The fear associated with even temporary reductions in road capacity in Auckland is often so extreme that this report from Joe Cortright in City Observatory, Why Carmaggedon never comes (Seattle edition), is worth drawing to everyone’s attention. It takes the example of the closure for demolition of the Alaskan Way, a 3.5km, double stacked, 6-lane, fugly as, harbour-severing, 1940s fly-over in Seattle, to illustrate a well observed feature of city traffic. One that appears so counterintuitive to so many that even our engineering experts commonly disbelieve it: To reduce congestion in a mature driving city; remove traffic lanes, even whole routes.


Above is the PM rush with whole flyover closed, but none of big replacements for it yet open. Not only is congestion not worse without this huge capacity removed, but it actually appears to be better. It’s worth reading the whole short article, but here’s what Cortright say about this:

So what’s going on here? Arguably, our mental model of traffic is just wrong. We tend to think of traffic volumes, and trip-making generally as inexorable forces of nature.  The diurnal flow of 100,000 vehicles a day on an urban freeway the Alaskan Way viaduct is just as regular and predictable as the tides. What this misses is that there’s a deep behavioral basis to travel. Human beings will shift their behavior in response to changing circumstances. If road capacity is impaired, many people can decide not to travel, change when they travel, change where they travel, or even change their mode of travel. The fact that Carmageddon almost never comes is powerful evidence of induced demand: people travel on roadways because the capacity is available for their trips, when when the capacity goes away, so does much of the trip making.

We are in the middle of a real time example of this in Auckland too, a decent chunk of Albert St is severely restrict due to CRL works. I’m told it is currently carrying 1/10 of the volumes it used to around 2400 thousand movements a day, whereas it was previously 24,000. Where are those other vehicle trips, on the parallel streets? Well we know the buses are because we moved them there, which must have increased the traffic on both Queen and Hobson in particular, right, plus the rest of that traffic?:

Well it’s kinda nowhere, or rather somewhere, as overall volumes in the city are apparently pretty much the same, but surrounding the restricted street, and in particular in parallel to it, it’s arguably better. Both Queen and Hobson/Nelson (considered here to be one huge street with a block sized median) appear to be improved by this.

Traffic is not, as it appears the kids are taught in Traffic Engineering 101, an immovable force of nature that must accommodated or we will face the end of times, but rather a human creation, therefore with all the maddening human characteristics we should expect. In particular, drivers, unlike sewage, have agency, and if slowed annoyingly or blocked entirely, seem to be able to make other plans, drive elsewhere, drive at a different time, not drive at all…? Sewage however, can only follow the laws of gravity and if one route is barred will flow down the next available one, ad infinitum.

Traffic is not sewage. Perhaps the whole liquid language applied to traffic is at fault here? Perhaps we really ought to stop talking about traffic flow? Cortright:

If we visualize travel demand as an fixed, irreducible quantity, it’s easy to imagine that there will be carmaggedon when a major link of the transportation system goes away.  But in the face of changed transportation system, people change their behavior.  And while we tend to believe that most people have no choice and when and where they travel, the truth is many people do, and that they respond quickly to changes in the transportation system.  Its a corollary of induced demand:  when we build new capacity in urban roadways, traffic grows quickly to fill it, resulting in more travel and continuing traffic jams. What we have here is “reduced demand”–when we cut the supply of urban road space, traffic volumes fall.

‘Reduced demand’ as the corollary of induced demand, or should that be reduced supply? Anyway this phenomena really seems to be suggesting that an important amount of driving in our cities occurs simply because it can. Prevent it, and it goes away. I don’t think is the case in vastly crowded cities without mature road or alternative transit or active networks, but in cities like Seattle or Auckland with very high vehicle ownership numbers, complete driving networks, and at least some transit and bike lane systems, it appears an important amount of journeys on enough routes are entirely dispensable, all but valueless, discretionary. In these places, I propose, it’s so easy to jump in a car, facing very little marginal cost at all, either in time or money, that, what the hell, I may as well do it.

We perhaps have overshot, suppling nearly everyone with friction free car access and stacks of overbuilt driving infrastructure (evidenced by falling average car occupancy numbers; now 1.1) that the marginal value of the next trip maybe below zero?

Driving in first world cities is, as the economists have it in their typically clunky wording; an underpriced good.

To me this means it is likely that so much is wrong in our approach to our streets:

  • We likely overvalue vehicle trips in economic calculations (it turns out they are easily abandoned)
  • We make gods of tools like traffic modelling (these should only inform, but never determine decisions)
  • We misconceive the very nature of traffic itself (we ignore driver agency)

Most of all we fail to see streets properly at all; they really are mutable public space that we can do all sorts of things with, if only we would allow ourselves the freedom from servitude to the seemingly unchangeable god of traffic. And all its high priests and their mumbo-jumbo methodologies.

This is a hugely liberating set of conclusions, because we know the economic and social value of walkable cities, and we know the huge economic and environmental costs that vehicle traffic imposes… So do we have the courage and imagination to move away from the barren 20th century ideology of traffic uber alles?

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  1. “drivers, unlike sewage, have agency” – best line I’ve read in ages. Great piece and I hope the Dean of the School of Engineering reads it. haha

  2. Has anyone seen how the “Nightmare on Quay St” is going with the closure of 2 lanes? I only saw articles in the Herald before the massacre began…

    1. The lack of follow-up articles in the Herald shows what a non-event it has turned out to be. Picking the quietest time of year to start the work was a good decision on the part of AT/AC.

    2. I dont tbink its going to be too bad but then again I am just avoiding the city as Quay St is pretty hopeless now.

      Maybe others are doing likewise.

        1. Mag, the interesting thing about that page is despite the very vocal antagonists there are 1.2K likes and only about 400 angry faces. It seems the majority of people who visit the page like the redesign but it’s the moaning troglodytes who are more to leave their droppings there, as it were…

  3. I think it is important to understand the difference between a network and a single pipe. Whether that pipe is carrying sewerage or carrying cars, if there is only one route and the pipe gets blocked, then there really is a pile-up and crap everywhere. That doesn’t happen often – although the SH1 through Paekakariki is one example where there honestly is only one road, one lane, and when that blocks, they need to get the plunger out.

    But Albert / Nelson / Queen / Wellesley is all part of a network. As you say, people adapt. Some by staying home, but others by taking the turning that leads them down a different path. Same as the Alaskan Way and the Embarcadero – there are alternative paths, as there is a network in place.

    1. average human
      You can still get blockages on a network such as if you replace one pipe with a much bigger pipe, but that pipe still feeds into the same two smaller pipes that it used to. This seems to be an oft repeated situation in Auckland.

    2. This is particularly true of motorway closures, like the Alaskan Way. While motorways have higher vehicle capacity than any individual surface street¸ because of how expensive they are in both space and money, they generally form only a small fraction of the overall capacity of the road network. So you’d expect that almost *any* urban motorway closure, even if there wasn’t a drop in driving demand, wouldn’t have a huge effect on congestion.

      1. I’m picking the closure is for the quietest time of the year…. And they are realigning the remains sections to align with the entrances to the new tunnel which replace the siesmic unsafe old concrete viaduct.

        There is dome mis understanding of how traffic flow works, as yes the speeds are similar but the congestion would extend further out than usual, leading to longer journey times. We see the reverse happening when a new highway opens , as did occur in Wellington, congestion got worse at end of new tods

    3. Also SH1 crashes etc is an unexpected blockage so is also a different concept to a known lack of pipe flow where people change their travel plans longer term.

  4. Interesting concept, especially with reference to Albert Street. I wonder whether the money spent on new roads etc. would be better spent by instituting a “free public transport” system. Yes, it would be expensive, but maybe no more than all those new roads etc. Has anyone seen a financial analysis of this?

    1. Far from free AT are putting fares up.

      I know they didn’t want to, the law says they have to which makes me wonder if our government have a PT strategy or even awareness!

        1. The issue is to ‘oversubsidise’ AT either has to apply to NZTA for additional funding (answer is presumably no due to the farebox policy), or it would have to cut something else in their own budget to transfer to subsidising PT more.

          Given the way a lot of the projects and contracts are structured (i.e ringfenced or programmed well in advance), I’m not sure they could actually do much of that, even if they wanted to and it was politically and socially acceptable.

          This needs solid direction from the beehive, which luckily seems to be happening just now… but too late for the current budget I imagine.

  5. I agree the world did not end because Albert Street more or less closed to traffic. And anecdotally the traffic flows on Customs St have vastly improved, both ways.

    But as an environment to go to or run a business from Albert St is not exactly doing well at this time. Maybe it never did.

  6. The problem is, when the trips go away because the road capacity went away, the money generated for the economy by those trips also goes away. Even driving for recreation still generates money for the economy.

    1. 1) Given that journeys to and within the AKL City Centre have been constantly growing while driving has been flat to falling each ‘lost’ driving journey is clearly replaced by, or shifted to, another mode, so there is no evidence of economic loss.
      2) Driving in cities does not generate net value automatically; it burns imported fuel, clogs and degrades publicly owned roads, and unless it performs a more valuable task is a net loss.

      1. It also stands to reason if that those trips were so quick to drop off, then they were probably low value discretionary trips without much value to the economy anyway.

        And when you factor in the congestion and delay those cause to other road users, bus passengers an pedestrians, they might have been a net negative for the economy.

        We very well might be in a better economic position without a city flooded with the sort of traffic that isn’t robust to a few minutes added delay!

    2. People are needed for a good economy, not their cars. Access is important, but in a city, this can be and needs to be achieved without causing severance, which harms the economy.

      1. Two different things Heidi, people contribute to the economy after the journey, not during. But the journey itself contributes to the economy in a car because it requires buying fuel, employing service station staff, employing mechanics, roading contractors, construction companies, purchasing insurance, etc etc.

        I’m not saying whether it’s good or bad, just that all the many things related to driving, directly and indirectly, are good for the economy. Whether or not they are good for the motorist is a different matter. Obviously some would rather bike to work, which gives them health and financial benefits, but contributes much less to the economy.

        It’s why the Greens are big on biking, and National is big on driving. One values the economy more than the other.

        1. That reminds me of the parable of the broken window. If you break a window of a shop, the shopkeeper spends money on repairing it, causing money to circulate, etc…

          Just as with driving, this reduces how much money you can spend on things you actually want.

        2. Geoff hit the nail on the head with what we’re up against. And you replied with equal clarity in showing just how very wrong he is to consider such an attitude acceptable. Thanks.

        3. Apart from the tourist who gets pleasure from the trip itself, transport is an input cost which an efficient economy would mininise. The less resources we allocate to transport, the more resources we have for producing things that we value for themselves. Transport ”contributes to the economy’ in the same way that the glazier fixing the window broken by the hooligan contributes to the economy. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we want more of it.

  7. Its like comparing the numbers on a normal weekend train with the numbers on a rail replacement bus. I often wonder where did they all go.

  8. The National party are probably on the phone to Seattle asking for them to cut that fly-over up and send it over here for the Auckland waterfront – install it in time for the America’s cup.
    Or maybe for the Basin Reserve.

  9. “Traffic is not, as it appears the kids are taught in Traffic Engineering 101, an immovable force of nature that must accommodated or we will face the end of times”

    And this seems to be exactly one of the models that AT follows. Pick up a copy of one of the monthly reports to the Board and traffic flows are measured all over Auckland. It seems that the normal AT response to congestion is not, how can we get people on other forms of transport, but how can we speed car flow on this road.

    I will write about such an approach that is proposed by AT in respect of Lake Road, Takapuna later in the day. They are developing a proposal to maximise car flow and some of this will be at the expense of bus movements from Takapuna, Milford and at the far end may impact every NEX1 and NEX2 departing Akoranga Station.

    Keep up your good work Patrick.

    1. Let the people of Devonport have their four lane super highway if that’s what they want. But I think AT should put up some kind of monument saying the the highway was build on behalf of the people, and when they finally wake up and realise that big four lane roads aren’t that nice, they can wait at the bottom of the queue to have it fixed.

      1. Jimbo we in Devonport just want the same public transport that everyone else gets. The Lake Road traffic situation is just a symptom of over-priced and infrequent and unconnected public transport provision.

        1. Most Devonport people I talk to want a four lane Lake road without bus or cycle ways… Has their been a survey done?

          I wouldn’t mind a ferry directly to the city like Devonport gets! I doubt there is any city in the world where the level of PT provided is exactly the same in every suburb.

        2. The same public transport that everyone else gets? So you want the ferry shut down, leaving just the bus?!

        3. Nick R and joe, you both know perfectly well that I refer to the public transport basics of fares, frequencies, and fare integration that should be available to everyone on the same basis. The uber thing is a complete red herring.

        4. David B
          I agree that Devonport PT is poor. I wonder what frequency would look like if $1 million had been applied to extra bus services and not electric shuttles?

          Perhaps someone can explain to me why AT can run the electric shuttle at 25% farebox recovery and yet every other service is at 50%?

        5. ‘We in devonport just want the same public transport that everyone else gets’
          Good luck with that hope.
          Just finished meeting with group of 14 neighbours and since neither AC,AT or even GA seem to have slightest interest in progressing rail PT to Kumeu, the consensus is that we should push for improved roading especially the Kumeu to Swanson Waitakere Road where some widening, straightening and overtaking bays would immediately improve safety, increase traffic capacity and provide some relief for the SH16 congestion. Also lobby AT to increase the Swanson P&R capacity

        6. Consensus… Did you get a chance to explain the downsides, Bogle? Did you explain what the widening, straightening and overtaking bays would do to traffic volumes and to vulnerable user safety? Did you discuss the idea of a bus shuttle to Swanson via Waitakere Rd, with modern technology to give bus priority and to stop rat runners?

        7. No “PT to kumeu”?!

          Apart from the two all day bus routes and the third peak time express route?

          Again, that’s better than my neighbourhood gets.

        8. Here’s a thought, if you want an extra PT service to your area, why not do what the people of Hobsonville have done?

          Get together and agree to pay an extra localrate to pay for it.

        9. Heidi, we could not see any practical alternate to roading improvements. Busses still travel on the same Waitakere Road so shuttle is not offering any improvement to just driving to Swanson. Hence road upgrades make sense and we thought AT would be more receptive.
          Really we want to see that underutilised extant rail line used but that seems a forlorn hope as nobody except Kumeu/huapai/ riverhead/waimaku residents support its use.
          So we agreed to a letter writing campaign to AC/AT to push for road improvements esp along Waitakere Road

        10. NickR, aren’t those the same busses especially that peak express that use dedicated bus lanes or busway or at least bus priority to speed the journey time? Or have I got that wrong since the busway hasn’t happened, there are no bus lanes and no bus priority on SH16? Just a bus snagged in car park like conjestion.
          And its likely nothing like these bus improvements will ever happen because some Auckland transport experts have proposed a Light Rail to Kumeu thats just about 20 years into the future. Just in time for todays 35 to 40 year old commuters to use just before they retire.
          If busses are Kumeu’s future then lets get that rail line from Kumeu to Swanson tarmaced over to create a dedicated non congested busway while we await the LR.

        11. Bogle: would a good compromise be to use a railbus? Which is basically a normal single decker bus on steel wheels that run on the railway line. That would be a bus right into Swanson station 🙂

        12. Is there even a platform at Kumeu? In July 2008, a trial train service was introduced between Helensville and Britomart, consisting of morning services citybound and afternoon/evening services westbound. Due to very poor patronage and consequent high level of subsidy, the services were withdrawn in December 2009.

          If there’s no platform, you’re asking for a couple of million dollars to be spent on a trial that seems doomed to failure.

        13. Bogle, yes the peak express certainly uses the new Northwestern Motorway bus lanes.. which again is far more than my neighbourhood gets. I have one infrequent bus route that sits in traffic through my suburb. You have two local routes and an express that runs on brand new motorway bus lanes… and complain you have not PT and you need a new train line to top it all off!

        14. NickR, ok, we will just have to disagree as the peak time buses from Kumeu are IMO not very successful in attracting ppl away from their cars. I think a more relaxing congestion free train would be more successful. Since that appears unlikely its time tosupport getting road improvements instead as alternate to sh16.
          A safer, faster, less congested Waitakere road seems the way to go to at least have a pleasant drive to the Swanson rapid railstation.

        15. The real Neill, the trial helensville commuter train service was not a dismal failure. In fact the pax numbers required to make it viable was almost at the required number just before it was terminated. Many people thought the real reason for its demise was simply because it was deliberately run as a skeleton service, one early morning train in and one evening train out. Zero effort was made to attract off peak travellers.
          Furthermore, with the electrification of the western line the desire to terminate OLE at Swanson would have created a complication if there was significant pax wanting to commute beyond Swanson.
          Hence the deliberate trial termination and subsequent closing of services to Waitakere township station. Nothing to do with pax numbers (else te Mahia would closed ages ago) but more a political decision to only provide rapid rail to mid and inner suburbs.
          FYI there are perfectly good platforms and access at waitakere and huapai.

        16. Bogle, I don’t disagree that there are transport problems in the area. There are transport problems in almost every area of Auckland. Name one suburb that doesn’t have huge traffic cues, delayed buses etc etc.

          It’s the sense of entitlement that pisses me off, the idea that Auckland Transports “experts” should immediately rush out and immediately build your, frankly small and low population neighbourhood, a train line, and if not the train you deserve an interim busway to be built and then a light rail line… while most other place barely get a bus at all.

          To be blunt all of Auckland needs a lot of work. But coming in here and harping on about a train service to Kumeu on every single post is really tiresome, even this one which is about removing roads and reduced traffic in Seattle. Nek Minut, Huapai trains of course!

        17. NickR, there is definitely no sense of entitlement. There is no need to build a rail line and everything needed already exists in situ and getting a shuttle dmu operating would likely cost less than sorting out a bus shuttle service.
          I agree that many suburbs have pathetic PT service but that fact being used to criticise and put down one suburb’s entitlement or expectation for decent PT is nothing more than fuckwit politics and typical of encouraging have-nots argue with each other as a means of denying improvements to all have-nots.
          And what is wrong with NW commuters feeling they are entitled to decent PT services? They pay their rates and taxes like everyone else and its only right they fight and argue for services.

        18. NickR, you may find my repeated postings concerning rail services to Kumeu tiring and boring but I am not aiming these posts at you or other commenters.
          I have it on good authority that there are many transport and planning professionals monitoring and reading GA posts and comments. Since we are denied direct access to these anonymous influencers then making my point that kumeu PT needs the extant rail line to be used is an excellent use of this blog. Since GA support for LR seemed to work with gaining govt support them maybe someone will take notice of the underused and wasted rail resource beyond Swanson that would be excellent for commuter services.
          Not unless a moderator states the blog cannot be used for this purpose.

        19. Bogle, nevertheless the Helensville service was terminated because it wasn’t a roaring success passenger wise. Locals who had called for it didn’t support it. You can say that was because it ran at inconvenient times or any other excuse, but if locals really wanted to get it established they would have supported it despite the hardship.

          And you still didn’t answer whether there is a platform at Kumeu.

        20. I’m with you on this Bogle, even though I’m not from Auckland. To implement a Pukekohe-style service beyond Swanson would not be difficult if the will was there. Even the infamous Waitakere Tunnel, often cited as a safety-risk, is only an obstacle in the minds of those who are looking for an excuse not to do rail, and who seek to justify the consigning all PT out that way to roads that are statistically less-safe.
          And the failed Helensville skeleton-service is not a good yardstick by which to judge the viability of a ‘proper’ service. I just hope the proposed Hamilton service does not also fall victim to skeletonism.

        21. TherealNeil, I will cease and desist pushing for rail PT to Kumeu and will now put my energy into getting improvements done to Waitakere Road.

        22. Bogle – how about ‘lobbying’ for bus lanes/priority to support your existing bus services. Rail isn’t the magical answer to your areas PT woes, it seems like the buses being stuck in traffic is.

        23. Yes, that’s right James. There’s lots that could be done to get the bus trips faster and more reliable. He’s now gunning for road improvements that he knows will induce traffic, that he knows will cause safety problems in the residential roads where this traffic originates and throughout the city where it ends up, and that he knows will increase carbon emissions.

          But I’m getting the impression these wider effects are not Bogle’s concern, which seems to be limited to a comfortable seat on a train, preferably, and in a car, if that’s not possible.

        24. What happened with the bus service that was mean’t to run between the Swanson station and Waitakere after the Waitalkere train was stopped. Did it ever run and if so was there any passengers.

        25. 01james and Heidi, I cannot see possibility to improve peak time bus services or journey times unless the causes of congestion are addressed and resolved. I suspect lobbing for this will get nowhere and may just add to the case for moar sh16 traffic lanes and $bn junction, flyovers etc.
          How can you say rail is not the answer when it patently is.
          Where else in Auckland is there an extant well maintained and signalled rail line with ready to use platforms, P&Rs, station access, that runs right through the middle of expanding housing suburbs, yet it is not being used for commuter and general pax services?
          Instead the future PT is for the next 20 years being planned around congested bus services plus a distant future political promise that Light Rail might happen.
          Yes I want a comfy seat on PT and want to use rail PT. There is no other option to seeking improvements to Waitakere Road for car commuting from Kumeu to Swanson. Busses are just not an option for me.

        26. Bogle. Pull the business case apart. Send your findings in. I want to read them. They’re probably great. But there are so many things to work on I can’t spend time on that one issue unless you help with the first part. Spend your time on that instead of campaigning to increase car dependency.

      2. “when they finally wake up and realise that big four lane roads aren’t that nice”

        Herein lies the problem, because the four lane highway does not pass through Devonport, they just may not realise. It passes through Takapuna, Belmont, Hauraki and then it goes past the commercial / industrial part of Devonport, and a golf course.

        So if you live in a villa somewhere in Devonport you are oblivious to the fumes, pollution and noise that you are causing to those along the way.

        What Devonport residents should be aware of though is that the 40,000 vehicles that pass down the six or seven kms of Lake Road every day, and way beyond, are causing a huge amount of carbon emissions. Those carbon emissions will eventually sink parts of Cheltenham and surroundings.

        So just let them have their four lane super highway? – absolutely not.

        Disclaimer: I do not live anywhere near this route. My concern is for the environmental damage that this road causes and to exacerbate this damage is unreasonable. I was foreseeable to people when they bought into Devonport that traffic might be problematic. Let’s work to find an environmentally helpful solution.

  10. Very interesting read
    Will be very interesting to see what the AT traffic engineers and models show with the AC ‘access for everyone’ concept.
    No doubt the idea will be dismissed by AT as not able to happen due to carmageddon

  11. Human behaviour is powerful and I agree that human behavior isn’t taken into account in many models.

    Here is one you don’t mention. When they say Carmageddon, what council officers mean are the complaints that come in. No model includes the avalanche of complaints from tireless, well-heeled citizens demanding immediate restoration of the status quo. I’m told that council officers are actually humans too and seek to avoid pain and suffering. As such, they avoid doing anything that might cause angry mobs demanding their head. In their minds, no action is better than the “wrong” action.

  12. And more roads = more intersections. If they closed 50% of the city’s roads it would also remove or increase the throughput of 50% of the city’s intersections.

  13. “Most of all we fail to see streets properly at all; they really are mutable public space that we can do all sorts of things with, if only we would allow ourselves the freedom from servitude to the seemingly unchangeable god of traffic. And all its high priests and their mumbo-jumbo methodologies”

    We look down on the Aztecs, Mayans and other South American civilisations that practised regular human sacrifice as practical lessons in how to be pretty uncivilised and we portray these mostly as warnings on how societies can “get it so wrong” at times when we let the high priests run the show.

    Yet they had mega-cities with running water & sewage schemes that worked, and these cities worked, without wheeled vehicles of any sort (beyond childrens toys) for far longer than the modern western world has existed so far and would not doubt have continued to do so – until the Black Swan event of the plague-ridden Spanish and others turned up looking for gold to plunder.

    And yet we overlook that the we now, with its worship of the twin gods of traffic and flow simply accept the ongoing level of human sacrifice it inexorably demands [via the “road toll” and DSI statistics] as equally mandated by our high priests – those from the NZTA, MoT and AT with similarly sounding mumbo-jumbo methodologies and justifications of why it must be so. And inscrutable ways they come to wield that level of power over us. In same way in reality, we assume, that the populations of South America must have simply accepted the situation in their day.

    And somehow we think we’re the more civilised society with our approach?

    1. I think you’ll find that a lot of those civilisations died out a long time before the Spanish arrived. AD 250 was the end of the Mayan empire; Spain was part of the Roman empire then.

      1. The Spanish destroyed amazing cities with huge viaducts and engineering works, all in the pursuit of gold. I think Greg’s analogy is apt.

      2. Most of them are thought to have died out because of environmental destruction and the political upheaval that followed. We would be apt to learn from them because we are stupidly and ignorantly repeating the same mistakes, only on a much larger scale.

  14. Thanks Patrick, great post. Auckland has several eyesores, and parts of the city that are ruined by road infrastructure. Getting rid of them would be great, and maybe one day it’ll happen.

    But how do we avoid building these mistakes in the first place? Widening SH1 and SH16. The roads for the Supporting Growth programme. It’s just the first step in paying thrice for nothing at all:
    – once paying for the infrastructure, which induces traffic
    – once paying the for safety and environmental projects to mitigate the effects of that induced traffic
    – once removing the infrastructure.
    And these misguided projects are still being justifyied them with business cases fed by travel time savings calculated from incorrect modelling.

    I think removing these mythical travel time savings from the business cases is the most important thing the government can do now.

    1. I had heard there was another review of the EEM underway. Looking at the wellbeing framework discussed in the current Budget Policy Statement (, and the hortatory statements wrapped around it, it will be interesting to see whether the wellbeing concepts work there way down and permeate the thinking on any revised EEM. You my get your wish, Heidi! More prosaically, you may at least get the chance to submit on any consultation on revising the EEM.

  15. If we have good alternative, inducing supply for roads would encourage people to use public transport or active.

    However not all suburbs has good alternative, Auckland are still building new greenfield subdivisions that has no efficient public transport.

    In auto-dependent suburbs that has poor PT, the people would be worst off and they may not want to travel at all. Which means lost in access, opportunities and productivity.

    1. If we can get the funding model sorted I think it would be a fantastic policy to have all bus routes to all times to be minimum 1/2 hourly frequency, no exceptions. Basically bite the bullet and subsidise them more and see what happens. So much non use & mode shift away from PT occurs from a sometimes hourly service I’m sure. This is just from anecdotal & my own experience of using PT how it affects your choice making.

  16. Good post. Clear that removing car access in the city does not cause issues, to the contrary, assuming that individuals are agents they will adapt and do what they belive is in the best interest.

    With this evidence based factual information are we seeing some change to how the transport agencies go about their business?
    How about closing down of innercity streets like in Copenhagen? Queens street for example. How about reducing lanes in the city, if its one place we dont need to drive to its the CBD.

    ts frustrating to see that despite evidence, there is little change and gigantic resistance from people who seem to disregards hard cold facts for own ego. New manager is of course recruited (at a damn high cost) instead of say a dane/dutch/Singaporean etc who has best practice with him/her. Its hard to sit on the sideline and see continuous decisions which doesn’t seem to empirical data into account.

    That leads to the frustration we often see here. people are upset about their own suburb and its lack of decent public transport. We see all the low hanging fruit in the suburbs, but they are forgotten and instead transport agencies can build sliplanes close to schools and accessroads right next to schools. Its mindbugglingly dumb. Some large projects gets people like Mr Reynolds and others views and hence they get substantially improved, but the average project is still kleft in the dark ages.

    The Northern express is a roaring success. Why dont we loo at how we can emulate it?
    It must be the only country where best practice and results arent celebrated and copied. Instead we have had ten years of adding lanes to the NW motorway. Despite the Northern solving it with less lanes and a busway. Dumb, dumber, NZQA/AT and the rest.

    1. “Good post. Clear that removing car access in the city does not cause issues, to the contrary, ”
      The story doesnt give the detail but the overhead freeway is being replaced by an undercity tunnel. Car acess isnt being removed at all.

  17. Carmagedden never comes?

    Well it did in Seattle on Fri 25th
    Friday afternoon’s commute was a reminder that one incident can have huge ripple effects when SR 99 is closed. Just after 2 p.m. Friday, a charter bus caught fire on northbound I-5 at Spokane Street, blocking all northbound lanes for almost an hour. It was nearly 6 p.m. before the last lane reopened. The result was heavy traffic on all freeways south of the incident and on major city streets in the vicinity of I-5. Commuters faced a three-mile backup on northbound I-5 and a seven-mile backup on the I-405/SR 518 corridor from SR 900 in Renton to SeaTac Airport. Transit was hit just as hard. Metro reported system-wide delays associated with the incident.

    1. Thanks for that update, Duker. Points of interest to me, from a few different articles:

      1/ “Sound Transit buses going into and out of Seattle were delayed up to a half-hour because of the fire. King County Metro buses also experienced significant delays that stretched into rush hour because of an influx of drivers using alternative routes.” – It’s important to have as much PT on networks that can’t be affected by problems in the general traffic network, and vice versa.

      2/ “Southbound lanes were also moving slowly past the scene due to smoke and the distraction.” – We all know that phenomenon. I wonder how much rubber-necking affects bus drivers on bus lanes? Or even light rail and heavy rail drivers? I’d imagine they’re not affected as much, because they aren’t then following a stream of rubber neckers.

      3/ “Firefighters had difficulty finding water to put out the fire. They had to run about 2,000 feet of hose to the scene from two different locations, Scoggins said. Firefighters had to shut down Airport Way for a brief period to hook up one of their hoses.” – I wonder how well resourced for water our transport networks are?

      4/ Looking at Google maps, there are a lot of parallel roads. There is a lot of sprawl. They’re travelling long distances in cars due to bad planning. Their progressive statistics will only help so much…

      5/ What’s all the Water Taxi stuff about?

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