has had to run a comb through it or, more to the point given how the work is a chance to rub shoulders with sexy techy types, whether there is political will to do so.

      1. Maybe. NZ seems to allow all sorts of stupid things to come in because people are unable to just call a spade a spade. Why use that drivel about sustainable solutions when talking about an unsustainable technology that is part of the climate change and resource-wasting problems we have. This sort of blindness to physics is part of the starry-eyed progress-is-always-good don’t-interfere-with-the market ideology that feeds corporate greed.

        And meanwhile we had the NZTA inviting ideas for hi-tech solutions to transport safety, when so many of the solutions are not technical at all, but decisions about priority and values. https://www.nzta.govt.nz/media-releases/nz-transport-agency-calls-for-hi-tech-ideas-to-make-roads-safer/

        1. I think the vehicle being tested down south is an EV, so counts as sustainable in that sense (only). Looked at more holistically that’s a bit of a rort – as you say, starting values do a lot for what you see as solutions.

    1. France has much greater coverage of motorways and expressways than we do so you don’t need to have higher speeds on those roads. They also have an extensive HSR and standard passenger rail network which again we lack.
      Without those options we need to keep our higher limits on highways otherwise we might as well go back the the Victorian era of horse and cart.

        1. It’s certainly true that the backbone of rail and >2 lane roads in France is much more developed.

          The more interesting question is, in the NZ context, what should be done to fix the similar road toll problem. A $10billion motorway over the Rangipo Desert would be very sad. That’s what you get in France though, bulling through the picturesque countryside, with 130 kmh speed limits.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millau_Viaduct

      1. I think you are being a bit of a drama queen. A default open road speed limit of 80kmh in NZ would not take us back to the Victorian era. It would also not preclude us from having some roads of better standard (not necessarily expressway) or very low risk with a 100kmh speed limit.

  7. The guy with the answers to the housing shortage says he wants to empower everyone to have their own home. In the same article, he says he will reduce the amount of available dwellings to “reflect the value of the development (reduce supply, increase price)”.

    Contradiction?

  8. Yes read that article in the weekend about the developer. Interesting those comments he made & his motivation to even get into properly development, seems to have a good heart but just directed wrong type of plans. Interesting how he has a huge expensive car collection/museum (his first love) I think down south, I think this relates to the housing he helps create & the sprawl aspect.

    1. He comes across as the complete babyboomer stereotype. His name, the property developing, the 1950s attitude to home ownership and, of course, a huge car collection, almost certainly V8s.

  9. “for example over 70% of people entering the city from the North Shore do so on a bus”
    I am a strong supporter of cars but even I have started using the bus to get to meetings in town particularly if they will finish in the evening peak. More parking at Constellation Drive in the morning and I would never drive in to the CBD.

          1. You know, when Jesus was a boy he turned the other children into goats and other animals because he didn’t like the way they were treating him. If miffy’s a naughty boy he’s still not even in the same league of naughtiness. 🙂

        1. I was hoping someone would bring gold myrrh and frankincense but wise men are in short supply in the comments section of this website.

          1. These days they’d probably bring Auckland property, Amazon shares and an old discarded hard drive of bitcoin

  10. 1) We need congestion tolling

    2) Where there is no congestion tolling, we need local government to have the tools to levy all long term commuter parking (private & public) as demand management

    3) We need an elastic land supply – all zoning & density rules have to go & be replaced by a nationwide standard of effects

    4) Nationwide, as part of the effects based standard, all new urban subdivisions (where PT exists in the town/city) need to show that their road network layout can support an efficient PT route(s) & stops that provide full coverage

  11. Sprawl king likely have too much rural land holding that is waiting to be built for profit.

    He is just trying make up some manipulative reasons to lobby the council to sprawl so he can develop his land.

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