Header image: A Chris Slane cartoon from 2001.

This post was co-authored by Heidi, Jolisa and Marita.

In our last two posts we’ve mentioned the Transport Emissions Reduction Plan (the TERP).

This plan was requested by Councillors because they were being asked to endorse a Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP) which failed to meet Council’s own plan for transport emissions reductions. And that work is now getting underway: last week, staff from Auckland Council, Auckland Transport, and members of AT’s Board presented the draft approach and governance structure for the TERP. Council approved the establishment of a new Transport Emissions Reference Group (the TERG) which will direct staff in the preparation of the TERP.

Which is great, but if the number of verbs in this announcement – establish, develop, help – are anything to go by, the plan seems to be missing an element of immediacy. Can we get straight to “achieve” – boldly?

A climate emergency, and the months keep slipping by

It’s good to see work underway that will likely challenge the lack of ambition in the RLTP. But where’s the urgency?

Will the TERP resolve the concerns held by councillors, and advocates, and the public? Some encouraging ideas were floated in last week’s presentation, and it seems like there could be increasing acknowledgement of the need to pivot from BAU transport solutions.

But the draft TERP will be released in mid-2022. That’s a year away. So let’s look at a bit of history.

We’ve had a Low Carbon Strategic Action Plan since 2014, which had specific targets that Auckland Council and Auckland Transport should have been geared up to achieve:

Note, amongst other measures, the vehicle km travelled (VKT) targets. In the base year, 2006, Aucklanders travelled 8850 km per person.
  • The 10% reduction by 2020 means the number should’ve come down to 7965 km per person. Instead, MoT stats show that in 2019, Aucklanders travelled 9245 km/person. – that’s 16% above the target!
  • The 20% reduction by 2030 means the number should go down to 7080 km per person by the end of the decade. Instead, the RLTP was approved even though it worked on the assumption that vehicle travel would “increase in line with population growth”

Imagine how much easier our climate challenges would be today… if Council had set in place mechanisms to track those targets from 2014, and ensure they were achieved. … If Councillors had faced the “hard decisions” before now, for the benefit of all.

Instead, the city ploughed on with road building for sprawl.

And squabbled over carparks.

It is no wonder that the RLTP – Auckland Transport’s 10-year, $37 billion investment plan – is being legally challenged by a coalition of advocates. The need to reduce vehicle travel has been in the plans since at least 2014 – with numbers for easy governance tracking.

Continuing with the history:

  • Auckland Council declared a Climate Emergency in June 2019 – over two years ago
  • Auckland Council adopted Auckland’s Climate Plan Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri in July 2020 – over one year ago
  • Auckland Transport adopted an RLTP in June 2021 – that failed to follow Auckland’s Climate Plan Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri
  • Auckland Council and Auckland Transport then decided on the approach and governance structure for the TERP in August 2021

So when will the actual action happen? Auckland Council and Auckland Transport don’t expect to endorse a pathway until the second quarter of 2022 – which will be three years after declaring an emergency.

But wait, there’s more:

61. Once endorsed, implementing the TERP will require change across a broad range of central and local government planning and investment processes. Other additional tools may also be needed to assist Aucklanders and Auckland businesses to change their travel behaviour.

62. Other strategies and policies will need to be developed or refreshed to guide implementation of the actions. For example, a transport equity strategy may be an effective way to ensure that transport decarbonisation interventions are delivered in a just manner, or the Development Strategy may need to be adjusted to give effect to the pathway.

88. There will likely be significant financial implications for the council group once the project moves into implementation phase from 2022. The project will recommend substantial investment in a range of interventions to influence travel behaviour. Further work will need to be undertaken to determine the specific projects and programmes required, and their funding arrangements. Delivery of the chosen pathway will be implemented through various funding processes for actions that relate to the council group.

It’s hard to see tangible bike lanes, electric buses, and a 15-minute city lifestyle emerge from these plans, processes, strategies and policies. That’s not to say they’re bad plans – a transport equity strategy, for example, sounds like a very good thing.

Cartoon from twitter user @tveitdal

Organic planning: learning by doing

On Friday, in Waka Kotahi’s series on Sparking Transitions to Sustainability, Professor Jan Rotmans from Rotterdam said:

Transitions require planning, but not classical planning, more organic planning, with moving targets and continuous adjustments based on what you learn.

In other words, ‘better good and now than perfect and never.’

The Climate Emergency declaration in 2019 was the moment to embrace a ‘transition planning’ approach. Had Council started transition planning then, it would be well-practised at it now – and this TERP would be powerfully different, and instantly effective.

That’s because transition planning lets you do two things at once: make change right now, while also planning for the future. You get started on achievable targeted actions straight away, and monitor them to inform your broader, long term planning.

Our message to Council and AT is: you can still do this.

There are a lot of ideas and projects to choose from within the planning that already exists. Preparation of the TERP does not mean the actions in Auckland’s Climate Plan Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri – which has already been approved and widely consulted-upon – should go on ice. You know the feedback for the RLTP was that there needed to be more focus on climate action and sustainable transport options. You have the mandate for change.

There are 27 pages of charts of action like this in Auckland’s Climate Plan Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri. Four of them are specifically about transport and several others impact transport emissions. Take your pick – what would you do, today?

The actions are described by things like the degree to which they reduce greenhouse gas emissions, address climate risks, and the timeframe in which they should be implemented.

For example under ‘Action T2: Changing the way we travel’, one sub-action is Encourage the use of public transport, walking and micro-mobility devices, rather than driving. It ticks the boxes for additional social, environmental and economic benefits, and is to be delivered in both the near-term (next 1-3 years) and the medium-term (by 2030). When does the near-term start? How about now? Because we know every day, month, year of delay will compound the long-term effect of emissions, and only makes it harder to catch up to where we should be.

A transition planning approach could actually empower the TERP. It would be a kind of ‘learning-by-doing strategy’ which would, through gathering on-the-ground evidence, strengthen the ultimate recommendations that the plan will provide – and getting projects underway will build momentum to push the plan forward once it’s released.

The ‘hard decisions’ problem

Some councillors indicated they are worried about having to make “hard decisions”. Yet these politicians have been facing these same decisions for years. Are they ‘hard’? They are just decisions about providing equity, and safety, and transport choice. They’re just decisions about using our resources more wisely and leaving our children with less debt. Hard decisions? These are simply ethical decisions. Our emissions have risen – and we have a safety crisis – because politicians have been facing these same decisions – and choosing the wrong answers.

There are glimmers of light, including Council pushback on continued misinformation from AT, though the TERG will need to set up a process for dealing with these many problems systematically, and in real time. And well-crafted encouragement for people and households making low-carbon choices and pledging to do their part.

A more modern governance structure would’ve lessened this “hard decisions” pressure on councillors. The citizen participation approach used in Barcelona is one option of many. And the recent work on deliberative democracy would suggest that at the very least, if the TERG does fully upskill its members to the level needed to make these decisions, they shouldn’t be simply a “reference group”. Referring decisions back to a group of councillors or AT Board members who have not spent the effort and time to become fully informed about the subject is simply a way to retain the status quo.

‘Hard decisions’ should also be tackled as a communications and engagement task. Surveys and public feedback tell us people are not just ready, but hungry for ways to make a difference, and they want to tackle climate change at the local level. An IAG 2018-2021 climate change survey found that:

  • 69% of respondents are prepared to take action to reduce the personal impact of climate change… but less than a third feel they have the necessary information to do so.
  • 74% say council should use funds to help build infrastructure to reduce the impacts of climate change.

Last Friday, on Bernard Hickey’s podcast When the Facts Change, researcher Jess Berentson-Shaw spoke about research she’s done into how people feel about climate change. She said:

Honestly, I think what we see in the research is that most people do care about this stuff. They do want to do something. [But] they feel quite fatalistic about it. They feel like the people with the power mechanisms to do something aren’t doing anything.

So how do we point to the people with the biggest levers in the system? And then how do we  make people feel like there is actually some hope that those people will do something about it?

When politicians talk about the ‘hard decisions’ that must be made to reduce our emissions, they set up a negative narrative that needs to be critiqued.

The conversation is directed in the wrong place. We often talk about what individuals need to do, and the pain that people need experience in order to put in place the cuts and policies that will work.

So is it possible to flip the narrative? Can those ‘hard decisions’ instead be ‘opportunities for positive change’? Berentson-Shaw talked about a hypothetical mum living in Porirua, with expensive rental housing and two jobs that require her to spend long hours in the car. If we can improve the system to meet her needs, the system will work for everybody – except, perhaps, for the one or two percent who benefit from the status quo.

How do you build a shared vision for people? A big part of gaining support for the types of changes we need in [for example] transport is ensuring that people who don’t identify as cyclists feel like there’s room for them in the movement. A big part of that is the narratives. How do we talk about the kind of city we’re trying to build?

The Government’s Covid-19 communications strategy has been lauded across the world for its role in our successful response to that particular emergency. The majority of New Zealanders feel like they understand the reasons for the protection measures that we have, because they have been explained clearly, carefully and respectfully. When we went into one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, people understood what we were trying to achieve, and that it would benefit our entire community.

The next emergency is right in front of us. We need more urgency from those with the power to shift the context in which we make choices. The clock is ticking.

And this TERP will only be effective if it involves immediate action.

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  1. Honestly, there just need to be some solid rules brought in for transport projects.

    Basically, you cannot consider or even mention the following factors when proposing a transport project:

    – Loss of on-street parking
    – Loss of centre median
    – Reduction of vehicle flow
    – Reduction of light phasing for cars

    These should be struck from any report and never be allowed to be brought up

    1. Yes.

      Also you must consider and mention how the project delivers improved outcomes for people walking, cycling and taking public transport.

  2. Good post on endless delay.
    Here is a little more history on our commitment to reducing Transport Emissions. It is from Hamilton 1999 Bike plan.

    In an international context, The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted in 1992 at Rio de Janeiro and came into force in March 1994. The UNFCCC required New Zealand to aim to ‘return greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2000’. In 1998 New Zealand signed the Kyoto Protocol; under this protocol, New Zealand’s commitment was not to exceed 1990 greenhouse gas emission levels, on average, during 2008-2012. “The transport section is the greatest single contributor to CO2 emission (37% in 1997)” [47% in 2018]

    Here is link to image of original text

  3. Change can be immediate. Enforcement. Charging for parking. Checking all projects proposed build the cycling network.

    I’m most concerned about the governance problem. You’re right – the same committees are going to keep making the same decisions. Just further on – this just kicks the can down the road.

    1. Derek, absolutely right. Parking prices could increase tomorrow.

      It’s bizarre that every year when AT increase PT prices that affect the poorest members of society no regard seems to be given to equity.
      Conversely, when parking charges remain the same year after year, again no regard is given to equity. Increasing parking charges would generate revenue, directly and indirectly, to improve other modes.

  4. I was hopeful until the point where Councillor Coom brought up the misinformation. The response suggested the AT Board members think they can unearth the problems during a talkfest. That’s not going to happen.

    “the TERG will need to set up a process for dealing with these many problems systematically, and in real time.” – best line in the post.

  5. You are 100% right that coming from a negative perspective (“hard decisions”) is wrong. There is plenty of research about thr benefits of coming from the positive strength based viewpoint (“appreciative inquiry”).

    1. Here’s the list so far:

      i) the chair and deputy chair of the Environment and Climate Change Committee (Richard Hills and Pippa Coom)

      ii) the chair and deputy chair of the Planning Committee (Chris Darby and Josephine Bartley)

      iii) the chair and deputy chair of the CCO Oversight Committee (Bill Cashmore and Angela Dalton)

      iv) the chair and deputy chair of the Independent Māori Statutory Board (David Taipari and Tau Henare)

      v) two members of the Mana Whenua Kaitiaki Forum

      vii) up to three members of the Auckland Transport Board (Wayne Donnelly and Abbie Reynolds and ?)

      One thing we didn’t mention was that the Climate Plan committed to being rangatahi-led.

        1. Actually the final minutes show that this has changed. For (i) to (iv) it now says “the chair or deputy chair (as alternate) of the…”

          I assume this means that they can alternate between them – which now makes it very hard to have hope. This upskilling process requires consistent attendance by the same people.

    1. The climate plan laid out a raft of measures to bring down emissions, and specified a 12% drop in total VKT. I think that’s based on 2018 levels (but I’m not 100% sure), so I can’t do a direct comparison. They should be aiming for more reductions, for the sake of resilience. My own calculations suggest the VKT needs to drop more than this.

      The point is, though, that if the 10% reduction had been achieved, instead of the increase we’ve seen, our task would be easier.

  6. All this is good stuff but in the end people need to change. The other day I was standing at the pedestrian crossing between Manukau railway station and the Bus Station a women early twenties asked me where is Lambie drive. I said its just through the park (Hayman Park). Her face fell just about down to her waist. I said its only 5 mins walk. She walked away and started talking on her phone. I didn’t get a chance to tell her she could catch a bus.
    Another time on the airport bus there was a women mid 30’s who was trying to get to Rotorua. On and off her phone to Intercity but there was no problem she had plenty of time to catch the 1.00 pm bus. She was just about crying and announced to everyone that she couldn’t wait to get home and get her car back.
    So two example to lazy to walk to lazy to think. Both had phones google maps is a great tool.

    1. To be fair a 5 minute walk is a pretty bleak prospect in most of Auckland.

      The thing you learn from the other story is that trying to get around by bus is a soul destroying experience for many people.

        1. There are too many reasons to list but here are a few.

          – Often too narrow to meet AT’s own design standards.
          – Dirty, slippery, covered in broken glass or other debris because AT doesn’t clean them.
          – Uneven, cracked and damaged because AT doesn’t maintain them.
          – Having to compete for use with bikes and scooters because they don’t have any safe infrastructure of their own.
          – Frequent incidence of driveways where drivers behave like they have right of way (they don’t).
          – Often inaccessible if you have disabilities.

          – Have to cross 4-6 lanes of traffic at each major intersection.
          – Have to wait minutes at each signalised intersection then get given half as much light time as is necessary to safely cross.
          – Have to wait minutes at each roundabout for a gap that is sufficiently safe to cross.
          – All of the above is even worse at intersections which (often) have missing legs, sliplanes and missing drop-down kerbs.

      1. +1

        The Manukau town centre is an island of walkability in a hostile sea of massive multi-lane arterial roads (Lambie Dr, Ronwood Ave, Great South Rd and Manukau Station Rd, to say nothing of the motorways).

      2. My point is there were two easy journey’s which were for some reason too hard. If you can’t live in the big city go and live in Geraldine. The state of the footpaths and four lane arterials doesn’t help but people can’t expect to be spoon fed. For me driving round and round in circles searching for parking is a good reason to take public transport and not having to drive between Manukau and Rotorua is a good reason to take a bus. However others think otherwise. I don’t suppose we should force them.

        1. The bigger picture is that the system has shaped what people think their choices are, I suppose. It is sad. I see the same as you, and it’s important to try not to be annoyed at people but just realise they’re responding to cues; advertising, what the neighbours do, what their friends say, whether parking is easy – it all impacts people’s decisions.

          The best behaviour change research shows what changes peoples’ perceptions. The worst assumes all you need to do is change peoples’ perceptions. An effective way forward is to improve the infrastructure and regulations, and keep monitoring why people change their habits, and why others don’t. Then build off that knowledge. Unfortunately AT stopped the excellent, ongoing research being undertaken along these lines after they disbanded the Walking, Cycling and Safety team. One of the most stupid decisions ever.

        2. Doesn’t seem so for me.

          You walk through that park to Lambie Drive. And then what? What if she had to be on the far side of that roundabout? You want to cross that on foot? Buses, same problem, your stop is often on the wrong side of some big arterial.

          The problem with an Intercity bus is that you have to book in advance. So if you’re 5 minutes late your journey disappears. Now if you’re sitting on another bus. Will it get stuck in a queue? Is it still going to make that tiki tour? A 30 minute delay is completely trivial to PT users. You have no idea whether you’ll make your connection or not until you arrive. That is what makes it so stressful.

    2. It is partly about changing people’s attitudes to walking and exercise. I’ve been doing some work in the regions (e.g. the Hutt Valley) and all the people there talk about is carparking and avoiding exercise. They need to be persuaded that a 5 minute walk is good for them, and a 15 minute walk would be even better, rather than thinking they’re having a good day when there is a carpark right outside their office.

  7. Of course the best place to start is to put all current roading projects on ice,so that further emissions aren’t built in. The narrative that funding is approved,etc, doesn’t wash anymore . Stop the rot, first ,this will also focus the wider public that change is coming, and soften opposition, hard to oppose something that isn’t happening.

    That there is no current plan for VKT, emissions reduction is “disappointing “, no leadership from AT,and no direction from council, though encouraged by push back from some councillors.

  8. I don’t think there is a positive way to present climate action. Perhaps we would do better to focus on opportunity costs in a broader sense of utility rather than as a dollar value. We should we expect a hypothetical mother in Porirua with two jobs to give up her car and face the burden of other modes at inconvenient hours when it would be far easier for Fontera to stop using coal to dry their milk. All they forego is some profit. We urgently need to include heavy industry in the ETS and farming as full members of our society, not as special cases with sweetheart deals to pollute.

    1. I strongly disagree. The deficiencies in the current system need fixing, and doing so will improve lives while bringing emissions down.

      The transport system we should have been building while we’ve wasted money on motorway and intersection widening, is still available to us. We just need to be careful to focus on liveability, safety and access, and on reducing traffic volumes.

      1. “The deficiencies in the current system need fixing, and doing so will improve lives while bringing emissions down.”
        Heidi my view is yes, no and no. The current system has problems but we have no basis to think getting people to stop using cars is going to improve their life nor do we have any basis to think spending money trying will decrease emissions. That is all hope.
        Governments are all good at promising jam tomorrow. But climate action involves selling a nasty medicine to unwilling people. There is only so much political capital available so it is better spent doing things we are certain will decrease emissions. Not burning coal is a good start. Or at least penalising coal for industry that can change means they will change, and the rest like steel, pay for others to change. Spending money on infrastructure in the hope of lowering emissions might decrease them a bit or it might even increase emissions if we end up with old cars stuck in longer queues. If we just annoy people they will vote for a government that does what they want instead.

        1. We can have good decisions around coal and good decisions about transport planning. We have evidence that when people have a real choice to shift modes from driving to active and public transport many will, and we have evidence that doing so improves their lives. We have evidence that investing in the right stuff will decrease emissions. Lordy lordy. I know you don’t put any store in social research for the “improving lives” part of this, but you don’t seem to be reading plain transport research either.

        2. Transport makes up most of the Auckland region’s carbon emissions. Coal, not so much.

          It sounds quite like the argument than NZ should do nothing because we are insignificant. That we can wait for someone else to do the work. That they will let us do that without consequences.

        3. It depends what you hope to achieve. If it is to reduce emissions and perhaps even become carbon neutral one day then you look for the easiest path. That might be making heavy industry and farming reduce their impact by including them on the same basis and everyone else. Alternatively if your goal is to change transport and you are happy alienate thousands of people then you might choose to pay a lot for small reductions. But let’s not pretend we are improving the life of our hypothetical friend in Porirua. That is A-grade BS.

        4. Miffy, why will “changing transport. . . alienate thousands of people”? Other cities in more enlightened parts of the world have managed to make significant and effective changes in their transport strategy, delivering improved outcomes that just about everyone supports. The trick is not to be spooked by the noisy opposition from a minority of doom-mongers whose aim is to spread misinformation and sabotage any move away from car-dependency. These ‘anti-quaxxers’ generally go quiet and crawl away once the thing they opposed has proved to be a success.

    2. Miffy
      here are some of the positives of taking climate action:
      1) our sources of water are likely to be more reliable because there are less droughts
      2) because of the above our food supply is more secure
      3) if we cut emissions by reducing cow numbers then we have more water available for horticulture
      4) if we cut emissions by reducing cow numbers then we have better water quality in our waterways
      5) if we cut emissions by reducing cow numbers then we have better health outcomes because heart disease, amongst other things is decreased
      6) With better health outcomes our health system won’t be an increasing burden on our economy
      7) less cars will make for cleaner, safer cities and a more affordable public transport system
      8) for some countries climate action may avert the spectacle of mass migration
      9) Insurance costs won’t blow out as we address one adverse weather event after another’ build sea walls and relocate property
      10) Taking a longer term perspective, avoiding a sea level rise of anywhere between 0.5m and 2.0m will be helpful for many – even the “baches” at Omaha.

      Is it persuasive? For a very significant number, their actions suggest not. The 10 minutes extra on the bus is too much of a sacrifice; as it seems are bleak streets (I don’t enjoy walking on Esmonde Road, but I get over it); and for some forgoing the joy of travelling.

      The only certainty is that we will pay a larger price by doing nothing than doing something. Let’s hope our wallets are big enough. They don’t seem to be in Ashburton, or on the Coast.

      1. I think there is a strong mandate to do something about climate change. But that strong mandate melts when we ask people to make their lives significantly more difficult. So my view is we optimise the reductions for any given level of spending while making sure the costs fall on those best placed to afford them. Reconfiguring roads would be well down the list of things to do as a climate change solution. We could make Esmonde Rd 2 lanes tomorrow and it wouldn’t reduce emissions by even one jot. The queue would just extend back further, delay to those crossing the bridge would increase a bit but a lot more people further back would be adversely impacted. Transport accounts for a lot of emissions but there isn’t much the Council can do about that except a road pricing scheme and that isn’t even their call. The simple truth is the Council doesn’t make the emissions and cant reduce them much. They can make things worse, but I dont see any other practical way the Council can make things better. You have to change the behaviour of the actual emitters and taking out lanes isn’t going to do that. The TERP is a bunch of people trying to demonstrate leadership in an area they have very little influence over. Pissing people off isn’t going to reduce emissions, including all emitters into the ETS and allowing the carbon price to increase will reduce emissions.

        1. Yeah, I think we can see that pissing people off hasn’t reduced emissions… but I reckon trying a different way to piss people off can’t do any harm.

  9. We should we expect a hypothetical mother in Porirua with two jobs to give up her car and face the burden of other modes at inconvenient hours when…

    (I presume you mean “Should we”)

    Miffy, do you genuinely not think we could have an urban environment where the other modes presented are just as good as this persons current transport?

    1. Yes, if we have the planning skill to…

      *looks at Porirua on satellite view*


      I mean, you’d think given the geographical constraints over there that new subdivisions would look different from, say, Millwater, but they don’t.

    2. Sorry and to your question -maybe if we spend a small fortune on a rail system and they are lucky enough to have two jobs on the rail route, otherwise no. For most people with multiple destinations and a need to collect kids the car will always win out in cost vs convenience. But more to the point spending all of that money to create PT nirvana isn’t a practical way to fight climate change. The high expense isn’t justified by the small reductions in CO2. We need to target emissions that can be reduced easily, that includes heavy industry and farming which currently are excluded on the dubious grounds that it would cost them money.

      The big problem with climate action is people knowingly or unwittingly divert attention away from practical steps to expensive stuff like the Government buying ev’s to replace a small number of trips. If carbon is worth $50/tonne then that is what we should be paying to reduce it, not hundreds per tonne or in some cases over $1k.

      1. Both heavy industry and agriculture are likely to capital strike:
        Heavy industry could offshore to a jurisdiction without a carbon price;

        Farmers think they’re the backbone of the country. That immobility makes it so much easier to target them, you would think. However, Kevin Rudd got rolled by the miners and Murdoch in Oz when her demanded more of them.

        The smarter farmers will realize that climate free-loading will be exploited by their competitors for foreign markets. They will be excluded from the EU at the very least.

        So there is hope…

        1. Miffy
          and yet you know from all the examples on this thread of cities that have really changed modeshare. Some are extreme examples that have withstood litigation. Milan and London’s congestion free zones were both challenged and survived. Vienna is in the process of moving from 26% car mode share to 20% by 2025. Undoubtedly some people will be pissed off, but they realise the importance of it. Vienna continues to change even though it now has a right wing government.
          I share your view about TERP. Two of the committee members seem to have collectively influenced the removal of 2 car parks in the current scheme under their noses in Takapuna. My guess is that the collective achievement of the group might be, over five years: bus fares only go up once a year; parking fees only go up once; we get one extra shared street; and they hope to delivery another km of bike lanes in year 6.

  10. Another measure in the 2014 Low Carbon Strategic Action Plan chart is public transport ridership by 2020 of 73 trips per person. We’re at about 62 (if the larger urban area is used, which it probably was) or 67 if it was not.

    Again, if we had achieved the 73 trips, there would be a big difference in our PT network, and we’d be on a better track to further improvements. Council and the AT Board should’ve tracked this, and then each funding decision and service decision should have been tied in to this. Decisions about fare increases, annual passes, off peak fares, service cuts, network design, safety for passengers walking to bus stops – all of this should have been required to increase the ridership.

    In my post about the Climate Action Framework back in March 2019 I said: “Targets (in numbers), action pathways, feedback mechanisms and financial and other disincentives (such as removal of decision-making power) for failure to meet targets are needed”

    What’s annoying is that engineers are good at optimising solutions using feedback mechanisms if this is the task they’re given. Council and the AT Board have no excuses for not using best practice governance in this way.

  11. The problem is not lack of a plan; it is lack of consequences for not delivering change.

    This well-meaning committee sure looks like another delaying tactic to protect some managers who should not still have jobs. Pay them out and get on with it. Now.

    1. Yep, somewhere else that meaningful change can be filtered into a few planter boxes and some green paint in places that already have planter boxes and green paint.

  12. I despair at Auckland. So much potential if we want to actually build things and make changes, but I fear we have forgotten how. Every project becomes a mega-project, or just expensive enough to be delayed on the basis of cost-cutting. Even the mega-projects stop progressing, caught in and endless business-case study process in Wellington.

    I have this dream that we could build a huge wooden promenade along Tamaki Drive, free up a bunch of on-road space and redesign the road corridor. However we’ve locked in such a lack of vision and made even incremental gains so hard to come by that it’s entirely pointless. My dream of making the waterfront a true destination is not worth putting the effort in writing posts for GA or lobbying or whatever, because our system is so averse to creating outcomes that don’t already exist.

    So we stagnate. We don’t get the urban-place changing benefits of a coastal city with urban beaches, we don’t get the rapid action on climate change, we can’t respond to population pressure and the infrastructure it requires, and our standard of living drops. It becomes even harder to justify rates increases because people see less and less value from what they get, so we get less and less.

    It’s a vicious cycle but it is entirely possible to stop – but that won’t happen if we expect the same people and same organisations to suddenly get their act together. More layers of the same won’t cut it.

    1. There is hope underneath all this.

      The group is a good one. All of them care. If the group goes through a proper upskilling process and they are required to face the misinformation they have been fed – and this is nutted out fully, until it is resolved! – then they could be really effective, and this would play through to many things in both transport and land use planning.

      That’s a big if, but some of the members really do understand the breadth of the deficiencies in the planning going on. So there’s hope.

      But then Council and the AT Board need to be able to make decisions, and the rest of the members won’t have gone through this enormous process of upskilling. The only democratic way to ensure that happens, is to make sure the negotiations and decisions are made in the public view.

      So perhaps the biggest worry of the meeting was the suggestion that after this TERG has worked stuff out, that the councillors should then have “workshops” on the material before it’s brought back to a publicly visible forum.

      Allowing this was the biggest governance mistake of all.

      Hiding the other councillors’ resistance to change out of public view is not OK. But it’s how the status quo is being retained.

        1. “Turbo-charging the TERP” definitely means there needs to be superior leadership in this group that mitigates these governance problems.

          They could cohesively hold the line against other councillors, taking on board constructive feedback but refusing to budge when it comes to the critical details.

          You’ve gotta be optimistic or you might as well give up, I reckon.

      1. They can do their “workshops” somewhere in the City works depot, ask everyone to come in without a car, and to warm up before the workshop we shall do a walk around the surrounding blocks.

    2. “We don’t get the urban-place changing benefits of a coastal city with urban beaches”

      Look at what Sydney has done to their inner harbour (most recently, Barangaroo) and city (light rail).

  13. Do Auckland Council understand what climate emergency mean?

    From dictionary it is said: “a situation in which urgent action is required to reduce or halt climate change and avoid potentially irreversible environmental damage resulting from it.”

    It clear that urgent action is required but where is the urgent action? No pop-up cyclelane, no lowering of the PT fare, no new buslane around the city? These things are not too hard yet they are not doing anything about it.

  14. There are 1000s of km of rarely used footpaths in Auckland of varying standards. Some are about 3m wide and perfect. There are few pedestrians. Footpaths have cost the city $billions to install over the years. But there is often an obstacle such as rubbish bins, waiting too long at the lights, having cars speed by with just a meter of separation, breathing in the fumes etc.
    But I quite often walk to the bus stop and other places. There are many people in Auckland who just won’t walk, cycle or use public transport. They always have an excuse about the weather, the time, it’s too slow, it’s not safe, it doesn’t go my way or they don’t want to sit beside or be near other people.
    For me the busses and trains are busy and a pleasure. The many 1000’s of users each day are getting a good service and the deniers are not interested and don’t want to know.
    AT need to be more encouraging of PT and always want to improve their service.

  15. OK, so the RTLP doesnt reference the Low Carbon Strategic Action Plan. Does it reference Auckland’s Climate Plan Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri? And is there any reference between the Low Carbon Strategic Action Plan and Auckland’s Climate Plan Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri? Where did the transport outcomes in Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri come from? What I guess I am asking is, is there any relationship between any of these documents or were they created by separate groups in splendid ignorance of each other? Rather than creating a brand new entity (TERG) to create yet another document (TERP). Would it not have been better to create the TERG as an overarching coordination group to ensure that plans to be implemented in the RTLP meet the requirements of the Low Carbon Strategic Action Plan and Auckland’s Climate Plan Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri? They should also be able to amend plans to ensure this was so, enable a consistant and compliant approach to any new plans going forward and ensure all of the entities on the TERG are singing from the same hymn sheet. This whole process needs a lot more agility and flexibility and I am not sure the TERG idea as outlined actually solves any of the problems.

  16. Would this encapsulate it?
    TERG is but a walking shadow, a poor player, / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, / And then is heard no more. It is a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing.

  17. Social engineers are funny.
    They think that if they just annoy the people doing the bad stuff enough they’ll come to the light and be converted.
    In the real world all you’re really doing is pissing them off.

    1. People who avoid the hard decisions because they worry about p!ssing people off are lightweights.

      A member of Auckland council by chance?

  18. I do quite a lot of work with local and central Governments on climate change. The first thing to remember is that a lot of actions are not things that Auckland Council can do. They cannot legislate bio fuel levels in fuel, the amount of fuel sold or how to fund electrification. They cannot even get funding from the fuel surcharge to pay for GHG reductions. Most of the actions required are done at National level and will require acts of parliament.
    The second thing to consider is that if we are talking about Climate Change response than actions need to be aimed at GHG reductions, not VKT’s. I understand that some people do not feel anyone should drive private cars or fly in planes, but that is not solving the problem. That is just ideology in the same way vegans don’t want people eating animal products.
    By mandating a GHG reduction, which is what is done in Europe, you get real CO2 reductions and if that means VKT is the same or higher, so what. We have declared a climate emergency, not a war on cars.

    1. Councils decide space allocation for their localities, including roads they control. If you do not see mode shift as a basic part of climate action, I worry about who is listening to your advice.

      1. Todd Niall worries about leadership for TERP given that Goff may not stand again, but the crux seems pretty clear:

        Goff himself told Stuff “it will require the biggest transformation ever undertaken by this council”. Cutting transport emissions by 64 per cent from where they were in 2016, will require extraordinary leadership, capable of convincing a majority of Aucklanders to change their lives and travel habits.

        In short, to use their cars less.

      2. Quite. I’m surprised he puts his name to this when he’s departing so much from government policy.

        The government is using Avoid-Shift-Improve, and Daniel is stuck in using only the Improve stage. The advice he’s giving is climate damaging, and entirely out of step with best practice.

        1. Mode shift is part of the mitigation, but it is only a very small part. It is not Government policy to force people out of cars and off planes and it is certainly not a practice seen in Europe or the USA.
          The reason for the Feebate (Government Policy) and the Biofuels mandate (Government consultation) is because there is not expectation of any massive mode shift and yet a real need to address transport emissions.
          I return to my point, this is a climate emergency, not a war on cars. If road and air transportation becomes cleaner, as it has in Europe and parts of the US, the GHG reduction targets will be met.
          Science solves climate change, ideology does not.

        2. Not ideology Daniel, but policy. A change away from policy which favours car-use and and encourages car dependency, to one which favours and encourages alternatives. This is nothing to do with “forcing people out of cars”, but rather, ceasing the incentivisation of people into cars. Many cities overseas have made huge strides in this direction. NZ cities can do it too.

  19. Come on, name one country where the Government has legislated people out of cars or off aircraft.
    I favour spending on mode shift. Building better footpaths and connected cycle ways are low hanging fruit towards meeting our GHG reduction commitments, but no regime in the world thinks that this is any more than a small part of the solution. Having cleaner transport solutions for private vehicles, heavy freight and aviation are the areas where the efforts made will make the biggest improvements.
    Yes we certainly need to improve public transport and that will also make some reductions in carbon emissions, but it is lala land to think that NZ is not going to continue to have a huge fleet of private cars and continue to need heavy transport for the movement of goods, much of which will still be ICE engines for many years to come. Most of AT’s bus fleet will remain diesels for the next 20-25 years.
    This means things like the feebate are needed to switch our mostly older less fuel efficient cars to BEV and a biofuels mandate to replace around 15% of our fossil fuel with sustainable renewables. (In Scandinavia they are mandating 30% while NZ is still debating 1.5%)
    The Low Carbon Strategic Action Plan of 2014 was no doubt well meaning, but clearly written by people that did not know what they were doing.

      1. That is for sure. We need to fix the congestion and for that a connected cycle network and light rail would make a world of difference.

    1. Not legislation Daniel, but policy. A change away from policy which favours car-use and and encourages car dependency, to one which favours and encourages alternatives. This is nothing to do with “legislating people out of cars”, but rather, ceasing the incentivisation of people into cars.
      The private-car mode-share in many European cities is far lower than in Auckland, particularly for commuting.

    2. Moderators, this kind of arrogance is unwelcome, particularly coming from someone who is not keeping up with the science: “clearly written by people that did not know what they were doing.”

      1. Hardly a fair comment Caitlin.
        There was nothing arrogant in my statement. The policies at the time this document was published were not well researched. As one example the percentage of fuel volume sold as biofuel at 14% exceeded the blend wall of the time and a B14 would have invalidated the engine warranties of every OEM.
        I would also question how a 25% reduction of transport sector CO2 was ever expected to be achievable by 2030 with such a modest uptake of EV’s and only a 5% reduction in freight VKT (Heavy freight is 25% of road transport GHG emissions).
        Where was the 33% light vehicle fuel efficiency coming from by 2030? With the average age of our road fleet, this does not seem plausible at all.
        NZ needs to follow the examples set by Europe and California, leaders in climate change legislation. If you read any of the recent publications; The MOT Green Freight paper or the Climate Change Commission Report, you will see that most of the targets set in this 2014 document are replaced with much more modern thinking.
        Sorry if I offended you, but I very much do keep up with the science, I am passionate about solving the problem through science based intervention, for instance, turning waste back into energy like Lanzajets forest waste into Jet fuel technology. I am just not interested in the luddite ideology that sometime gets in the way.

        1. When targets are a genuine factor in planning, one or a couple of the targets will end up being the limiting factor while others are met early and exceeded, eg Ghent’s cycling modeshift target was achieved 11 years early but the PT ridership target is now something they need to focus on to ensure they achieve it.

          Looking 16 years into the future, trying to coordinate a package of targets into one emissions “result” isn’t necessary. It’s the sort of thing that engineers who like simultaneous equations to resolve beautifully feel comfortable with, but is irrelevant and counterproductive in this kind of planning. There are far too many unknowns.

          Each target should instead be treated as a spur to innovation and systems change. How that pathway pans out cannot be fully known; the point is that the planning changes constantly.

          The people who wrote the Low Carbon Strategic Action Plan knew this. You’ve been focused, as always, on the vehicles alone, and ignored that the targets also say:
          – 60% of the 2013 Auckland Cycle Network would be finished by 2020.
          – 73 PT passenger trips per annum by 2020.

          Pause a moment, and think what systems change there would already be, what modeshift there would already be, if we’d made the investments necessary to achieve these? How our planning right now would be ENTIRELY different. VKT would already be lower. Far more people would be living car-independent lifestyles; far more people would know people who rely on bicycles or public transport for their mobility. Our very discussions would be entirely different, as there would be so much ‘lived experience’ of transport choice and vehicle travel reduction as freedom.

          If the above 2020 targets had been achieved, the path towards the targets for 2030 would be more obvious:
          – 100% of the 2013 Auckland Cycle Network would be finished by 2030.
          – 90 PT passenger trips per annum by 2030.

          And again, these would represent significant modeshift, drop in car ownership and vkt reduction. But in addition to this, we’d be adding in new targets. Not just 100% of the 2013 ACN, but there’d be Low Traffic Neighbourhood completion targets, arterial road reallocation targets, car park reduction targets, etc.

          And again, they would not need to all be coordinated to produce one “emissions target” number. Each target would spur change, and we’d track the progress and tweak the plans to ensure we’re achieving them. Some earlier, some just on time.

        2. Heidi, I take on board your points, but Auckland is not Ghent. NZ is not going to achieve such high levels of cycling as Europe for the same reasons California is not going to either and yet, CA is much further along the road of GHG reductions than NZ.
          Of course we should build a connected cycle network. This should be off road and able to connect all parts of Auckland. However, that is still not going to guarantee mode shift. People are attracted to private vehicle trips for good reason, they are safe, convenient, fast and all weather.
          We have a difference of perspective here. The Government and Auckland Council have declared climate emergencies (rightly so), but no one has declared a war on cars. I understand that you don’t like them (although it would be interesting to know why) and I can respect that, but for most people in NZ, they want to continue to travel by car. Knowing this, we need to find the solution of reducing GHG and allowing peoples lives to continue with minimal disruption and change.
          The Paris climate agreement was not a target to reduce driving. If you think it was, you have missed something.
          Lets assume that thanks to science and incentives, NZ can transition its transport fleet to zero GHG emissions. We do this with a mix of BEV, HFC and Biofuels. Why would you still ask people to ride to work in the wind and rain? I would suggest that reducing GHG emissions to zero is an easier task than changing Auckland’s weather to sunny days without wind.
          Going back to your points. If 100% of the cycle network would have been finished by 2030, they would be great, but still mostly empty. I ride from Milford to the City quite often and its hardly congested on the excellent (save Royal and Lincoln Roads) North Western Cycleway. The GHG reductions from cycling may even be smaller than the GHG footprint of producing bikes in China and shipping them to NZ.
          73 PT trips PP is such a low number its shocking to understand why its not far above that now, but there is no mention of how that would be achieved.
          The more I look at the targets, the less charitable I am inclined to feel about the people that set them. Why did they not set a target for a light rail network (including a tunnel to the shore)? that would create real mode shift to PT, not the nonsense they wrote back then.
          So to finish. We are not going to cycle our way to our Paris commitments, but we can science our way there. Until then, lets just stay calm and agree to disagree. At the end of the day we are on the same page that something needs to be done.

        3. What analysis can you show me to support this impression, “If 100% of the cycle network would have been finished by 2030, they would be great, but still mostly empty.”

          There are international organisations that measure what it takes to push a city past the tipping point into a cycling city, and you don’t seem aware of their work, yet happy to peddle the myth being used within the sector to retain budgets for car infrastructure investment.

          So could you please support this assertion? We’ve documented and illustrated graphically the increase in ridership from incremental investment. Now you need to show your workings.

        4. And I’m just wondering if you understand how targets should be used. In, “73 PT trips PP is such a low number its shocking to understand why its not far above that now, but there is no mention of how that would be achieved” it’s not clear that you understand that the LCSAP didn’t have to show the pathway.

          As you say, it’s a low number. Therefore AT could easily have achieved it. Had governance been up to scratch, the consequences of not meeting annual interim targets towards that figure would have pushed AT to make the changes necessary to be on track.

        5. I just read that a report from the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change that said meeting the Net Zero 2050 carbon emissions will not result in massive lifestyle changes.
          The report, supported by the Green Alliance said that flying would only need to be cut by 6% and car journeys by just 4%. One of the biggest changes needed, according to the institute is in diet. We should eat 20% less meat and dairy by 2030 and 35% by 2050.
          I guess that means I can drive to the airport for my flight to Sydney, so long as I only eat pizza margarita for lunch.

        6. “Of course we should build a connected cycle network. This should be off road and able to connect all parts of Auckland.”

          Is that actually possible and isn’t it contradictory? How can it be off road (massively expensive property acquisitions) as well as get to places people want to actually go, other than via existing roads?

          Serious question.

        7. Hi KLK, I mean off road in as much as things like the North Western Cycleway that runs parallel to the motorway and the much improved cycle path around to St Heliers (although the Lycra warriors refuse to use it).
          We need more than just paint on a road. We have a lot of parks where it would be easy to build cycle ways and then we just need to connect them. In many places our footpaths and berms offer sufficient space to put in connector paths.

        8. Nor should the “lycra warriors” use sub standard infrastructure like a shared path filled with pedestrians strolling around (against the guidelines of AT’s own design guide) in the absence of a proper cycle lane.

        9. So Daniel, it’s really about using parks, footpaths, berms… but not giving up traffic lane space, isn’t it?

          It’s this BAU rejection of road space allocation that keeps vkt rising, you realise.

          And by the way, since you’re talking about an off-road cycle network, you are NOT talking about the Auckland Cycle Network, and your comment that “If 100% of the cycle network would have been finished by 2030, they would be great, but still mostly empty.” looks increasingly vacuous.

          I’m still waiting for your evidence, but it is increasingly obvious that you don’t actually understand what a transformed transport system looks like or could deliver.

  20. Nor should the “lycra warriors” use sub standard infrastructure like a shared path filled with pedestrians strolling around (against the guidelines of AT’s own design guide) in the absence of a proper cycle lane.

    1. Hoden!

      So that is a no to Skypath/The Northern Pathway then, because that will be a shared path filled with pedestrians strolling around.
      I think giving up traffic space to cycle lanes in a congested city like Auckland is going to be quite a challenge to sell to our fellow Aucklanders.
      I was not thinking of shared space, I was thinking of replacing the berms with separated cycle lanes, narrowing footpaths where necessary and connecting them to parks that will form corridors. It would be a lot more pleasant to ride through Cornwall park than down Manukau Road, protected only by a painted line.
      Yes there will be a need for some on road lanes and yes there will be a need for sharing of the road, with parking spaces given up and speeds reduced in some places, but please do not try and sell a massive shift to active mode as being needed to combat climate change when it plainly is not.
      If we are going to build a connected cycle network, lets make it first class and instead of wasting 780m+ on 1km of a shared path (against the guidelines of AT’s own design guide), lets spend it on all of Auckland.

      1. “replacing the berms with separated cycle lanes, narrowing footpaths where necessary”

        Foul, truly ugly; cobbled together to avoid road reallocation. We already have subpar walking infrastructure which needs improving. And where are the trees going if we remove the berms? Trees we urgently need for reducing urban heat?

        Paradigm shift is hard, isn’t it, Daniel?

        1. According to recent studies we would only have to reduce car travel by 4% to meet net zero by 2050 carbon emission targets.
          In fact, getting rid of the pet dog seems more likely to combat climate change than getting rid of a sensible car.
          Bikes are great, but we do not have to have a war on cars to win the battle against climate change.

        2. “to meet zero carbon by 2050”.

          That’s irrelevant. It’s less than 1.5 degree temperature rise that is important.

        3. You use “war on cars” a lot. Its a bit worrying.

          You sound like those right wing trolls who claim any policy that might adversely impact cars is akin to a ban. A bit of hyperbole isnt it?

          Arent we just asking them to incur just a fraction of the inconvenience that walkers, cyclists and PT users suffer every day? Or are they too precious/priveleged?

          And I say that as a daily driver who hasnt ridden a bike consistently for about 30yrs.

      2. “I think giving up traffic space to cycle lanes in a congested city like Auckland is going to be quite a challenge to sell to our fellow Aucklanders.”

        I dont disagree, but it is the solution, or at least part of it.
        Bike lanes are exceptionally better use of space for transporting people.

        “… but please do not try and sell a massive shift to active mode as being needed to combat climate change when it plainly is not.”
        So vehicles that are vastly less resource and energy intensive to produce, and consume far smaller amounts of energy to transport someone, and are appropriate for most trips within Auckland, and would replace the cities key climate change contributors….. are not one of the keys to reduce Aucklands climate change contribution? I don’t follow

      3. “It would be a lot more pleasant to ride through Cornwall park than down Manukau Road, protected only by a painted line.”

        It would be more pleasant to cycle through a park, unfortunately, the homes, schools, hospitals, and businesses that people cycle to and from are on Manukau Road, not in the parks. Perhaps we should remove cars from streets to provide space for lawns and street trees and make them more like parks?

  21. Those idiots at Auckland Transport are intending to install a raised pedestrian across Pakuranga Road at a cost 0f $450,000 when there is already signalized pedestrian lights a couple of hundred meters each side.
    This road is the 6th busiest in the country and already struggles with traffic congestion so putting in a judder bar is going to slow traffic down even more.

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