Accelerating Modeshift was the subject of a workshop for Councillors last Friday. (Credit: Cathy Casey, via Facebook):

Modeshift away from private car use is important, for reasons of health, sustainability, safety, urban form, liveability and access. But private car use is both large, and rapidly increasing (due to road building). Percentage changes in modes with low modeshare have little impact on outcomes when the dominant mode is increasing so strongly.

Road building creates traffic. If this was properly modelled in the traffic models, most road capacity expansion projects wouldn’t even get funded. I like this graphic that Todd Litman shares about a bridge in Istanbul:

I’ve been looking at the latest figures released for traffic counts on local roads in Pt Chevalier.

Since the Waterview Connection opened on 2nd July 2017, we have seen considerable growth in the average daily traffic counts. The measurement dates vary, obviously, for the different streets, and there’s insufficient data in most locations, but you can see the trend from the following data. Using the 5-day average daily counts:

  • On Pt Chevalier Rd north of Wainui Rd, volumes increased by 18% over 2 years.
    6681 to 7884 between September 2016 and October 2018.
  • On Walford Rd, volumes increased by 10% over 1 year.
    3669 to 4054 between September 2017 and October 2018.
  • Nearby, on Old Mill Rd, volumes increased by 10% over 1 year.
    9218 to 10176 between April 2017 and March 2018.

Traffic data on the main arterial roads is more complicated because it was already near capacity at peak hour. At the Great North Road (southern) end of Pt Chevalier Rd there was

  • a 1% drop over the year that included the opening of the Waterview Connection, then
  • an 8% rise in 8 weeks, to a record high count, followed by
  • a further 1% rise over the next year (to 17,780 vpd),
  • combined with heavy congestion tailbacks that actually reduced the morning peak hour flow by 5%.

Congestion prevented a higher increase in traffic volumes on these main arterials. Since the daily traffic volume still went up, despite the drop in flow in the morning peak hour, this indicates that the peak morning flow is now spread over more hours.

One of the major trends has been people ‘taking alternative routes’ through the small residential streets and the street our secondary school is on (Motions Rd), often because they are following Google’s Directions about the quickest route. All this has led to a less safe walking and cycling environment.

But where the data has a clear story to tell is in the streets at the northern end of Pt Chevalier (Walford Rd and Pt Chevalier Rd). This is a dead-end system, so it’s possible to isolate some trends. An increase of 9 to 10% per annum on these roads is an extremely high result, because:

  1. These are not alternative routes for people from the NW heading to town; this isn’t a shift of route nor a result of growth in the NW.
  2. The increase has nothing to do with population growth. There has not been 18% increase in the population at the northern end of Pt Chevalier in two years. In fact, there’s been next to none as there has been very little increase in housing stock.
  3. This is not from increased vehicle ownership. The 1% to 2% annual increase in vehicle ownership for those years in Pt Chevalier will be a contributor – but cannot explain the 9% increase per annum in travel.

Yet Pt Chevalier has been a recipient of “accelerating modeshift” attention. Pt Chevalier is one of the best-connected suburbs by public transport, and the northern end received a new frequent bus route as part of the New Network. Also, although Auckland has so far been denied a proper cycling network, at least Pt Chevalier is connected to the NW and Waterview Shared Paths.

Pt Chevalier’s experience is clearly an example of modeshift happening in the wrong direction – because of road building – despite some good ‘modeshift accelerators’ being in place. Perhaps it should have been a case study at Friday’s workshop?

So what did cause this increase in private vehicle use? This chart by Todd Litman lays out different types of generated traffic. The traffic increasing in the northern end of Pt Chevalier is probably of the types listed in the 4th, 6th, and 8th rows (remembering of course, that people driving from Pt Chevalier to other parts of the city have seen some journey times drop despite the local congestion here):

But we’ve also seen some he doesn’t list, which have happened in large part due to the fumey, dangerous, unpleasant street environment, and the high congestion holding up the Outer Link buses at peak hour:

In the Waterview Connection Traffic Modelling,

  • no allowance for any kind of “new trip” was made,
  • no allowance for the effects of increased local traffic and congestion in Pt Chevalier was made,
  • active modes are given lip service. No modelling based on pedestrian flows was made. (The limited pedestrian counts – probably taken to establish need for local pedestrian amenity – were valued so highly they were ‘lost’.)

And the long term effects are still to come. Heaven help us.

Before Waterview Connection opened, I asked AT, via the local board, what they were doing to improve the safety on the local roads around Waterview Connection for vulnerable road users, in readiness for the increase in traffic. The reply –

– showed an ignorance about generated traffic, and a resistance to consider the danger it poses to cyclists and pedestrians. We deserve better. To rub salt in the wound, the Traffic Modelling Report said one of the benefits of the project is:

More opportunities for walking, cycling and passenger transport

But is Pt Chevalier just the unlucky one that’s taken a battering while the rest of the city has been improved? Not from a modeshift perspective. Some areas are less congested as a result of the Waterview Connection, but they are steadily filling up with traffic again. During this period, people will make use of the lower traffic volumes by shifting from walking, cycling and public transport, to yet more driving.

Multiply this effect by all the road capacity projects, and it becomes clear why travel is increasing in the city as a whole.

The latest available figures for vehicle km travelled are for the 2016/2017 year, and they show an increase of 5% for the country, and of 6.4% for Auckland local roads. This is about 2.5 times population growth.

Population growth has been used as an excuse for our self-made transport problems for too long.

Which brings me back to Council’s workshop on accelerating modeshift last Friday. I hope they discussed that:

  • Every modeshift strategy must first undo the modeshift towards driving caused by road building before we’ll see any effect in the desired direction.
  • Every safety programme will use money just mitigating the risks introduced by the induced traffic before remaining funds can start to provide an improvement in safety.
  • And when it comes to building a cycling network, the Dutch make it clear the first step is reducing traffic. It’s critical to reduce the number of conflicts wherever vehicles and bikes cross paths. Auckland Transport’s Cycling Budget Slashers have not only set back the cycling programme by two years, they’ve also prevented action on reducing travel in order to make the cycling programme work. Now that change is imminent, this needs to be addressed.

These programmes and strategies are important. But while we’re still increasing road capacity, they will have to work far harder, at higher cost to the public, and yet will still be less effective. Road building is reducing the value-for-money we get from everything we are funding in the transport sector.

Friday’s workshop could have been titled:

Aladdin and the Magic Modeshift

Our fantasies for accelerating modeshift at great expense

(even though we know our efforts will be swamped by the traffic we are creating by building roads)

People in positions of power throughout the transport organisations must shift in their thinking, and take responsibility for how the road building is increasing vehicle km travelled and shifting modeshare the wrong way.

To those holding the purse strings: There is money available for modeshift. It just needs reallocating from the road “improvements” budget. Win win.

(Lead image is from “Aladdin and the Magic Lamp” episode of Ruffus the Dog. Copyright 2010 Hunky Dorey Entertainment Inc. This work is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution – Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License.

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  1. What a fantastic article… Im on my phone now but will respond with a bit of detail when im in the office. It all reminds me of the quote….

    Trying to fix congestion by increasing road capacity is like trying to fix obesity by giving someone a bigger belt.

    1. Re Pt Chev, I have a colleague who says the New Network removed a one-bus Journey option for some heading to town. Dunno, just throwing that in

    2. About Pt Chev, I have a colleague who says the New Network removed a one-bus Journey option for some heading to town. Dunno, just throwing that in

      1. Geoff, I use the bus as my main transport. What the NN did to increase the connectivity for Pt Chev to the rest of the city was nothing short of spectacular. You’ll always find someone who’ll complain about a particular door-to-door journey.

        1. It probably depends on where you are in Pt Chev. If you’re near Great North Rd you probably have a good experience. I think the whole NN works well if you’re near high-frequency routes. If you don’t and you have to use low-frequency feeders things probably aren’t so flash. In these situations, I think we need to encourage micro-mobility (first/last leg). Parking for e-scooters on buses? Remove gst on e-scooters?

        2. I’m north of Meola. My point of difference is that I go all over Auckland, not just to one workplace. The 66 has revolutionised stuff. If the Outer Link is the best route, I’ll check the real time board, because the timetable is irrelevant. Otherwise, I head out to the 66 – knowing it’ll be on time, every 15 minutes, all day, and I’ll connect to whatever bus is best to connect to. This is total freedom. I gave up my car before the Outer Link even started. The improvements since then have been outstanding.

        3. Yeah I think the 66 is great as a link to other parts of the city. I look forward to your post about what to do about getting buses down Meola faster.

      2. I live out on the point. The best I could get to work (Wynyard) on the bus is 35-40 mins. 50-60min is more average. I favour my bicycle or moped as the Meola traffic doesn’t really affect my journey.

        1. Yes, as in many parts of the city, the quicker journey is often by bike. But that’s only really available to the confident cyclists.

        2. Very true. The whole trick is encouraging less-confident people to cycle. We’ll see if the Meola cycleway helps. I’m guessing the works will make that route even more congested for vehicles.

        3. I think the parking issue will be resolved, so the soccertime problems will be reduced. But nothing will be done to improve the bus journey – it’ll still be stuck in the peak periods.

          There are solutions to this – but that’ll be another post! 🙂

        4. Meola cycleway, properly separated is urgent, as is making the whole southern Pt Chev residential/schools district into a proper permeated rat-run free neighbourhood.

        5. Yes… they must do something about the Moa Rd racing track, which is the main route for kids heading to Pasadena Intermediate from the north, or to Pt Chevalier Primary from the south. Plus those poor Bird Streets that get all the evening ratrunning…

        6. Meola should really get peak period bus only & local resident bollards as I think Heidi has raised before. This would really kill of the rat running.

    3. Yes, fantastic article, I will also respond in an hour or so once I’m out of this stop start crawl completely congested SH16 between Kumeu and Westgate. Let’s remove a traffic lane, that’ll teach those car commuters to get on PT, oops I’ve said it again, What PT?

  2. This is a classic carrot/stick debate right?

    If you just do carrots to improve travel options then you might not achieve much, but those carrots need to be in place to successfully apply some stick.

    I do agree though that we need to think of reading projects and how they can induce “negative mode shift”.

    The problem with Waterview is that AT never got their shit together and never did all the promised bus and cycle lanes to “lock in” the redirected traffic.

    1. I think NZTA share that blame in equal amounts. It’s absolutely crazy there is no bus provision through the Waterview connection! And the George Bolt Memorial Dr / Kirkbride Rd underpass. I mean surely there should have been space left for bus-way / Light-rail when that was built.

      1. The Kirkbride project was designed and built to provide enough space to allow two light rail tracks to be built in the middle at a later date. There are bus shoulder lanes as an interim measure.

        1. There is also a reservation left for busway or light rail around the northern edge of the water view junction. Which to be fair does have some bus lanes and bus only turn pockets.

        2. I can’t see why you would put bus lanes in the Waterview tunnel. It would have added significant cost to the project for a crosstown that is unlikely to ever have rapid transit frequencies. Also it is underground so the route wouldn’t even be accessible to the locals. In addition to this the tunnel actually flows pretty well, better to just put the few express buses in the existing tunnel lanes.

          Would be better to put the bus lanes on the local roads that have been cleared of traffic as a result.

        3. Oh you mean through the tunnel? Because no buses run there, except the odd airport shuttle. What route would you run in it?

        4. Be interesting if there would be demand for a big long crosstown frequent express bus service through the Waterview Tunnel especially before any LRT is built out west or Dominion Rd. Start somewhere out west where you get a bit of catchment, one or a number of stops at Mt Roskill after the tunnel surfaces, perhaps along Stoddard Rd, terminate or stop at Onehunga, then onto Manukau Bus Interchange, maybe even Manurewa Instead via Roscommon Rd, Browns Rd, Homai Interchange, Russell Rd. This makes up for the lack of West to South PT apart from very long commutes.
          Big issue would be time reliability if there is a motorway snafu, would shine outside of the peaks though.

        5. I mean on 16. Inbound there is no bus provision as you approach Waterview. I think there is outbound – although it stops at the Rosebank exit to make way for the extra cars coming from 20. This shows where our true priorities are.

        6. Great! It looks very tight. I would have thought there would need to be two car-lanes in each direction, a bus lane in each direction and LRT.

    2. Carrot / Stick? Someone used this analogy recently, which I think is more apt:

      If you want the population to stop eating so much pizza, and start eating more salad, you need to make salad available everywhere, and reduce the amount of pizza available.

      You don’t make pizza more available, and put a few croutons on the little bit of salad.

      1. In fairness if you made pizza less available and salad more available it would just induce more traffic as people like me would drive further to get their pizza.

        1. … and maybe there’d be fewer people out walking, trying to get the pizza to settle in their digestive system better… 🙂

        2. My pizza run from Kumeu to Hell Westgate is by car. My preference would be by train from Huapai station to Henderson and then using my bike to Hell Lincoln Road. The exercise component alone would justify the extra cheese and topping sauce.

        3. Bogle, Google maps says it’s a 15 min peak time drive from Kumeu to Swanson station. And the fastest route misses SH16.

          Just do that, park and ride at Swanson and STFU about the public paying massive subsidies so you get a door to door heavy rail service

        4. Yeah Nah, we do have great pizzerias in Kumeu but I do like going to Hell for a super gluttony.
          I don’t think I’d be allowed on bus or train with large pizza box as it has to be carried flat

      2. I think the analogy would go like this: stop beating anyone who goes near a salad with a stick. We are diligently covering all options at the moment:

        – Walking: see flashback Sunday. No priority at intersections and traffic lights, no onus on drivers to keep you alive.

        – Cycling: as above but worse.

        – Public transport: kind of works in some cases, but requires walking. You can have public transport across the street, it is still useless if you can’t cross that street without almost dying. Note that bus lines often follow large arterials and that either the inbound or outbound stop will be on the wrong side.

        – Scooters: we’re working on legislating that out of existence.

        In that analogy, if we make pizza less available right now people will starve to death.

      3. Heidi – At last an analogy I can really get my teeth into !
        If you want people to eat less pizza and eat more salads, then you need to:

        A) stop making pizza readily available, delivered hot to your door, with all the special toppings and dressings. And the cheese. Pizza tastes great because of the cheese.

        B) make salads fresher and better tasting, and make them more available everywhere. I can’t find anywhere that serves a takeaway salad for lunch, but i can find 20 places that can make a pizza. I really really want a salad for lunch, and my doctor tells me I should have only salad for lunch, but I can’t find any. Salads need dressings and pine nuts and cherry tomatoes, but all i get at most places is a sloshy little bit of cole-slaw, which is technically not salad at all, and tastes like bleagh. Its a wonder that people don’t like salads.

        The analogy is so good that I don’t even need to explain it. Especially cole-slaw.

  3. An important question is, why is the main mode of public transport AT provide, so unappealing to the vast majority of commuters?

  4. Levy said in the SOI: “simply providing a range of effective modal options will not be sufficient to break the deeply ingrained habit of car dependency, perhaps Auckland’s most ominous and least confronted problem from a transport perspective.”

    So the better question is, why are they ignoring their role in feeding this car dependency by increasing road capacity?

    1. They can’t even create prioritized safe walking routes from the fringe across the motorway barrier into the city centre (even within the centre peds get SCAT on.)

      Let’s see A4E plan include to address these routes which are one of the main ideas in the Jan Gehl Auckland study and original CCMP.
      Unfortunately seems like the emphasis on Mayoral Drive as a ring road is gonna continue the car dominance/giant cook st intersections where peds waste minutes at a time or risk 6 lane roulette.

  5. Good to see this is being worked on.

    As for Pt Chev, one of the big reasons for the increase (at least from my observations) is that a lot of renters have moved there from other places as it has good access to waterview tunnels so they can get to places like airport quicker than they previously could from places like New Lynn all while living closer to the CBD etc. presumably previous renters have moved elsewhere.

    1. I hadn’t thought of that. Thanks. I was thinking the demographics hadn’t changed much in 2 years, but you could be right. I guess that’s in the 7th row of Litman’s table.

      What this suggests, is that the “longer term” land use changes can actually be “shorter term”, due to rental housing tenancy turnover.

      Land use changes weren’t covered by the Waterview Connection Modelling either, of course.

    2. I don’t see it working like that at the moment. It not traffic generated in Pt Chev. Most of the traffic is going from 20 to the Curran St on-ramp to the Bridge. I guess it’s the traffic from 20 and 16 trying to get to the NS or the CBD. They are avoiding the 16>City peak congestion.

      1. My anecdotal data of how many evening commuter cars turn off Meola Rd into Walford or into Pt Chev Rd heading north, with a bit of extrapolation to other Pt Chev roads, suggest the traffic that is cutting through is something like 60% to 75% of the total arterial road traffic.

        I’m tempted to ask for some proper analysis, but actually, there are simple rerouting trials that should be undertaken. Trouble is, AT don’t seem to want to fix anything if it involves reducing road capacity.

        1. Interesting. Actually, I’m not sure about the Pt Chev Rd traffic. Maybe that is people going to the beach. As for Walford, That may be rat running. I’m fairly sure it would be faster to turn off there and then cut down Wainui and back onto Pt Chev Rd South (as opposed to wainting on Meola.
          I’m guessing there are a fair number of people swinging up there to get their kids from the after school clubs too. As you say some proper analysis would be needed. I guess Walker park sports fields can drag a fair few north as well.

        2. I used the 5-Day ADT (Monday to Friday) in order to reduce the impact of weekend sports and beach use in the data. I see very little of the evening traffic from Walford Rd cutting into Wainui; most goes straight ahead. If it’s school and afterschool activities (actually I think a lot of it is) then the rise of 9% per annum in that sort of trip is very concerning.

          Do you not remember the enthusiasm about Waterview when it first opened? Try to talk about induced traffic, and the response was always: “That may be so, Heidi, but it’s just easier to get around town now. Whatever your theories about induced traffic, Waterview is serving its purpose well. I’m able to pop many places I wasn’t able to go before.”

          But don’t worry, this isn’t a blame game between the NW and the inner west. This needs to be a concerted push from Auckland residents together. It doesn’t matter whether people walk, cycle, drive, have children, have pets, can afford cars or not, or where they live in Auckland. We all suffer from this wasteful spend of our transport budget on road building.

        3. Also, regarding Walford, anyone ratrunning through Wainui wouldn’t be in this data at all: The Walford Rd count was taken just north of Wainui. The Pt Chev Rd one was as well. Same block.

  6. NZTA must do a full post implementation review of the sh20/16 works; and not just the self-congratulatory quick glance at a few expedited through the tunnel itself.

    The failure to provide any RTN on 16 creates a critical system gap, with such predictable adverse outcomes as Heidi outlines so clearly above.

    Bypassing is clearly potentially positive for communities, but only if traffic is removed/restrained on the old route, actively, otherwise it’s just an exercise in inducement. And alternative modes must be provided and prioritised.

    The business cases’ claims need to be matched to outcomes, as this should show how poor it was in many aspects. What, for example, happened to the projected 10% drop in volumes on the core of the m’way network!? In fact the most congested section of 16 is east of the tunnel….

    1. “The failure to provide any RTN on 16 is such an obvious failure”

      Indeed, and the SH16 commuter belt extends from the CBD to Helensville. The great news is that 50% of this RTN is already in place. Whatever RTN is built along SH16 from the city needs to keep that in mind and ensure compatibility so as to provide a continuous RTN from one end of the commuter belt to the other. Otherwise one-seat ride driving will remain more attractive.

  7. A suggestion: Toll charges for people taking off ramps to the city. So that the time saved by using local roads is balanced by the extra cost of the tolls. This may stop people going from SH20 to Curran St via Meola at least.
    As I have previously said the traffic on GT North Rd in Grey Lynn (past my front door) is now horrendous. Something needs to be done…

    1. Congestion charging MUST be in place by the end of the Fuel Tax period.
      Is it on either AT’s or NZTA’s agendas at this time?

      1. So in eight years we’ll have that rapid transit connection in the North West is currently back-tracking on?

        1. The ‘investigation’ is all well and good, but the fuel tax is here and real. So is the congestion.

          And we’re supposed to have faith in NZTA while they ‘investigate’ things?

          Why do I get the feeling the congestion charging will come well before the viable alternatives to driving?

        2. Chickens, eggs, carrots, horses, sticks. baskets?

          Alternatives becoming ‘Viable’ does depend on the financial subsidy ending, as well as the physical effect of network rebalance.

          Of course it’s a political game to achieve…

          Good politicians need to make sure people know and support all the things we can have instead of cars.

        3. “Why do I get the feeling the congestion charging will come well before the viable alternatives to driving?”

          So start with a congestion charge in the city where there are very real alternatives to driving.

        4. Yes John, I agree with this. And an awkward conversation has to be had about exempting EVs, which we probably shouldn’t do.

        5. I don’t think you have too much to worry about, I’d say we will still be discussing the pros and cons of congestion charging in 30 years time.

        6. Congestion pricing is hard, but progress is possible. New York City has finally approved it after decades of discussion.

    2. The CBD already has significant toll charges, in the form of parking charges. They are not cheap, yet people pay them. It doesn’t seem to put people off driving.

  8. Great post Heidi, raises new (to me) insight, based on your evidence:

    – Not only is increasing road capacity ineffective, it actually makes the alternatives even more ineffective also, because the alternatives have to fight even harder just to get back to the pre-increased road capacity state.

    So, not only is money wasted on increasing road capacity, it’s also wasted on the alternatives and mitigation (e.g., safety) because it doesn’t even get things back to the way they were before the road capacity was increased.*

    (* this seems to be the experience in the U.S., and anti-PT lobbyists cleverly use this effect as ‘evidence’ against PT and so call for ever more road-building)

    From that, it should be easy to see that investment has to go into the alternatives in a way that decreases road capacity (which also decreases the need for mitigation). Even alternatives that don’t use roads should have the competing road capacity decreased.

    It’s understandable why that may seem counter-intuitive (e.g., to the old guard in AT), but where it’s been done (e.g., in Europe) it seems to have worked.

    Surely the bureaucrats are scientifically-minded enough to be able to look at the weight of evidence and see that a different approach is more effective.

    I don’t see how we’re going to meet our sustainability goals otherwise.

    Even with fully electric vehicles on the roads and Uberisation/Mobility-as-a-Service, the “externalities” of roads in terms of space, runoff, etc., are still huge and will still need to be addressed (e.g., geospatial- and time-differentiated road access charges that make PT more attractive, at least in most cases).

  9. Only just noticed this since I no longer get posts automatically emailed to me each day – why is that?
    I tried very hard to get the ATAP and other policy documents to reference Mode Shift as a primary goal of transport planning in Auckland (I would place it right at the top as a driver for everything else that AT, NZTA, etc. do. Although there are some references to Mode Shift they are buried in the middle of the various documents that are out there where it is easy to miss and certainly not treated as the key driver which it should be.

    1. I agree, Graeme. It should be a key driver.

      But we’ll just get bandaids while the real mechanism for modeshift is ignored.

      What the local boards and Councillors needs to push for now is road reduction and the ceasing of road building. Because that’s the biggie that prevents any other modeshift mechanism from being effective, or as effective as it should.

      I’d appreciate it if you could discuss this with your board. Any research you require to convince them to make it an overt policy, I’m happy to provide.

      1. Getting people out of cars will be as popular to Aucklanders as introducing a capital gains tax.
        No research is required, we can see the evidence every day

  10. Excellent article Heidi.

    “To those holding the purse strings: There is money available for modeshift. It just needs reallocating from the road “improvements” budget. Win win.”

    I am not sure what you mean by “improvements,” but the money should come from road capital expenditure. But is the money being re-directed? It is hard to tell from the latest AT budget because it has been re-formated and so like cannot be compared with like.

    I made an OIA request about a month ago to seek this information. AT indicated when I followed up recently that it will be another month. We are indeed fortunate that their bus services are generally more timely.

    1. VKT rises proportionally with road capacity – all other things equal. I’d suspect that the GFC was one of those “other things” that kept a dampener on it for a while. I’d like to pull apart the SH building and RoNS programme at some stage, and would love to see an analysis if anyone’s done it, comparing VKT, road capacity, economic measures, etc. I believe the answer will be in there.

      For us at this stage, we can simply look at:
      – the big picture outcomes (city by city, as Jamie alludes to),
      – the international research (metastudies such as Duranton and Turner, and Garcia-Lopez, for example),
      – the local situation such as these figures I’ve shown,
      – our vkt and carbon emissions figures.

      All say the same thing. The time for incremental improvement in mindset is over. We change course radically now or we literally lose lives to accidents, and our children’s future to misery and debt.

      1. The 5% increase in 2016/2017 is far beyond road capacity increases. The national roading network didn’t suddenly become 5% bigger in 12 months.

        I would suggest our low car purchase prices are responsible. You can buy low-km used imports for $6,000 now, whereas a few years ago the cheapest were generally around $8,000. And of course we have the cheapest car prices in the western world. Pricing generally starts around the $15,000 mark in Australia and the US for example.

        In the 1980s our government made the decision to flood the market with cheap cars, eliminating all remaining tarrifs, ending our own car-building/assembly industry, and providing incentives to import vehicles. That’s why the last provincial passenger trains disappeared during the 80s and 90s.

        But it seems nobody ever wants to talk about our dirt cheap car prices. I’ve never seen this blog write about them, and I’ve never seen any political party, including the Greens, express concern about them.

        1. They really should put a rolling 7 year / 70,000km ban on used imports so that we don’t end up with end of life vehicles.

        2. Cheap cars is definitely part of the problem.

          This is missing the point a little though, Geoff: “The 5% increase in 2016/2017 is far beyond road capacity increases.” Induced traffic continues for decades after the project completion; in any one year, there’ll be vkt rising as a result of the cumulative effects of road building of many projects in the past.

          And it’s good to see how the data of Pt Chevalier helps in understanding this. I have the car ownership stats for the suburb back to 2000 (although I’m just checking an obvious error in the 2016 stats which is why I’ve not been able to quote them). The increase in car ownership is far smaller than the increase in vkt, too.

    2. What’s really interesting is that recently both VKT and public transport ridership have been growing faster than population. Unless walking and cycling have been declining (which seems unlikely) then more overall travel is happening.

      I wonder if this means more trips (maybe a good thing?) or longer trips (probably a bad thing?)

      1. The progress of road building in the last 60 years has been accompanied by a decline in walking and cycling, measured by MoT travel surveys. While it doesn’t seem likely it could have dropped even further in the last two years, that’s definitely what has happened here in regards to school traffic. In 2014 I was involved in some recording of the school traffic situation in Pt Chevalier. What is happening now is far worse. Some roads that would have 2 or 3 cars parked for the school pickup, perhaps 6 on a wet day in winter, now 14 or more on a fine day, with total chaos on the wet ones.

      2. “public transport ridership have been growing faster than population”

        I am not sure that there is any evidence for this and it is most likely to be the reverse. You can’t say PT ridership is growing by 6% and population is only growing by 3% and therefore it is outpacing population growth.

        1. Yes, important to remember that traveling further can raise traffic the same or more than traveling more often.

        2. Yes, which is why the US scheme intended to reduce CO2 emissions from public employees in a number of states, found that accelerated modeshift strategies were ineffective and they started concentrating solely on encouraging people to live closer to work.

          Addressing sprawl is of course the more direct route.

          However, for a safety focus in a local area like an area north of Meola Rd, the number of trips matter more.

  11. For Cathy Casey and all the others in attendance at the workshop: it would be interesting to see how they travelled to and from the workshop. If these people aren’t able to travel using alternate modes of transportation due to incovenience, safety etc, then they should be asking themselves why not?

  12. 1) Substantial modeshift will not occur without a substantial shift in costs towards their real costs (congestion tolls, alll parking paid for, remove ratepayer subsidy, add excise tax for air pollution & full health system costs etc)

    2) Substantial modeshift will not occur without a substantial shift in land use planning rules (transport is just the spatial demand of land use allocation – artificial density & zoning limitations would have to be done away with and limitation based only on “effects” implemented)

    3) Substantial mode shift will not occur unless the safety of the transport system is addressed. (The crash rate for walking/cycling/motorcycles is far higher than other modes no matter the type of rate used – this has to be addressed via the design of the system, e.g. fully protected crossings for peds & cyclists at all traffic signals, off road cycle facilities for cyclists etc)

    check out –


    4) Substantial mode shift will not occur unless the design of the transport system is modified to remove severance and lack of accessibility. Unfortunately we need motorways or similar for longer distance travel. But the long distance traffic has no place in urban realm. Motorways should all be grade separated up or down or crossed by numerous local connections (the last is the worst option as it requires peds and cyclists to go up or down rather than cars)

    1. oldmate Jan Gehl ‘n’ co examined the last point you made as one of the potentials for Auckland in his ‘public life study’ 2010, it’s around if you look for it. They said

      The city fringe needs the least vehicle links and the most active links. We don’t even have to build overbridges, they’re already there.
      We’d just need a couple bollards.

  13. “”Road building creates traffic. If this was properly modelled in the traffic models, most road capacity expansion projects wouldn’t even get funded.”” The logic underlying this statement would imply ploughing roads and planting trees. Maybe the equivalent is installing bus lanes about which my local MP sent me an email today – he is against a new T3 Buslane but I am for.
    Plenty of good sense in your article but as Auckland’s population increases there is no solution only partial slight remedies – we are doomed to ever increasing congestion for at least a generation.

    How about Paris “” The city is one of the most striking examples of rational urban planning, conducted in the middle of the nineteenth century during the ‘Second Empire’ of Napoleon III to ease congestion in the dense network of medieval streets.”” and “”Beginning in 1854, in the centre of the city, Haussmann’s workers tore down hundreds of old buildings and cut eighty kilometres of new avenues, connecting the central points of the city. Buildings along these avenues were required to be the same height and in a similar style, and to be faced with cream-coloured stone, creating the uniform look of Paris boulevards…. Haussmann managed to rebuild the city in 17 years. On his own estimation the new boulevards and open spaces displaced 350,000 people; … by 1870 one-fifth of the streets in central Paris were his creation; he had spent … 2.5 billion francs on the city; … one in five Parisian workers was employed in the building trade. “”

    Will Twyford and Goff tackle our problem with similar enthusiasm?

    1. Haussmann was given dictatorial power by Napoleon III to acquire private property without recourse, then to resell the improved land at a huge markup. He also included a caveat that the land must be built out to a uniform height and style within ten years or the land was forfeit backt to the government.
      They even specified the type of stone and number of windows required.

      Sure, if Empress Jacinda suspends Parliament and decrees Baron Twyford above the law, we could do the same!

    2. “Plenty of good sense in your article but as Auckland’s population increases there is no solution only partial slight remedies”

      Actually, the solution works with a population increase – it may even work better with a population increase.

      Doubling the intensity decreases vkt by 25 to 30%. And that’s from data in areas where they weren’t actively trying to reallocate roads and encourage sustainable modes. We can probably do better.

      The problem with the situation is trying to shift incrementally. Aiming for a partial solution gives no solution, in this case. We have to actually stop road building. That’s a huge change, but it requires an end to sprawl. Do this, and suddenly the carparks will become available to be turned into housing.

  14. Great article – I am still wondering why people drive more – do people not go places ‘because of the traffic’? Or maybe they go fewer places because of the extra time it takes to get to each one? It seems to me an absolute key to getting people out of cars is free flowing PT – dedicated unbroken bus lanes or trains. I also wonder about the impact of Uber – young people use Uber all the time and it means more kms driven overall I suspect. It also makes PT less enticing – as Uber is cheap and ‘convenient’. Uber also gets rid of the parking problem – which used to be a good reason not to drive to town.

    1. Thanks. Your question about Uber is spot on. Uber and its ilk have reversed the modeshift gains that big cities like NY were seeing. And yesterday, Stuff quoted Auckland Council’s chief executive, Stephen Town on the subject:

      “Town said that was not about an Uber-type answer necessarily, as Uber had added more cars to the city roads rather than helped reduce congestion.”

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