Every weekend we dig into the archives. This post by Patrick was originally published in May 2016.

We are increasingly concerned that Auckland is in the middle of very poor process where by far the nation’s biggest ever infrastructure project is being forced along and at ill-considered speed without anything like the level of public participation nor detailed analysis that it should have.

AWHC Sulhur Beach

NZTA are relying on a 2008 study into possible future harbour crossings to just get on with designing and designating a road only crossing. This study started with the assumption that any additional crossing would be a road lane crossing. No kind of comparative analysis of all options like the Centre City Future Access Study that was done to be certain that the City Rail Link is the right mode and route for that need has ever been undertaken.

Looking at the current options across the harbour it is clear that the highest capacity urban transport mode is what’s missing. There are 13 general traffic lanes across two bridges, and some passenger ferries, but no dedicated Rapid Transit route. We hold that it is absolutely necessary to do a proper comparative analysis between modes for the next harbour crossing before any designation or final design work is undertaken, and have been consistent in requesting it. We are not claiming to know what the outcome would be but that it is frankly irresponsible to proceed any further without such a study.

Particularly as a great deal has changed since 2007 when that report was commissioned. Aucklanders have proven that they are just like city dwellers everywhere else in the world and are very keen to use good quality Transit systems when they get the chance. Since the upgrade and electrification of the existing rail network we have been piling onto our new trains at a rate well in advance of expectations. The Northern Busway too has excelled expectations even though it has to share lanes with general traffic on the bridge and therefore is not as Rapid as a dedicated route would be. These two top tier systems are attracting riders at a rate of 20%+ year on year, and while there is relief ahead for the rail network with at last the CRL underway, there is no plan to deal with an ever rising flood of buses into the city centre with this hugely expensive project.

The line that ‘Aucklanders just love their cars’ as an excuse to not provide quality alternatives to driving has been forever proven to be the nonsense it always was. Aucklanders are the same as everyone else; we love what ever works well for our needs. So when we get options like the example below from Panmure for reliable fast travel we take it.

Pete Clarke Panmure

Furthermore it is well understood that it is the quality of the alternatives that govern the speed and reliability of the surface routes. So that in this example the car and bus speeds and reliability would be much worse without the separate Rapid Transit alternative. The same will be the case for across the harbour; a great alternative means freer roads, another driving route means more cars everywhere; more congestion See here for a discussion on this:

There’s good science to back up the commonsense view. It goes like this: public transport operates to a fixed speed, a timetable. Most people will take whichever transport option is fastest. They don’t care about the mode. If public transport is quicker they’ll catch a train or a bus, freeing up road space. If driving is quicker, they’ll jump in their car, adding to road congestion. In this way, public transport speeds determine road speeds. The upshot is that increasing public transport speeds is one of the best options available to governments and communities wanting to reduce road traffic congestion.

Additionally the commitment to this road only crossing is made before the completion of the Western Ring Route, the current multi-billion dollar bypass for cross harbour traffic. It is also being made without any kind of business case. Existing estimates are up to $6Billion dollars for a return of 30-40 cents on the dollar. This desperately needs proper and thoughtful analysis, without the ridiculous haste from politicians.

All over the world cities are kept moving by building high capacity spatially efficient Transit systems. Auckland is simply at the point where it can no longer delay adding this essentially weapon to its arsenal of movement options. From statements by NZTA they agree that a Rail crossing is required but they insist, without any analysis or study, that this must come after another road crossing.

Three road crossings, and no more spatially and energetically efficient option? We would like to see analysis of what reversing this timing could achieve. What if the next crossing is high capacity electric rail? Especially driverless low operating cost rail.

  • What are the outcomes for traffic congestion across the wider city?
  • For land use?
  • For the local environment?
  • For Carbon Emissions?

We know that the people constantly say they want extension of quality Public Transport:

AA LTP Survey - PT v Roads
Survey of Automobile Association members

The public deserve to have a say in what is being done in their name and with their money. There are so many questions. NZTA know that this project will flood the city centre with cars and that there is simply nowhere for them to go. They also quietly discuss levels of tolling on both the new crossing and the old bridge. This massive project will not only soak up huge sums of investment funding closing off opportunity to make other decisions across the city and nation, but also induce more traffic everywhere on Auckland’s roads. It is also the reverse of future proofing as it commits us all to more driving:

AWHC - Induced Demand
The road only crossing is a huge Traffic Inducement scheme, as NZTA explain in this slide.

To claim all environmental and traffic congestion concerns can be waved away because of future technology is very weak. That argument suggests that the time to build this kind of infrastructure is when we all do have electric cars, not on the prospect of their arrival some time in the future. And if driverless cars are to be that revolutionary then perhaps all this expensive additional road space will not be required? Meantime there is current electric and driverless technology that can be invested in right now.

In Vancouver the SkyTrain mass transit system shifts 117m people per year, at frequencies often down to a train every 2 minutes, running from 5am to 1:30am daily and all at an operating surplus. Driverless, Electric Light Metro. North Shore people have already shown they are not too posh to bus, they certainly won’t be reluctant to use a quicker, quieter, cleaner, more direct, 21st century movement system like this.

skytrain-millennium-line-wide

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67 comments

  1. Please build a bridge and demolish the existing..that is the solution.
    Start with a Rail and walk and bus only and then in 20 years demolish the old bridge and widen this new one. Same route as the tunnels..

      1. It was concluded a long time ago that *if* we build a new motorway crossing then a tunnel is the best option. In the meantime 10 years has passed and we are starting to question the value of another motorway.

        1. If it’s going to replace the harabour bridge as a motorway then… …it’s not going to be “another” motorway.
          At some stage those “Nippon clip on’s” are going to have to come off. I don’t know why this “10 years since” is relevant, thy obviously planned ahead (like good governments do).

        2. The NZTA’s old view was that the clip-ons would need replacing around 2040 when they were 70 years old. One option was to ensure a rail crossing was in place by then so they could reduce the number of lanes to six for a couple of years while the clip-ons were replaced.

          I believe NZTA have changed their view now and don’t believe the clip-ons will need replacing in the foreseeable future.

        3. Can the clip ons actually be replaced? Once the old ones come off; will there be any way to bolt new ones on? At least affordably?
          I find it very hard to believe that this desperation solution, which from memory needed considerable strengthening work of its own about a decade ago, will not need to be replaced altogether after 70 years. Are you SURE that the NZTA has changed its view? Have you got any source for this?

        4. No, I don’t have any definitive sources, just stuff I’ve read over the last 10 years. This article from 2003 incidentally shows how the NZTA and it’s predecessors view has changed, it refers to the clip-ons needing replacing by 2020, which is obviously not the case!

          https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=3530289

          I’m no engineering expert but I struggle to believe there is no way that the clip-ons could be removed and replaced. The $5b cost of a tunnel that would be avoided leaves an enormous pot of money to come up with a solution.

        5. The view hasn’t changed; hat’s happened is that in the timeframe since 2003 the clip-ons have had to undergo expensive strengthening, load restrictions and have a very expensive minoring and maintenance regime.

          It was understood when they clip-ons were attached that the attachments of the boxes to the original foundations couldn’t be repeated. You can “struggle to believe” the opinion of the engineers all you like, it’s not going to change reality.

        6. I hit CNRTL-F and search the word “indefinitely”. There’s no matches.

          That link you’ve provided says no such thing.

        7. ‘It was understood when they clip-ons were attached that the attachments of the boxes to the original foundations couldn’t be repeated.’

          Do you have any sources for this? It’s you I’m struggling to believe, not the engineers.

        8. Then you should try reading it if you are incapable of doing a text search.

          The full text of the relevant section:

          Freight on the bridge
          All bridge users, whether they are commuters, car and truck drivers, the utility companies or tourists taking the walk with Auckland Bridge Climb, benefit from our ongoing commitment to keeping the structure in good condition.

          Bungy jumping on the bridge
          Rather than looking at the bridge as just a concrete and steel structure, its operating plan sees it as a whole corridor, managed carefully to meet all users’ needs now and into the future.

          The most important route for transporting goods; and a vital economic link between north and south; each year approximately 5 million tonnes of freight are transported over the bridge.

          NZ Transport Agency works closely with the transport industry on 5 E’s – education, encouragement, enforcement, engineering and evaluation to manage live loading (the maximum traffic load a structure can support) on the bridge.

          This partnership also helps stop over dimension and over weight vehicles from causing excessive wear and tear and safety risks, especially in the narrower lane 3 when the moveable lane barrier machine is in operation.

          As long as the live traffic load is carefully managed, the bridge can continue to be used indefinitely. The bridge works hardest between 5am and 6am, which is the busiest time of the day for freight.

          A ‘Weigh In Motion’ facility enables vehicles to be weighed as they drive over the bridge, and captures the number plates of overweight or over dimension vehicles. NZ Transport Agency and the transport industry collaborate on stopping this practice to benefit everyone.

        9. “Do you have any sources for this?”
          (laughs and shakes head)
          How do you think the cantilevered pier extensions (essentially steel brackets) are ultimately fastened to the original concrete piers of the bridge?
          I’ll tell you: By thru-bolts. Do you know what those are? You might want to google them and how they work if you don’t.
          Once those bolts have ended their useful lives through the inherent burring and other wear and tear: That’s it. They’re set into the concrete and can’t be removed. I can’t see any reason why the bolt pattern of the brackets when first attached wouldn’t have been maximised for the greatest amount of fastening strength (given how the fastening strength would be maximised), which means that there would be nowhere to ever punch in new thru-bolts without compromising the concrete of the piers of the original bridge.

          “It’s you I’m struggling to believe, not the engineers.”
          Well it’s no loss to this engineer if you refuse to take my word for it.
          If the people who make the decisions haven’t heard this from engineers; they will when their authority matters.

        10. No Nick R. There is absolutely nothing in that which remotely indicates that the clip-ons have an indefinite life (which they certainly do not).

          The fact you’re even trying this nonsense on, even quoting text that shoots down your claim, only says a lot about you.

          The original bridge should have an indefinite life if properly maintained. But not the cantilevered clip-ons, which anyone with any physical intuition should be able to appreciate.

        11. That you couldn’t do a ctrl+f for ‘indefinitely’ successfully isn’t reassuring of your ability to analyse things :p

          NZTA have repeatedly said that the bridge will last indefinitely and that the clip-ons can be replaced or repaired indefinitely. You may well be a structural engineer. You clearly aren’t a structural engineer doing inspections on the bridge.

          The study being over 10 years old matters because things change over the course of time. Climate change is a much more pressing threat, council’s policies regarding car use, especially in the inner suburbs has changed too. It was wise to plan ahead, but planning ahead gives us the option to install what we planned for, not the obligation.

        12. Incredible.
          This Nick R was stupid enough to copy and paste the article and not check that it didn’t what he thought it did. But now Sailor boy is trying on some pantomime that it somehow does.

          Well the resort to insult is very telling.

          “NZTA have repeatedly said that the bridge will last indefinitely and that the clip-ons can be replaced or repaired indefinitely.”
          And when and where was that exactly? C’mon let’s see some url’s. Don’t be shy.

          “Climate change is a much more pressing threat, council’s policies regarding car use, especially in the inner suburbs has changed too.”
          How would the tunnel with rapid transit and the ability to move traffic better not be better for greenhouse emissions?!

        13. “How would the tunnel with rapid transit and the ability to move traffic better not be better for greenhouse emissions?!”

          Because of induced traffic. If we were to build it and not allow cars into it, that would be better in terms of greenhouse gases. Even the NZTA have admitted that a new crossing would cause almost 60,000 more motor vehicle trips.

        14. So after some debate, we seem to have reached some common ground.
          More transport capacity will be needed in some yet to determined time frame.
          The current bridge structure, is not approved for over weight loads (>44tonnes). Nor are many other bridges.
          The original four lane structure has indefinite life.
          The clip on lanes are economically servicable for the foreseeable future, but are relatively high maintenance.
          So we currently have a serviceable bridge, There is no current case for demolishing even parts of it.
          The future,
          Providing a pedestrian and cycle facility will give some capacity increase without inducing more road clutter over the Auckland Road network. There is still some scope for increasing capacity by mode shift from SOV to Public Transport, but bus clutter will eventually limit this.
          Providing extra capacity by adding road lanes is an unjustifiably expensive solution because of the spacial inefficiency of car travel. Doubling the capacity would require an extra eight lanes and corresponding lane width additions at each end of the crossing.
          Any road tunnel solution is phenomenally expensive because of the ventilation loads and fire suppressent needs of hydrocarbon powered vehicles.

        15. Yup sailor boy, as I expected you have not backed up your claim.

          Induced trafic? If the 2008 plans to retain the original AHB are retained; it will only be 1 more lane in each direction.

        16. Hi Don,

          The powers that be did a big analysis into this in 2008 and the confusion was that the best solution is a tunnel. And yes they knew what they were doing.
          Yes the tunnel will be expensive. But so will a bridge of the required length and width (which will also be something on an impacting eyesore). The clip-ons themselves were horrendously expensive to have built, transported and attached back in the late 1960’s.
          The current monitoring and maintenance regime (which is also very expensive) cannot continue forever, there will be a point in the future where the clip-ons will have to come off. And it’s possible that point could be this week. Maybe talk about the next harbour crossing has died down for the meantime but it will need to resurface and that money will need to be spent.

  2. I still think a rail or bus plus walk and cycle way bridge on the Same alignment as this tunnel will be the best option.
    The bridge could have future capacity to clip of extra lanes (like our current bridge) so that when the day comes that the old bridge needs to come down it could be replaced with a smaller traffic tunnel
    So in the distant future we would have a tunnel with 4 or 6 traffic lanes and a new cable stay bridge with 2 rail or bus lines plus a large lane for pedestrians and bike’s scooters etc and 4 traffic lanes bolted on maybe underneath.
    This would take 60 years plus and be done in small section’s to keep it affordable.

    1. Why another bridge instead of a tunnel?

      The Auckland harbour bridge is already very long and cumbersome, a bridge following the tunnel alignment would be very long and expensive and impacting. And clip-on extra lanes are not common practice in bridges around the world,

      Why not just stick to the plan concluded from the in depth study? First two tunnels for road traffic to replace the harbour bridge than two smaller tunnels for some type of passenger rail?

      1. The harbour motorway tunnel scheme has a price tag somewhere in the range of five to seven billion dollars.

        Why would we spend that kind of money to *replace* the harbour bridge with practically the same function? Especially if the only net gain is to add a rail crossing.

        Wouldn’t you just keep the bridge and build the rail crossing? Same cost but you’ve not wasted $5b+.

        1. Erm… …because the capacity of the existing Auckland harbour bridge depends upon the clip-on lanes, which have a finite life. The Auckland harbour bridge without these clip on lanes will not have enough capacity for the future (as it didn’t when the lanes were first clipped on).

          Yeah a tunnel crossing is going to be expensive. Do you think a bridge of that length will be cheap? The solution will be expensive either way but that expenditure is necessary.

        2. I don’t know. Have the clip one got a finite life and if so when does it expire? I thought the recent strengthening, load restrictions it will last indefinitely with monitoring and periodic replacement of stressed structural elements. Sure if you cease maintenance their life will quickly become finite.

        3. So the fact they’ve even got load restrictions, periodic replacement of elements and need monitoring to begin with isn’t any red flag for their eventual mortality for you…

        4. NZTA have stated that the clip ons have indefinite life if maintained and managed.

          If the clip ons are a problem, then replace the clip ons. Or remove them. But no reason to demolish the perfectly good bridge with an indefinite lifespan.

          Yes a bridge will be cheap, or rather much cheaper. A bridge will be around one third to one half the cost of the tunnel to build, and about 10% of the operating cost. Tunnels are very expensive to build and to run. They also need “load restrictions, periodic replacement of elements and need monitoring to begin”

          We spend $40m a year on Waterview tunnel *operations* alone. Have you seen the monitoring centre they had to build and run just to keep it ticking over. That’s about as much as is spent running the whole West Auckland bus network.

          Even cheaper would be a public transport bridge of two lanes plus walking and cycling. Add that to the existing eight lane motorway bridge with indefinite lifespan and you double the capacity to move people across the harbour, and have a very resilient multi-modal option for a fraction of the cost of a motorway tunnel.

        5. Not at all. Many of the commercial aircraft you undoubtedly fly in have unrestricted life subject to load restrictions, periodic inspection, and periodic replacement of parts. Such things are routine engineering management. Reducing the load on the clip ons is obviously very advantageous from an engineering perspective. Taking most of the buses off the bridge in favour of a Light Rail replacement on the existing busway and a relatively small bore double track rail tunnel will do this most effectively as well as considerably enhance the capacity of the CBD to North Shore Connection. I am sure the entire LRT connection including vehicles would cost less then any new road vehicle Waitemata crossing.

        6. Where is your source for the NZTA saying ha the clip-ons have an indefinite life?
          And where did I or anyone ever say anything about demolishing any “perfectly good bridge”?!

          How do you cost any hypothetical bridge of this considerable length and size to compare it to a tunnel? They did a million dollar study that faired a tunnel, do you imagine that they never costed any hypothetical bridge?

          Yeah okay the Waterview tunnel has maintenance costs of ~40 million. Now what are the costs of operating the Auckland harbour bridge again? Especially maintaining the clip-ons…

        7. For the cost of a harbour motorway tunnel you could build a light rail line from Orewa to the airport, including the harbour crossing.

        8. Daniel – you’re correct it is restricted to 44 tonnes, the maximum standard size of heavy vehicle allowed on any New Zealand road.

          There are of course some over-weight and over-dimension classes above this, but they are only allowed on specifically approved roads. There are hundreds of bridge structures around NZ including Auckland that do not allow over-weight vehicles, there are others on the Southern Motorway. There is nothing unusual about over weight vehicles not being allowed on bridges.

        9. Yes Jezza plenty of bridges across New Zealand will not allow heavy vehicles as is the case in just about any country. You’re correct, but that’s ultimately a tangent.

          The point here that those Nippon clip-ons on the Auckland harbour bridge require extensive (and expensive) maintenance and monitoring to prevent them from becoming unsafe altogether, the load restrictions merely underline how inherently compromised the strength of the clip-ons is. There’s going to be an inevitable point where even that’s not going to be enough to keep them safe from a very possible catastrophic failure.
          They’re going to have to come off of the Auckland harbour bridge. And that bridge will again not have enough capacity.

          So a major project to replace the Auckland harbour bridge as the main Waitemata harbour crossing is inevitable.
          The authorities have known this for about 50 years. They got people who know what they’re doing to look into this inevitable replacement and after considerable analysis they concluded that that’s going to be two tunnels each with 3-4 automobile lanes and probable rail. Why oh why do you not just accept their conclusions?

        10. You do realize that ATAP brought foraward a light rail crossing to the 2030s, and pushed back the motorway tunnel until after the 30 year horizon in 2046? The ministry of transport, NZTA and AT all agreed that the motorway tunnel was the lowest priority and they didn’t even include it in the third decade project list.

          So clearly the clip ones are not an issue, and an alternative is certainly not funded or programmed.

        11. And when did this priority change?
          Was it when this Twyford clown became minister of Transport by any chance?

        12. “Was it when this Twyford clown became minister of Transport by any chance?”

          The change to ATAP was under the National government, so (at a guess), no. The cultural changes that led to this have occurred basically since the mid 90s though.

      2. Personally I’d support a bridge as a well designed bridge can add to the visual amenity of a city and as a PT user I’d far prefer to have a view of the city as I cross the bridge than be in a tunnel. The trip across the bridge on the top deck of a Northern Express bus is the best PT trip the city has in my opinion. Also bridges are generally cheaper than tunnels so I don’t think cost is an issue.

        1. For a bridge this large; most of the view you’l get when crossing will be of the bridge structure itself. If you notice even that when negotiating driving in the traffic.
          Pretty much like the current bridge…

        2. I was thinking of a PT crossing so the view while driving would be irrelevant.

          The current bridge has a fantastic view from the outside lanes, especially when in a higher vehicle. There appear to be a number of cable-stay bridge designs around the world where the cables attach to the middle of the bridge so have no impact on the view on the open side, such as the Millau Viaduct.

          Even if the cables went to the edge though it would still be a pretty good view.

        3. Those “outside lanes” are the clip-ons which aren’t going to stay and which they wouldn’t allow the weight of a railroad on anyway. Any new bridge will have the foresight to have any rail lines within the superstructure.

          There are some great views if you take the train into Wellington everyday on the Johnsonville line coming down the hill, on the Kapiti line when going past Kapiti island and Titahi bay and on the Hutt lines between Phone and Kaiwharawhara. There’s also some nice views if you take the train into Sydney from their North shore across their harbour bridge. Or if they commute in from the central coast via the Hawkesbury river estuary.
          After a week of using it; it becomes passe for commuters and they don’t notice it anymore…

        4. I’m not suggesting that rail be added to the clip-ons, I don’t think anyone thinks that is viable. I could well be wrong and that centre stays are not possible on rail bridges like they are on road bridges. Either way even with some stay cables the view will still be impressive as it is from many cable-stay bridges around the world, it certainly wouldn’t need the heavy structure the current bridge has.

          Views are of course subjective, I travel on the Eastern line every day and the section along the waterfront hasn’t become passe for me at all, but for others it may have.

        5. Okay maybe the Auckland harbour bridge could be used for come sort of busway or light rail transit (I think it’s grades would be less than ideal for heavy rail).
          But that would not be on the clip-ons. It would probably be after the second harbour crossing got built and the bridge got freed-up.

          Although I’d say that most PT commuters using it would rather have the more direct transit to/from Auckland via the big tunnels that will replace the Auckland harbour bridge as the main crossing and which will be big enough to accomodate them.

          The Auckland harbour bridge, back to its original 4 lanes, will very probably soldier on but to serve more local traffic needs.

        6. There is no plan to put any kind of rail on the current bridge. Ever. It is a specialist road bridge and will remain so except for the addition of walk and cycling.

          Outside of replacing the current bridge where it is (which is surely unlikely before at least one of the below is built) the likely options are, cheapest to dearest:

          1. An additional Rapid Transit + walking and cycling bridge.
          2. Rapid Transit only tunnels
          3. Combined traffic and rail tunnels

          We proposed, 1., a light rail and active bridge from Wynyard point to the toll both area. Could be stunning… some willl be appalled…. so it goes. Views would be lovely…

          The m’way warriors are clinging to 3. But it is very hard to see how it could possibly stack up when all of the benefit will come from the transit part and nothing but disbenefit from the costly traffic inducing part (ok, except for rresilience)….

          2. Will work, up the Busway, either complete the LR network, or a new driverless rail line direct to Aotea Station underground…

          To be discussed.

        7. “The m’way warriors are clinging to 3”
          How does that make any sense given that it’s friendly towards PT?

          “Views would be lovely”
          To repeat: Nobody is going to give a toss about that and it shouldn’t even be considered.

        8. “How does that make any sense given that it’s friendly towards PT?”
          Because it costs $4b more than other options that are just as friendly to PT.

          “To repeat: Nobody is going to give a toss about [views] and it shouldn’t even be considered.”
          You have clearly never talked to anyone who has walked or cycled across the bridge or frequently catches the NEX across. People love the amazing view from the existing bridge. Imagine how much better it will be with a clear panel rather than the the crash barrier at the side.

        9. I’m sorry sailor boy can you please show me the costing for what would need to be a very large and long bridge and that it’s $4 billion cheaper than the tunnel option (which an in-depth report mysteriously favoured).

          I used to commute across the Auckland harbour bridge. The novelty wore off fast. I’m not going to argue your pedantic rubbish-talking any more.

  3. A new analysis would have to consider the impact the existing bridge and motorway system has on the city. Now we have the GPS, a revised EEM which will be revised further, Vision Zero, Healthy Streets, the Roads and Streets Framework, and even Austroads is being changed to incorporate Vision Zero. We understand induced traffic and traffic evaporation. We understand that moving people and goods is one goal of transport and urban planning among many other goals. We have a climate emergency.

    Moving cars isn’t a factor anymore.

    So I cannot see how a good analysis would not include specific goals of reducing the impact of the motorway system on the city, and reducing the number of motor vehicles crossing the existing bridge. That changes everything.

  4. If I’m not mistaken there are no plans in the near or even medium future 20 years to construct any type of additional harbour crossing.
    It’s likely the politicians who actually fund the future crossing have not been born yet.

  5. I love the big bubble saying “Without an additional crossing daily trips across the harbour will grow by approximately 30% over the next 30 years.” Do they honestly expect us to believe anything they write when we know that there is no project in NZ which calculates trip numbers correctly?

  6. Perhaps Council needs to set up an Exhibition Hall of Urban Planning for Auckland like they do in China. People deserve information and education about how building more roads and ‘improving’ intersections has a negative overall effect. If the AA members want better driving conditions, it’d be in their interests to understand a bit more about how to achieve that than that survey shows they do.

  7. “In Vancouver the SkyTrain mass transit system shifts 117m people per year, at frequencies often down to a train every 2 minutes, running from 5am to 1:30am daily and all at an operating surplus. Driverless, Electric Light Metro. North Shore people have already shown they are not too posh to bus, they certainly won’t be reluctant to use a quicker, quieter, cleaner, more direct, 21st century movement system like this.”

    This is absolutely the answer. This could be funded by a toll on the existing bridge at a level equivalent to the original toll in the 60’s. A toll seems reasonable for a number of reasons:
    1) if you continue to use the bridge you have paid for a less congested trip, as the advent of a toll will undoubtedly transfer mode share away from cars – you have derived value
    2) you are also paying for a future amenity that you, or your family will derive benefit from in years to come
    3) a move to carbon zero is going to come at a cost to everyone and so to derive something in return is helpful. If the cost of carbon becomes huge then at least the Shore will have the spine of a great transport system.
    4) a reduced car mode share will see more people on buses that is likely to result in better frequency allowing these options to be more useful for everyone
    5) user pays is a reasonable proposition. Just as or forebears on the Shore recognised that choosing to live a distance from the city imposed a considerable cost on providing transport solutions, it seems fair that this generation accept the responsibility of paying for the next step.

    1. The Vancouver SkyTrain is a fully grade separated light metro. A light rail system that uses the Queen St corridor will have significantly less capacity and reliability than the Vancouver system. Using the Queen St corridor will save a huge amount of money, and is probably the best solution for the short to medium term, however I hope that the system is future proofed to allow conversion to a grade separated light metro if capacity is reached in the city section.

      1. Good point, Sam. And a network exists that could provide a good spine of fully grade separated light rail throughout Auckland without property acquisition costs. That is our motorway network. I wonder how much of it would need to be strengthened for light rail – it’s certainly built for heavier loads than the general road network is. The width of our motorways could easily provide 3 or 4 parallel tracks meaning it could be used for all-stops services, expresses and freight, and there might even be space for a couple of lanes of space-inefficient general traffic too.

        I hadn’t thought about this before – I’d realised it’s what they should be doing on the NW, and on the Harbour Bridge or its replacement. But we should really be rethinking the whole point of that enormous investment we’ve made in motorways and how we can put that to good use in a sustainable transport network.

        1. Greater Auckland proposes to use Queen St for North Shore light rail in the CFN 2.0. Light Rail following Wellesley St would have to be underground to avoid the steep gradients and the 2 traffic sewers that cross the route, and if there is one thing that we have learned from the CRL, its that underground rail does not come cheap.

        2. In the CFN we propose flipping the two light rail services (NW & Isthmus + Mangere) that use Queen St across the harbour on a new crossing. This idea is essentially the same thinking behind the CRL: through-routing rather than terminating rail systems. For lots and lots of good reasons, for both service and financial efficiency benefits. Including a line running from Albany all the way to the airport, serving any number of possible journeys along the way.

          The other alternative is separate North Shore Line on a new crossing terminating under the southern end of Aotea station having continued up under Wellesley St. This could a driverless high capacity high frequency Light Metro like in Vancouver.

          Both proposals have advantages and disadvantages… the first (LR) would be cheaper to build, the second (LM) cheaper to run (cos driverless). LR has advantages and disadvantages of being part of wider system (eg faults elsewhere would affect it). The seperate LM would be unaffected by probs on LR network and visa-versa… but then offer more one-seat rides and offer wider distribution in the city centre (more stations covering a bigger area) ….probably more capacity with LM model, but then not sure Aotea can handle almost the whole NS ridership load at the peaks…

          Needs a series of posts to unpack. So much to analyse here, but we need first to get NZTA to finally admit that a separate Rapid Transit crossing is the next one (after SkyPath) and to stop wasting resources and energy on the bust that is their current traffic gusher road crossing (even if sold as a combined crossing)… any additional road crossing is a long long away, and after the RT one.

  8. So presumably it would be built in the center two lanes with stations at existing over bridges and a set of stairs up too the over bridge road. I could just imagine one at the East Tamaki over bridge.Center platform to avoid any conflict with motorway traffic. Start tomorrow.

    1. while we are at it can we replace one or two out of six traffic lanes along the Quays in Wellington with a rail/light rail extension. That roadmdefacto motorway severs the CBD off from the waterfront.

  9. Wow Daniel, ‘Nippon Clip-ons’. You like using that phrase a lot. To continue using that phrase in 2019, regardless of the past use of that phrase being dubbed as a ‘nod’…really? a nod?) to their Japanese manufacture, is an example of thinly veiled racism.

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