Last week the Automobile Association released their latest Congestion Report and used it to call for more money to be spent on roads.

Auckland’s gridlock nightmare is getting worse with a new report showing travel times are taking longer on the city’s motorways and main roads.

The report, from the Automobile Association, said the current approach to tackling gridlock by focusing on public transport, walking and cycling is not cutting it and more money needs to be spent on roads.

The latest AA Congestion Report 2021 found when the city was not in lockdown during Covid-19 in the middle of last year, typical morning travel times were worse than the three years before the pandemic.

For example, a trip on the Southern Motorway from Papakura to the CBD took 50 minutes last June, seven minutes longer than in June 2018 and 2019.

What’s more, morning peak times on the Southern Motorway are now higher than they were prior to the opening of the Waterview Tunnel in 2017, which provided an alternative to the Southern Motorway through Auckland’s isthmus.

Driving into the CBD from Albany on the Northern Motorway on a typical morning peak increased from 33 minutes pre-Covid in 2019 to 36 minutes in June 2021.

This is the graph they’ve used to show the level of congestion and it is based on Google travel-time data.

The AA pointed out that this increase in travel times comes as Auckland’s population fell slightly in 2021, though they do note that population figures are uneven with it falling in more central areas but continuing to grow around the outer suburban areas where car use tends to be higher. They also said:

“We also expect that lower-than-usual public transport patronage may be translating into increased car trips but, at the same time, more people are also working from home on an ongoing basis so it’s still unclear how big an impact this is having on congestion.”

Public transport use has certainly been lower since the pandemic started and even during the period the AA have highlighted, average weekday usage was sitting at around 74% of normal. While COVID is certainly the main culprit, it’s not the only one. For example:

  • Confidence in public transport, particularly trains, was severely knocked as a result of the rail network shutdowns from mid-2020 through to early 2021. The impact of this can still be seen in the ridership data – following the first lockdown, ridership on both trains and buses recovered at about the same rate but since the rail issues emerged, rail use compared to pre-Covid levels has remained lower than bus use.
  • For years AT only really focused on serving jobs in the city centre with good public transport, and largely ignored it’s potential for other employment areas around the region. But many of those city centre jobs the ones that were most easily able to adapt to working from home.

It’s worth noting that that while the AA say they’ve compared the months when there weren’t restrictions, during those months there was one small form of restriction, or disincentive for using public transport in that masks were (and still are) mandated by the government even though they weren’t required in any other setting.

The ‘congestion’ in the graph above certainly looks like quite a jump, so I thought I’d take a look at Waka Kotahi’s traffic data on the motorways. Given the focus in the Southern Motorway in the reporting, I decided to look at what traffic volumes passing Panama Rd – just south of the Mt Wellington interchange. I averaged out traffic counts for weekdays (this excludes weekends and public holidays) and the results of that are below.

As you can see, the daily traffic volumes are near identical to pre-COVID levels and over the four-month period are only up about 1% on 2019 levels. That 1% represents at most a few thousand vehicles over a 24-hour period, suggesting either (or both):

  • The 1% was enough to tip the scales and cause a big increase in congestion, or;
  • A lot of drivers choose to change to travelling at peak times

That second point This is backed up by this graph from the AA showing that people were experiencing longer journeys earlier in the morning on the Southern motorway.

So what to do about the congestion, the AA say Auckland Transport needs a ‘Change of tack’:

To keep Auckland moving, the report said, will require significant investment across all modes of travel, including roads.

The report stressed travel times must be front and centre for transport investment decisions, whether it’s commuting to work, delivering freight or a trip to the shops, saying travel times “now play second fiddle to a number of well-meaning but impossible to quantify objectives”.

Geard said roading projects planned in growing outer areas of Auckland, such as the northwest and Silverdale, and Drury and Paerata in the south, need to be brought forward because they are already suffering from congestion.

She said Mill Rd, running parallel to the Southern Motorway between Manukau and Drury, is one project that needs an early start to support growth in South Auckland and take pressure off the motorway network.

While the AA think this proves the need for more investment in roads, in reality it proves the opposite. Not a single one of the projects mentioned will do anything to help ease congestion across the region, after all, what happens when they get back to the existing motorway network. Are the AA also suggesting we widen the motorways to cope too?

The Katy Freeway in Houston – is this what the AA want?

One big project they are pushing is a road harbour crossing:

Wide lens needed for new harbour crossing work With planning underway for Auckland’s next Harbour Crossing, it is critical to take on board lessons from previous work. A narrow focus on the need for enhanced PT to the city centre won’t cut it. Nor will a road crossing that simply feeds traffic into the already clogged-up motorways (around half of trips over the Bridge are not bound for the city centre). The Crossing work provides a huge strategic opportunity to take a fresh look at Auckland’s motorway network to identify what role it will need to play to support ongoing population growth, alongside other modes. While expansion of the motorway network is challenging, that’s not a reason to put it in the ‘too hard’ basket.

This suggest they’re also wanting new motorways too?

In reality, any large-scale investments in new or wider roads will have the opposite effect because they’ll encourage more people to drive, all part of the well known principle of induced demand. The AA even themselves highlight an example of this in stating that traffic is now worse than it was before the Waterview tunnels opened only four years earlier.

The ‘solution’ to congestion isn’t to build more roads but to get people out of their cars. To do that we need to make public transport and active modes drastically better, not the small, incremental improvements that we have been seeing – we’ve got about 60 years of lack of investment to catch up on and we don’t have 60 years to achieve it. Encouraging mode-shift can also be helped along by policy measures such as congestion charging, something the AA entirely keen on.

If we want to get a different outcome, we need to stop doing the same thing we’ve been doing for 70 years.

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  1. In shocking news today, company that makes their money from people driving want more people to drive.

    How does an insurance company have any sort of influence in New Zealand transport decisions is beyond me.

    1. I don’t think they do have a lot of influence, it’s just their view coincides with the establishment.

      1. I think they do have a lot of influence. They have guaranteed seats on government transport panels, are consulted before the public as a key “stakeholder”, and are large and wealthy enough to have good access to the media. They have income of $182 million of which only $35 million is spent helping breakdowns and $40 million is profit. Their submissions to government on climate matters are closely aligned with those of the motor industry. It was reported here on GA that their 14-person senior leadership team are paid an average of $500,000 each.

        1. This is still true to some extent but it’s also changing. For e.g. in the previous Setting of Speed Limits Rule they were specifically named as having to be consulted with. This was removed in the new Rule.

  2. Ah yes, we can improve traffic on SH16 by adding more roads in the North West.

    It’s somewhere up there with the idea that you can save a drowning man by spitting on him.

  3. If the AA, truly represented motorists,they would be backing the PT,mode shift thinking, allowing their members freer access to the roading network. But their view of everything is through a windscreen, this outlook has been proven to fail in the past,there are so many overseas examples of this,but of course NZ is “different”. As an AA member,you would want this sort of advocacy from your organization,l guess you don’t work there, unless you “love cars”.

  4. Thanks for posting the pic of the Katy Freeway Matt. I now have a freshly quantified existential threat to send me over the edge.


  5. Do anyone know if the cars number increased in Auckland in the last few years? This might be the reason why the congestion is getting worse?

    1. Of course, they did, until recently there’s been no restriction on vehicle imports apart from vague age limits for second hand imports. No tariffs, no real emissions testing. All of this goes straight on the current account deficit but barely gets a mention in the media.

      1. ‘No restriction on vehicle imports’ other than proof of compliance for emissions regulations AND frontal impact AND TC requirements if the engine is over 2000cc unless it’s a vehicle more than 20 years old or going though a specific exemption process for enthusiast vehicles? And that’s before you get to the recent Clean Car scheme and fuel economy standards.

        This seems to be one of those things people just like to say regardless of whether it’s actually true or not.

        Not sure how the current account deficit is really relevant unless you’re suggesting we should be manufacturing vehicles here and presumably also running the heavy industry and extraction to make that happen internally.

        1. No restriction on numbers being imported. Just the very lax standards required compared with other developed countries. Ironically though, small city EVs are banned as “unsafe” while oversized utes are given the red carpet treatment.

    2. And its not just that there are more cars. The cars are bigger, which increases congestion too. Longer queues. Fewer cars get through the lights in each cycle. Wider cars have to pause more often that smaller cars do, until they can use the opposing lane in order to pass wider parked cars. They cruise for parking spaces for longer, because they can’t fit in any space. And there are a number of safety- and modeshift-related mechanisms that compound the congestion problems from bigger vehicles, too.

      1. and the larger vehicles are often driven with less consideration as the drivers are safely protected inside them. And as we were always told back in the day ” the best defense against a tank is another tank”. Thus people are buying them to feel safer on our roads from others driving them as well.

  6. I am surprised that they didn’t add that building more roads reduces emissions (via the assumption that more roads -> less congestion -> less emissions).

    1. Meh, I think that one has been put to bed a bit by the NZTA.
      When every roading project comes with “negative carbon benefits” in their business cases then it becomes quite hard to argue the opposite.

      If only the same losses were highlighted more for the money side of things.

  7. Judging by the number of Powell transport trucks I see carting containers to and from Pukekohe my suggestion for reducing congestion would be to build a rail served container yard on the branch line near Paerata. Much less trackwork than installing on the double tracked mainline. From there containers could be dispatched to Westfield for national distribution on main trunk trains and Auckland and Tauranga ports for export/import or coastal shipping. Onions on trains.

    1. Not until Kiwirail can get its freight trains to stop breaking down every week throwing the commuter service into chaos. Another one at Pukekohe this morning. A few days ago, another freight train was partially blocking the Eastern line.

      1. I’m still advocating for getting kiwirail out of train operations business. Make them something like a chorus, a regulated entity required to operate the infrastrucutre, and if we need some sort of baseline operations by a public entity we can have one called kiwitrain, but it should play by the same rules as everyone else.
        (ref italy for how this could work)

        Train contracts be it govt or private, should be purchasable. By anyone who needs and wants it.

  8. Its quite the time to argue this point. While there is some investment in the public transport “tack”, a lot of this is only coming due in 2024-2025.

    I think the real nail in the coffin for their argument is the bridge and the busway. I don’t see how someone could see the busway success, and turn around and argue that this isn’t working?

    1. But hey. If the extra harbour bridge gets built, all those people on the northern express can finally switch back to driving.

      (And obviously AA will have some insurance to sell to them)

    1. I love the irony of the situation. Americans genuinely believe they are a free country but they are restricted by the values of some long dead founding fathers. Had they remained part of the UK they would now enjoy more freedoms and more reasonable laws designed for the current population rather than those who lived 200 years ago.

        1. But it is funny that they fought their way out of the United Kingdom only to end up as a flawed democracy below Chile in the rankings.

          Had they stayed with the UK they would have enjoyed the improvements of the Reform Acts and achieved a full democracy like Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Still when you meet most of them you don’t feel one bit sorry for their predicament. We all get the government we deserve.

      1. Slavery would have been abolished a lot sooner too and there would not have been the joke Sheriff’s, police and other law enforcement services paid independently by each town/city and county.

  9. We do not need more roads. Roads only add to the congestion. We need to add to our rail network. Our rail gauge can be made to take trains travelling at 160km/hr, over 200km/hr in Japan. I have argued since 1986 that we need rail to North Shore. The cheapest route is around the harbour via Hobsonville. Build it to a standard to get trains from Albany to the CBD in 15 minutes. Easily possible today. I was involved in the UK, getting tracks upgraded to take the APT train at 200km/hr. We can do that here. We just need the will to make it happen. There is a total blockage to suggestions to improve rail in NZ. Tunneled light rail should be “heavy” rail. The tunnels cost the same. We need all our passenger trains to have access to all the new trackwork built. Start now with “heavy” rail from Onehunga to Mangere and the airport, and on to Wiri, to produce a loop for trains from Pukekohe to serve the airport. Start this first, than add the tunneled route via Mt Roskill. Much of this can be built with the money being added for roads for the next 10 years. I will even add, the Mill Road motorway should be a rail line. A motorway will only add massive congestion where it joins SH1. Think electrified rail from now on. The best solution to climate change.

    1. I agree, Alan Spinks. The existing rail system is effective and largely free from interactions with other traffic and other functions (Yes, I know it has its weaknesses and there is much that needs improving). If new tunnelled -routes are to be built there is little if anything to be gained by putting a different train-system inside them on some sort of principle . I don’t like to use the term “heavy rail” as the passenger units that currently operate are not particularly heavy and are not bound by the constraints of “real heavy rail” such as would apply to 2000-tonne coal trains being hauled at 1in33 through the Otira Tunnel.
      To those who claim that a separate light rail or light metro system would bring better overall reliability through not being affected by failures on the existing system – I answer that this principle does not necessitate a different and incompatible mode in order to apply. Separation of routes and their operations, while using similar rolling stock, could achieve the same thing.
      And Alan – I too worked on the APT with British Rail back in the 1980s.

      1. If new tunnelled -routes are to be built there is little if anything to be gained by putting a different train-system inside them on some sort of principle

        Sure there is, primarily the signaling system. We could go for a fully automated metro and get rid of the drivers. Have much faster frequencies. It seems very unlikely that we would be able to do away with the drivers on the existing network, or any line bounded by existing heavy rail standards.

        1. Exactly, Jack.

          Quite a few heavy rail advocates also seem to ignore the impact on service frequency of cramming every RTN route onto the heavy rail network; in particular through the City Rail Link with its capacity limit of 18-24 trains per hour.

          By building a second, standalone rail system – either light rail or automated light metro – the service frequency on all rail lines in Auckland will be maximized. Trains up to every 4 minutes to Swanson, Papakura, & Manukau. Light rail/metro up to every 3 minutes to Orewa, Takapuna, Huapai, and Mangere.

          An all-heavy rail network, by comparison, would achieve no better than 7-10 minute headways on each line without duplicating the CRL for great expense and little or no additional catchment

    2. Alan, I’d suggest you have a look at Automated Light Metro like the “Hitachi Rail Italy Driverless Metro”. Proven off-the-shelf system with trains of up to 700 passengers with 90 second headway. Thats over 20,000 passengers per hour.

      A line of that going from Airport, Mangere, Royal Oak, Newmarket, CBD and then North to the Shore is a much better option. Run as much as possible above ground to save even more.

    3. Alan, one of the reasons that light rail is necessary is because of the capacity of the City Rail Link. It will only be able to handle 24 trains per hour each way in the long run.

      To jam heavy rail to the Airport and North Shore into such a network would be folly, because it would cap peak frequencies on each line at every 10 minutes or worse; whereas by building a completely separate light rail or light metro system frequencies of every 5 minutes or better on every route, both heavy rail and light rail, would be possible; and more to the point less expensive than constructing a second grade-separate heavy rail tunnel underneath central Auckland.

      Otherwise I agree with the rest of what you’re saying on higher-speed intercity trains and electrification instead of more roads.

      1. The cost to upgrade the existing infrastructure to support up to 160km/h trains every 2.5 mins on each line will be less than adding the light rail. Britomart has four platforms which will support a train leaving every 2.5mins on each line through the CRL. That’s 24 trains an hour on each line so 48 trains an hour through the CRL. We know it’s possible as other railways around the world achieve this. If light rail is to go in, I would hope it will be compatible with the rest of the network to future proof it. Ideally, a tunnel from Britomart to the North Shore can be added when we can afford it. In the mean time, a line could be added next to SH16 and SH18 to Albany.

        1. I disagree, and I don’t think you’ve got the facts right.

          The 48 trains per hour through the CRL is misleading – it’s 24 trains per hour each way, on each track and you have to divide that by the number of lines. Number of platforms at Britomart doesn’t change that. That is how other suburban rail systems work – 24-30 trains per hour each way through a central tunnel splits to 4-12 trains per hour on each individual line.

          The more destinations you force heavy rail to accomodate, the more through-routed lines you squeeze through the CRL, and the lower the frequencies of each line. 2 lines through the CRL could each achieve 5 minute peak frequencies; for 3 lines that drops to 7.5 minutes, for 4 lines that drops to 10 minutes. It should be crucial in transit advocates minds that higher frequencies are better; especially given the pandemic’s effect on commuting patterns.

          In Auckland’s case there is no advantage to tram-trains. You would only further reduce line frequencies, reduce the overall capacity of the network, and create a complex entanglement of lines with single points of failure that would cause huge disruption in the event of an incident or accident. Better to keep modes separate, and redundant.

          I do not think it will be possible to add a tunnel from Britomart to the North Shore; nor do I think it would deliver the best benefits. Light rail or light metro would be able to reuse the busway corridor with its current axle loads and gradients; heavy rail would require tunneling all the way to Albany, with accordingly higher costs and fewer stations.

        2. There are four lines with a train every ten mins. A train staggered to safely enter and pass through the CRL every 2.5mins allows up to 24 in each direction, so 48. The current trains support up to 373 passengers x 48 = 17,904 passengers per hour. If we purchased trains that support 1000 people, that would be 48,000 per hour. Trains from the north shore will mean we don’t need another bridge. We can easily build a train to Albany via the SH16/18 route with a 15min commute. Removing commuters off Auckland roads to trains will significantly improve congestion allowing those that need to be on our roads e.g. businesses, trades people and trucks to be more efficient.

        3. “We can easily build a train to Albany” – no we can’t. While it may be a good idea, thinking that anything like that is going to be easy is unfortunately a delusion. It’ll be difficult, and proponents need to be very aware of that.

          Agreed with the rest, but “up to 24 in each direction, so 48” is not correct. It’s the capacity in one direction, the peak flow, that counts, so 24 = 24, not 48.

        4. Julian – no one is going to the expense of building a new line for a train every 10 mins. Anything on the North Shore will be targeting a train every 2 – 4 minutes.

          It’s far too much money to provide no more than the frequencies on current rail lines and significantly less frequent than the existing busway.

        5. “Agreed with the rest, but “up to 24 in each direction, so 48” is not correct. It’s the capacity in one direction, the peak flow, that counts, so 24 = 24, not 48.”

          Yep, 24 in the inbound direction from the port and 24 in the inbound direction from Mt Eden. That’s 48 inbound trains.

        6. I’m not suggesting a train from Albany every ten minutes. You would have a schedule as frequent as possible. If you have taken the bus from Albany to Lower Albert street, at peak times, the buses are nose to tail from Victoria park, which means the route has reached capacity. A train every few mins carrying a thousand passengers at a time will allow more commuters per hour, for example. To build the line would be easy compared to building another bridge, for example, but you can read ‘easier’ if you prefer. In short, building more motorways for commuters is not the answer, but focussing on low emission transport options is the best option.

        7. @Julian – but unless you are proposing additional, expensive heavy rail infrastructure under the city centre, just “connecting north shore rail to the tracks at Britomart” would result in max possible 10 minute frequencies.

          Via SH16/18? In 15 minutes? I’m sorry, but that’s straight-up not viable for a North Shore route; unless you’re dreaming of a route with minimal stations and minimal catchment. The SH16 alignment needs its own Northwestern mass transit – ideally light rail or metro integrated into the same system as North Shore and Airport lines – and the SH18 corridor would better support a crosstown busway between Albany, Westgate, and Henderson.

          I do not disagree with the fact that public transport is far better than building motorways; but heavy rail dogma does not help the progress of mass transit in Auckland. Light rail or light metro, separate to the heavy rail system, would offer higher possible frequencies, greater coverage and catchment, and similar speeds & capacity for lower costs.

  10. Most of the onions need to go to Favona or to Auckland Airport business park, to head out to the supermarkets.

    1. Well I expect they go in trucks not containers. I don’t know if Kiwirail distributes onions nationwide if they don’t well maybe there is an opportunity. However many are exported look for standard containers with one door removed apparently onions do not like to be stored in air tight boxes. But it’s not just onions many containers are trucked to the Pukekohe area yet the rail line is right there.

  11. A lot will depend upon what happens to the price of petrol and diesel and interest and inflation rates. Some people who believe they couldn’t possibly use public transport or walk or cycle might find that they can. Some people might even find that the don’t have to drive because they don’t have any work to go to. We have even be told that half the population is about to take off for greener pastures no doubt to be replaced by immigration many of whom come from less car dependent society. Of course data to date suggest new immigrants quickly adapt to our car culture. Either way people who want to drive will have to be prepared to pay and pay if you cant afford it the answer is staring you in your eyeballs. It’s like buying imported grapes Instead of Kiwi fruit in the middle of July cost and inflation is dictated by your retail choices.

  12. Daily traffic volumes are near identical to pre-COVID levels — despite fuel being almost a dollar per litre more expensive than back then.

    How do we expect congestion charging to work?

    1. It might happen as the cycle of car replacement happens. As the older cars break down and aren’t able to be repaired or the 2-3 year finance cycle for those who borrow to replace their cars, they will think about the requirement and/or size of their cars.

      1. That is true, but because of the higher price we would still have expected a decrease.

        In fact I would expect a stronger effect from more expensive fuel because driving off peak also got more expensive.

        1. You will have actually seen a decrease, just not very noticeable. The short term elasticity of travel demand is low, the long term elasticity is higher. People need to choose different homes, jobs, schools, etc and that takes time.

    2. Needs to be a lot more then a normal trip cost wise to be effective like London:

      In London if I take my Hyundai i30 1.3l diesel into Central London it will cost me £15 for the congestion charge and £12.50 for the emission charge.
      A total NZ $53 a day. That would quickly stop people driving.

      What is interesting though, my Jaguar F Pace SUV with a 3 litre engine, is exempt from the emission fee!

      The biggest annoyance is HS2 is being built 200 meters from my garden but because I do not live in London or Birmingham I’m forced to drive in to one of those two to use it!

      1. “The biggest annoyance is HS2 is being built 200 meters from my garden but because I do not live in London or Birmingham I’m forced to [travel] in to one of those two to use it!”

        HS2 also frees up the existing tracks for vastly improved services.

  13. Apparently Erwin Schrödinger told Albert Einstein the Copenhagen cycle enthusiasts were idiots who believed you could remove 10 traffic lanes and a town could be both alive and dead at the same time so long as you don’t actually look at it.

  14. Yes. The quality of the experience on any busy highway (including sense of delay) is controlled by the quality of the alternatives. Improving the frequency, speed, comfort, reliability, span, reach, stations and station access, and cost to use, of the parallel rail service (in this case) will tempt drivers away from driving.

    In fact do it so well (likely will require more accurate pricing of the road too) that the freeway empties and the trains fill, and the reverse will happen too. An emptier highway will tempt some drivers back. Thus an equilibrium can be achieved, but only through proper commitment to making the alternatives viable and attractive (including active modes for shorter journeys).

    This is well understood in more serious analyses than the karr klubb seems capable of as shown by this press release. It is know as the Nash Equilibrium, and should be obvious to any curious Aucklander who considers the SH1 north and the harbour bridge, which only works at all in the peak because the busway, and SH1 south of the city right now, because of the drop in train use (caused by covid and service fails) leading to this very blip.

    After 70 years of total investment AKL’s urban highways are everywhere, interconnected, and wide, but will always remain inefficient and prone to failure at any time because of the immaturity and low quality of the alternatives. Happily there has been some effort to fix this, but will need total focus of investment to catch up.

    This is what any serious lobby group would be urging now.

  15. Since the onset of Covid, driving has again become the default way to get around; buses and trains, even with half-price fares, run largely empty.

    Public transport will continue to suffer even after Covid passes, whenever that is. Covid justified working from home and studying online, which meant fewer people travelled to and from the central city.

    Working (and studying) remotely have become more accepted and it’s difficult to see as many commuting to the central city as before the pandemic. In addition, a lot of people view the CBD as an unattractive place to visit.

    The government is spending $569 million, not on improving public transport, but on helping low-income people get out of polluting cars and into less polluting ones.

    People in low-income suburbs are less likely to travel to the CBD and are therefore less likely to use public transport than those in better-off areas.

    Cars are affordable to almost everyone in New Zealand and are part of our way of life; the government’s scheme recognizes this. However, it’s unlikely to significantly reduce our carbon emissions.

    1. Around the world it seems like PT is generally running at about 70% pre-covid levels.
      Work from home is rapidly ending in NZ, and has rapidly ended overseas as well. Universities are back in person. Sure there are plenty of exceptions, and quite a few office jobs do one or two days WFH a week.

      But by and large the impact from this changes little long term. Compared to the PT growth pre-covid, and considering the signifiant expansion, zoning changes, upgrades with projects that are coming due, and ballooning fuel prices, it wont be more than a few years that Auckland is well surpassing its 2019 record highs.

      1. Work from home is still very common in the UK and doors not look to be going away.

        My employer, one of the world’s largest airlines, still has 90% of its office based work force at home which for those of us that actually have to work at the coal face, can be quite a pain when HR/IT/Customer Service/Stores systems fail. The company wins though as it’s not paying for staff parking, building rents, utilities etc. The same applies elsewhere.

  16. Hang on regarding the motorway data, wasn’t the Takanini area motorway upgrade under construction still back then?
    Regardless, people are perhaps not spreading out their peak travel as much as they did prior to COVID, this would certainly add to travel times. In fact it probably stays pretty static with any extra induced traffic going either side of the peaks.

  17. No worries about the huge amount of extra renewable energy that would be required. Zero emissions. What a lovely fantasy.

    1. Currently about 15% of NZ ‘s power comes from Genesis Huntly dirty energy. So how is NZ going to make green hydrogen? And don’t tell me that power will come from somewhere else – it all feeds into the same grid.
      We may well drive less. Vienna has a car mode share target of 20% by 2026. Maybe NZ will have sufficient adverse weather events that, like Australia, we start to take matters seriously?

  18. So what should we do?

    – Spend a large amount of money buying those electric cars, and a huge amount of money on the extra electricity generation and transmission we need, and still deal with all the other negative external effects (*) of cars.
    – Spend maybe 1% of that money on electric bikes and Paxsters.

    It is maybe not a bad idea per se, it is just that there are better and much cheaper alternatives.

    (*) noise, danger to other people, sheer amount of space it takes up, social isolation, pollution from tyres, take your pick.

    Note your new electric cars may consume more electricity than your entire current electricity bill.

  19. “The report, from the Automobile Association, said the current approach to tackling gridlock by focusing on public transport, walking and cycling is not cutting it and more money needs to be spent on roads.”

    Yes, in this respect the AA is correct.

    However their solution is incorrect. Simply building more roads is not feasible (& not necessarily desirable) unless one has very deep pockets (e.g. Abu Dhabi – the least congested capital city in the world – TomTom index)

    The best technical approach is to make vehicle drivers pay their full costs, as they are currently heavily subsidised and cross subsisided. I.e.:
    a) no congestion tolls (roads are < capacity circa 80% of the time)
    b) zero or underpriced parking fees
    c) no air pollution vehicle emission fuel excise tax
    d) underpayment towards crash costs
    e) ratepayer cross subsidy
    f) developer contributions cross subsidy
    g) underpayment by trucks towards road maintenance

    Only with vehicle users paying closer to, or their actual real full costs can peak hour (commuter & weekend shopping) travel demand be managed within the road capacity and sufficient space be made available for PT priority and vision zero facilities for cyclists and pedestrians.

    1. Other way round, Todd! And PT subsidies make things better, those listed by k_o are making things worse.

    2. If all the vehicle driver subsidies are removed then the PT subsidies would be much lower.
      PT also provides a social wellbeing benefit in that it provides transport to those that dont have a car.

  20. Lol oil broker using fake name tries to gaslight us into thinking pets are the cause of climate change, and a substitute form of hydrocarbon mining will fix it.

    1. This neatly embraces the BP (I think it was) generated con that it’s important to reduce our individual carbon footprints. Of course it is, but a dog being the carbon equivalent of an SUV means that these are penny numbers compared with industrial emitters, which is where the big problem lies.

      As with “population – a much bigger crisis than climate change” – nice try at diverting attention from where it matters! Individual effort is vital, but without corporate efforts climate change will get us, whatever we as individuals do about dogs and kids.

  21. I don’t disagree with the retoric here about needing more public transport/modeshift intiatives – but I really don’t see anything being done in the worst congested areas – look to the West (and the South) and show me a tranformational public transport project that is actually started and not just talked about in the ‘future’ tense. The fact is that in the short to medium we need both road improvements (prioritising buses) and PT for an efficient, resilient and flexible system. But more importantly we need less less ’10 year plans’ and more ‘doing’. I think AA is merely highlighting (in their own way) how little has being done by AT and WK in the last 5+ years to alleviate congestion.

    1. “But more importantly we need less less ’10 year plans’ and more ‘doing’. ”

      For me, this is the crux of the matter. All we do is talk. We have great ideas and never implement any of them.

  22. They’re right, you’re wrong. Adding lanes works. It’s why American cities dominate the bottom of the TomTom Congestion Index.

    1. That index is about vehicles, whereas what matters is transport of people. It does not pick up all those who are not affected by congestion because they use good alternatives to those general-purpose roads: that’s what really works.

      In terms of urban transport, American cities are an unfortunate aberration (with the odd notable exception).

      1. If those people were included, American cities would look even better since public transportation is pretty much always slower than even congested roads.

    2. It’s why American cities dominate the bottom of the congestion index, the bottom of livability indices and the bottom of lists showing shortest commute times.

      1. Actually, American cities also have the shortest commutes. And livability is a matter of perspective.

  23. The 1950’s Halcrow-Thomas Report for Auckland Transport recommendations for mass rail transit are still relevant 72 years later. Unfortunately Auckland followed the American Transport model with cars promising a better future. After 70years of building more roads we can’t in 2022 repeat the same ideas that caused the problems in the first place and expect a different result. Extreme climatic disasters now daily occurrence throughout the world dictate urgency for action rather than endless talk. A century ago what took 5 years to build (rail trams, etc) now in 2020’s takes years of talk and then often nothing gets done. Maybe if it is the inadequacy of our people, get proven expertise from say, The Netherlands, Australia ,etc. and copy a proven modern system . Rail gauge for light rail must remain same as standard NZ rail allowing flexibility for future. Good to read interesting replies especially with picture of Katy Freeway in Houston, another monstrosity like the LA interchange IMO.

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