Last week I reported on the Ministry of Transport’s ‘green paper’ which outlines some potential policies and pathways to a net zero emissions from transport by 2050.

Of the four potential pathways it suggests, only one, Pathway 4, meets the targets set out by the Climate Change Commission. To achieve those targets it relies heavily on reducing car travel either through trips being avoided entirely from increases in things like working from home, or from mode shift to public transport or active modes. This is because they note that “avoiding activities that produce emissions is, on balance, a more effective strategy than minimising the emissions from those activities“.

This pathway also requires more travel avoidance and mode shift than suggested by the Climate Change Commission in their draft recommendations because they have assumed a lot slower uptake of electric vehicles. To me this makes sense as we’re still years away from car manufacturers producing electric vehicles at any significant scale and it’s likely that even if every car they produced from today onwards was electric, with more and more countries putting deadlines on stopping the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles, there likely just won’t be enough electric vehicles produced to supply the demand. As a result of this the Ministry’s pathway suggests we’ll need to reduce the number of kilometres light vehicles collectively travel by about 39% by 2035 and by 57% by 2050.

The very notion that we should try to reduce how much driving we do is certain to upset some segments of the community, take National’s response to the paper as an example.

Labour is far too focused on pushing people out of cars and isn’t taking into account that private vehicles will always be used by Kiwis, National’s Transport spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.

Proposals floated to make the transport sector net carbon zero by 2050 include reducing the number of private vehicles on the road by 57 per cent.

“National agrees with Labour on the goal of zero emissions in our transport sector in the future, but we don’t support Kiwis being railroaded into a lifestyle that isn’t practical,” Mr Woodhouse says.

“We should be encouraging public transport use in our cities, particularly to get to and from work, and that means making sure it works for those using it.

“But cars will always play a role in the lives of New Zealanders, from dropping kids off at school to getting around the country. Labour doesn’t seem to realise that.

“Labour seem intent on pitting investment in public transport and investment in roads against each other. The reality is, New Zealand desperately needs more investment in both.

“If the goal is to reduce the number of petrol cars on the road in favour of EVs, why would we then want to halve the number of those cars on the road?

The suggestion that the current state of things is somehow natural and ideal or we can’t change things is absurd. The transport system we have today is the direct result of change.

Prior to the 1950’s our cities were built around proximity to the centre and around trams. But then in the 50’s, as cars became more common conscious decisions were made to prioritise them at the expense of other modes. Tram networks all over the country were ripped out as offerings to the motoring gods. In Auckland at least, in 1950 the tram network alone was carrying over 80 million trips. This works out at about the same number of trips per day as there were cars in all of New Zealand at the time. Interestingly Stats NZ Yearbooks from the time show that fare revenue was actually covering the cost of operations and typically covering capital costs too yet it was still ripped out. Meanwhile millions were being invested in roads with fuel taxes covering only about one third of costs.

Then of course  there’s the more physical changes, such as those to enable the Central Motorway Junction.

We’ve changed our transport system before, there’s no reason we can’t do it again.

Of course we would hardly be the first to change some streets back from focusing on cars. Many of you would have seen the images from the likes of Amsterdam and Copenhagen with streets that used to be full of cars now full of people and bikes. Here’s another example I saw yesterday from Dublin.

I think part of the problem is that the vast majority of people now agree that we need better public transport, walking and cycling options – politicians certainly love cutting ribbons on these projects. In fact a recent survey by the Infrastructure Commission with over 23,000 responses shows huge support for better public transport and stronger opposition to building more roads than building new ones. Also a majority agree we need to reduce the amount we travel.

The discussion, like Woodhouse expresses above, has been about needing to make alternatives better AND roads better. But if we want to have a chance of meeting our climate change responsibilities we need to have leaders starting to openly discuss reducing travel.

In many ways there are a huge number of similarities to the discussion we need to have with driving and the one we’ve been having about for many decades about smoking. With smoking we’ve seen bans on advertising and smoking in certain areas, such as inside. There has also been significant public education campaigns. As a result, the percentage of people smoking has reduced significantly.

While people like Woodhouse can’t conceive of our transport system being different, it also pays to remember what was said back around 2003 when banning smoking in bars was being discussed – I recall all sorts of silly claims from the time. The ones below are from the first article I could find.

Last night, patrons of Auckland City bars were furious. Beech’s Bar and Cafe patron Michael Vujnovich said: “Part of the comfort zone is having a Coke and smoking your lungs out … people running a bar should have a choice if they want to be smoke-free.

“They should ban smoking all together or just accept it.”

Mad Dogs and Englishmen patron Fiona Scorgie said the bill was “bloody ludicrous”.

“It’s not fair as it’s one of the few places where it’s OK to smoke – it’s going a bit over the top.

“If you’re a drinker, a smoke goes hand-in-hand so I guess I’ll just have to take my business elsewhere.”

Hospitality Association CEO Bruce Robertson said the organisation’s minimum air quality proposal was a far more sensible way to meet health regulations, “but the Government haven’t been listening”.

How many people out there think we should go back to allowing smoking in bars?

If we change our transport system for the better, we’ll likely look back on this period in a few decades and be amazed it was ever even a discussion not to do it.

Will the government have the courage to tell people to stop/reduce driving?

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139 comments

  1. Pretty balanced position from Woodhouse. Most people would like to take alternatice options but it just isn’t viable and won’t be for a long while. Investment in both is required so that everyone is catered for

    1. I don’t see how it’s balanced. “We agree that we need to go to zero carbon but we’re not going to do anything to reduce carbon emissions”.

      New Zealand has the second highest car ownership rate in the world; we’re the second most inactive rich western country and we’re the third fattest OECD country.

      There’s about 5,000 people a year who die from smoking and about 3,000 people a year who die from inactivity. It’s not as bad as smoking “yet”.

    2. He mentioned the need to for people to drop their kids to school, there’s nothing balanced about that at all. This is one of the lowest hanging fruit, simply improve bike/scooter connections around schools. There are very few people in the scenario where they genuinely need to drop their kids off at school.

    3. “Investment in both is required…” – this gives the clue to why his statement is not balanced. We’ve invested in driving without drivers paying to keep other users safe from driving or paying for their land use, emissions. To put that right, the “balance” in investment is nothing like Woodhouse is imagining. Driving is a space inefficient, resource inefficient transport mode. As a result our transport system is very expensive, and subsidised in many ways by everyone.

      If we invest to right this balance then those who do need to drive will find it much easier.

  2. Policy makers need to listen to their own voices and stop driving cars themselves. Imagine all the public sector on buses, bikes and walking?

    It is past time that central and local government stopped pushing for one mode of transport rather implemented an integrated mulit-model transport plan.

    What about banning cars going to schools in preference for little electric buses. Maybe the children could improve their fitness by walking, skooting and biking.

    If the individuals who wasted our money on speed bumps, uncoordinated traffic lights, poorly designed roundabouts and implements road corridors and one-way streets the excessive emissions caused by stop-start would be significantly reduced.

    As usual, no one listens.

    1. In Auckland at least, the vast majority of Auckland Transport and Auckland Council staff do take public transport, walk or bike to work. Matt had some survey here about Auckland Transport and I think it was less that 20% drove to work each day?

  3. Policy makers need to listen to their own voices and stop driving cars themselves. Imagine all the public sector on buses, bikes and walking?

    It is past time that central and local government stopped pushing for one mode of transport rather implemented an integrated mulit-model transport plan.

    What about banning cars going to schools in preference for little electric buses. Maybe the children could improve their fitness by walking, skooting and biking.

    If the individuals who wasted our money on speed bumps, uncoordinated traffic lights, poorly designed roundabouts and implements road corridors and one-way streets the excessive emissions caused by stop-start would be significantly reduced.

    As usual, no one listens.

      1. Yes they walk, cycle or catch PT to work where they proceeded to write reports saying no one walks, cycles or catches PT to work so we need more roads – there are senior people like this at Auckland Transport too.
        Govt officials also seem to think Auckland is a provincial village, or at least should be treated as one.

        1. Oh the odd bus or train or cycle lane, the odd good piece of information. Travelwise. Carless days way back.

          I don’t mean they’ve been sufficient or well-funded. I just mean the analogy still holds.

  4. Let the National Party put out their own Green Paper on how to get to zero emissions in the transport sector and then we can see how it stacks up.

    1. My guess is the summary would involve a can and a foot.
      It really depends on the timeframe in question. By 2050 we should be able to cut our transport emissions almost completely via electric cars without “Kiwis being railroaded into a lifestyle that isn’t practical” (where ‘not practical’ includes impossible things like walking kids to school). Just build some more renewable power stations and ban ICE vehicles completely on 1/1/2050 (30 years should be plenty of time to get ready for that date). So it really comes down to when we think we need to act, is 2050 too late?

    2. Surely our energy is better spent talking about the actions of the party in government, in this parliament, with an absolute majority, rather than the opposition party who won’t be in power for at least two years? Or is it more about red good/blue bad than actual outcomes?

      1. Agree, they will be doing well to be in government in 2026 at the current rate. Who cares what Woodhouse says, more relevant is whether Labour can follow through on this report.

  5. There’s a huge difference, cars provide huge value to end users, smoking doesn’t. They’re talking about banning smoking altogether. Cars will never be banned. They provide far too much value and for a lot of trips are totally irreplaceable. Either people can’t live rurally or in in small town New Zealand or we have cars.

    Unless you’re talking about ice vehicles, there’s a lot of similarities there. Forcing the shift to vaping / electric. Which I disagree with too, but it’s less crazy.

      1. So you think rural people should go back to horse and cart? Taking a whole day to go into town for supplies or for appointments? Being almost totally, physically isolated from their communities except on a few market days?

        1. They weren’t isolated, communities were just closer. The car just meant people could travel further so small rural communities withered and died.

          Anyway I don’t think anyone here is suggesting banning cars, they will still be there for people who simply don’t have another option.

        2. @Jezza
          “Anyway I don’t think anyone here is suggesting banning cars, they will still be there for people who simply don’t have another option.”

          I mostly agree, but if we’re drawing parallels to smoking saying its a very similar thing, and that’s what the current conversation in smoking is, banning it altogether, then that I feel needs to be mentioned.

      2. Lmao, horse and cart? 1 or 2 days ride from my parents farm to the nearest settlement. We have the old death records, good portion of the ailments treatable even in the day if they could have got to the local doctor. And a large portion of the deaths were caused by horses themselves, which people forget. Horses are far more dangerous than cars.

      3. I live rurally, it’s not possible to live without a car. If we didn’t have cars life would be incredibly difficult, there is no bus service, everything we need would have to be delivered, those deliveries would be by vehicle. All of my neighbors are in the same situation, life without a vehicle would be incredibly difficult.

    1. 87% of New Zelanders live in cities and towns. We are a very non-rural population, one of the most urbanized countries in the world.

    2. The post isn’t talking about banning cars. It’s about whether we can choose to change how transport works in NZ or not. We can and we should change it.

      1. That’s the big topic in smoking at the moment, weather it should be banned or not, so especially with a headline like, “Is Driving the new smoking?”

        But I do agree with you, the other parallels are the same, and its a fair argument / comparison. Just with the recent conversation…. this is a reasonable thing to bring up.

    3. We don’t have to ban cars, but we could charge their users for the pollution they create, and we could provide better alternatives to the many people who live in cities. Plenty of other countries (well almost every other country) seems to survive OK without driving as much as we do.

      1. It’s not the nicotine which kills you when you smoke, it’s all the other crap like the tar, multiple carcinogens and carbon monoxide/ Nicotine serves the purpose of being addictive and giving you the “hit”
        But that’s OT anyway.

  6. While there is no doubt that we need to lessen carbon emissions from tailpipes, by far the bigger problem for NZ is the carbon emissions due to agriculture. Some 60% of NZ’s CO2 comes from dairy cows burping and farting, along with Fonterra’s burning of coal to heat their milk-powder driers. Huge problem right there. Way more important to solve than transport. NZ needs to move away from dairy, destock farms from present cattle levels, and find new uses for wool – all going to have more of an effect than almost any other actions.

    1. But the rest of NZ needs to cut back so we aren’t always just blaming farmers. People who can cut back should be leading the way for farmers.

    2. Unfortunately cows dont emit much co2 at all. Methane you mean? And if you’re using the commonly quoted stats, then its measured off gwp100 which assumes no warming effect after 100 years for all gasses. Oh, what’s that co2 doesn’t disappear after 100 years? Who’d have thought.
      Your suggested solutions would have a huge impact on paper, but much less of an effect on global heating in the long term than stopping digging carbon out of the ground. Rather than cycling co2 through cows.

      GWP100 was a political decision, made at international conferences, that all the gulf states, etc agreed to. Some of which were pushing for gwp20 and 100 was a happy medium. GWP was not the optimal scientific / economic decision, and is optimised to buy oil more time at the expense of short lived gasses.

  7. Thanks, Matt. As you point out, lots of important lessons from Tobacco Control: 1) Go for national legislation, don’t try to fix it ‘bar by bar’; 2) Businesses will say the sky will fall in, but it usually won’t; 3) Public health approaches work: Tax, Advertising, Environment change. Thanks. Our take here, too. https://www.newsroom.co.nz/ideasroom/what-cars-and-tobacco-have-in-common. I argue that driving as a social issue is probably a bit more like alcohol and unhealthy food (also significant health issues for us): a little bit is life enhancing, a lot becomes dysfunctional. Important lessons from Tobacco Control, however.

  8. Why isn’t it ever considered converting existing vehicles to lower emission fuels, such as CNG, LNG or Alcohol? It is a lot cheaper than buying a new electric vehicle and gives an immediate effect. Even properly retrofit modern LPG system can produce less emissions than petrol. I had LPG converted vehicle in 2007 and it worked pretty well and saved me some money.

    Also the impact of batteries production and recycling is rarely considered by adepts of electric vehicles.

    Maybe I’m missing something. Are there any researches around this?

  9. Matt, several times in your article you talk about reducing travel
    “we need to have leaders starting to openly discuss reducing travel”
    but this isn’t necessary if we have massive mode shift. The total number of kilometres travelled can stay the same, or even increase, provided a large percentage of those kilometres are done on public transport or active modes.
    I assume you mean reducing *car* travel but that is not the same thing. I think it would be far more palatable to get people to switch modes than tell them they can’t travel.

    1. I thought it was fairly I was talking about reducing car travel – just saving a few words. But also reducing travel generally with things like work from home helps too

    2. Reducing travel also means reducing trip lengths via living more locally – urban areas can be regenerated into liveable places and intensified so that more amenities are brought to existing residents and they don’t have to travel so far.

      Research shows that on average people who start using a bike or an ebike instead of driving start doing things more locally by choice, and have both healthier lives and reduce their travel.

      The level of travel per capita that we do shouldn’t be treated as “normal” – people aren’t enjoying being stuck in the cars on long commutes and driving their kids around in traffic. It is too high and doesn’t deliver the access benefits that a more active transport system and a better planned city would deliver.

  10. Surveys show people say one thing and do another.
    Trams were very popular back in the day. Buses not so much now. If we can’t make a decision on light rail maybe we should have a concept tram route. Wynard was a failed concept tram route can anyone think of something a bit more useful. We could pull Wynard out and relay it somewhere else.

    1. “maybe we should have a concept tram route”

      Queen Street. From Canada Street through to Customs Street. Ridership would explode, it would prove to the general public that LRT is great, and a good part of your route to the SW or NW is already done.

      1. I was thinking about something that was easier and less controversially than that. Also something which could be done sooner rather than later.
        Still probably putting the cart before the horse or a solution looking for a problem. But then we do seem to have a problem.

      2. Always this focus on Queen st which, apart from Britomart, is grotty and full of homeless people. Why would you spend millions on modern light rail to go to Canada st? Newmarket to Ponsonby is a far better candidate for any “concept light rail line”.

        1. Newmarket to Ponsonby would be a good choice for a demonstration/proof of concept line, but perhaps you missed the cynical take in my post. I’m arguing that the demonstration line should just be the first, stage of the SW or NW lines. You’d do Queen Street first because it’s the highest value bit of both lines and doesn’t lock you into doing one of them over the other.

          Queen Street also makes sense as a standalone line because our city centre is very long north to south, and Queen Street almost perfectly bisects it. It’s the same reason we are always talking about bus corridors on Wellesley Street.

        2. Queen Street has way more transport demand along it that Newmarket to Ponsonby, like 150,000 trips a day despite being only a little over a kilometre long.

          It’s literally the busiest place in the country. If you want to demonstrate something that’s the place to do it. If you want to demostrate a failure, you could start with a route that is three times as long (and three times as expensive) with a fraction of the user base.

          Sure Queen Street is grotty, but that’s only because they haven’t built the light rail upgrade yet and insist on having it as a four lane highway of parking, traffic and noise. Britomart was ever grottier until they fixed that. As was Ponsonby no so long ago.

  11. It’s interesting. Amsterdam (220km2 area for 0.8m people) used to have (1950)80% of trips by bike, then it dropped to (1970) 20% when everyone decided to drive. Now it is 30-40% depending on your source.

    Copenhagen (180km2 area for 0.8m people) used to have (1950) 50-70% trips by bike, then it dropped to (1975) 17% and now it is up to 50%.

    Auckland (600km2 for 1.4m people) is currently sitting at perhaps 1%. No idea what it used to be 70 years ago. I will assume it was in the 20-30% range. We just kept building for cars and haven’t stopped yet. So we are decades behind those other cities.

    But I don’t see driving as the new smoking. The health effects of travelling by car are not as obvious as lung cancer. Also, it isn’t as addictive. Most people don’t enjoy driving, they just have to because of a lack of decent options. If PT were cheaper and faster, it would be far more popular. Some say there are several hundred thousand regular cyclists in NZ, but none of them cycle to work.

    1. I think the health effects aren’t as well documented as they should be. I really noticed when I lived in London I was eating more and drinking more and yet I lost weight. The only explanation is that I didn’t own a car and I walked a lot more (and at a much more brisk London pace). There seemed to be nowhere near as many overweight people around.
      The fattest city in the US is Houston. Coincidence?

        1. It’s also the root of all evil too according to this bunch of circle jerkers.

    2. Yes. The fights about low traffic areas or pedestrianized city streets happened in Europe in the 1970’s. So about half a century, or about 2 generations.

      But it is even worse. The move away from cars to cycling in the Netherlands came bottom up. People protested against the increasing dominance and danger from cars. While over here, well, read the news about Onehunga. Things other than driving have been pushed out of collective memory, so add another generation to get that back.

      So I don’t think we’re talking about years, the question is more will anyone reading this now still be alive to see Auckland with, eg. a proper cycling network?

      1. Sure, the change in Europe came from the bottom up. But there was also massive resistance from other “bottom” people, and the pressure to have more cars also was coming from the bottom up.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlXNVnftaNs&t=251s

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Str%C3%B8get#cite_note-mordtrusler-7

        “The ‘father’ of a car free Strøget, Alfred Wassard, Copenhagen’s ‘mayor for town planning’ from 1962–78, even faced death threats.[7] On the opening day, police officers were present to protect against assassination threats, and unhappy car drivers honked their horns on side streets to mark their displeasure although the event was well attended and marked by dancing and music.[7] The posher shops on the east end of the street were particularly opposed to the change, and they tried to have the project restricted to its western portion which was dominated by bars and cinemas at the time.[4]”

        Things weren’t near that bad even for the Onehunga trial.

  12. With the alternatives to private cars, vans, trucks as currently unattractive as they are, a lot of work must be done to make this work. It won’t otherwise and I suspect this is why it’s so half hearted.

    And is it not amazing that at the start of the 20th Century, electric light rail just happened? It didn’t die a death as per the latest failed attempts, they just got on with it. And they built them here, not by forced labour in questionable circumstances.

    Whatever, if any government is serious, then give the citizens a worthy alternative. The carrot rather than the stick approach.

    1. By today’s standards there were some pretty dubious labour practices used on construction projects 100 years ago, it certainly wasn’t a great deal for the workers.

    2. Improving the carrot necessitates some stick. On urban streets, to make bus lanes and bike lanes, some of that space needs to come from current car space. Which drivers see as punishment and is where our current stumbling block is.

  13. Michael Woodhouse is dead wrong. The objective is not to get 57% of the cars off the road. The objective is to reduce the KMs travelled by those cars by 57%. Here’s how I’ve reduced my KMs by about 75%.
    The Covid-19 lockdowns started me off working from home and convinced my boss that I and my team of two could make this a long term thing. We’re lucky we are in the IT sector and only need electricity and good internet to be connected and productive. WFH was so successful that my wife & I sold our Auckland home during level-3 and moved to Christchurch in level-2. WFH for the last year means instead of putting $1200-$1500 of petrol in my 5yrold Mazda 2 (which I only used to get the office) I put in just over $300 in the last year. This was to get the car to Christchurch and the occasional visit to Christchurch clients. Insurance and registration now cost four times what I spend in petrol. I reckon I pumped 2,000kg less C02 into the atmosphere last year along with fewer other pollutants.
    Now, I’m not about to sell the car and take it off the road. That will come but as I view the sunk cost and energy embedded in that car a free gift from my prior commuting life I’m not about to throw it away.
    So the the score is: MOT objective met. Michael Woodhouse scare mongering fail.
    As an aside the opportunities modern technology affords geographically dispersed teams is enormous. My team is spread between Auckland and Christchurch and functions well. My son’s business has team members in Auckland, New York and London, and uses contractors worldwide. No motorcars there.
    Get with the program National party or be left behind to watch your potential voters walk, ride and e-car into the future without you.

  14. We are all being actively planned into deeper car addiction by the way Auckland, Tauranga, and Christchurch are permitted to accelerate growth at their outskirts.

    We urgently need the Climate Commission’s final policy recommendations to get Government to stop growth at the periphery.

    1. There in lies big issues.

      This country desperately needs a lot more housing and fast. The housing crisis is a massive social disaster that will override climate changes issues because people simply need to be affordabiy housed before they can turn their minds to things like climate change.

      Quite how that balance is reached is tricky to say the least.

      1. What’s interesting is that the added difficulty and cost of building on the edges is known and measured – in addition to the negative social and transport costs of the urban form that results – but people seem to argue that it’s the other way around. Head in sand stuff.

      2. And yet this blog actively advocates for more immigration.

        Over the last decade and a bit NZ has added over a million people (mostly from immigration as NZ births are below replacement rates) despite there already being a smaller level shortage back then. So we’ve added a million people and built around 200k houses in that time. The maths simply doesn’t add up…. Which is why we have a housing shortage now and why we are building on greenfields rather than more brownfield redevelopment.

        Even if we had built at higher rates during this time (when National allowed build rates to crater) we still would be short by a large margin.

        So that’s the housing/building situation. Then there’s the infrastructure cost (and emissions) to support it and of course the emissions from more people driving (especially dropping the kids off at school in a big SUV).

        Thankfully Covid has been a circuit breaker in restricting immigration levels and it appears the government is also not wanting to return to high levels (highest in the OECD) in the future. The so called “rock star” economy was simply a Ponzi scheme of growing the economy through immigration numbers while the real economy per capita barely grew at all!

    2. OK, you’ve stopped growth around the edges. Now what? Other than pushing up land prices even higher, what have you achieved? Will brownfields development actually happen in the central part of the city, where the more expensive land is and the restrictions/nimbyism is more intense, or will it still be happening in the outer-suburbs, just with a higher price tag and with nothing to show for it?

      Greenfields on the edges is the only thing stopping our current housing crisis from sky-rocketing even further. If you take away that safety valve then you better have something else to move the development into the central city, not just concentrating it in the areas that can’t support it with even greater ferocity.

      1. We don’t have to do this in a haphazard way that is unplanned though.

        Stopping sprawl frees up loads of construction capacity. We can plan to divert that to regeneration work.

        But the first step is getting government to acknowledge we should.

        1. “We don’t have to do this in a haphazard way that is unplanned though.”

          We don’t have to do it that way, but we didn’t have to have an incompetent four year-fuck-up with Light Rail either. Yet it’s what we got.

          The problem is even if the sprawl stops, the infill will still happen where land is the cheapest unless all other ducks are lined up and in a row first – those areas are already groaning, and we’d end up with literally all future development concentrated on them. And I don’t have a lot of trust in this government to not just make a sweeping announcement for the PR value and leave the ‘credible alternatives and other vital information’ in the too-hard basket.

        2. I completely agree with your concerns Buttwizard. Labour have repeatedly shown that they are unwilling to do anything to actually build the homes that they promised (or many of their other promises), let alone do it in brownfields areas. National have shown that the do not care about housing affordability at all. We are going to continue to have sprawl because neither major party are going to actively build the homes we need anywhere else and anyone who isn’t doing that and stops sprawl is going to get voted out straight away.

          We’re in a really bad spot here unless Labour urgently start walking the walk.

        3. It’s a super bad spot. The NPS shows they kind of get it, but not the urgency around it. All well and good to have increased height limits around rapid transit corridors but borderline worthless if you’re going to take decades to actually build rapid transit in new areas that don’t already have access to some form of it.

          I understand the benefits of limiting greenfield growth but it absolutely cannot be a box-checking exercise done for PR value with no real plan to deal with the negative effects of it, which would fall predominantly on outer areas already struggling with intensification already motivated by already-high land values. It could go super wrong unless it’s done right – not that it’s an excuse to not do it at all, of course.

        4. “the infill will still happen where land is the cheapest”: it seems to be happening everywhere. And it doesn’t really matter where, density will always increase transport possibilities. Rail doesn’t really make a lot of sense in traditional NZ quarter acre subdivisions, but it will with more density.

        5. Yes. But trying to think of constructive ways forward.

          I think it’s right to say, for example, we shouldn’t fund that sprawl infra because we need the money to fund the intensification infra. Decisions that include both sides of the coin will lead to more homes being built than staying with sprawl.

          For example, we won’t fund the widening of SH1 down south because we need the money to convert some shitty arterial roads in South Auckland into multi modal tree-lined boulevards flanked by cycleable local streets, while upzoning the whole area and investing in turning the sad neighbourhood centres and town centres into great urban spaces.

          I think it works if each decision redirects effort and funding both “from sprawl” and “to liveable compact” projects.

        6. Sailor Boy: there seems to be a lot happening near us in Mt Roskill. Obviously plenty on state land but also almost any house that gets sold privately seems to be demolished and significantly intensified. And our suburb apparently has a low level of consents compared to many others, so there must be a lot more happening elsewhere.

  15. Person A says:
    “National agrees with Labour on the goal of zero emissions in our transport sector in the future, but we don’t support Kiwis being railroaded into a lifestyle that isn’t practical,”

    Person B somehow concludes the following:
    “The suggestion that the current state of things is somehow natural and ideal or we can’t change things is absurd. ”

    Meanwhile cars account for 11% of our emissions and have gone up an entire 3% since 2004. But rather than embracing electric technology which is becoming mainstream and will reduce this 11% to zero at the tailpipe it seems we should spend the next 20 years rebuilding our cities so that people can no travel to the beach/friends/family but rather remain within walking or cycling distance of their home and limit their driving to short distances which are the worst for emissions.

    Not too sure how this plan will work when personal flying cars become an option with the ability for people to live 200km from work.

    1. “it seems we should spend the next 20 years rebuilding our cities so that people can no travel to the beach/friends/family but rather remain within walking or cycling distance of their home and limit their driving to short distances which are the worst for emissions.”

      Where did you get this from? Who suggested this?

      1. “Where did you get this from? Who suggested this?”

        I’m guessing you didn’t read the post?

        “To achieve those targets it relies heavily on reducing car travel either through trips being avoided entirely from increases in things like working from home, or from mode shift to public transport or active modes.”

        1. Exactly, none of that suggests we wouldn’t be able to travel to see friends / family / beach or whatever. And none of it suggests we should increase short trips in cars. You’ve built this totally false argument in your head to combat.

          Also active modes transport works best when we have good PT links for medium to long distance. Which is exactly what this blog is pushing. RT system within Auckland, and Regional rail further out.

        2. Um, the entire post is about reducing trips and distance traveled.

          So it doesn’t want people driving 50km to go for a bush walk but doesn’t seem to care about someone driving 500m to drop their child off at school.

          Also, active modes and transport don’t take you everywhere. This weekend for example I drove from Papakura to Huia to go for a bush walk. In this future breng pushed, rather than this being a half day outing I would have needed to pay a fortune to get there and likely stayed the night in Huia like people used to do back in the 30s.

        3. The entire post is about reducing vehicle travel. This can be achieved by eliminating 50,000 people driving 1km to school or by eliminating 1000 people driving 50km for a bush walk.

          The article makes no mention of what trips should be eliminated, I’d focus on the former first as will have much greater health benefits.

        4. This is the same Richard who got banned a few weeks ago for this exact sort of strawman. Please don’t feed the troll.

        5. Jezza, in case you hadn’t noticed, the proposed changes make traveling 50km to go for a bush walk or 100km to visit family much harder, yet traveling 500m dropping your child off at school would be essentially the same.

          Sailor Boy: Yes I got banned once again because I said I liked trees and people like yourself got into a fit of rage about it calling it an “outrages claim”

        6. Great logic, twenty car trips a week for dropping kids at school so they don’t have to walk for six minutes must be constitutionally protected, because I drive to the other side of auckland once a year to walk in the bush a d otherwise I’ll be forced to ride a horse to a frontier tavern for the night.

    2. Their idea of a lifestyle that isn’t practical is in fact a lifestyle that is enjoyed in almost every other country in the world.
      I don’t think anyone is talking about banning cars, I imagine most Auckland households will have at least one car. But we could seriously reduce the amount of times we have to use it. Many of us want to walk our kids to school, get the train to work, etc. National do not want us to do that; never have, never will do.

      1. “Their idea of a lifestyle that isn’t practical is in fact a lifestyle that is enjoyed in almost every other country in the world.”

        You think people in almost every other country in the world don’t like being able to travel to all sorts of destinations with virtually zero constraints?

        “Many of us want to walk our kids to school, get the train to work,”
        Who’s stopping you doing that? Unless you’re rural walking your children to school should be very easy.

        Regarding taking a train to work, for many people in much of the city this should be rather easy.

        “National do not want us to do that; never have, never will do.”
        How do you conclude this? Do you think they agreed to pay for half the CRL to try and stop people taking the train to work?

        1. They agreed to the CRL only as they thought it was losing too many votes not to. Before that they really didn’t like the idea at all.
          I can walk my kid to school but it doesn’t feel that safe. No way would I let her walk by herself like I was able to at her age.
          Yes other countries do enjoy no constraints. We are the ones with the constraints- try riding a bike or crossing a busy road. Getting around is actually much easier in the likes of London or Tokyo despite much bigger populations.

        2. “No way would I let her walk by herself like I was able to at her age.”
          This is likely more of a changed perception in safety, it’s also the very parents driving their kids to school complaining that it’s not safe that are making it unsafe.

          “Getting around is actually much easier in the likes of London”
          So if someone lives in Harefield by London and wants to visit their friend in Little Gaddesden by London you think the average person in the UK would prefer 2 hours on a bike or 2hrs on PT as opposed to 30mins in a car?

          “despite much bigger populations”
          What do you mean by “despite”, larger populations make PT more viable, hence more likely to exist and easier to use. If Auckland had a population of 10 million there would likely already be a rail line going to Orewa.

        3. Auckland’s stats on walking safety are diabolical. As for biking, well.

          This mitch puts every mother I know off commenting on GA because he tries to mansplain over the valid fears we have for our children.

        4. This guy is just a troll. Apparently been lurking here for years just arguing with everyone for fun and crying about persecution and freedom of speech when people call him out for being a dick.

          For the record there are 2.5 times more cars on Aucklands streets than there was in 1980. It’s not a safety ‘perception’, it’s actually much worse in reality.

    3. Lol. Personal flying cars. Because if there’s a way to use even more energy and create more inequity and take another dimension… well hey, that’s just progress, I suppose. Technology and all that jazz.

      “it seems we should spend the next 20 years rebuilding our cities so that people” can live better lives and connect with their neighbours and not be made sick. Fixed that for you.

      Not sure what drugs you’re on if you think rebuilding our cities after these decades of car focus isn’t necessary.

      Commenting in a challenging way on a blog that *is* about building a better city can be helpful but not if it’s simply technology worship or ignores there’s a need to change.

      1. “can live better lives and connect with their neighbours and not be made sick.”
        What’s stopping your connecting with your neighbours currently and what’s making you sick?

        “Lol. Personal flying cars. Because if there’s a way to use even more energy and create more inequity and take another dimension”
        I agree with you there, however its something that is coming and we will likely see wealthy folk flying around in autonomous flying cars to a far greater degree than we do helicopters today.

        “simply technology worship or ignores there’s a need to change.”
        Pointing out technology that is coming or already here is worshipping, and you 1st need to identify the problem to determine the need for change. In 30 years time car travel will be near zero emissions therefore that clearly isn’t the problem and so making it so people can no longer drive 50km to go for a bush walk isn’t hardly making the world a better place.

        Note that this entire post is about attacking a National MP because he essentially said you don’t have to kill car transport to reduce emissions or make our cities better.

        1. Motordom is what’s stopping people from connecting with their neighbours and making them sick. Noise, fumes, danger, severance.

          Any technology only comes to Aotearoa if we legislate to allow it. Cities have chosen not to allow Streetview, and others have chosen not to allow Uber. We have choices. We are not punching bags. Refusing to accept these choices is technology worship.

          Car travel will never be near zero emissions as car manufacturing and road construction will never be near zero emissions.

          The quote from Woodhouse treats driving children to school as if it’s normal practice. It isn’t. And he doesn’t understand why you’d want to halve the number of cars on the road. That’s because he doesn’t understand the negative effects of so many cars. That’s ignorant. It ignores evidence. The quote needed criticising.

        2. Caitlin W, strange. I successfully comment with my neighbours and we have various community events. The only issue we’ve had with “noise, fumes & danger” are the trouble makers on their motorbikes driving on footpaths and tearing up our sports fields. Severance wise, railways and busways are worse than standard roads.

          “Car travel will never be near zero emissions as car manufacturing and road construction will never be near zero emissions.”
          Just like every other mode of travel.

          “The quote from Woodhouse treats driving children to school as if it’s normal practice.”
          This is one fault, too many parents drive their kids to school and from my observation the greatest risk to kids walking and cycling to school is other parents dropping of their own kids.

    4. You seem to have gotten it completely around the wrong way. In your “rebuilding our cities” somehow the long trips for which the car works well are eliminated, but the short trips (“driving short distances”) remain.

      This is not how it works. Insted, those frequent, short, driving trips are eliminated (except where necessary ofcourse!) by replacing with cycling/scooting/walking. We leave the infrequent longer trips for which the car is suited.

      This gets directly at the nonsense of Woodhouse’s comment. Imagine thinking that dropping the kids at school by private vehicle was somehow a lifestyle that folk would want to keep!

      1. Let’s think about what people are proposing. They’re talking about taxing distance traveled and taxing going into the central city or taxing getting on the motorway. They’re also reducing carriageway capacity, reducing speed limits and putting speed bumps everywhere.

        If someone is driving 500m to 2km to drop their child off at school or buy an icecream none of those things will be an issue. Try driving 50 to 100km however and your trip will take 3 hours rather than 30mins, you will use 3 times as much gas and pay an extra $20 in some special tax on top of the increased tax from being forced to use more fuel.

        So yes you are stopping people driving, but you’re also stopping them living a life.

        Note: I am not saying transport for other modes shouldn’t be improved.

        1. “Note: I am not saying transport for other modes shouldn’t be improved.“
          How about improving alternate modes by using former space for cars? Do you support that? Just trying to see where your line is.

          I also directly disagree with this claim. “ If someone is driving 500m to 2km to drop their child off at school or buy an icecream none of those things will be an issue. Try driving 50 to 100km however and your trip will take 3 hours rather than 30mins……”

          Reducing carriageway speed, adding speed bumps, and reducing carriageway capacity are for the most part targeted towards local streets, and have a disproportionate effect on local trips compared to regional trips. So will disproportionately decrease local car trips (which are easily replaced with alternate / active modes) compared to long car distances. (The exception being the reduction in rural highways recently, this does however increase both fuel efficiency, and safety, while is only a 20% time hit.)

          Depending on how exactly the “motorway tax” is implemented will determine if it applies in either category. I do hope they get it right. More of a cordon style, and it is a “congestion charge” so will not apply off peak.

          Fuel taxes hurt local trips more than regional trips again, because cars are more efficient at 80km/h than 30km/h.

          I do agree with you, that we shouldn’t seriously decrease many peoples quality of life. That’s bad, but the good news is we don’t have to while still reducing VKT heavily (as evidenced overseas) And your exaggerated straw man in your mind of 3 hr 50km trips is false.

      2. Jonathan – This what NZ’s major cities were like up to the late 1950’s before the great American car based urban sprawl became the norm.

        1. Talk to your parents and grandparents and ask them how long it took them to get from where they lived to everywhere else.

          When my mum was a child my grandparents lived in St Heliers, they had a batch in Hatfields Beach, to go there in the 50’s with the kids it took most of the day. Even when the bridge was opened it was still a 2 hour drive.

    5. We’re certainly showing no progress to “zero at the tailpipe”. Ford Ranger still the top selling important in NZ for all our urban warriors, and EV sales declining as a % for the last 18 months.

  16. If NZTA and AT want to encourage PT and kicking the car habit, perhaps they could explain why they just killed off the Westgate bus interchange.

    1. We had an AT guy at our kids school trying to encourage people to walk and cycle. Seemed very hypocritical when the short no exit street to our school has a 50km/hr speed limit, no speed bumps, the footpaths are falling to bits, and you have to cross a busy road at the end at a crossing that people don’t bother to stop at. None of those issues would cost much to fix, but it is easier just to employ a guy and say hey at least we tried.

    2. Do you have a source for this? AT’s website say they are still working on designing the interim stations.

      1. They sent out a note on the GETS website today stating the “postponement” but giving no expected date.

    1. I am on the East Coast where there are currently communities at risk of coastal flooding due to climate change; and the most important thing is whether you can continue to drive everywhere – good on yer!

        1. Jeez, mention anything about cars and the trolls crawl out from their bridge under the motorway junction, presumably where they are enjoying their great bio diversity.

        2. It is a fact of life in Auckland though.

          Just imagine for a moment that you’re not used to having a car. Then someone picks you up with a car and brings you to somewhere a few kilometres away.

          With PT it is quite likely that would have involved something like 10 minutes walking to a bus stop, 20 minutes waiting for a bus, then 15 minutes on a bus, then 10 minutes walking to where you want to go.

          Now this guy turns up with a car and brings you there in 10 minutes. It is almost as good as teleportation.

          Now it is not really a problem if cars are awesome. The problem is that anything else at best really sucks, and at worst is completely unworkable.

        3. “Now it is not really a problem if cars are awesome. The problem is that anything else at best really sucks, and at worst is completely unworkable.”

          As an owner of 2 awesome cars myself, that’s the issue.

        4. Just cause everything else is a bit rubbish doesn’t mean cars are any less awesome. They’re one of our best inventions.
          Stupid and irrelevant comparisons with smoking isn’t going to change that.

      1. If you live on the East Coast then you know that life without a vehicle would be pretty difficult. You’re not going to be affected by any of these proposals.

  17. I think in order to make these changes more easily accepted the public opinion on these changes should somehow be changed. I bet many would consider not driving a car and/or moving from house to apartment as a significant drop in their life quality.

    I should admit that when I immigrated to New Zealand in my early twenties many years ago the cost and ease of owning a car and possibility of living in the house were primary drivers of my desire to move here. Ironically I never lived in a house in New Zealand and I was actively driving a car for only the first three months in the country. The number of kilometres I drive was dropping year to year and my car now sometimes parked for 40 days in a row.

    Also I’d say that alternative modes are more and more accepted by the public. Four-five years ago we had zero bicycles parked in the office, and currently we have five to seven bicycles or scooters parked and quite a few people working from home.

    What I’m trying to say is that the change is achievable but it should be done in such a way that people don’t feel like they were thrown into poverty otherwise these changes will be actively opposed.

  18. What about parking?

    Almost all trips involve a car going from one point and stopping at another point. Cheap or free parking induces driving in the same way roads do. Arguably more so. The climate action groups should be taking AT to Court over a failure to implement their parking policy.

    Quick wins for me –
    – Implement Paid Parking in all town centres (including Donald Schoup’s prinicple of hypothecation to pay for cycle ways etc.
    – Charge residential parking permits based on the cost of the underlying land. It is ludicrous that we charge Herne Bay millionaires $70 a year to park their 3rd or 4th car on the street. That space is totally undervalued and could be re-utilised for something else (like a cycle lane).
    – Impose parking levies on all parking spaces.

    1. Ernie
      All good practical ideas that won’t tear apart the fabric of society, but will move Auckland incrementally to change.

  19. I think it’s too much speak about climate. New Zealand contributes about 0.01% of global emissions and as far as I know there’s no responsibility for failing with Paris Agreement implementation. Therefore it absolutely does not matter what New Zealand government does or does not.

    The only valid reason to change streets is a comfort of citizens. Diesel busses stink – they’d better go. Some would prefer to cycle – here’s a cycleway. But please no finitism to “save the nature”.

    1. a) For example, the average Chinese citizen emits far less co2 than the average kiwi, why should they accept change when we don’t and pollute far more per person. The many sacrificing while a few don’t because adding them up arbitrarily based on country makes it look better for nz?

      b) I agree the target of our arguments should be more broad. EG: we could seriously decrease the cost of our infrastructure maintenance, and build out, by building more efficient systems, like bike paths and dense PT. That would allow us to have more resources available to either provide better transit, or spend the money elsewhere like healthcare, (or reduce tax).

      1. According to New Zealand standards of living average Chinese citizen lives in absolute poverty that’s why they don’t averagely emit much, not because they sacrifice something to save nature.

    2. That would be true if the rest of the world was doing nothing, which they’re not. If we do nothing we will end up being left behind.

  20. The NZ Infrastructure Commission survey, also had the following responses –

    – 69% answered it was very important/important – it was hard to access certain parts of country by air, road and rail

    – 86% answered it was very important/important – it was hard to use public transport in certain areas

    – 91% wanted improved public transport options

    These responses show the current regionalisation and commercialisation of ‘turn up & go’ public transport planning, funding and procurement is not giving value for money to rate/tax payers, to current and potential users of public transport and gives little incentive for people to stop using their cars.

    The responses do confirm that the way of current ‘turn up & go’ public transport across the country is planned, funded and procured needs to have a shake up by taking all public transport policy and planning away from NZTA and incorporated into a ‘not for profit’ national public transport agency – a state entity under the Ministry of Transport to plan, funded and procure public transport services in association with the agency’s city, district and regional council partners to operate a national low carbon national urban, semi rural, rural, regional and inter-regional integrated bus, rail and ferry ‘turn & go’ public transport network with its own ‘open’ national ‘tap & travel’ payment/ticketing, travel/timetable website and smartphone app covering all 16 regions.

  21. And no matter how awesome we think cars are, they are also the source of numerous issues that need addressing. They are not immune from consequences. As drivers, we are all going to have to face up to that, eventually.

    “Awesomeness” is not an excuse to do nothing.

  22. ” This works out at about the same number of trips per day as there were cars in all of New Zealand at the time. Interestingly Stats NZ Yearbooks from the time show that fare revenue was actually covering the cost of operations and typically covering capital costs too yet it was still ripped out. Meanwhile millions were being invested in roads with fuel taxes covering only about one third of costs.”

    That’s where we need to go! But to get there we also need to have the journey by PT to be an advantage over using our own little vehicle. (There seems to be a massive increase in large SUV’s recently). In order to change this we could : 1 Prioritise PT, and where it doesn;t have it’s own lane make giving way to the turning PT compulsory so that buses can get of bus stops more readily and have a greater chance of maintaining the schedule. 2 Add emissions test at WOF time so that the vehicle being tested pays for the emissions over the last periods KM’s travelled (the charge going to the PT funding).

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