With 2019 now underway, and following my wrap up of 2018 last week, I thought it would be good to look at some of the things we can expect from the year ahead. In no particular order.

City Rail Link

At the end of April the builder of the tunnels and stations is expected to be announced. The two shortlisted tenderers are:

  • The Link Joint Venture with Downer, Vinci Grands Projets, Soletanche Bachy, AECOM, Tonkin and Taylor and WSP Opus
  • A joint venture between CPB Contractors, UGL, Beca, McMillan Jacob and Jacobs.

We should also see the completion of the tunnel works in Albert St and outside Britomart but the full restatement of the streets and public space isn’t due to be completed till 2020

Commercial Bay

Sitting right above the CRL, Commercial Bay is due for completion in 2019. I for one and looking forward to the new east-west laneway which should make easier to get between the NX1 buses and Britomart.

Eastern Busway

Construction of the Eastern Busway will finally begin this year and there’s an announcement of the contractor who will build it later this month. We should also hear more about the plans to extend the busway from Pakuranga to Botany.

Airport to Botany and Puhinui

Works will need to begin this year on the massive upgrade planned for Puhinui Sation and on some of the bus priority measures that are being planned if they’re to be completed by 2021 like currently planned.

Light Rail

After being silent for much of 2018, we will need to hear more about the NZTAs plans for building light rail this year. This will need to be both their plans for the City Centre to Mangere line and to the Northwest. I doubt we’ll see any physical work happening, other than maybe some investigations work.

I suspect it could end up as one of our most talked about topics (again).

Corridor Programme

Likely to be a bit piece of work this year we will be following is Auckland Transports corridor programme. which is looking at improving bus priority, road safety and active mode improvements across a number of key corridors. Many of these corridors are already served by our busiest bus routes and improving priority for buses will make them even more useful.

PT Ridership

Public transport use continues to rise, both in total numbers and trips per capita. In the 12 months to the end of November we had just under 96 million trips, up from 91 million a year earlier. Unless something goes wrong, we’ll hit 100 million trips this year. My guess is we’ll reach that milestone in September but let me know your guesses in the comments.


After a poor effort in delivering cycleways we hope to see a much better outcome in 2019. One of the more high-profile projects, the Karangahape Rd improvements will kick off soon but hopefully many more will. We should also see the completion of some projects, such as Franklin Rd and the extension of the NW cycleway from Lincoln Rd to Westgate (the section from Royal Rd to Westgate has been completed but unopened for months).


I would be surprised if in the budget this year there wasn’t funding for the much needed third main from Westfield to Puhinui and also electrification from Papakura to Pukekohe.

AT have also mentioned in the past that they were looking at new timetable for February that would further speed up journey times and extend weekend frequencies later into the evening but that hasn’t been mentioned in more recent reports. Hopefully this is something we’ll see this year.


A couple of major motorway projects are due for completion late this year.

  • The SH1 widening from Manukau to Papakura, this has been underway since late 2015
  • The SH16 widening from Lincoln Rd to Westgate, which started in mid-2016 but is the culmination of works on SH16 that started all the way back in 2010 when the Lincoln Rd interchange upgrade was started.

I also expect we’ll hear more about the plans to build transport infrastructure to support all the greenfield growth that’s planned in the North, Northwest and South (although this isn’t just roads)

A couple of wildcards we might hear about are:

  • An additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing. We didn’t hear much about it in 2018 but I suspect we’re likely to hear more about it this year. I believe part of this could be a debate about whether to build a PT only crossing first
  • After the new government pulled the plug on the crazy East-West scheme, the NZTA have been sent back to the drawing board. I expect we’ll hear their updated plans this year.

Road Safety

Last year the government announced a major investment in road safety to bring down what has been a worsening number of deaths on our roads with 2018 having the most deaths in a decade. We expect to see significant progress on implementing safety upgrades over the coming year.

Along with physical changes, there is also likely to be a number of changes around speed limits. I think we can expect both physical infrastructure changes and speed limits to be subject to plenty of negative news stories. Associated with that I think we’ll continue to hear complaints from the National Party (and others) who still want to see motorways built all across the countryside.

City Centre improvements

Late last year the council approved for consultation a bold new plan for managing how people get around the city centre. It will see it made much easier to get around on foot, by bike or by PT and reduce the impact of cars on the city. What’s more, the council have asked for trials of the concept to begin as soon as possible and we’re looking forward to both hearing more about the plan and seeing what happens in this space.

Along the waterfront we’re going to see a lot of activity as works begins on upgrading the area in advance of the 2021 America’s Cup and APEC.

Over in another centre, Takapauna, an upgrade of Hurstmere Rd is due to start early this year.

Census Results

Last year’s census has turned into a bit of a shambles and nine months on we’re still waiting for the first results. I’m particularly hoping we’ll get the transport related results back. I think we’ll likely see a similar result to last time with public transport and active modes both growing at a faster rate than driving, although still coming off a low base. This census also asked about how people travelled to education for the first time. It will be interesting to see how that compares with journeys to work.

Local Body Elections

Local body elections are in October and as always it will be fascinating to see how that changes the council. We don’t yet know if Phil Goff will stand again and there’s been talk of John Tamihere standing. Two time former candidate John Palino is standing again, and again he’s showing no understanding of how cities actually work, claiming that to solve Auckland’s problems, we should build another city somewhere between Papakura and Pukekohe.

It will also be interesting to see what other changes occur around the council table as well as local boards. For example we know former Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse, who has been one of the best councillors, is standing down and Sir John Walker is almost certainly not standing again.

There will of course be all of the usual arguments, transport plans, housing, rates and this year I’d expect the regional fuel tax to feature strongly

Housing Announcements

The government have talked a big game about building more homes and if they’re to meet the goals they’ve set, they’re going to need to announce a lot of projects this year. Comments from Housing Minister Phil Twyford late last year suggests this is exactly what will happen.

We’ll also hear more about the Urban Development Authority which will have significant powers and responsibilities for delivering more homes.

NZTA Review

The NZTA had a bad end to the year with CEO Fergus Gammie resigning and a review being large review of its regulatory performance kicking off. Already the Chairman has stated he thinks more will follow Gammie out the door. This could ultimately lead to a significant shake up how transport is managed in NZ. Whoever the new CEO is will have a big impact on the shape of transport and is something we’ll keep a close eye on.

It’s certainly going to be a big year and there’ll be plenty of ups and downs along the way. What else do you think we’ll see (or not see) in 2019?

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  1. Good summary Matt, clearly a pretty big year coming up.

    Interesting comments about NZTA. They are really going to need to get their act together far better, especially when it comes to light rail.

  2. It appears our government is taking road safety seriously, but I suppose anything they do looks impressive versus the do nothing, in fact less than nothing the previous National government did.

    A dedicated traffic safety service for law enforcement to me is a must, funded by a different government department, the Ministry of Transport perhaps? Rings a bell somewhere….(just don’t cut funding to the police as a result!)

    The police do what they can but trying to be the Swiss army knife of government departments is not working. And as demonstrated in 2017 when years of budget cuts and frozen budgets forced their hand traffic policing was cut.

      1. That’s a very simplistic analysis, most infrastructure projects are not able to be implemented within a year of government change, some of the RONs National proposed have still not started yet.

      2. When you look at the shit fest left by National, none of this surprising.

        From 2009 they cancelled road safety advertising, cut police budgets, saw road policing units disbanding, did no proactive improvements to high risk roads, just wasted time and an awful amount of money on their ridiculous roads of national significance 1930’s type thinking, most of which never eventuated (10 bridges Bridges comes to mind) and in general could not have cared less.

        We all knew the chances of being caught doing anything wrong on the roads got less and less.

        It will take years to turn that ship around after a near decade of decay!

        1. Notice you didn’t mention the GFC in your little slag-off of National.

          I guess they could have always cut welfare to pay for the things you mention.

          I expect the CoL will form yet another ‘working group’ as their way of addressing the road toll. That will be as substantive as it gets.

        2. All of the things that Waspman mentioned are funded from fuel tax, National increased this during the GFC so there is no excuse for these cuts other than channeling funds to expensive road projects.

        3. Vance, if you want to be snarky and use the sewerblog shorthand “CoL” here, perhaps explain to the moderators what it stands for.

        4. It stands for a poor understanding of how parliament works, and a very poor understanding of the word ‘majority’.

          (Hint: if your coalition looses votes and has less than half the seats, it means the other coalition has gained votes and has the majority.)

      3. Changing infrastructure, or even speed limits (with all the bureaucracy) isn’t an overnight process but the sooner we start the sooner we’ll start seeing progress.

        Here is a 12 month running total of road deaths. Of note they peaked in the middle of 2018 at 392 (I recall at a daily level it reached about 398) and ended the year at 380. Hoping it’s the start of a downward trend. If it continues downward I’m sure Vance will be back giving the government credit for it*

        *not taking bets on it

        1. JAG has already said it’ll take decades to reduce the road toll substantially.
          Sounds like she’s raised the white flag already.

        2. After 9yrs of complete disregard by the previous mob, I’m not surprised. But when you neglect healthcare, welfare, education etc in the name of “balancing the books”, nothing is surprising.

          Oh – and you are getting boring.

        3. or she is smart enough to realise this is a long term thing that will go beyond the term of this government.

          Fortunately for government the previous government achieved the impossible and managed to go against the tide and get the road toll going up, so the bar isn’t exactly high.

    1. Road policing is already funded separately to general policing, it is currently funded by both NZTA and ACC, mainly from fuel tax and RUCs.

      1. Then give it to a specialist unit, don’t intermingle it with policing in general, it’s not worked very well at all.

        The money still goes into the police budget but in a very round about way.

        1. The problem is the NZTA reducing funding (in real terms if not nominal) as they channeled more money towards RONs, this would have happened to a specialist unit as well.

          There are pros and cons for separation vs embedding within Police, but the Police do a pretty good job of ensuring funding is used correctly, the problem is funding.

    2. “It appears our government is taking road safety seriously, but I suppose anything they do looks impressive versus the do nothing, in fact less than nothing the previous National government did.”

      Are they really? There are some easy changes that they could make quickly that might have significant impact and that would cost little to implement, but that just don’t seem to be on the radar.

      The first issue is driving after having taken drugs. What we do know is that those killed on the roads each year due to drugs use is increasing. At about 80 deaths, for the first time it surpassed those killed due to the effects of alcohol. NZ currently has a meaningless testing regime, and I say that because it is obviously not acting as a deterrent to getting stoned and driving and ccrashing. Minister Twyford’s comments that, at $45 a time, testing is too expensive when just weeks earlier he announced the spending of $900 million on other safety measures seems absurd.

      Perhaps the Greens JAG is in a difficult position, because while the rest of her party is arguing for the legalisation of cannabis, for her to say we will prosecute you if you then drive seems counter intuitive to wanting to legalise it in the first place.

      The person taking the initiative to change drugged driving is Nick Smith with his National petition. Government seems conspicuously silent.

      There are two other personal freedom issues that the government seems extremely reluctant to tackle. Non use of seat belts remains a huge cause of death and maybe regulatory disincentives are not strong enough.

      The statistics also show that the use of mobile devices is an increasing factor in road injuries and fatalities. The fine for using such devices is little more than the cost of a parking ticket and there seems little incentive for motorists to change their behavior.

      Please don’t tell me that better education is the answer. We have tried that for years with the most positive outcome seeming to be the more rosy profit and loss statements of advertising agencies.

      I am not convinced that this government is truly taking road safety seriously. The highest road toll since 2009 says that it isn’t. Let the government actually do things on a number of levels to make a difference.

      1. ‘The person taking the initiative to change drugged driving is Nick Smith with his National petition.’ Just a pity he was so useless in government.

        Fully agree with you around mobile phones though, in other countries this is taken very seriously so the deterrents must work. Confiscation works in fisheries enforcement, the threat of loosing your boat and/or car is a pretty decent deterrent.

      2. Drug driving testing is quite difficult. It is most reliant on blood tests, cannabis remains in the human system for weeks after consumption and proving a causative link between its use and it’s effects on driving is fraught with difficulty in court.

        It’s nowhere near as easy as testing as alcohol and God knows that has its issues in court too.

        Sorry but that issue is no simple caller to NewsTalk ZB solution.

        Seat belts are ALWAYS a police target so it’s bullshit to suggest otherwise as are mobile phones. The phone offences law is an ass though, police have to prove you were using it and have no powers to seize it on the spot to see if you were. And in any case the police numbers were run into the ground in this area thanks to Bills balancing the books and tax cuts. Their numbers are only now starting to pick up.

      3. Agree with mobile phones. To me texting or reading texts while driving is more dangerous than moderate drink driving – yet it only incurs a tiny fine. So most of us do use our phones when driving as the authorities are basically telling us it is a misdemeanour. This has to be a big part of the increase in road toll. I would say the penalty should be more in line with drink driving.
        As for seat belts, I’m not convinced that there is anyone out there who doesn’t know that they should be wearing them. So should the police really waste time on personal safety issues? Should they also come to my home and check I’m wearing safety googles when I use my angle grinder or that I never run down the stairs?

    3. Democratically elected governments in country with very transparent electoral processes and a national electorate that (a) loses its mind with the idea that they should follow road safety procedures enshrined in law, (b) further calls any attempts to do so “revenue gathering” and (c) started blaming tourist drivers before proceeding to completely reverse the road toll trend have difficulty in launching traffic related measures.

      I’m shocked…

      I return to (iirc) Heidi’s notion that AT are a backlash controlled organisation. Well, that’s the entire country! What Vision Zero means in NZ is the complete abrogation of responsibility for safe driving practices on the part of drivers. I looked it up on Wikipedia… that’s the complete opposite of what it is. Vision Zero is about assuming drivers are incompetent (which, self evidently they are) and designing the entire system to reflect this… creating roads which make it hard to kill people on /and/ enforcing measures taken, especially those connected to the road designs. Getting people to internalise the idea that you can only be a minimum standard of competency driver if you can (a) stay within the speed limit and (b) pay attention to the road at the same time, thus emerges as a “hearts and minds” issue that has to be conveyed to deal with the problem in the first paragraph.

  3. This is a useful summary on many levels.

    But I think you need to do more digging in two areas and focus less on the capex and more on the entire regulatory system..

    The big one I see are the reviews of NZTA and of MoT. I see pretty significant legislative change come out of this, particularly with regard to the entire transport regulation field. The first of the reports is due for Parliament in the end of March, but there will be many more reports to come and transport politics will loom large. I don’t see NZTA remaining in its current form, nor MoT for that matter.

    The political debate will be about an integrated surface transport regulator covering private cars, taxis, freight, public transport, ports, airports, rail, and cycling because all these are networks that intersect and cause conflict. Until the entire regulatory order is coherent and sends out really strong prosecutorial messages, the road injury and death toll will not come down much.

    The second one is safety and in particular speed regulation. AT bringing the CBD speed limit down to 30km will be a closely watched experiment by government and all our major cities. There will be plenty of productivity arguments, but they will be stacked against road toll changes. Following with that is the NZTA Safety Regulation draft which is out for consultation, targeting things like texting and other regulatory improvements.

    1. The experience in other places is that a reduction of speed like that has an immediate positive effect. Traffic moving at 30 is that little bit less oppressive than traffic moving at 50.

      If it will be successfully implemented remains to be seen. First question is if the Police will actually be willing to enforce that speed limit (I’ve seen mentions in consultations that they won’t). Second, on streets like Hobson Street it will look weird, but you will get used to it.

      What would also help are red light cameras, these also detect if you’re driving too fast.

      1. I can’t remember the last time I got above 30kms an hour in the Auckland CBD as it is, so I don’t see a major problem with its enforcement.

        1. Really? In a car or on a bike? Other than peak time 40 to 50 is normal on most streets. I suggest people try to drive at 30 for a trip. You will be surprised how slow it is except on small streets.

  4. Its good that NZTA are being looked at, but I wonder how deep the review will go. I am concerned about NZTA costings and delays. At Waipapa in Northland we have finally been promised a roundabout, but its going to cost $13m. What? Is it gold plated? And the report deciding to do it is a masterpeice of stupidity, but it is stupidity that costs us money. I also heard a figure that it costs $5000 to fill a simple pothole. Whaaa??
    Perhaps we should go back to having a Ministry of Works. Look back at what they did in roading. Its the basis of our whole network. Get rid of the accountants and pen pushers and put the engineers back in charge!

    1. About 10-15 years ago The council had rubber sped bumps installed on Belgium st Waiheke and the bus company asked to have them removed , as they were creating problems with their buses . And the council said it was going to cost $5000.00 to remove !!! , so over a 2 week period late at night a local unbolted them and they vanished so it saved the ratepayers 5k and it was done without even having to close the road and putting up/in all those silly road cones and signs with lollipop men attached

  5. Skypath – Hopefully more information and something concrete on this in 2019, another project that seems to drag on forever and each year that goes by you assume its just going to happen and it doesn’t.

    Council Elections – Worry that a (even more) road orientated and sprawl condusive Mayor is elected, if that happens and then things like Light Rail aren’t underway come next National Election there is the fear of heading back to the stone ages for Transport.

    Private Development – Hoping to see some consents and construction around Mt Eden, Kingsland and Morningside stations. New Morningside Precinct is leading the way in terms of localised retail and hospitality but those areas need further residential intensification (and the required infra).

    Auckland Stadia – Some sort of decision just so we don’t spend another year arguing about whats best!

      1. Exsanguinated is a cracking word to use… but its more suitable to describe the defunct Auckland Council PPP plan – that really would have drained ratepayers’ blood, Your IKEA likeliness is really apt though!

    1. You’ve got the Auckland stadium thing backwards: The decisions have already made, what you’re witnessing now is people frantically trying to justify them.

  6. Good overview, Matt. Sadly, of the 16 areas you document, only 4 of them have actual concrete actions that will happen this year. For the rest you are reduced to using words like “hope” “expect” and “likely”. Given that most of these things are infrastructure or similar, any projects not already specifically announced are not likely to start this year.

    I hope I’m wrong but I expect that you will be able to copy and paste most of this article for your preview of next year

      1. Judging by the number of projects that GA have conceptualised and that have subsequently been implemented I suggest that Matt’s vision is just fine. The problem definitely seems to lie with AT. In December the RPTP revealed that the mode share of cars in Auckland continues to increase. There should be little surprise, because attempts to increase public transport ridership have been limited. Better times in 2019? There is no evidence of this yet.

        1. Better times in 2019? Maybe the council elections will give us that hope.

          It’s just not an option to keep increasinf vehicle usage. Does any mayoral or council candidate understand the need to get global CO2 emissions down to 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030, now just eleven years away? Not many seem to, least of all in our local ward (Devonport-Takapuna) where our two councillors have chosen a huge new car-parking building over much-needed transit stations and safe cycle lanes.

          I’m looking and hoping for a better 2019. Our councillors will have most of this year to fix up but it needs to be a 180 degree turnaround and, as you say, no evidence as yet.

        2. Not many people do because it’s entirely unrealistic. The people who scream loudest about it are equally quiet when it comes to finding a way to do so that doesn’t just further punish poor people for being poor or completely immobilise them.

        3. Buttwizard, there is a solution and it comes from Vienna where public transport is so damn cheap that more people own an annual PT pass than a car. How can it be paid for in NZ? Well I propose amending the proposed feebate scheme so that instead of taxing the purchase of all vehicles, a tax is applied only to the purchase of new fossil fueled cars, largely bought by corporates and the more affluent. Here truly is a carbon reduction program that also transfers money from rich to poor. Do we have a government brave enough to embrace it? The numbers certainly stack up.

        4. David B. Yes the parking building, what a disgrace! Council/AT/Panuku ignored almost every part of the AT Parking Strategy in building this – not to mention carbon emissions. Never have I been presented with a situation where I am so much in the right with every argument that I use against them – in John Campbell’s words, “Magnificent.”

          Sadly you don’t give Mayor Goff any credit for this. He was leading the charge from the front stumbling towards this very poor outcome for Takapuna – the car park, not the new town centre.

          Why is the development of the town centre languishing for a couple of years while parts of Hurstmere Road die?

          You may be disappointed to know that Cr Derby now wants to destroy the Esmonde Road bus lane (NS Times, late last year). AT wants T3 and he wants T2.

          Our family will launch a petition to Save the Bus lane in the next week.Hopefully we will get traction on this. Let me know if you and your family/friends are interested in signing.

  7. My guesses for this year :
    (1) Work will start in a few months on getting the overhead wires under the Drury bridges (not sure how it
    will be done, though).
    (2) A new consist for Dora the Explorer will be ordered, to enable 7 days a week travel each way.
    (3) Smoking will be banned on train stations.

    But best of all, next year is election year.

    1. Smoking is already banned at train stations, I don’t know why they hassle people for vaping though – its like telling the weather it cant be foggy near the train station.

      1. Yes, it is already banned, but the ban is not enforced. Perhaps the new Transport Officers
        could be used on a shift basis, to man the CCTV system ? They would see other offences
        being committed, as well as smoking.
        It is important that stations are seen as clean and safe to encourage more people to use the
        rail network.

  8. This year will also bring a decision on Lime and similar scooters; speed, helmets, footpath vs shared path vs cycle lane vs road.

    Hopefully any additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing discussion won’t further delay Skypath.

    If Auckland-Hamilton trains are to be running by March 2020 there will need to be a lot of work this year too.

    While the NZTA city centre to Mangere light rail business case is due early this year, before anything is built there will be decisions to be made then tendering, detailed design and procurement. It’ll be 2 years before any real construction might get underway. The construction should then be expected to take a long time due to relocating services and traffic management, e.g. Sydney.

  9. A lot to look forward to. Seems around 2021 will see more physical changes & completions than this year. Most things seems to be happening at snails pace when observed in real time, even from a slightly older person’s perspective, but I know a few years will pass & we will look back at how much has been done.

    I think the cycling/street makeover type stuff will kind of accelerate over the next couple of years and is normally quicker to build.

  10. I note the corridor program showing a line from Otahuhu abruptly ending at the Mt Wellington motorway interchange & not quite through or to Sylvia Park. Precisely delivering people to the worse point & their death. This is the traffic flow type issue that will be hard to crack with current traffic modeling systems etc entrenched into our agencies.

      1. Yes, very old & vague plan & I’ve not seen details since, be interesting when & what specifics come out on this. Seems to be have been put on hold. Problem is main bus interchange is out the front of Sylvia Park yet a bus only link for Otahuhu direction from Sylvia Park Rd would best come closer to the train station…but that is where they have just built a new carpark building.

  11. Thank you David B for mentioning the carbon emissions problems of transport. The congestion is a byproduct of a shortsighted plan to ease it with more roads and parking.
    Further regarding safety I wonder if we shouldn’t adopt the Australian principle of only having 100kph speeds for vehicles on separated highways. All other roads are 50kph and the enforcement is more rigorous on exceeding the posted limit. Streets have there own set of variable speeds and no excuses are accepted.
    Could we change this for the new year and perhaps end up with a more courteous bunch of road users?.

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