Engineer planner Lt Col Sir Colin Buchanan is rightly famous for his 1963 report Traffic in Towns and 1964 book of the same name.

The report looks ahead to wall of traffic heading to British streets in the post war period and sets out principles and plans to ameliorate the negative effects as much as possible. It was hugely influential in the UK at least, wiki:

The report signified some fundamental shifts in attitudes to roads, by recognising that there were environmental disbenefits from traffic, and that large increases in capacity can exacerbate congestion problems, not solve them. This awareness of environmental impact was ahead of its time, and not translated into policy for some years in other countries, such as Germany or the USA, where the promotion of traffic flow remained paramount

There is so much wisdom in this report, much of it borne out by the passage of time, just a couple of examples:

The American policy of providing motorways for commuters can succeed, even in American conditions, only if there is a disregard for all considerations other than the free flow of traffic which seems sometimes to be almost ruthless. 

and this, still so true:

We have found it desirable to avoid the term ‘solution’ altogether for the traffic problem is not such much a problem waiting for a solution as a social situation requiring to be dealt with by policies patiently applied over a period and revised from time to time in light of events.

In other words, if traffic flow is the dominant priority, this requires the sacrifice of the very places it is meant to serve. And the problems of traffic cannot be solved, only restricted.

I have known about this book since seeing it in my parent’s bookcase as a kid. But what I didn’t know, and only has come to my attention because his grandson Paul (a transport economist) sent me a copy, is that Sir Colin was commissioned in 1966 by the Mayor of Auckland to “advise upon the the re-arrangement of the inner city streets systems consequent upon motorways“.

The resultant report: City of Auckland Planning in the Central Area – An Assessment has eluded my hauntings of the city archives so must have been even more deeply suppressed than most. And I guess I can see why. It’s very very good. So good its principles should be followed now. Like any good consultant he answered the question that the situation demanded as well as the lesser one he was actually asked: The best of the report is about the principles of how to plan and control city streets in the age of the car, and it is this I want to focus on now.

Because we still need to do this.

And I guess the great news is that we have never been better placed to do so than now, because we are now fixing the huge mistake of last century in Auckland: the car-only transport policy.

The key point is Buchanan starts from the inarguable position that city building is an aesthetic issue, a qualitative one, as well as a quantitative one, and that vehicle traffic in volume is an unacceptable assault on the very possibility of a successful city, and must be consciously managed. Unfortunately the context of his employment was

So the starting point of the report is the rejection of the Rapid Transit half of the De Leuw Cather plan.

On this the report is rather wistful:

The City Engineer, who earlier had presided over the ripping up of the tramways, was looking for support for what parts of the city centre he should bulldoze to receive all the traffic from the planned motorways, which streets to flood with traffic. This is the thinking that gave us the Hobson/Nelson one-way system, Mayoral Drive (Quadrant St) smashed through buildings, the total destruction of Grafton Gully etc. The report discusses all these, nodding along in a very lukewarm way, suggesting trials only. Constantly pointing to place costs this will all impose, especially on the quality of the City Centre and University, but aware of the inevitability.

The report describes the current situation, complains politely about the fractured nature of the governance of the city, then gets to the central problem. Basically that the motorway plan, unrelieved by any alternative, will just dump far too much traffic into the city centre, “more than is civilised”.

This paragraph could have been written today:


 

There follows an interesting discussion about Queen St, and how the Barnes Dance crossings are likely only popular because of a rare respite from traffic they offer. Then:

One would expect the benefits from this expenditure of public funds to be very substantial indeed and to include at the least a high degree of withdrawal of from the central streets.

Then he asks why the motorway was routed to sever the city so tightly. We do know the answer to this but it is a bit off topic, perhaps for a later post. The report then uses the term environmental standards, by which is meant the whole aesthetic condition, the quality of place, so somewhat broader than how we tend to use the term now.



So his starting point would be the pedestrianisation of the heart of the city centre. Begin with place quality then fit the movement to suit. And as a contra to that he would start at the other end and try to ram as much traffic in as possible, but, and here’s the twist, this part of the exercise is simply undertaken to prove its futility:


‘This would be the value of this exercise – it would demonstrate to councillors and the public alike the impossibility of catering for a future condition of “maximum motorisation”.’

Poor Sir Colin, must be spinning in his grave, as an ideology of “maximum motorisation” is a very good description of exactly what was pursued in Auckland, from pretty much the moment his report hit the table, if not before. Total hegemony of the diktat of traffic flow over all other values on our roads and streets, the conversion, as much as was possible, of all streets into roads. Including in the city centre. The condition of the highway considered as an ideal, not as an exception. Still today Hobson and Nelson streets in the city, for example, are controlled by highway engineers and vehicle traffic modellers, with less (though slowly increasing) input from designers into their condition.

That futility was, and by some, is still pursued here.

This is interesting, in contrast to post-war Britain he saw us as having plenty of cash, just not spending it wisely (this situation is even more evident now in Australian cities; all are building terribly wasteful massive motorways that will simply generate ever more driving and congestion and pollution…). And his prediction was surely correct; Auckland city centre has degenerated into a confusion both in terms of transport and built environment, both movement and place.

And it’s not hard to read what this paragraph is referring to:

Furthermore he could clearly see what was happening:

Now, obviously the pressures are greater, but also we at last building that ‘co-ordinated bus-train rapid transit system’, we do have a whole department focussed on design of the city at Council, and they have been busy designing access to city with the quality of the outcome in mind, rather than just how to empty ever wider motorways onto our streets..

Surely now, we can take the dividend from all this massive investment and building of bypasses and at last focus on the quality of the outcome for the city.

And, at last, get the cars out of the Queen St Valley.

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54 comments

  1. I’m finding this absolutely incredible, that 50 years ago people could already see the devastating effects that bowing down to the “maximum motorisation” will have on a city. Yet for years we’ve ignored basic logic and spatial requirements of cars, for the sake of pursuing a pipe dream sold to us as ‘car freedom’.

    1. Lots of good stuff came out in the 60s and 70s that was either ignored or abandoned. For example, Auckland’s plan from the 60s and 70s enabled quite high densities in the right locations.

  2. “…get the cars out of the Queen Street valley.”

    May not happen for a while, but here’s my thoughts for the interim. As a fairly regular pedestrian in the mid-Queen Street precinct around the Civic, it’s noticeable that pedestrian traffic light phases became worse a few months ago. For example, at the Queen St crossing adjacent to McDonalds/246 and the Wellesley St one from Elliott Street to the Civic, pedestrians are being forced to wait several minutes while cars can’t approach because they’re held by red lights at Victoria and Wellesley, and Queen and Albert intersections.

    Peds are becoming impatient and are crossing against red signals. The solution is to give peds the green light whenever cars are held back elsewhere. That is, peds should get the green priority by default, rather than the lights showing green for cars when no cars can approach. The system at both intersections as it stands is screwed up, after some change took place months ago.

    This is going to become an important issue when Aotea Station opens, with a corresponding increase in the volume of foot traffic in the Victoria St precinct.

  3. “…The key point is Buchanan starts from the inarguable position that city building is an aesthetic issue…”

    New Zealanders really struggle with this idea. The primacy of private property rights, chronic short termism and a long, lingering hangover of a colonial/frontier extractive mindset means we don’t regard aesthetics as important. This was really brought home to me just this past few weeks, when I got to see both the ugly track scar on the side of Te Mata peak and the ugly, ugly march of transmission towers across the Desert road vista of the twin mountains in the central North Island. Especially in the former case, suggestions that iconic landscapes might have an intrinsic aesthetic value that goes beyond mere potential for profit extraction were met with looks of incomprehension, followed by a comment that you should be allowed to do whatever you like with your own property.

    If we can’t work out why a beautiful and iconic view is worth preserving, the chances of many building surviving on aesthetic grounds alone are slim…

  4. Astonishing find. Thanks, Patrick. The message the older members of my family had always told me was that “Council was run by Queen St businessmen who just wanted to maximise the number of people who could drive into the city to their businesses”. I’d just believed that these men were ignorant to the effect on the urban environment, and the effect on traffic volumes that their plans would cause. Very interesting to read that no, the effects had been laid out so very clearly for them to understand.

  5. The scale of ill-health and early death that the Council has caused through these decision – for all the reasons outlined in the Healthy Streets post – would suggest to me that maybe an official apology should be forthcoming. Yet, what is the difference between what went on then and what is going on now? Council are ignoring the effects the traffic induced by all the road building their growth plans will cause on the city. They are allowing enormous amounts of money to be wasted on it, when we need that money for other things. So I don’t suppose an apology will be forthcoming yet.

  6. The author seemed amazed that the creator of the report felt that we were better able to afford development than other countries such as the UK. During the 1960s New Zealand is rated in many publications as being the second if not the most prosperous nation in the world. Historically this was reflected in our exchange rates with 4 US dollars to the NZ pound at one point and in 1973 after decimalization it was $1.73 US to the NZ dollar. This was just before the oil shocks and loss of the UK markets lead eventually to the policies of the 80’s and 90’s. Mercifully this slowed down motorway development with some routes delayed by 20 years or not built at all. So there would have been another period for reflection before construction resumed. You might recall at that time there was a serious discussion about ripping out rail.

    1. Excellent point, and quite true that in the ’60s and ’70s Auckland and NZ would have been in a better position than almost any other country to build some quality infrastructure. It’s a pity we instead made choices that led to a few ‘lost decades’ for the city centre.

      1. Very good point Alan, but hasn’t the political landscape been just as important? Largely we have had governments that have focused on the aspirations of the individual. We will build roads so you can get around as you choose; we will provide the minimum of health care and education, because if you think more is desirable then you can choose to purchase it; and we will give you tax cuts so that you can put this money to the best use you see fit. As a result of this we have many collective assets that are barely fit for purpose

      2. Do you forget what a wasteland Auckland was in the 70’s? Cook Street market, the shacks that sold vinyl records where the Casino is now, Britomart Bus park. It was all pretty shameful, but perfectly resonated with the back water town Auckland was. Let’s not get nostalgic about that period in our city.
        I think we should pedestrianise Queen street, if for no other reason that it would allow our poor visitors to move further away from the aholes pretending to be poor. We could easily run a tramline up Queen Street in a loop that includes K road and Ponsonby. Returning to lower Queen street via Customs.
        That would be a nice way to remove some traffic from the inner city until such time as NZ companies realize that there is no longer a need to have office towers in the CBD.

        1. I don’t think John was being nostalgic at all; he was discussing our country’s financial position at that time.

          The aholes pretending to be poor? Hmmm. Would you like to support your opinion with links to some research, please?

          1. “… until such time as NZ companies realize that there is no longer a need to have office towers in the CBD.”

            Would you like to elaborate on what the rest of the world is doing wrong and why NZ should rebel against it? (Let’s limit the discussion to location of offices and agglomeration benefits…)

  7. Wistful melancholy and a welcome confirmation.

    But the spatial won’t catch up with transport until the spatial entities do their job. Panuku’s three years of capital underspend would never be allowed in AT. Or in NZTA.

    Central government’s HUD seems more focused on printing suburbia. It doesn’t have the strength to really challenge NZTA.

    Mayor Goff has the ability to coordinate $28 billion of infrastructure work for a brand new city. Or just sustaining marginal annual improvements.

    And the real estate developer market remains pretty strong after a decade.

    There will be no better time than right now to deliver the city Auckland needs to be – if and only if institutions are well led.

  8. A lot of times the older way of doing things is full of wisdom.

    Unfortunately they get overshadowed by new ways of doing things.

    New ways are full of hypes. They get the attention because they sounds fantastic and innovative. However once the hypes are gone, people realize it is an impractical and doesn’t work as intended.

    That applies to a lot of areas, like math, science, engineering.

    Maybe older people are more focused, compare to modern society which is fast and lack of depth.

      1. Open plan offices were the biggest con. The benefits spouted ad nauseum around collaboration, interaction etc. when it was always about squeezing more bods into spaces

        1. Yes and now working agile is all about corporations no longer having to provide a work station for everyone.
          Hopefully in the not distant future, people will be paid for measured output and no longer have to work in office towers or even for a single company.

        2. I have to disagree. Having recently transferred to an office where everyone has their own space, the lack of collaboration, interaction etc. is shocking compared to the more open plan offices I have worked in. I agree there need to be quiet spaces for people who require it, but there is definitely value in forcing people to interact.

  9. Interesting comments on the Barnes Dance. It’s true that a pedestrian mall is better than having to wait at all.

    AT could have pedestrianised Queen St from Quay to Mayoral long ago. Traffic would find other routes and buses would have to go somewhere else.

    1. Agree but I suspect the reason they haven’t is it would be very hard to bring LR along Queen Street if people had a few years of being used to it being a pedestrian only space.

        1. Ari did. And the idea is interesting. I mean, are we scared of an uprising of people demanding superior ‘places’, and ‘environmental standards’ ? What a delicious situation to be in! Would full pedestrianisation – and a potential resistance to its removal – not be an interesting experiment? What sort of compromise would Council / AT have to make? Pedestrianisation of quite a few other nearby streets?

          1. “What sort of compromise would Council / AT have to make?

            Put the LRT underground through the CBD, as they have to successful effect in a number of German cities, e.g. Stuttgart
            http://www.urbanrail.net/eu/de/s/stuttgart.htm

            The streets above have been fully pedestrianized with escalators descending to the LRT Stadtbahnen. Works brilliantly.
            https://www.google.co.nz/maps/@48.773971,9.1741603,3a,75y,259.82h,88.44t/data=!3m11!1e1!3m9!1sAF1QipM3OW4YBtXbIt31KCrArUvZy_2504fPOeqAkgQc!2e10!3e11!6shttps:%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com%2Fp%2FAF1QipM3OW4YBtXbIt31KCrArUvZy_2504fPOeqAkgQc%3Dw203-h100-k-no-pi0-ya5.043142-ro0-fo100!7i10456!8i5228!9m2!1b1!2i34?hl=en

          2. The good news is that undergrounding the LRT is not infeasible as somone has conveniently made a long deep trench all the way down Albert Street. They are planning to backfill it to street level but surely there must be a visionary transport planner somewhere in NZ who could ultilise this for an undergrounded LRT?
            Then lower Queen is just perfect to fully pedestrianise.

          3. The trouble with that Albert Street trench above the CRL is that in elevation it is a wedge. Non existent at Customs Street but plenty of available height at Victoria Street. Not sure what exists that can shed height as it goes downhill.

    2. I was just commenting on what the report was commenting on about having a pedestrian mall. I don’t think it practical to remove PT.

      Plus in practice I don’t really like the idea of buses or trams through pedestrian malls. It is fine for most able people who aren’t distracted, but it is actually quite dangerous for pedestrians, especially children, elderly and blind people etc. I really don’t know how an old blind person would cross safely without getting run over by a tram. How would they know a tram is coming and they happen to step out from behind some street furniture in from of a it?

      I’d rather they keep the modes clearly separated. Keep Queen St a narrow 1 lane road each, but clearly a road. Or grass or water feature or whatever. just distinctly different from the foot path.

      1. I would at least like to see some mock-ups of this sort of idea. The clean, clear lines of one surface appeal aesthetically, but there’s no reason we couldn’t design something equally beautiful that takes safety to a new level. Posing the challenge of providing beautiful divisions that both work for safety and present our identity to the world in the context of our most public road?

        I know that light rail will be far safer than traffic. But why not goo for safety gold?

      2. It’s not children the old and blind people that are the problem in sharing a pedestrian precinct with light rail multi-units. It’s the attention diverted and the sensory deprived especially those use cellphones or listening via earplugs to music.

  10. Seems crazy we need a report for this…I swear if Aliens landed on Earth and started investigating our ‘ways’ they’d get back in their ship and conclude there was no intelligent life forms (drug laws, resource management, environmental issues , the list goes on)

    Alien: So you take ALL the cars and dump them THERE?! Guys, we’re off..this planet is seriously backwards!

    1. They may conclude that the dominant life form is metal boxes with 4 wheels. They may also wonder why the squishy bits sometimes come out of those boxes.

      Otherwise, maybe they would conclude our atmosphere is somewhat poisonous so we need that metal box to transport us between places.

      You wouldn’t tell from looking at our streets that humans are a dominant life form. More often than not the only thing you see are cars and 1.8m high walls.

      1. « Although Ford had taken great care to blend into Earth society, he had “skimped a bit on his preparatory research,” and thought that the name “Ford Prefect” would be “nicely inconspicuous.” The Ford Prefect was a popular British car manufactured from 1938 to 1961, and Adams later clarified in an interview that Ford “had simply mistaken the dominant life form” of Earth. This was expanded on somewhat in the film version, where Ford is almost run over while attempting to greet a blue Ford Prefect. »

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Prefect_(character)

        And another gem from Douglas Adams:
        « The trouble with most forms of transport, he thought, is basically one of them not being worth all the bother. On Earth—when there had been an Earth, before it was demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass—the problem had been with cars. The disadvantages involved in pulling lots of black sticky slime from out of the ground where it had been safely hidden out of harm’s way, turning it into tar to cover the land with, smoke to fill the air with and pouring the rest into the sea, all seemed to outweigh the advantages of being able to get more quickly from one place to another—particularly when the place you arrived at had probably become, as a result of this, very similar to the place you had left, i.e. covered with tar, full of smoke and short of fish. »

  11. And yet, the types of people who advocate exactly what this report is warning against are still around, and were in the NZ government until very recently. Steven Joyce, Gerry Brownlee, and even Simon Bridges were all for continuing with policies based on freedom of traffic movement at all costs. The justification (in their heads) was simply that “Kiwis love their cars”, and therefore 95% of transport funding should go into providing more facilities for cars.

    Remember that the emerging rapid transit network including CRL which we now take so for granted, was strongly opposed by Joyce and Brownlee and if it had been up to them alone, would most certainly not be happening now. Bridges’ tenure of the transport portfolio did not begin until after former PM John Key had finally assented to the CRL and Auckland Council had already made a start on it. Otherwise he also might have opposed it.

    But although it may seem as if Buchanan was only ignored over here, rest assured that his far-sighted recommendations were just as rejected in Britain. The Buchanan Report was published at a time when the “Beeching” rail-closures were in full-swing, and the (Tory) government of the day along with Minister of Transport Ernest Marples (famous for heading his own road-building company) were just as determined to pursue a roads-only future. To see how transport history could have played out differently, it is necessary to look outside the English-speaking world. The Brits, Yanks, Canadians, Aussies and Kiwis all chased each other down the same sorry path..

  12. On page 10 (I think) Buchanan’s Auckland report also describes the Auckland downtown as being “unpleasant, almost to the point of being uncivilised.” Which has only got worse. See also the 1968 documentary fronted by Buchanan’s founding partner Ann McEwen, called The City’s for Living in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMamOIdcS9A. It’s a timeless piece.

  13. I think there’s also a need, in reflecting on how Auckland has turned out, to “follow the money” – or lack of it.

    * One of the flaws in the postwar New Zealand institutional arrangements, was that road planning (and its money) was quite separate from railway planning and its lack of money. There was no way the NRB of the time could have looked at “rail” options in order to meet the growing land transport demand, and the railways of the time were regarded by central Government as a money pit.

    * This needs to be kept in mind in looking at the Council’s response to the De Leuw Cather recommendations. Central Government’s tacit response would have been: We can afford a motorway network or a mass transit network but not both, knowing full well that there was only so much the Council would have been prepared to contribute. Something similar no doubt happened in Wellington, where there was a similar recommendation in the early 1960s to have a railway subway dug through to about the Hospital.

    * I can recall Jo Brosnahan – who’d been working for the old Auckland City Council in 1976 – once tell a story about how she’d been at a meeting “when the cost of Rapid Rail doubled in an afternoon”; which was a major factor as to why National, facing a whole slew of budget pressures at the time, abandoned the scheme.

    * What was also telling at the time was that while there was support for rapid rail, there was absolutely no support for restricting road construction. The key point is that even though at the time, owning and running a car was quite expensive, that did not stop the steady growth of car ownership and use over that period. Would maintaining a tram network and extending Auckland rail have prevented that? Probably not. Kiwis do love their cars, not least because they allow journeys to be undertaken which could not be taken on public transport at all.

    * Another issue is that even after the establishment of the ARC in 1963, the local body structure in Auckland was quite fragmented – there were a lot of smaller councils who at the time were pulling against the centre, and the central city. Hence the dispersal of jobs over that period. A plan to amalgamate the territorial councils died quite a death, and it was only in 1989 that the changes proposed in 1970 were put in place.

    So, a lot of things have contributed to getting to where we are; and what is needed – and I hope it’s now there – is that we have a strategic commitment to building the central city. Without that vision transport demand will continue to disperse.

    1. I don’t know, Ross. Councillors had rejected expert advice when they decided to implement just the roading parts of the De Leuw Cather report. This Buchanan Report was also expert advice, and it laid out the next decision clearly for them:

      a/ Continue to choose to invest in motorways and supporting roads, and ruin the city in the process.
      b/ Change tack, and invest instead in a network that would serve the city and its people.

      They weren’t deciding between two options that met the same goals. They were choosing between serving the city or serving some other purpose, ideological and most probably commercial, and creating an ‘uncivilised’ city.

      Imagine real leadership at the time, and how it could have not only provided a far better city for us today. It could have nipped the road construction lobby’s power in the bud.

      When we don’t know the advice put before past decision makers, we should go easy on the decisions they make. When we do, we can call the betrayal for what it was.

      1. Have a look at how the countries of Continental Europe prioritised their public-transport networks during the years when the English-speaking world was running theirs down. Here’s my understanding of this:

        – Large-scale rail-closures did not happen.

        – Where rail lines were closed they tended to be mothballed rather than ripped out.

        – Urban tram systems were in many instances retained and added-to. Systems that did close down have in some cases been revived.

        – Extensive development of urban rail systems occurred, often underground through CBDs, and in cities that we would tend to judge as too small to warrant it.

        – Extensive national rail-electrification was pursued

        – Loss-making rural PT routes were in general given greater opportunity to improve their performance rather than being summarily axed.

        – Public transport usage remained far more stable than the plummeting patronage-situation witnessed in the Anglophone countries.

        – The need to retain good public transport was much more generally accepted and PT options were not closed-off to anything like the same extent

        And this was in spite of continental countries also pursuing extensive road-building policies and also experiencing continual growth in car-ownership. Leadership was (and still is) less-focussed on the individualistic and more-focussed on the communal.

      2. Heidi – thanks for your comments. However, the decision to proceed with the motorway network in the first place would have rested much more with the National Roads Board of the time, not the Council. David B’s observations below make for a useful reflection on this matter; and I dare say that what he lays out would not have happened without considerable money from those countries’ central governments. Which comes back to my central argument above.

        1. Yes, I can see that. I guess Dave’s comment highlights that expert evidence is nowhere near as powerful as peer opinion. I imagine it’s worth trying to understand this to help guide discussion today.

          Why is our RLTP full of new roads, expanded highways and ‘improved’ (widened) intersections when we know that these projects will increase vkt and carbon emissions? Why do we use traffic models to feed into the business cases, when we know they produce incorrect travel time improvements and thus we knowingly skew the decisions? Why does the design for Albert St reinstate it in the old business-as-usual design-for-the-car way when we know we can manage without any car amenity there and the predictions show driving is going to be a minor mode? Why has AT undermined the CCMP when that plan evolved from some pretty advanced international input?

          It’s not research, evidence, science that’s determining the decisions. In many cases, it doesn’t seem to be public opinion, either (and certainly there doesn’t seem to be much interest in helping that along even with some basic information); it seems to be something else. Is it – like Dave’s comment might lead us to believe – that the decisions are made to follow what our anglophone peers are doing? Even the positive stuff that’s happening – a push for healthy streets, a push for safer speeds, better urban design in the city centre – is only happening when the decision-makers feel that if we don’t, Auckland will be left behind. In fact, that’s exactly the words that were used to me last week, by someone high enough up in Council to have me really worried.

          Are we a city and a nation too scared to look at the evidence and choose for ourselves?

          1. Well, it’s about our strategic choices for our transport policy.

            Thirty or so years ago I joined Transit NZ as it was being established. The idea behind the original incarnation of Transit was to place public transport and road funding on a less unequal playing field that it had been. We were using benefit-cost analysis to justify investment in public transport networks, or trying to – we soon found out that this approach simply would not work.

            The reason is that B-C analysis was designed to maximise the benefits to road users of spending road user money – not benefits to the community, however defined. Big public transport schemes might pass the B/C test, if community benefits were the standard, but not if it was to road users alone. The reason for this state of affairs, was that strategic decision, going back many years, which tied the spending of road user funds to road user benefits.

            Now, to bring this up to date, we now have a public agenda which supports the use of central government money to invest in public transport networks, to purchase benefits which go beyond the old framework of “road user” benefits. That did not exist, at all, in 1989. But we do not have enough of a public agenda to stop adding to our road networks. This is why the old idea of a ‘balanced transport policy’ has turned, in practice, into a chimaera – because if we keep adding to our road networks, people will keep using them, even if at the same time we are adding to our public transport systems.

          2. Thanks, Ross. So that makes it clear to me that an important role for Greater Auckland (one of many, but probably the central one) is to call bluff on the “balanced transport policy” approach and really hone in on changing public understanding of how poorly served we are by new roading infrastructure.

  14. 28 October 2018
    Bit of a late reply but, if anyone is still interested, here is an interesting newspaper comment published more than a year after the July 1966 Buchanan Report. The article, entitled ‘A hearing’ was published by the Auckland Star on 22 September 1967:
    “It seems that Colin Buchanan, the English town planner whose visit here last year cost the city $14,390, is being listened to after all. He was the one who knocked the rapid rail transit system advocated in the De Leuw, Cather report and supported the report’s alternative, improved bus services. The city engineer, Arthur Dickson, is of the same opinion in a report he has brought down this week, a report which is upsetting the rail supporters. But even though his ideas are supported here, the professor is having trouble, it seems, back home. His move out of plush offices in Kensington to ‘something smaller’ is because his ideas are too radical, say transport people in London. The move follows rumours that Professor Buchanan was planning to close down altogether because of the lack of work. ‘He tells people plainly that if they want to live with the motor car they must plan their cities for it, and spend enormous amounts of money on the job. His idea is to wipe out everything that has gone before and start again from scratch,’ says a civil servant.”

    1. Fascinating, Keith. That is a clever piece of writing. Simultaneously lauding Buchanan’s apparent (yet half-hearted) support for bus over rail, while placing an enormous question mark over his reputation and ideas.

      1. Yes, although the author of the Auckland Star article is not named, I suspect the comment was promoted by Arthur Dickson – not just because he is named, but because it is similar to the propaganda and promotion of roads, roads, and more roads perpetuated by him and others of what I describe as the ‘Road Gang’ in my second volume of Auckland’s transport history, now to be published early next year.

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