Featured image: a Tokyo logistics trolley, Dan Hill/Medium

And just like that, it’s October already. Aucklanders spent all of Mahuru/September, in lockdown. Hope you’re all doing well, here’s our weekly roundup!

The week in Greater Auckland

  • Monday’s post by Matt dove into Auckland’s public transport fares, how they’ve changed over the last decade, and how they compare to other cities
  • On Tuesday, Matt wrote about the just-announced cluster of Midtown regeneration projects
  • Wednesday’s post by Marita recounted her experience of a lockdown ride to the city centre, and the kid’s-eye view it gave her
  • And yesterday’s post, again authored by Matt, went through the items on the list for this month’s AT board meeting.

Auckland’s building boom is happening

This is probably worth a post of its own sometime soon: building consent statistics show that Tāmaki Makaurau is experiencing a building boom like none seen before. The increasing momentum of new builds has been overshadowed by a media narrative that is squarely focused on the (very real) housing crisis. It seems like the good news story might be starting to bubble to the surface. Todd Niall reported in Stuff that the building boom contributed to an unexpected $1.9b surplus.

The big revenue boosts came from strong building consent and development contributions which had been expected to fall by 25 per cent, but instead surged.

Matt whipped up some graphs based  on Auckland Council’s building consent stats, which show that the big increases are in the medium-density housing types: townhouses and units. Compare that to the last building boom in 2003-04, when high density apartments were the ones driving the surge. It’s good to see the ‘missing middle’ developing, and it would be great to see single house new-build numbers drop away to be replaced by more apartment buildings.

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The role urbanism can play in women’s safety

Wellington’s city centre has been the subject of bad-news headlines this year. Women in Urbanism’s Emma McInnes spoke to Stuff about how urban form and infrastructure improvements can make women feel safer alone in the city.

“We often have a lot of lighting that lights up the road for the cars, but there’ll be nothing on the footpath, it’s always pointing in the direction of the cars, and it’s way up in the air. It’s not really helpful if you’re going for a late-night jog, or walking home late from work.”


Poor public transport frequency and end-to-end facilities can often leave women sitting in dark spaces feeling unsafe, McInnes says.

“A lot of this has to do with bus frequency, having buses that are going every half hour isn’t really good enough, that’s not going to make women feel safe. You want to get some really optimal frequency throughout your city. The other thing is thinking about end-to-end facilities, so not just what happens while they’re on the bus, or when they’re picked up and dropped off, but actually, where they’re walking to after that.”

An electrifying opportunity

You may also have spotted Emma McInnes in the line-up of a new coalition running for the board of Entrust, which oversees 75.1% of the nation’s biggest power-lines company, Vector.

Running under the banner More for You, Better for Climate, the team offers a fresh alternative to the long-running control of the board by Citizens and Ratepayers, and promises “decision-making that is better for the climate and our electric future in Auckland.”

Postal voting happens in October, and if you’re one of the 344,500 households and businesses south of the Auckland Harbour bridge and east of Avondale who gets a power bill, you can vote. Traditionally, turnout has been really low (12.4% in 2018) – so keep an eye on your mailbox for voting papers, and get ready to do some power-ranking of your own.

The highway expansion addiction

This article on Bloomberg explores the ‘unstoppable appeal of highway expansion’ and the murmurings of discontent from an ever-more skeptical public, in the context of proposed highway widening of an existing, congested, 12-lane state highway in Austin, Texas.

There’s a name for the principle behind that apparent paradox: induced demand. Economist Anthony Downs is often credited with first articulating this “iron law of congestion” in 1962, as construction crews were hacking interstates through American cities. Downs published a seminal paper with a stark warning: “On urban commuter expressways, peak-hour traffic congestion rises to meet maximum capacity.” In other words, adding lanes won’t cure snarled traffic; the additional car space inevitably invites more trips, until gridlock is as bad as ever.

The concept of ‘induced demand’ is widely accepted and understood. So why doesn’t it seem to have  any cut-through?

Highway planners aren’t crazy. But they are operating within a political and financial system that rewards new construction, despite its consistent failures to reduce congestion. A stroll through transportation history suggests that, unless those underlying incentives change, we’re likely doomed to continue repeating the same predictable, costly mistakes.

Some of the causes and outcomes are explained nicely by this diagram:

Source: Transformative Urban Morphology Initiative

Moving on from the week in flooding

Perhaps this section of our weekly roundup should just be ‘alarming environmental catastrophes seem to be happening around the world with routine regularity’.

Instead of biblical floods and cars floating down highways, this week we bring you… exploding ground in Siberia, where the permafrost has never been so warm.


The full article is fascinating and well worth a read, if your nerves are up for it.

The new study found that in the context of the gas blowouts, the surface permafrost “caps” become weakened by this thawing process, which makes them more vulnerable to pressure from pools of methane gas that build up deep underground. This degradation of the upper permafrost also causes the subterranean “intrapermafrost” mix, which consists of cold briny water and other materials, to circulate faster, further compromising the strength of the cap above it.

At a certain point, the pressure from the gas pools reaches a tipping point that triggers the immense explosions. Given the direct link to climate change, Chuvilin and his colleagues expect these blowouts to continue in the future, though they require specific permafrost conditions that are particularly dangerous for the Yamal and Gydan regions.

The week in still more cities that are investing in cycling!

On the other hand, it’s starting to feel like every week brings another city announcing a significant and game-changing investment in cycling infrastructure. This week we’ve got…


The webpage announcing this is all in Norwegian, so we’ll have to take this twitter user’s word for it. Oslo has in fact been working on various methods to reduce cars in its city centre for several years now, including by removing all of the on-street carparks within its city centre ring-road. You can read more about that here.

And Berlin!

Momentum Mag has an explainer on Berlin’s freshly-announced 3000-kilometer bike network, the ‘Radverkehrsplan’.

According to a press release issued by the city, the cycle traffic network, which builds on the existing 1,500km network, consists of three main planks as follows:
• An 865-kilometer priority network with the most important city-wide connections
• An 1,506-kilometre secondary network
• And a further 550 kilometers of cycle paths on main roads that do not belong to the actual cycle traffic network, but are also expanded according to the standards of the supplementary network in accordance with the Mobility Act (Section 43).

Perhaps their covid-19 pop-up cycleways helped this decision. Ella Kay, who’s based in Berlin, wrote a post for GA about the pop-up cycleways in May this year.

Poland’s 30km/hr zone leads to reduced deaths and injuries on city centre roads

It’s good to see that speed reductions lead to… a safer environment for people.


Every crisis is an opportunity

While we read news of the Brexit-induced fuel crisis occurring in the UK right now, it’s interesting to learn how the 1973 fuel crisis was one factor leading to  transformation of the transport system in The Netherlands, creating one of the most active-mode friendly places in the world. Click through to the photo gallery on The Guardian for incerdible images of Dutch streets full of horses and young people picnicking on highways.

Looking further back into streets past…

Road diet, Maastricht

In an impressive transformation, a motorway in Maastricht (The Netherlands) has been tunneled underground, and the space it once occupied returned to the city as a linear park and bikeway. What started as a ‘traffic problem’ evolved into a more holistic urban solution.

Gradually, however, the government bodies, working together in the project agency Avenue2, came to the conclusion that this project was not just a question of infrastructure.

The overall goal of the project was broadened. Instead of tackling a problem this much more became seizing the opportunity to:

– improve the accessibility of Maastricht and create a good traffic flow on and along the A2

– increase road safety and quality of life, in other words improve the liveability in the surrounding areas

– create new urban design possibilities for neighbourhoods alongside the A2 after removing the A2 barrier.

Image from Bicycle Dutch. ‘The tunnel, opened in 2016, has two levels. A lower level for (inter)national traffic and the top level for regional and municipal traffic.’

Small vehicles and urban form in Tokyo

Escape to Japan with this deep analysis by Dan Hill of the many small vehicles that can be found on Tokyo’s streets, and the part they play in shaping the city’s urban form.

When visiting Tokyo, if you are attuned to eating the world with your eyes and particularly the layers of urban life bigger than a cellphone and smaller than a building, one of the first things you’ll notice is how comparatively small the vehicles seem to be. Then, the sheer variety of these small vehicles. And then, how these vehicles, by virtue of their humble and appropriate scale and speed, help produce the city’s often delightfully humane streets. And then finally, that these small vehicles are scurrying around the world’s largest city.

The smallest of them all: a logistics trolley. Source: Dan Hill/Medium

What are the advantages of the four-day week?

A podcast, for a change. In this podcast, Pandora Sykes interviews Alex Pang, who’s been researching the four-day work week, how it can be implemented, and what effects it may have. They discuss the potential social, economic, and climate benefits that a four-day work week could have on people and their communities. The question’s relevance is only increasing when the Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way people work and move in many cities all over the world.

On uncertainty

Finally, in a week that has, for Aotearoa, felt as uncertain as any of the last two months, this essay by Alex Kazemi published on The Spinoff is timely.

We’ve always been fascinated by extremes but we’d been accustomed to viewing them from the shelter of our average lives. In the last couple of years the world has been sent spinning out to the edge. In January 2020, outspoken statistician Nicholas Nassim Taleb co-authored a warning that if countries didn’t employ the precautionary principle in decisively closing down the spread of the emerging novel coronavirus, then a global pandemic was inevitable. He was not the only one to issue the warning but it went unheeded for much too long by a number of governments including those of the UK and the US.

Taleb’s position came from his research into the risk of extreme global events and his strong belief that the probability of these events is misunderstood. He calls these events “ruin problems”, by which he means to say that they can be catastrophic for humanity. If not this one now, then one in the future. In this moment, his language might feel uncomfortable. We will get through this pandemic, albeit with great loss globally, but it needs to be an alarm signal. We need to give uncertainty the respect it is due because, as Taleb points out, our civilisation is more fragile to these risks than we choose to believe.

Have a lovely weekend. Ka kite i a koutou ā tērā wiki.

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  1. What I remember about Tokyo is just how few vehicles there are. Imagine Auckland having 20x the population and yet being able to walk down a suburban street and barely seeing a moving car.

    1. And the fact that what vehicles there are (and there are still plenty) don’t automatically have hegemony over the public domain.

      1. Lots of people zipping around on trains underground… The curious thing to me is that, given that the Japanese tend to like newer houses to old houses, and will often demolish an old house and build a new house – is that there must be a lot of construction going on, and yet you don’t see a city full of tradies in Utes, as we do in somewhere closer to home…

        So – what gives? The answer is prefabrication, as far as I can gather – lots of companies building and supplying new prefabricated houses, including Toyota, who use the power of their supply chain logistics to get a new house on a site with minimum fuss. And certainly with Gary and Bruce in a Hilux with The Rock blaring out all day.

        1. At least you know that qualified Kiwi trades will be building that house, if Gary and Bruce’s Hilux is sitting outside. When servicing those sites that how I knew that they were being built by qualified Kiwi tradies, rather than Chinese hammer hands, as is the case with a lot of new builds at present.

    2. By the way, if you haven’t been to Tokyo I would highly recommend it (post Covid of course). The place just continually blows your mind, best city I have been to by a long way (I have never been to Hong Kong which I imagine is also amazing).

  2. I’m always curious what the distinction is between flats, units and apartments in the consent data because I tend to see those as synonyms for the same thing?

    1. Funny you ask that. I’ve been doing some research on that very subject lately, and the terms are often used interchangeably. Flats often meaning a converted building, and also implying for rent, whereas apartments generally imply purpose-built and ready for purchase, but also flat can just be an informal term for an apartment. You can go flatting, but you really can’t go apartmenting. Interestingly (well, interesting to me anyway!) apartments were first constructed as large extended family buildings, with many different members of French families living in the same building, on different floors – came to mean, literally, living apart. All part of my next book “Modern Apartment Design” out after Christmas.

      1. Thanks. I’d been imagining townhouses, flats and units could each have a line drawn around them on an aerial photo, ie none of them are on top of another one, unlike apartments which are. But this didn’t quite work with ‘flats’ created by dividing up an older house, which can often have a ‘flat upstairs’ or a ‘basement flat’.

        Surely Stats has defined it somewhere (but the only definition I’ve found seems to be for ‘dwelling’ for census purposes, and doesn’t clarify it).

      2. An ‘apartmenter’ …………yes, it’s a bit like you can be a New Zealander but you can’t really be an Aotearoan. But I look forward to your forthcoming book.

        1. Guy…….I have a great reference book entitled “Town Houses – Evolution and Innovation in 800 Years of Urban Domestic Architecture” by Marcus Binney published in 1998 which I wonder if you have seen?

        2. No, haven’t seen it. Is it any good? I see it is out of print and our library doesn’t have a copy. I might try and hunt it down if you recommend it

        3. Guy – ISBN 1 8400 0029 5 I think it is pretty good but only you can gauge its worth to you. If we get out of this infernal lockdown I plan to be in Napier on 23 October and can leave it with Robin if you are interested. She knows we plan to be there on that date.

      3. Guy the Germans of course have words for this. In 19thC Vienna etc there were two terms for the new building typology suddenly necessary as industrialisation led to huge influx of ex-peasants into cities in search of the joys and freedoms of city living. I think you’ll agree they’re rather eloquent:

        Rent Barracks
        Rent Palaces

        A clear socio economic distinction then. The issue was there was really only one model for what a large residential building looked like, the palace, so for the upmarket end of town they literally built palaces, but inside they were divided up into apartments, but had the unified appearance of single dwellings. Many still stand today, and the better apartments in them, especially on the 1st floor (piano nobile) are among the most wonderful dwellings anywhere on the planet (enfilade plan, high stud, balconies etc). BTW, In Paris apartments are still advertised to be sold/rented by not floor area, but by cubic metres, ie there’s a real understanding of the value of stud height. Note the great 19thC Viennese architect Otto Wagner got quite rich not only designing these ‘palaces’ but also developing them.

        Barracks were the only extant model for the workers. In Berlin a version of these, height defined by the 1862 plan, called Mietskasernen, were everywhere.

        The 19thC is worth studying as it had similar urbanisation pressures as today, and they produced some of the best cities on the planet, with a big focus on public health and transport. Especially through what’s missing today; a huge emphasis on public realm beauty and collective welfare (while tolerating appalling inequity and working conditions).

        1. Hi Patrick – yes, I have a chapter on Mietskasernen and Zinsplast, written by Emina Petrovic and myself – you’ll be able to use my book for your course (if you’re still teaching it?). As well as the Maison à allée and the development of the Hôtel particulier in Paris. Started in Covid, finished in Covid. What better time to research and write than in lockdown?!

          You’re right about the volume of course – that’s an issue that we seem to have a hard time convincing developers of here in Aotearoa. My apartment has a 3.5m stud – its lovely. I do really feel sorry for people in the little 2.4m slots of space I see going up around me…. Advertising by volume instead of square metres is a great idea.

    2. My understanding of the difference is
      Houses – stand alone single dwellings
      Flats, Units & Townhouses – Attached or semi-attached dwellings but one dwelling per building
      Apartments – Multi-storey buildings with multiple dwellings

    3. Not official but this is how we use these terms at work:
      Units = number of households in the development regardless of type;
      Flats = One building with many units, split horizontally and typically perpendicular to the street. Not really used in the new build context, and is seen more as an older building;
      Terraces = three or more units joined, split vertically and typically parallel to the street. (End-terrace are the units on the end, which can have side windows / Mid-terrace are the ones in the middle with just front and back windows);
      Duplex/Semi-detached = two units with a shared wall;
      Townhouse = umbrella term for detached/duplex/terrace (excluding apartments or flats or a typology with shared/common stairwells and lifts) and generally used to describe a medium density development with multiple units but without common stairs or hallways;
      Apartment = one building with units stacked vertically and horizontally with shared/common stairwells and lifts; and
      Walk-up = Low rise apartment without a lift.

      1. Excellent summary Andrew. One question – if a Duplex is two units with a common adjoining wall, then what is a Triplex? Does that mean it is 3 units (two ends, one middle) or does it mean that each unit is 3 storeys high? In which case – does a Duplex have to be 2 storeys high?

        1. I have not heard the term triplex used much, if at all, in NZ. I think it is an end/mid/end, which I would just call a terrace.

        1. Yes, Americans use the word Condo, but they also use Coop, and Apartment – and as Roeland says, it is much to do with the ownership model. Of course, a Condominium sounds quite grand – more grand than a Flat – guess which term came from Britain…. There was a curious adopting of words from Latin origins for a while in the 1980s (when everything was done to excess) and so we had Condominium and Atrium, but sadly not Vomitorium. I wonder why…

        2. Having lived in council high rise in the East End of London in the ’70s, vomitorium would be a very suitable word.

      2. ‘Flats’ also applies to cross-lease occupations, so a new stand-alone in the back garden appears as a Flat on titles. Probably more meaningful than a 21-storey ‘block of flats’. I don’t know how cross-leases are dealt with in the Consent stats.

        1. I think new cross leases are banned. Everything has to go the Unit Title route now… and the joys (sarcastic) of the Unit Titles Act…

        2. Joined houses do not have to go to unit titles. That is a really dangerous myth. Joined homes can go on freehold titles with party wall easements.

        3. I didn’t say that Sailor – I meant that (afaik) the NZ law no longer permits new cross-leases or company shares – these have been superseded by Unit Titles Act, which is compulsory for multi-storey apartment buildings (basically, anywhere where one person lives above another). You can certainly have an ADU on the same piece of land as your main house – and, as you say, houses with a joining wall are also listed separately, as Freehold title, with easements for support over the neighbour.

        4. Thanks for clarifying 🙂

          Yup, thankfully cross leases are no longer permitted. Unit titles have their own issues but cross leases are horrific.

    4. Houses are seperate dwellings (not attached), apartments are attached by walls and roof/floors, retirement village units is not a typology but an ownership tenure category (though increasingly dominated by townhouses and apartment typologies, but can include houses (villas) as well). Townhouses, flats and other dwellings category are also attached but only by walls, and also includes anything that doesn’t fit into the other categories, such as house conversions, and i think minor units.

  3. “The webpage announcing this is all in Norwegian, so we’ll have to take this twitter user’s word for it”.
    Use Chrome, it will automatically translate it. Follow the blue link on that page to the webpage version of the documents.

  4. And I live in a detached house 2/123 Smith St (not actual number or street), converted to “Unit 2, 123 Smith St” by address bots on web sites. So this doesn’t fit any of the definitions above!

  5. While the diagrammatic “Vicious cycle of automobile dependency” goes much of the way to explain induced vehicle demand, it misses one vital ingredient. This is the Concrete and Car Lobby: the endless lobbying pressure from these two sectors for yet another motorway project to keep the profits rolling in. There’s not much to be made out of building bicycle lanes.

    1. Yeah, we need government to own this and provide a pathway to new industries and employment that support a low carbon economy. The political economy of car dependence isn’t going to be overcome while they keep their heads in the sand. This transition needs to be workable.

      “we show that moving past the automobile age will require an overt and historically aware political program of research and action.”

      From, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214629620300633

  6. Not really relevant to this week, but an extremely interesting planned transport project in NZ.

    Its a whole masterplan for milford sound, but a key part of it is transport.

    Long and short, they want to improve transport on the state highway through to milford sound from Te Anau. There’s a big road toll, extremely limited parking with the council normally charging 20+ an hour from memory, and obviously being unwilling to cut down virgin rainforest to make more parking. And the terrain means that any highway expansions would be far too expensive to be justified. The highway is also extremely linear, there is only one side road, and almost every attraction is directly accessed on the main road. The road is also heavily subsidized, regular washouts, heavy avalanche control in the winter, the heavy road toll, a bit of tunnel work and avalanche shed stuff, all add up to quite the weight.

    So the plan is to move more people onto busses and restrict access to the state highway. Depending on the implementation and a heap of other factors, this could be a golden move in a unique situation in NZ. Or a disaster.

    My perspective as a recreationalist, if the buses are run like a city, hop on hop off service with regular stops along the road and good fares, then this would be golden. Getting back to the car is a huge anchor for trips. It would be exceptionally freeing, and if I had grown up with this service available then I would have been in there tramping far more. Te Anau kids could have the best freedom in the world, easy non parent reliant access into huge swaths of the best national park in the country. Best upbringing ever.

    Of course locals who haven’t been on a bus since they were in school 30 years ago are up in arms, apparently its a right to drive somewhere on a heavily subsidized road to a place where you cant park. The authority have said they could hand out free passes to locals to still drive in there if thats wanted, but even having to go to the local doc office and get a pass is being seen as quite the restriction.

    There are other controversies around the plan too, but I wont get into them.

    Of course with the drop in tourist numbers all of this has been put on the back burner. But it could be a very unique transport solution for the country.

    When (if I can) go back home to Te Anau this summer I might write something more coherent about it.

      1. Awesome.
        I thought because its not in auckland, and not in a city, its a little outside the wheelhouse for the blog.

        I was thinking about also trying to get the local paper to publish something I wrote too. Try and convince locals about potential upsides and instead of just opposing everything, get a plan that’s better for everyone put though, and encourage a more productive conversation about it.

      1. Not in the slightest. They have been making noises that they want to busses to be privatized or run mostly privately too. I think that its in the early stages so that will hopefully change.

        Its just a pipe dream that this kind of fully private model would work out well for anyone. Really it needs to be an NZTA or council run bus service to have some govt weight behind it. Not a fragile private company that folds very couple years, or is making extortionate profit margins.

        There would be room in the market for both I think.
        The private tour operators in the sound, bundle packages for their own more comfortable, non-stop, coach style buses from Queenstown and Te Anau.
        And the council runs an all stops, slower, less comfortable, city style bus at semi-decent frequencies from Te Anau and Te Anau Downs.

        The funding model for this and the other master plan stuff is charging non residents for access / passes to the national park I believe. Although again no real details.

    1. That is so interesting. Please write a guest post if you’re able to get there!

      There are overseas examples of public transport being the main way people access remote natural places. I went hiking in the Japanese Alps a few years ago, and got there via public transport: buses on the remote mountainous roads that connected up to regional train lines. On the Sunday I caught the train all the way back to Tokyo. The train was full of people in hiking gear heading back to the city after a weekend in the mountains.

      I’ve had a similar experience in Sweden, where you can catch the train from Stockholm to the far north, get off and get on a trail, hike south for days – or weeks – then get back on the train to head home.

      1. Very interesting, I didn’t think to see there were good examples overseas. Thanks Marita.

        I know that some people do a round trip in the Tararuas from Wellington using the train.

        I dont necessarily need to go back to write a post, but having some more photos might help, and being there I think would help put things together. And I could pretend to be a real investigative journalist and talk to some locals at the pub.

        1. Cinque Terre in Italy is a stunning example where everyone enters a very fragile part of the countryside by train. DisneyWorld in Florida has some of the best public transportation in the world. Sadly its mostly NZers that feel they have to drive to access places.
          Having said that it is not possible to drive to Hobbiton.

        2. It’s not possible to drive to Hobbiton? That’s interesting – so how do people get there? There is no public transport for miles! No trains, no buses, no planes – nothing as far as I can tell.

          On the backs of giant eagles?

    2. Goes back to when there were a number of competing projects for getting people to Milford. A couple of decades back from memory, but there were options such as an overhead Gondola, a monorail through the trees, and a road. Of course, arguably the other two were less environmentally damaging, but because we argued, we get the worse option – a road, and buses. Nobody could bring themselves to say yes to the Gondolas – but their environmental footprint would have been tiny. And of course, once there is a road, then there will be traffic, and traffic jams, and then road widening, and then a second lane etc etc… sigh…

      1. There was also the private Glenorchy – Hollyford tunnel proposed maybe 10 years ago.

        Of course the current road has been there since the 50s.

        1. The proposed road was to go further than the existing one. Sorry – I don’t have details. But the question really was – if you have an area of existing outstanding untouched natural beauty, and you wanted more tourists to see it (that’s another whole argument in itself whether you should want that or not), then how best to get them there? The way I see it, a road is the worst possible answer, and that’s what we are ending up with. But it will be a “managed road” with a need to pre-book car parking at the opposite end, before you set off. Yeah, like, when has that ever worked?

        2. “But it will be a “managed road” with a need to pre-book car parking at the opposite end, before you set off. Yeah, like, when has that ever worked?”

          Works pretty well on Ruapehu.

        3. I have to admit, I’ve been mountaineering on ruapehu, and that system is a huge PITA if you want to do anything outside of day skiing / going to the cafe. From memory the booking lead time were pretty crazy, weeks / months. And just isn’t practical for multi day trips, and trips that heavily rely on the weather, where skiing doesn’t so much.

          If they had a decent sized gravel parking lot in a paddock near national park, and a few council busses going up and down, then the system would be orders of magnitude better for everyone.
          Instead its
          “RAL will not be operating public shuttles during the 2021 season.”
          And I believe it all has to be pre booked, and only runs really to connect users at peak times. Ie-up in the morning, down in the afternoon.

          Building enormous on mountain parking lots? craziness. At least they’ve stopped in Milford’s case.

        4. Ruapehu’s access works really well for RAL who built and operate the road. The managed access does a much better job of managing car parking demand and providing certainty to visitors. As you said, the system would be massively improved by having a council run bus system operating. I’ve often though that council buses serving the crossing would also be a huge winner for that region.

        1. Yeah, so why build some new infrastructure through current wilderness areas with no non-walking access, when you could better use the existing infrastructure?

    3. Jack
      What you have written is not completely correct. Kiwis will still be able to drive to Milford as they always have. They will need to pre-book parking and the current cost of that is $10 per hour. (page 31)
      Bizarrely you will still be able to chopper into Milford because it is important to look after high end visitors. Forget the climate damage.
      Surely with the need to reduce carbon emissions all trips to Milford Sound should be by bus? There seems little justification on expending carbon emissions on tourism at the expense of others having to forgo necessary trips as NZ tries to meet its emissions targets, or doesn’t.

      1. Wonder if some of the areas like Franz Josef and Fox will ever get it. We stayed there for a couple of days doing a few walks but the vast majority of visitors seemed to drive in and do a 30 minute helicopter ride then drive to the next destination. The helicopters are a constant annoyance for anyone actually trying to take in the majesty of the area ( and the planet) and surely local businesses would do better out of encouraging people to linger rather than dash in and out.

        1. Vinny, I wonder if there is an even larger problem; that is whether the effects of climate change will render some of the Coast uninhabitable. First there is the receding glaciers that draw people to the area and more importantly the adverse weather events that appear to be battering the area on a more frequent basis. There must be a stage where the insurance companies give up.
          Tourism by helicopters is not sustainable and I agree that it diminishes the enjoyment for others.

        2. Franz Joseph is in an incredibly vulnerable position.
          Its major tourist attraction is literally shrinking at an astonishing rate, making less and less to see, and much harder to access it to see.
          The glacier as it melts is depositing a mild blowing amount of gravel which is raising the river bed below at an astonishing rate, so it is rapidly rising to the level of the surrounding flood plain, including the township location.
          And the Alpine Fault overdue for a major earthquake runs right under the biggest commercial buildings in the main street.

  7. In other news Kiwirail is running Napier to Wairoa log trains 5 days per week.
    The Aratere is back from dry docking in Sydney and Kiwirail will start a new Auckland Christchurch freight services.
    And just to go with the picture of the horse think about the logistics of running a horse tramway. According to this the Douglas horse tramway has 28 horses to operate a tramway only 2.6 km long.

    1. Royce, well spotted with the Napier Gisborne line. Saving 27 truck movements a day is useful in terms of improving road safety and emissions.

      I wonder if it was an even playing field, that is the logging company’s paid road tolls, how many train trips there would be per day?

      1. The forestry owner pays rates on the land for the duration of the growth cycle, during which time there is very little traffic, mostly light utes etc.

        Whether that covers the damage done during logging, I assume not but who knows.

    2. I think there is a study being done on a container yard. Maybe a few containers added onto the rear of a log train would be viable as long as the log trade hangs on. We move very slowly in this country by the time we are ready the rest of the world moves on. And Kiwirail moves even slower.

  8. The last article linked – by Alex Kazemi – is really interesting (for people into probability, especially). Also, the precautionary principle should be being used for so many things we plan.

    “In pandemic terms the precautionary principle means that where there is a potentially catastrophic outcome of an event, even with uncertainty about the exact chance of it occurring, it is wise to act to prevent it, rather than waiting to gather more information on its likelihood. Critics of the principle argue that it is unnecessarily cautious. This is both a misunderstanding of the situations in which it should be used as well as what it does.”

      1. Next year we will, almost overnight, have 165k new residents who can then buy property. My bet is that the slump won’t be next year.

      2. It’s almost impossible for developers to build and sell 2 bedroom townhouses in Auckland for less than 750k now.
        This is due to rapidly rising land and construction costs.
        Much of the demand for new townhouses and apartments has been from first home buyers. A significant portion of that first home buyer demand has come through Homestart, which has a price cap of 700k.
        Combine these factors with increasing mortgage rates and we will see a slump in new house building, as ‘realisable’ demand will shrink.
        But some parts of the sector will keep going strong, such as retirement villages, social housing, and high end housing.

  9. Taleb is one wise and clever dude.
    His ‘Black Swan’ classic specifically mentioned global pandemics.
    Of course one was always expected, but what did countries like NZ do to prepare?
    Diddly squat.
    Why? because over the last 35 years, governments of every stripe have bought into neoliberalism and ‘just in time’ delivery.
    The concept of system redundancy has become a foreign one.
    This must change, across all fields of life, including transport.

  10. The carbon spend on all this new building is going to be enormous.
    The irony of celebrating that yet pissing and moaning about cars.
    I guess we’re all hypocrites when it comes to climate change.

    1. The urgent need for more homes, and the potential carbon cost to build them is precisely why we should be reducing carbon emissions in other areas as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, we should be taking advantage of the building boom to actively test and develop more sustainable and low-carbon ways of building homes.

  11. “The highway expansion addiction”

    When travel is free at the time of use, what else would you expect.

    Roll on congestion charging or real time road pricing, and removal of other road user subsidies for badly titled “externalities”.

    1. K O/S, yes road pricing is well overdue and will bring greater equity regarding who pays for our roads. If you use them frequently you might expect to pay for them frequently.

    1. Let’s have another Harbour Bridge cyclelane day. And let’s make that day the first Sunday in summer, and the second, and the third and every Sunday in summer.

      Isn’t this part of the things that a city council might do if they were responding to a climate emergency?

      But here’s why it won’t happen.
      “Auckland mayor Phil Goff had in June called the project a “sustainable and enduring solution that will benefit the city for generations”.
      However, in a release on Saturday, he said the Government “had listened to and acted on public opinion” in scrapping it.

      As long as we have a leadership who are committed to giving people what they want and not what they need Auckland will make no progress.

      Having said that, the Peoples Panel engagement with focus groups to discuss climate change is interesting. What, if anything, does that project hope to achieve?

      1. Yup. Exactly. And while the government attempts to take small, discrete and fairly random steps towards a sustainable transport system, each individual action will be attacked in the same way, copping the full force of the vested interests and their media backers in turn.

        Research into the Political Economy of Car Dependence shows that to effectively overhaul the system (which is required for a stable and healthy future for our children), an overt programme is required. There are many different strands that need to be tackled at once. Taking fast action is the most gentle way forward, as it provides benefits sooner.

    1. But from Minister Wood
      “Decisions about access to the state highway network formally sit with the Waka Kotahi Board and I have now formally written to them to express my support for a temporary trial that could occur over the quiet summer holiday months, subject to safety considerations being met.”

      We wait to hear from WK whether a summer lane would be possible. Here’s what is possible. In Sao Paulo, one of the biggest cities in the world, on one of the busiest streets in the city, Paulista Avenue, a lane is made available for cycle use every Sunday.

  12. Re : the scrapping of the cycle bridge. It seems that ‘overwhelming public support’ is wheeled out when it’s convenient, but sensible progress and climate change don’t count. The Cycle bridge AND the Eastern busway should be funded. As for the Mayor’s perfidy, it’s as Greta Thunberg says; Blah, blah, blah. Yes, let’s have another Harbour Bridge cycle Sunday. The more visible us cyclists are, the harder it is to be ignored.

    1. Agree, except on the subject of the cycle bridge. I’d rather have a permanently allocated lane, or some other interim solution that leverages off the existing Harbour Bridge, for the short-term. Seems like better value for money to combine the cycle bridge with a busway or light rail crossing as part of AWHC.

      1. Matt, I agree with you that a temporary solution is not the ideal, but it should be the easiest. I sent an OIA off to Waka Kotahi yesterday asking how many weekend vehicle trips on the Harbour Bridge are discretionary. If they aren’t necessary then surely WK could turn over space to cyclists knowing that they wouldn’t be turning a motorists life on its ear? And on the reverse side they are providing a benefit for the proportion of the population who don’t bike.
        I have to admit that I am in the camp that believes that vehicle trips should never be more than they are today to achieve the necessary reduction in carbon emissions and therfore taking one lane of the current bridge is the best solution. Sure EVs will play a part, but this ignores all the imbedded carbon in the vehicle that will be replaced every 19 years on average, not to mention that most of the population cannot afford them or don’t want them.
        Undoubtedly though a PT, cycling /walking bridge is the next best option. For all the reasons that are regularly discussed on this blog we do not need more vehicle lanes.

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