“They’re trying to force us out of our cars and on to buses and bikes”, “why are we spending money on cycleways when no-one uses them”. These statements and many more like them are a near weekly occurrence from some of our politicians, media commentators and general public.

With plans like ATAP focusing most of the money over the coming decade on public transport, walking and cycling, is it really about planners trying to force some kind of utopian future on Auckland or is it simply the most logical outcome based on the evidence available?

Of course, it’s easy for those that don’t like the plans to say something but one thing we rarely see these opponents say what they think the alternative is for addressing the issues Auckland faces. One of the problems they have is that by any kind of rational analysis, there simply isn’t any alternative. Here are a few key areas to think about.

Population

Auckland has long been New Zealand’s largest and also its fastest growing city. It is expected to keep growing strongly well into the future. Stats NZ estimate that Auckland is currently around 1.7 million people and that by 2043 we could reach up to 2.6 million people, 50% more than we have now (2.3m is the current medium projection). While there are various factors that could affect when we reach that projected growth, we will reach it at eventually and so it’s a question of when not if. That means we’re going to have more people needing to get around.

Geography

Our harbours, maunga, and ranges help to set Auckland apart from other cities but they also create some significant restrictions on how Auckland grows and even more so on our ability to provide transport. As such:

  • Auckland has spread out along a few corridors resulting in an urban area that extends over 60km in length between Orewa and Papakura. If Auckland was instead on a river plan, like Hamilton or Christchurch, and spread out evenly in all directions it the edge of the city would only be about 13km from the centre or 26km from edge to edge. This means that many people already have very long commutes to reach employment opportunities and this is only more so for people living in any new greenfield housing on the urban fringes.
  • Movement across the city gets funnelled into a handful of pinch points, for example there are only 14 road crossings between the North, East, West and South into the central isthmus and most of those are local roads. If there’s one mode of transport that doesn’t scale well, it’s trying to push a lot of cars through a few narrow areas. Coincidentally, public transport is perfectly suited to moving a lot of people through narrow corridors.

Limited roading opportunities

“If we look to the future, it’s just not possible to keep adding lanes to the motorway. It becomes more and more expensive for less and less gain”

That may sound like something we would say, or perhaps Phil Tywford or Julie Anne Genter but in fact that quote comes from Simon Bridges when he was Minister of Transport and was from the launch of the first ATAP back in 2016 – the video of this is still available on that post. The ATAP work, over a number of iterations, has been quite instrumental in trying to answer the question posed in this post. The fact it managed to achieve some good outcomes, such as a significant focus on improving public transport and looking to introduce road pricing, despite the initial versions focusing on some of the wrong questions is indicative of just how few alternatives we haves.

Coming back to the quote from Bridges, the reality is our major transport corridors are now, or in the process of being built out. To further widen motorways or local roads to handle more vehicles would require the purchasing and demolition of large swathes of housing commercial buildings. Not only is that increasingly expensive, time and time again Auckland communities have shown they don’t want this outcome. Basically, cutting up one community so another community living further out has a slightly easier drive will not fly anymore. This means the only alternative to significantly increase road capacity is to do so with tunnels but tunnels are extremely expensive both to build and to run and so we simply can’t afford to build them, let alone try and justify them.

If we can’t build more roads then to cope with travel demand growth it means we need to get better use out of the existing network we have. Ways to do that include:

  • Increasing the capacity of the existing roads by encouraging more efficient and higher capacity modes of transport.
  • Managing demand through tools like road pricing.

This is effectively the strategy that ATAP took.

More efficient modes

Cars are great for many things but not when a lot of drivers are all trying to go to the same place at the same time. Almost every other mode is able to move more people in one same amount of space.

We know, even from local experience, that when we provide good quality walk, bike and public transport infrastructure, it encourages people to use it. For example,

  • Every time we build a new bike connection, usage of existing cycle lanes grow, the network effect in action.
  • The growth in bus use has been strongest on routes where bus priority is provided. Bus priority has the added benefit of making bus operations more efficient.

The limited roading opportunities mentioned above doesn’t just apply to the region in a general sense but also impacts our ability to deliver certain solutions to increase capacity. In particular, some of our key bus corridors in the city like Symonds St and Fanshawe St are already at or exceeding how many buses can reliably use them.

One these corridors we can’t just keep throwing more buses at the problem. Instead, we need to look for ways to further increase capacity and that’s why light rail is being looked at.

The need to reduce emissions

Road transport is Auckland’s single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for about 35.7% of all emissions for the region. We urgently need to reduce these and having more people walking, cycling/scootering and using public transport is one of the fastest ways we can do that.

Of course buses in their current diesel form aren’t ideal but buses we would be able to transition our bus fleet to be electric much faster than we can our car fleet.

Health and Safety

Far too many people die or are injured on our roads and we need to make them safer. Concerns about safety is one of the key things that puts people off riding a bike. One of the key reasons for building proper bike infrastructure is that it makes cycling safe which encourages more people to do it. Of course, cycling also has significant health benefits to individuals and long term for society. The question those that oppose cycleways need to answer is “why wouldn’t we want more people cycling”.

Summary

So if Auckland is going to continue to grow and we can’t build new or bigger roads, what’s the alternative if we don’t want Auckland grinding to a halt?

I think one of the most important things we (as a city/country) have done for transport in Auckland in recent years is try to answer that question. If politicians, media commentators or the general public don’t like the outcome, by all means, show us your alternative and show us the evidence to say it will work. And lastly, please show us how you’ll pay for it.

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114 comments

  1. Comments on moving growth to the regions with no proposals to achieve it incoming in 3, 2, 1….

    Great article. You see it a lot with people opposing particular transport projects, too. Oppose LRT to the airport, no need to define a preferred alternative, just talk about how 12 different ideas could each work better in one particular way. Same with Regional Rail, no need to define an alternative, just criticise the plan. Oppose cycle lanes in Grey Lynn, no need to define an alternative route, just say that you think it should be on side roads.

    This is also why I think National lost the election: the left bloc presented a plan to fix the housing crisis and invest in transport that could be believed in. The right bloc, never defined an alternative, just dismissed the left’s ideas.

    1. If you call building 300 houses, when you said you’d build a thousand, is hardly solving the crisis.

      As for PT, it’s not looking too flash this morning if you’re waiting for a train.

      Guess I’ll have to go by car.

  2. Nice summary Matt. Required reading for local government candidates.

    However I do think that capacity chart is leaning on the scales a bit, or at least the legend referring to ‘one 3.5m lane in the city’ is a stretch.

    For example the 2,000 people by car, that might be true for a motorway lane at top performance, but on a city street with intersections and lights etc, it’s more like 6 to 700.

    Likewise with the busway, light rail, heavy rail. 80,000 people an hour equates to twelve car metro train full to capacity every 90 seconds. Sure there are a few place in the world that achieve that with heavy rail, but it’s a stretch to say it can happen in ‘one 3.5m lane in the city’.

      1. If I’m going to have too much of a good thing, I’d probably go for champagne and chocolate cake. Or swimming and sunshine 🙂

  3. It is the same sort of people who think that there is some sort of conspiracy to force them out of their nice 4 bed suburban bungalow and make them live in a highrise apartment. Their “solutions” are generally nonsense – “stop immigration” or “stop importing cars”. They are mostly “stale, male and pale” and having problems adjusting to the 21st Century, or “batshit crazy” like the Occupy Garnet Rd bunch.

    1. NZ does have the second highest rate of immigration per capita in the OECD. Only Luxembourg is higher and that is a completely different situation. It’s not a binary choice between the current extremely high outlier rate of immigration and no immigration at all, a reduction even to the Australian rate would remove a lot of the population pressure.

      1. +1 Zippo. Without mass immigration we could actually catch up on infrastructure rather than fall even further behind. Would also make housing more affordable.

        1. None of which is an alternative, just a sticky plaster, an excuse to do nothing as has been done in th past. Natural growth (internal) is still the biggest percentage of population increase in NZ, so as Matt says we WILL reach 2.5 million or more.

          What I find interesting is that what was historically a leftist policy (Sustainable transport/PT/move away from autodependancy) is pretty much the norm across most Western Countries other than a certain older demographic lets say. How will political parties differentiate themselves from each other, I mean National can’t keep flogging the build moar roadz policy, especially in Auckland.

          So frustrating when you read an article like this nodding along, knowing that it is simple common sense and yet it seems so hard to get across to some people.

          1. “Natural growth (internal) is still the biggest percentage of population increase in NZ,”

            Sorry, but that’s completely wrong. 75% of the population growth over the last few years is due to immigration so while we may eventually reach 2.5 million, this turbocharged level of migration ensures it will be much sooner than would otherwise be the case with all the associated strains on society and infrastructure.

          2. Incorrect.

            Natural increase plus internal migration [from within NZ – mostly, but not always to Auckland] combined exceeds the external annual migration rate of the country for any year you can care to name.

            No way to restrict either of these (legally anyway). The only one we can control is the external migration – and then only for people other than for NZ Citizens, Permanent Residents and of course, Australians.

            Also note that the headline figure for “annual migration” includes all those here on long term [student] visas, for which a fair chunk do eventually leave NZ [but not all].

            They do increase the headcount in NZ while they remain here, require roads, transport, and other infra so they shouldn’t be ignored.

            “Net” migration figures swing widely because of these facts.

            Actual “controllable” migration is always lower than you are lead to think it is.

            But we can and should manage that portion as it is something we can control.

          3. Even that article is bullshit. Net migration is not the driver. Arrivals is the driver. Arrivals were 129,000 while the natural increase was 26,500. Net migration is used to try and make the effect of letting too many people in too quickly look smaller than it is.

        2. The construction industry is highly reliant on experienced migrants coming in from overseas and even the current numbers aren’t enough. Without them we’d have no hope of catching up on our infrastructure deficit.

          Also NZ has an aging population. When you’ve retired, who do you expect to do the work and pay the taxes that provide the services you currently take for granted?

          1. Well unless there’s been a dramatic change, construction workers make up a very small proportion of the total net migration flow so a reduction could easily occur without any effect on these “experienced migrants”. It’s interesting there’s such a shortage yet a labour hire company couldn’t find any work for 30 Chinese construction workers and turfed them out of the single house they were crammed into recently. As for the retirement issue, migrants also get old, it’s a classic ponzi scheme.

      2. Part of the point of this post is that the rate of immigration doesn’t matter. Auckland will continue to grow and there will continue to be increasing pressure on ito roads if we don’t do something differently.

        To put it another way, the solutions we need for a city of 2.5 million are the same regardless of when we get there

        1. Agreed. What I think, and this may be completely wrong, is that Auckland seems to take the majority of the strain from external and internal migration. We need the other cities in NZ to be more attractive to share the load better. Christchurch is still a basket case, Wellington is hindered by its topography, Tauranga and Hamilton are growing but in an uncontrolled sprawly manner, no-one wants to live and work in Dunedin, Whangarei floundering…

          1. AssailerBoy said at the beginning of this thread: “Comments on moving growth to the regions with no proposals to achieve it incoming in 3, 2, 1…”

            So which method do you prfer to achieve a move to the regions:

            1. Penalise Auckland and make it much less attrative to live in. Moving way from transport strategy with sustainable modes and embracing sprawl are definitely ways to do this. It will make Auckland a traffic nightmare.

            2. Subsidise regional centres with tax payer money. Offer huge tax incentives so that companies that now pay full tax in Auckland will move to regional centres. The incentives will have to be massive to comnvimnce them to move away from the largest source of skilled labour in NZ.

            Which do you prefer?

          2. I’m saying move growth to other ‘cities’ where there is at least some critical mass. Chc was doing alright prior to the quake so re-build it pronto! And as part of that re-build maybe use the opportunity to build light rail and other lead infrastructure and avoid the mistakes that transport mistakes Auckland has made. Fingers-crossed when people come to NZ, people might consider another ‘city’ option. And it’s not a binary decision, Auckland still gets infrastructure upgrades but don’t put all the eggs in the Auckland basket…otherwise its a self perpetuating cluster.

          3. I dont think growing the regions is an option, any attempt at such by making Auckland less appealing will simply help grow sydney/melbourne/singapore/new york/london. Truth is a quarter acre section in the regional burbs is not what most overseas citizens actually want.

          4. Some things that could make regional economies healthier are things we need to do to restore basic access to participation in society anyway. But they sorts of numbers of people we’re talking about in Auckland would require serious development of regional towns and cities to be able to absorb. Probably worth doing, for resiliency, but it won’t be cheap.

          5. @Luke – Why can’t we have high density in Christchurch, it doesn’t need to be 1/4 acre sections. There might be more bang for buck doing a 10km light rail line in Christchurch than in Auckland is what I’m suggesting. And in providing some lead infrastructure like this, Christchurch can catch up to where it would have been sans quake i.e. a genuine city competitor to Auckland
            @Heidi – Auckland won’t be cheap either. New transport infrastructure in greenfields FUZ area (Drury, Pukekohe, Dairy Flat, Silverdale areas etc) will be in the billions. I’m just not sure perservering with this outward linear growth in a geographical constrained part of NZ is the best way of doing things. But hey, happy to be corrected.

          6. I’m certainly no fan of the FUZ or any outward growth, Missing Link. With you on that. To create housing in yet more car dependent suburbs instead of bulking up the density in existing car dependent suburbs in order to make them PT-possible is stupid.

            I’m having a deep look at regional buses at the moment. One bus to Hokianga each week (2 in the summer) doesn’t exactly assist basic attempts at an economy there, or at improving educational outcomes … it doesn’t even provide for access to things we’d consider fairly basic human needs.

            So some of the costs of regional development will have to be provided anyway, if we are caring for our people.

    2. Fascinating hypothesis. Can you perhaps describe the statistical methods by which you have reached your conclusions?

      What, for example, were your sample sizes?

      Any chance of a Venn diagram so that we might understand whether, for example, there are batshit crazy people like the Occupy Garnet Rd bunch who think that there is some sort of conspiracy to force them out of their nice *3* bed suburban bungalow and make them live in a highrise apartment AND want to stop immigration but DON’T want to stop importing cars that are NOT having problems adjusting to the 21st century who are pale, female but can be EITHER stale or not stale?

  4. You want to hear alternatives to the big public transport projects for Auckland? How about this: Plan instead to actually reduce the city-wide demand for long-distance commuting by increasing employment capacity and variety outside the central isthmus.
    The act of commuting does not produce wealth. It actually consumes collective wealth, time and resources on a vast scale – and that is true whether the commute is done by private vehicle or by public transport.
    Every “solution” to Auckland’s transport issues throughout the city’s history has ultimately been overwhelmed by demand, forcing searches for ever-bigger, more expensive solutions – which, in turn, are also eventually overwhelmed by the demands of an endlessly growing population.
    The reason for this is revealed in your own article: the fact that Auckland will always suffer from its geography of having a central isthmus trapped between two harbours and dependent on a handful of bridges and causeways for access to the centre. On this basis alone, Auckland’s transport planners have always been looking through the wrong end of the telescope – and continue to do so today. Instead of looking for more and more ways to move more and more people over longer and longer distances, the smartest solution would be to plan for increased employment capacity and variety in the town centres outside the isthmus, so that greater numbers of people can find suitable employment closer to where they live and where their children go to school, thereby progressively reducing the demand for long-distance commuting. Newsflash! Not everyone in Auckland wants a job in the central city. But if that’s where the work is, then that is where they are forced to go.
    Many years ago, I put this concept to a planner for John Banks’ Eastern Transport Corridor at a public consultation session. He looked confused. I had proposed a solution that didn’t involve spending another billion dollars on a gleaming new transport project and he didn’t know how to react. Finally, he blurted out “well, no – that’s a planned economy”. Whatever that meant, the idea was obviously anathema to someone whose only thought was for yet another big project.
    It is said that one sign of insanity is to repeat the same exercise over and over again, expecting a different outcome each time. That has been Auckland’s failing ever since the Harbour Bridge was built in the 1950s. Predictably, it was overwhelmed by demand and quickly needed doubling in capacity. The same will happen to each new billion-dollar transport project that is built unless the city’s planners finally admit that we can’t just continue trying to cram thousands more to the central city to work every day. Auckland’s unique geography will always defeat the plan.

    1. Or we could recognise the inefficiencies in such a plan, and that people would STILL commute from one area to another because their job changed. And look at how much land we’ve covered, and how we could have had a much more liveable city with more greenery, more amenity and more opportunity in walkable distance if we hadn’t spread so far, hadn’t wasted so much land on roads and parking lots and driveways, but had gone up instead.

      We don’t want any more mistakes on our transport corridors. There’s no more excuse for widening them for more cars, or even for adding public transport when that should be replacing the space-inefficient general traffic lanes. So it’s a pity you didn’t say to Banks that he could save the billion dollars by reallocating the public space to more efficient modes. Think of all the cars that wouldn’t be on the road today if that easy solution had been done then. And the better safety. And the quality of the public transport if that many people had been encouraged onto public transport.

      1. I think one classic case of the point I am trying to make lies in the east Auckland suburbs of Pakuranga, Howick, Bucklands Beach, Cockle Bay and Half Moon Bay. In the centre of all these sprawling suburbs sits the Highland Park shopping centre – a low-rise retail area locked in the 1970s and with miniscule employment capacity. Every day, tens of thousands of people from those suburbs stream across the Tamaki River heading for the central city. With imaginative planning for the redevelopment of the Highland Park centre – and even the other small town centres around it, many workers in those suburbs could potentially find a job they want within minutes of the place they live. Yet nothing is being done to change Highland Park. Why not?

        PS: It wasn’t John Banks I was talking to, but one of the planners for Opus Consultants, who were heavily involved in leading the project.

        1. Keith, we tried that all ready. A lot, extensively, for decades.

          Auckland built Manukau, Albany, zoned them and the likes of Henderson, Botany and Sylvia Park for unlimited density. Poured money into improving roads, infrastructure, facilities and access to these outer business districts. The old local councils spend decades doing literally everything they could to support employment in their own jurisdictions and stop it going to Auckland City.

          They got plenty of jobs in their backyards, sure. But not surprisingly, many of the people working in those jobs don’t live nearby. They live where they live, and take a job where their job is. The end result is even worse traffic, as people drive from the upper north shore to a job by the airport, or drive from a home in south auckland to their job in the upper north shore. Look at the Stats NZ commuter data. Albany has more commuters from Mangere than it does from Mairangi Bay.

          About a quarter of all jobs are in the city centre and surrounding suburbs, and another quarter are in the rest of the isthmus. Half of all Auckland’s jobs are distributed across the suburbs.

          So plenty of jobs still went to the city centre. Why? Well a lot of businesses don’t want to be in the outer suburbs, they don’t want a location on the edge of their zone of activity. They want to be in the centre of the region, central to their customer base, central to their suppliers, and central to their pool of employees. There are plenty of shops, hairdressers, local accountants etc with a few staff that serve a small local catchment of the surroundings suburbs. But for larger or more specialized businesses, they work, sell and employ at a regional level. They serve, and recruit from, the city of 1.7 million, if not the whole country.

          That is, by definition, what a city is. Agglomeration of people and economies.

          What you seem to be asking for is not just enabling jobs to spread around, but actually the council stepping in to create laws to stop businesses locating in the centre, and to try and force those jobs to be located in the periphery at the likes of highland park. That indeed would be a communist style planned economy… it would literally be stepping in to stop certain businesses from locating where they are most efficient and can access the best labour pool and best serve their customers… stepping in to push against the tide, against the very reason cities exist. And it wouldn’t even work, as the softer attempts in Auckland have already shown.

          If you really wanted to achieve what you propose, you’d need that other dire element of the communist planned economy: The internal passport. Not only would you need to laws to force businesses to locate where they don’t want to be, you’d also need laws making it illegal to work in a job that isn’t located next to where they live.

          1. Here we go again…”What you seem to be asking for is not just enabling jobs to spread around, but actually the council stepping in to create laws to stop businesses locating in the centre, and to try and force those jobs to be located in the periphery at the likes of highland park. That indeed would be a communist style planned economy…”.
            No, at no point whatsoever did I propose that the Council make laws to stop businesses locating in the centre. I am not trying to FORCE anybody to do anything. Come on, Nick – show me in my post where I said anything like about MAKING LAWS to stop businesses doing anything. Show me where I wanted to try to FORCE jobs to be located anywhere. That’s right – you can’t.
            Like Goosoid’s comment below, you are deliberately twisting my words in order to give yourself an excuse to attack my proposals – and then trying to brand my ideas as “communist” into the bargain. This hostility towards anyone who dares to question the orthodoxy of this website is really revealing. Matt Lowrie asked for alternatives to current planning ideas and I’ve given one. Apparently, some contributors to this website can’t tolerate such heresy.

          2. No, I (and I am sure Nick) are not trying to misreprsent what you are saying. You never said anything about forcing people, I totally agree.

            What Nick and I (and others below) are trying to explain is that the ONLY way to make your idea work (because it has been tried other softer ways) is to force businesses and people to make the choices you want.

            Your solution may appear infuriatingly simple, but it doesn’t work. It is just like car pooling. It just seems so siple and definitely would solve all our commuting problems. Simply get two people in a car when before there was one. But (as the Soviets found out) are contrary beasts who act illogically.

          3. Keith: you misrepresent Nick’s words yourself. At no point did he say that you were advocating for a planned economy. He merely stated that he believes that the only way to make your idea feasible would be to ban people from working in a different suburb to their domicile suburb.
            To illustrate how flawed your approach is. A colleague of mine works in Albany and commutes from Howick. Why? Because that’s where he bought a house when he worked in the city and could catch the ferry to work. Now he’s been transferred to the Albany office. Rather than uproot his life from Howick including finding his children new schools and his wife a new job on the Shore he elected to continue commuting to Albany. How do you plan to deal with the many people in the same situation other than hoping they decide to take a job closer to their home?
            Also bear in mind that as jobs get more and more specialised companies will need larger and larger pools of potential applicants to fill those positions. If a lack of transport options across the wider city discourages applicants coming forth for those jobs because they don’t want to relocate closer to them then a company may be forced to look offshore, either for applicants or to relocate to a city with a larger employment pool.

    2. The polycentric city pipe-dream is one that gets brought up often in these sort of discussions. It deserves a GA post all to itself explaining why it is both a bad idea and unachievable.

      A single large city centre is much cheaper to supply infrastructure to (transport, 3-waters, electricity etc.). The population have more education choices, more employment opportunities and better access to amenities. Companies prefer to locate close to both their customers and the other companies they interact with, which draws them to central business districts. The environmental impacts, on a per capita basis, are also much lower.

      The agglomeration benefits that encourage the creation of cities work within cities as well. To make the most of them, urban areas should be becoming denser and more centralised. The primary force encouraging less dense, less centralised suburban sprawl with fewer benefits is the tyranny of a single, spacially inefficient mode of transport. It’s only humanities relatively recent addiction to the private car that is ruining our cities.

    3. So will you forbid people getting jobs in other parts of the city?

      What happens if one person in the family gets a job elsewhere in the city? Does everyone have to relocate? Kids have to move schools?

      How will you force businesses to move to suburban areas? Will you force them to move from central areas? Will you subsidise suburban developments using tax payer money?

      Currenty the city entre is the single largest employmnet area, but by no means the majority of jobs. So the jobs are already spread out; which begs the question why this olution hasn’t already worked?

      Houston has done this even better with no restrictions on where commercial operations can be located. Yet Houston has enormous travel problems and even a highway with 11 lanes wasn’t enough.

      I can tell you what will happen. Everyone will continue to drive everywhere and the motorays will be clogged by poeple driving across the city to get to their job. People aren’t confused by your idea, just that someone still believes this will work.

      Your solution is a perfect illustration of the point of the post. Well done.

      1. So, at what point did I say I was going to forbid anybody to do anything? At what point did I say I was going to force anybody to do anything? That’s right – I didn’t. Try reading what I actually wrote instead of what you choose to believe I wrote. And what I wrote was “plan for increased employment capacity and variety in the town centres outside the isthmus, so that greater numbers of people can find suitable employment closer to where they live”. Why are you so hostile that concept?

          1. Because when people deliberately misrepresent what I have written in order to give themselves an excuse to attack me, I know I am not dealing with reasonable people.

          2. I can see where the offense has come in, but I don’t think it was intended that way, Keith. I think they were simply meaning that your idea has already been tried, without success, so to try to achieve success, more radical dictatorial methods would have to be used. Your comments didn’t come across as suggesting these methods, so please don’t worry about that.

            It would be good if everyone toned down their responses sometimes – me included – and also if they tried to read what people were meaning, rather than fixating on the language or even argument technique used. There’s good stuff in the responses to your suggestion, Keith, which I hope you can see once the (understandable) offense dies down.

        1. As pointed out above, that choice where “people can find suitable employment closer to where they live” already exists.

          But people also have the choice to work no where near where they live. Jobs change more often than residence.

          Which means travelling across the city. Where I work, (multiple sites), people commute from Titirangi or Whangaparoa to Takapuna, Stonefields or Westgate to Britomart, even one person driving Hunua to Albany a few times a week.

          1. “That choice where “people can find suitable employment closer to where they live” already exists.” Not everywhere, it doesn’t. and certainly not in the areas that suffer most from a paucity of employment opportunities. The point I am making is that, if the planners spent as much time making it easier for businesses (of any size) to establish themselves outside the central isthmus, it would give people a greater opportunity to people to find work closer to home. Instead, we have the Sylvia Park scenario, in which one huge corporation has created a vast shopping complex that has sucked the life out of all the surrounding town centres and killed off business variety and capacity into the bargain – with the blessing of Auckland Council planners.

          2. So Keith, I accept you have no intention of forcing people to work close to where they live. So how will you achieve that goal?

            Please just explain the practical steps you would take to achieve it. What changes would you make or what incentives would you offer?

            How will you convince people who live in Howick to only work at Highbury? How will you convince businesses to move their premises to Highbury?

            That is the real crux of the isue. Just saying “have people work close to where they live” sounds great on the surface, but how do we achieve it?

            Keep in mind too that your idea would severly restrict the jobs people could take and the employees availabel to busineses. They now can’t apply, or recruit for, jobs all over Auckland, only from East Aucklnd (for Highbury I mean).

        2. Keith, perhaps you are missing one critical point when you say ““plan for increased employment capacity and variety in the town centres outside the isthmus, so that greater numbers of people can find suitable employment closer to where they live”.

          Auckland already *allows for* plenty of employment capacity and variety in town centres outside of the isthmus. Take your example of Highland Park, it’s zoning permits people to operate practically any business except heavy toxic industry or waste treatment by right. You can live there, you can run a shop, open a office, a factory, an assembly line, and food production plant, pretty much whatever.

          Likewise, you can build out to cover almost all of a site, and go up to eight storeys tall.There is practically no limit to building the right sort of facility for any of those businesses there either.

          So, given that the fact that:
          a) the city already allows practically any business to set up and operate in practically all of these suburban town centres, and
          b) Council has facilitated these areas with transport, parking, service, and
          c) The land is relatively cheap and available for redevelopment, but
          d) business haven’t located there en masse, and don’t seem to want to set up in these areas

          …what are you proposing to do differently that would change this? How do you plan to effect the shift?

    4. Keith, The idea that decentralised employment means that the majority of people would be able to find satisfactory employment close to home is at odds with current employment realities. Where as just a few decades ago, employees rarely had enforced employment changes so they could realistically relocate if their employer moved, or offered promotion at another location and they would retain security of employment. Employers were a lot more loyal to their employees and vica verca. In the current environment, an employee would have to very carefully consider moving house to stay close to a relocating employer. They face the considerable risk of moving to no avail, as the next “strategic review” leaves them without their job and stranded living in a suburb with no suitable further employment.
      The effect of this on employees is that the closer to the centre of action they can live, is the greater the choice of employment they have for promotion, or enforced changes in circumstances. The corollary of this, for employers, is that the closer they can locate to the centre, the better the choice of employees. Just sound risk management. Hence under current employment regimes there are economically sound reasons for the agglomeration towards the CBDs internationally and why Manukau and Albany as greenfield city centres have struggled.

      1. I didn’t say “the majority”. I said “greater numbers” – “so that greater numbers of people can find suitable employment closer to where they live and where their children go to school”. I know full well that many Aucklanders choose to work in areas far away from where they live, and that often their work takes them to different parts of the city. But many, many people who just want a simple job would be more than happy to find one closer to home if they could.
        Right now, even the most ambitious transport projects being planned for Auckland won’t be enough to beat the relentless rise in population – they will only just hold back the tide at the most. The reason is in Matt Lowrie’s own article: “Movement across the city gets funnelled into a handful of pinch points, for example there are only 14 road crossings between the North, East, West and South into the central isthmus”.
        That’s the whole problem with transport in Auckland and it has been the problem for more than 60 years. It’s not going to go away and we just don’t have the money to build endless bridges and tunnels to solve it. Even the best public transport proposals will ultimately be overwhelmed if the population of Auckland continues to grow at its current rate.
        It is time to revisit the areas outside the central isthmus and do what should have been done there decades ago.

          1. OK, many people are asking how to achieve this – but I suspect from the tone of the asking that nothing I say will make much difference. The only way to get any traction on a process like this is for Council planners to go to the various towns, suburbs and communities with HONEST intentions and state simply, right at the beginning, that “the Council is looking for suggestions and proposals to increase employment and business capacity and variety in your town/suburb/neighbourhood for people who want to work closer to home to avoid long commuting hours”.
            No hidden agendas. No “here’s a plan we prepared earlier” surprises sprung on unsuspecting communities halfway through to sabotage the process. No overwhelming Unitary Plan-style imperatives that the community is not allowed to influence or change in any way. In other words – nothing that smacks of imperious, overbearing planners casually drawing maps across other peoples’ neighbourhoods and re-zoning vast areas without consent. In order for such a process to work, the Council needs to LISTEN to what the community is saying would work best for it, instead of the usual deeply-ingrained habit of pretending to “consult” the community while knowing that the real plan has already been drawn up and is sitting on a city office desk.
            Get the conversation started, let the ideas – big and small – sink in and then build on them. It could be anything from a community-led employment initiative, small business start-ups, to Council involvement in purchasing and redeveloping a site that works for local businesses. Build the networks up, get businesses and entrepreneurs talking to each other and begin to grow the local business activity.
            The aim is to allow communities themselves to drive the process without giving them cause to suspect that they are being led up a garden path. And it has to be genuine.
            No-one is being forced to do anything – they are simply being given the chance to do something that works best for them. Once the critical mass is there, it becomes increasingly self-sustaining.
            I suspect that this approach will be pooh-poohed by some who are more attuned to Grand Scheme urban planning theories. But you would be amazed at what communities can achieve when they are given the opportunity – and not treated like peasants who don’t know what’s best for them.

          2. “OK, many people are asking how to achieve this – but I suspect from the tone of the asking that nothing I say will make much difference.”

            It probably won’t make much difference, because many of us have been reading this blog for years. Every couple of months, someone comes along saying we can decentralize employment to help reduce congestion. That person always ignores that we got into the current mess by trying to decentralise employment for 60 years. That person never suggests any new methods to achieve the decentralization and never addresses the point that people already have a strong motivator to reduce their commute length: congestion.

            The reasons that you arguments aren’t changing anyone’s mind here is that we have already heard the arguments, ad nauseam.

            If you want to change anyone’s mind, tell us a mechanism to decentralize employment. Currently you have only suggested allowing building in the suburbs (which we already do) and asking the community (crowd sourcing for ideas).

            Basically the only way we have reduced congestion and grown the city is by *re*centralizing. The city centre has experienced decreased congestion by allowing people to live there and easily get there without a car.

        1. Keith – Lot’s of people are currently moving to be closer to employment – look at the central city population numbers in the last 10-15 years.
          Perhaps ‘the council planners’ should allow more of the central suburbs to be ‘up-zoned’ (where the land value currently justifies building higher) to allow for even more resident’s to live in close proximity to work? Rather than the other way around?

          1. +100

            Also, are we not building 1000’s of homes out in Mangere and Mt Roskil with a potential Light Rail line linking these places to the 2nd busiest employment area in the City (Auckland Airport).

            People understand you Keith, as mentioned those ideas have been thrown around for years and implemented in Albany, Smales Farm, Highbrook, Manakau, New Lynn, Henderson, Airport etc etc…

            What we want to know is the PLAN to ensure there are even more employment options and related housing options in these areas.

          2. “the Council is looking for suggestions and proposals to increase employment and business capacity and variety in your town/suburb/neighbourhood for people who want to work closer to home to avoid long commuting hours””

            See comments earlier (and repeated several times) on all that has been done to allow for businesses to prosper in areas like Highbury, let alone all the comments about how such a plan relies on people never moving or changing jobs.

            Call it pooh-poohing if you want, but its also reality.

  5. The comparison of modes on a 3.5m wide space says 2,000 for cars, and 14,000 for bikes. This is false, as it is based on minimum use of cars, such as single occupancy vehicles, but maximum use of bikes, such as a continuous line of cyclists. A comparison of a continuous line of full cars with a continuous line of cyclists would be more accurate, and the resulting numbers would likely be quite similar.

    In reality, Auckland’s busiest cycleway in Quay Street, which is about the 3.5m width, has about 860 users per day. That’s one user every two minutes. Far less than each 3.5m wide traffic lane is carrying in cars. The traffic lanes have proved more effective at moving people than the cycleway. Yet those traffic lanes are being reduced, which means transport planning isn’t about providing what works best. Other factors are now in play.

    1. It’s not a minimum use of cars, it’s an actual use of cars. That’s just reality, car occupancy is around 1.1 people per car and hasn’t changed in 50 years despite all kind of best efforts. You’ll never get significantly more than one and a bit people per car in any real life environment. However you do get one person per bicycle in reality.

      So sure, compare a continuous line of cars to a continuous line of bikes. But don’t entertain the ridiculous assumption that those cars would ever all be full. It’s exactly as logical to assume every bike has four or five people balancing on it. Technically possible, ridiculous in reality.

      1. Actually car occupancy is falling, especially because of the rise or rate hail services. For every 1km of Uber or Lyft customer ridership there is an average 0.7km of no customer travel. Dead running, just the driver; that may sound like an occupancy of 1, but it isn’t, the driver is part of the machine, no journey is taking place, only when there’s someone moving is it actually transport.

        So except where there is more than one passenger Uber occupancy rates are on average are 0.85 per km, rather than 1.1.

        Just wait for bot-cars (if they happen)… zombie vehicles will be common… congestion may be just that more frustrating when stuck behind a bunch f entirely empty cars…

      2. The point Nick, is it is not comparing apples with apples. You acknowledge it is comparing actual car use, so the valid comparison is therefore actual bike use. Therefore the figure should be 2,000 cars vs 860 bicycles.

        1. But Geoff – you say that 860 bicycles per day is the current actual usage at a flow-rate of 1 bike every 1-2 minutes? Well that is very different from the theoretical capacity of a 3.5m cycleway, with cyclists say, 2 seconds apart. Why are you assuming that the current usage indicates the practical capacity?

          Here is a short abstract of a Chinese study which estimates that a cycleway can accommodate 1800 bicycles per hour per metre of lane-width, or 1 every 2 seconds. (and more apparently, if they are e-bikes). See https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0965856415000993

          So with say, 3 columns of regular bikes ridden 3-abreast in a 3.5m lane that comes to 5400/hr. A long way from the 14,000 stated in the chart above, but considerably more than 860 per day.

    2. It’s a pretty facile comparison really, complaining about the Quay St cycleway being empty is the same thing as complaining about Spaghetti Junction not being used when there are no motorways connected to it.

      Currently there is only one proper cycleway that can be used to cycle to the CBD, that is the NW Cycleway. From the Inner West, North Shore, South & East Auckland there is no safe way to travel into the CBD by bike which would then allow you to traverse Quay St.

      Come back when we have 6-8 2 lane segregated cycleways stretching 10/15km from the CBD outwards and then we can compare

      1. Interestingly, this could be just a few years away!

        We have the NW, we’ll soon have the link along the NIMT and out to Ti Rakau, we’ll soon have Skypath connected to the Northcote Safe Routes, Great North Road is underway and will connect to Waterview, and the Grey Lynn cycle routes will eventually connect Point Chev to the city. Those are five that are either complete, under construction, or in final planning stages.

        All we need is Tamaki Drive, Kepa Road, the Nortern Motorway or any of the isthmus arterials and we are at 6!

        We can be p

  6. Nice try, but these words are totally lost on the very people they’re intended to influence. Despite superficial appearances NZ is not that different to the rest of the developed world. Historically NZ opposition parties would drop support significantly after losing an election, but National continues to sit around 40-45%. Why? Because it’s the current home of our own domestic Trumpists – unwilling to accept any kind of societal change from what they’re familiar with, determined to ignore science and rational analysis, perpetually angry, and extremely susceptible to demagogues who say what they want to hear. It’s only the quirks of MMP that are holding this zombie horde at bay – they’re still bloc voting like it’s 1993, and the fragmentation of progressive parties ironically secures them greater representation under MMP.

    It seems inevitable that a Kiwi pied piper of stupid will one day attract this demographic to an ultra-conservative party, and in their desperation for power National will hold their nose and form a coalition with them. All we can hope for is this dilemma somehow gets resolved elsewhere in the world and we can use the same solution to nip it in the bud.

  7. We already have a polycentric city with dispersed employment centres, and are continuing to nuild them.

    I’m sure you can list them.

  8. The problem I have with bike lanes is the lack of monitoring outside the CBD and environs.

    We have one in Manurewa that runs the length of Weymouth Rd for which no figures available but I have never seen a bike on it. Same with the one on Browns Rd.

    Seems we are building them without checking that they are being used

    1. South Auckland is a terrible environment for 2 wheel of any kind. Maybe the new cyclepath by the motorway will attract more use as it’s completely off road.

      1. And also mdemonstrates why hills are a red herring. South Auckland is generally nice and flat but still has very low cycle numbers compoared to the hilly isthmus.

        That’s because the infrastructure is crap and the cars are unimpeded.

    2. What would your solution be if the counts are low? Would you extend the network, knowing it’s the connected ones that are well used. Would you lower speeds in the suburbs, knowing that this move had the effect of vastly increasing cycling numbers in cities like Berlin, leading to public demand for the separated cycleways on the arterials?

      And are you equally concerned by the high counts of cars on the roads?

      Because that’s the flip side of an unhealthy transport network. Both too few people cycling and walking and too many people in cars. But we can change that. We just need more people realising the cost of all that driving on our health and on our planet.

      Will you help raise awareness, Chris? Or will you be the car industry’s mouthpiece?

    3. There are a few commonly things, commonly seen in Auckland, which can make cycle lanes useless. How many do you spot near you:

      1. Cycle lane stops ahead of an intersection. Intersections are the most annoying parts of riding a bicycle. Cycle lanes are often truncated for turning lanes for cars.

      2. Cycle lane has to give way to every side street. Often spotted on off-road cycle lanes and shared paths. (Onewa Road, Birkenhead is an example)

      3. Cars in the cycle lane. Spotted even in lanes protected with concrete slabs, like the one on Nelson Street.

      4. Cycle lanes not connected to anything.

      5. Car drivers volunteering to enforce the unwritten rule that you cannot cycle on the street. (often unintentionally by speeding, close overtaking, or cutting off when turning).

      1. In summary, the quality of the cycle lanes is often sub-optimal.

        It would be a joke if it wasnt so tragic. Spend millions on a shit solution to reinforce the belief people wont use it.

        1. Yes that is a main thing.

          However don’t underestimate point #5.

          The Danes consider “Copenhagen lanes” to be best practice. These only have a tiny kerb. In Auckland that tiny kerb will not stop people parking all over them (they currently mount much bigger kerbs to park on footpaths and verges). You should not need concrete slabs to keep cars out.

          Many more ideas which work over there will fail here due to different driving culture.

      1. Same as other people I wizz by. But they are all on the footpath because of the lack of protection. To notice bikes, you need to slow down. Though when I used to leave for work at 5am, the street lights sucked, and since the public doesn’t have great experience with bike lights, it was only me basically.

  9. I have being thinking we need to get employment areas and housing areas mixed up a bit. Then we don’t have to travel from places like Howick or the North Shore to Highbrook or Onehunga. If you have a bit of a look around old Papatoetoe you will find industrial buildings left over from the 1970’s right next to housing. I think there were clothing manufacturing or TV assembly going on within walking distance of the railway station.Now days they are used for warehousing and depots for construction. On my street we have a house being used as a builders yard. My neighbour thinks its a junk yard but she hasn’t worked for 30 years and probably thinks all goods are teleported into the shops and broadband has magically appeared at her front gate. So each day we get 4 or 5 cars parked on the street as workers arrive I think they are laying broadband. It doesn’t worry me probably slows the traffic on the street. They all jump in a double cab ute and head off to the site.But I can imagine the outrage if you tried to do it in some suburbs.

    1. How is the cycle way from Hugo Johnston drive to Great South Road progressing. It would be a great short cut between the South and Onehunga.
      It should be done pronto now we have lost both Southdown and Westfield stations. Lots of people are still working in the area particularly at the abattoirs. It would be good if it could connect into the overhead at Westfield station or else Bell avenue. The cycleway around the harbour from Onehunga has much potential if it carried on out to the south. And now we don’t have the East West link grabbing all the land we should put something on it before they come up with another plan. And don’t get me started on the demolished overbridge and abandoned rail right of way at Onehunga. Maybe we should turn it into a cycleway before some bright sparks decides to do nothing for 20 years because it might be used for a light rail which might at some point in the distant future be used to go to the airport which will probably by that stage be inundated with water because of climate change and will probably be used by flying boats.

      1. It’s in progress, but doesn’t look like much had been done. cycled past the other day.

        A better link from Hugo Johnson to the path alongside the south eastern would be great

    2. I kind of agree with you but more in te context of buildinbg residentail aparteents over the top of commercial.

      Why do we locate business and commercial parks (especially on the North Shore) miles away from any residential? Then all their customers have to drive to them. Plus those areas are actually often quite well served by public transport as people ant to get to them.

      If apartments were built over the top of thse developments not only would they have a customer base (and possibly employees) nearby but those residents can then take public transport to other employment areas.

      However, thinking everyone is going to be able to live close to where they work is naive. Especially when households may have 2 or 3 workers in the household. So do they all have to work at the same place? What happens if one wants to take a job in a different part of the city?

      1. Well we still need the industrial ,distribution and construction jobs and they have to take place somewhere. Unless you think all that sort of stuff doesn’t matter.

  10. To borrow a no doubt well known by this readership quote, “An advanced city is not a place where the poor move about in cars, rather it’s where even the rich use public transportation” – Enrique Peñalosa. In Bogota all they could do was a rapid bus system, which from experience does not meet the needs. Tamaki Makaurau is nowhere near the size of Bogota, but obviously rail based solutions with strategically located carparks for access from outlying areas is what is required here in Auckland. This coupled with off road, and properly separated bike lanes will address fossil fuel issues, physical health problems, and of course mental health challenges. Because biking is pure joy, and reading a book on the train is nirvana. Anybody who has ever travelled knows how good public transport can be, the trolley buses (to borrow Nazional party derogating lingo) in Lisbon are a marvel. Yes we are trying to force you out of your damn private motor vehicle, because the future depends on it. And go buy a bike and ride on the cycleway to understand how precious they are. Ignorance may be bliss but it is frustrating for the enlightened!

    1. And don’t forget the 30 k speed limits through most of the city. Because we can’t afford cycleways everywhere. And we can’t ignore the known increase in walking and cycling that speeds of 30 bring. All sorts of trips previously taken by car no longer need to be, because walking and cycling becomes safe.

      This is a key component of the transport network changes required.

    2. ‘but obviously rail based solutions with strategically located carparks for access from outlying areas is what is required here in Auckland’
      Not so obvious out here in NW Auckland, everything for the rail based solution is already here but we can’t use it because there might be a light rail here in the 2030s or 2040s. Yay!

      1. Feel for you Bogle, the traffic is abysmal north of Westgate, even in January and school is not back yet. Hate to see it in February.

        And the issue is not the North Western motorway so much either.

        Something needs to be done now in the somewhere over the rainbow time.

          1. May rail based solutions reach you soon, if the infrastructure is already there why is it not a higher priority? I moved out of the city last year, but only mid west, where a train remains in walking distance. I cannot to begin to imagine life without convenient access to rail.

    3. Bit of a stretch to say the Transmilenio busway system doesn’t meet Bogota’s needs. It carries 2.2 million trips *per day*. It’s obviously meeting a lot of needs.

      1. It would meet Auckland’s needs for sure, but the population of Bogota is considerably higher. I didn’t mean to belittle it, it is an excellent improvement on what was previously available, only like Auckland, more needs to be done.

  11. “The root cause of congestion actually extends beyond only population growth and results from the conflation of rapid population growth with a serious legacy infrastructure deficit, the implausibly slow pace at which decisions on truly transformational transport changes occur and car dependency.
    All four of these underlying issues need to be tackled – head-on and with urgency.”

    Here are some comments that I came across. I think that he has nailed it. The good news is that it is Lester Levy.

    The challenge then it seems is to drag everyone else along at the speed that he wants to go; and then as the Prime Minister says, “be on the right side of history”, because this is an issue as much about climate change as it is about congestion.

  12. Lester almost got that right. ‘Congestion … results from the conflation of rapid population growth with a serious legacy infrastructure deficit’
    In NW Auckland we sure have the population growth BUT we have excellent legacy infrastructure in the North Auckland rail line. We have serious bloody awful congestion that’s getting worse. So it’s not a legacy infra deficit but a deliberate idiotic decision not to use it. Go figure…
    ‘The implausibly slow pace at which decisions on truly transformational transport changes occur’. Au contraire, it’s not the decision making time it’s the post decision glacial rate of progressing the decision to action. Light rail to NW being a wonderful example. Maybe those decision makers knew it won’t happen in their lifetime so decisions, promises and major transport investment announcements with much head nodding and back slapping are just empty spin.
    ‘And car dependancy’ this wont change no matter how much paint they put on roads for bus priority or diesel busses they introduce. It might sooner be electric car dependancy.

    1. I wouldn’t call the North Auckland rail line excellent, it was built as cheaply as possible in the 19th century when speed was not a priority. Not a lot has changed since then, especially north of Swanson. It might be OK for a slow plod to Henderson or New Lynn but that’s about it. Plus, of course, there’s no suitable rolling stock.

      1. The NAL beyond Swanson to Helensville has been well maintained and is in best condition, its well signalled and did have just a few years ago normal speed passenger services, no slow plodding.
        The rolling stock as in two ADL dmu sets are parked up in Henderson depot, out of service and apparently just used for spares. These could be rebuild, refurbed etc for probably less than the cost of a couple of busses.

        1. Worn out and being cannablised for spares is not suitable rolling stock. Direct your efforts towards lobbying for the purchase of 20, say, modern DMUs from CAF or Siemens or Bombardier etc which could be used on this run and also for Auckland-Ham-Tauranga, Wairarapa and Christchurch. Forget about the ADLs, they’re history.

          1. I am starting to think there is some kind of conspiracy between Labour and National to make sure that there is no advancement of our rail network. For example when the Auckland transport proposed that they would buy battery electric hybrid EMU’s to run between Papakura and Pukekohe we had a near immediate reaction by both parties to electrify the track between Papakura and Pukekohe. Both parties realised the best way to stuff everything up was to announce something that would take 10 years to happen. The light rail projects are of exactly the same ilk. Announce something for the never never so all progress will stop until the never never never happens. The CRL is another example which was pursued when we could have started to build light rail up Queen street 15 years ago and it would probably be half up Dominion road by now. Another thing is the half hearted Waikato train thing. And Greater Auckland is a guilty party as well for supporting these never never projects. These things are just blatant stalling tactics when easy things could be done quickly to advance the cause.

          2. OK how long will the electrification take. Hopefully it will be done before the ADL’s crap out. And even when the electrification is done then what happens when we want to start services. to Tuakau or Waiuku. We won’t have hybrid EMU’s already available to do the job. All we have are politicians announcing vapourware projects and you accept that so who’s weird. At least I am starting to question what’s going on.

  13. As a mere pedestrian I wish someone would tell cyclist that when they are sharing space with pedestrians they need to watch their speed. Also the use of a bell would help.

  14. Good post. Been busy spending time on sorting out a “new” 2nd hand car, after been car less for about a week. Wouldn’t mind so much apart from the children need to learn to drive, wife pretty much needing it for certain things and family that live in the country to visit. Amazing how much time this all takes, a bit like waiting for a transfer at a bus station but people don’t often count all this “dead” time sorting cars & looking after them.

    I have nice air-con again, a lot more modern & lower Co2 emissions etc, lovely but funny thing is the imported radio doesn’t have the wider band thing on it so I’m “forced” to listen to NewstalkZB this morning, Hosking & all laughing at the trains been down this morning & people complaining about the waste of council on cycleways and such. I’ll listen for a while as it’s good to hear their point of view if not just for the ignorant humor of it all.

    1. The only reason my husband still has a car now is he can’t find the time to sell it. Complicated by the question of whether we bother taking it in for the recall before we sell it. Only times I’ve driven it in recent months was to get repairs done at WOF time. So yeah, time-wise as well as money-wise, they suck it out of you. Probably you don’t notice if you use it often.

      1. Heidi, you must be the most boring person in the country. If I were your husband, I would keep the car and ditch you. Who wants to be married with someone with an irrational hatred of motor vehicles?

  15. Fascinating discussion, but it seems that some of the positions are recycled from past proposals to decongest the motorways, arterials and streets of Auckland.

    For what it is worth. Back in the early 80’s I happened to meet an eminent transportation planner at UC Berkley. He said: “We have to stop trying to out-build demand. Whatever increase in capacity we provide will soon be overwhelmed by increased demand.” “We need to manage what we have better and increase capacity within existing corridors.” So maybe somewhere in those words there could be a solution for Auckland.

    Yes improvements, /fine-tuning of the city’s existing transportation network, but nothing additional that would simply increase demand. Was Waterview Tunnel additional? Probably not, it improved the road network, removing demands from other links. Look at the movable lane barrier across AHB – using the capacity better and suppressing demand. Would a second harbour crossing be an improvement? Probably not if were just for road vehicles. If it were for extension of the existing urban rail network, that would seem to provide a better outcome.

    Which brings me to my final point. Wife and I lived on the Shore up until a couple of years ago. Both of us ended up working on the south side of the isthmus. Commute morning and back took around two hours out of our day. Solution, move house. Now 20 and 10 minutes respectively to our work place. Maybe there is a lesson in that. What if the “authorities” were to facilitate changes in residence with infrastructure, financial support etc? In place of KiwiBuild, we could have KiwiMove. Pickup your home and move it in total to a ready prepared property close to where our workplaces are. Kiwi’s are really good at moving big houses in the middle of the night 🙂 Connect the pipes, power; not forgetting internet and in a weekend homes are up and running again – like a campervan without wheels. No more commuting and a contribution to reducing demand on our limited road network. Sounds crazy. Problems are often solved with left field ideas.
    Oh! Not talking about caravan parks here, something way better than that.

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