On October 20th 2017 I wrote a very hopeful post about the change that is coming to transport. The previous evening Winston Peters had, finally, chosen to form a Government with Labour. In that post I laid out a lot of reasons to be hugely optimistic about the future. This included:

  • Support for implementing our ‘Congestion Free Network’ including major progress on light-rail to the Airport and the Northwest within the decade.
  • A commitment to push ahead with inter-regional passenger rail between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga, as we originally proposed in our Regional Rapid Rail concept
  • Ending a bunch of stupidly expensive, low value roading projects like East West Link and other proposed Roads of National Significance
  • A significant boost for cycling funding, including delivery of key missing links like SkyPath across the Waitemata Harbour in Auckland
  • A big shakeup of funding priorities in the GPS, and a new version of ATAP to recognise the much more aligned strategy of the Government with Auckland Council

Looking back, nearly five years later now, obviously there have been some positive changes and progress on some good things, but I have a sense of disappointment. Not so much that I feel misled, but rather that – with a few notable exceptions – they haven’t done well at achieving their goals.

Perhaps what makes it all the more frustrating and disappointing is that over the past 5 years we have had two Ministers of Transport – Phil Twyford and now Michael Wood – who have both seemed to understand their portfolios and the need for change that is very much in line with the vision Greater Auckland has for transport in this city, and indeed this country.

Te Huia – a rare improvement the government actually delivered.

So what’s gone wrong? Or am I being overly negative? Let’s look at those two questions, starting with the latter.

Should we actually be disappointed?

There is no doubt this government has done some really good things when it comes to transport over the past five years. Things that come to mind in particular are:

  • Both GPS 2018 and 2021 brought transport policy out of the dark ages and into the 21st century, with a much stronger focus on actually achieving important outcomes like safety, emissions reduction, access, mode shift and more.
  • The excellent transport chapter of the Emissions Reduction Plan, which sets us on a path to a fundamentally transformed transport future in this country. Some of the policies coming out of this, like the Clean Car rebate scheme have been really good at accelerating electrification of the vehicle fleet.
  • Public transport fares have been halved (although only temporarily)
  • Changes to housing policy like the National Policy Statement for Urban Development and the Medium Density Residential Standards, as well as the removal of minimum parking requirements, will make it easier for more homes to be built close to high quality transport options. These changes have been far more significant than we imagined was possible.
  • The Road to Zero strategy, which starts to embed vision zero principles to road safety and highlights that deaths and serious injuries are avoidable and unacceptable
  • Enabling a Regional Fuel Tax for Auckland, which has allowed major progress on key Auckland Transport projects like the Eastern Busway, road safety programmes and the Puhinui interchange
  • The Te Huia intercity passenger service between Hamilton and Auckland was introduced, and has continued to grow in popularity once people realised its target market is more day-trippers and people making business trips, not just peak time commuters.
  • East West Link was cancelled. Back in 2017 this was estimated to cost $2 billion and was labelled the most expensive road per kilometre ever by the infrastructure lobby that apparently supported it. Given the other project cost blowouts I hate to think what that cost would be today and the hole it would be putting in our transport budgets.

Yet at the same time, there’s some massive disappointments alongside these wins. Again, just a few that come to mind:

  • The absolute ongoing debacle that is Light Rail. More than seven years after originally being proposed by Auckland Transport and nearly five years after the government took the project over we have nothing but a stupidly impractical $15 billion tunnel idea that seemingly everyone knows will never happen – and even if it does happen, we we probably won’t see it for a decade.
  • The ongoing mess of the NZ Upgrade Programme. It was originally announced in January 2020, just before COVID struck and seemingly to quieten down political difficulties around not progressing a bunch of major highways that were never affordable anyway. But it has been nothing but an ugly headache from start to finish.
    First, it included a bunch of projects like Mill Road, Penlink and Otaki to North of Levin that directly contradict the good policy changes mentioned above. Then last year gigantic cost blowouts hit every project, followed shortly after by the cancellation of Skypath because Waka Kotahi refused sensible options like a combined PT and active mode bridge. Seemingly the only projects that haven’t been a complete disaster are the rail ones being delivered by KiwiRail – which were probably the most sensible bunch of the lot.
  • A complete lack of progress on Northwest Rapid Transit over the past five years – aside from some woefully inadequate short-term improvements. While arguably not as bad as what’s happened with the City Centre to Mangere corridor, which is now in a worse place compared to five years ago, the fact that no further planning and design work seems to have progressed at all for the northwest over the past five years is pretty outrageous. The fact that this government is talking about another harbour crossing and spending $830 million on Penlink while nothing happens on Northwest Rapid Transit just boggles my mind.
  • The very hastily arranged reduction in fuel tax and road user charge that has never had a clear exit plan and now looks likely to become permanent – a massive subsidy for burning fossil fuels at a time when we’re apparently trying to reduce our emissions.

Overall, perhaps the best way to summarise is that the government has certainly talked a much better talk, modernising many policies and setting things up to be better in the future. But they’ve been hopeless when it comes to actually making change on the ground. When it’s come to the really big decisions that will actually affect what happens in reality – rather than just fancier words on a page – they’ve either struggled to make things happen (like light-rail), or they’ve made decisions completely inconsistent with what they’re trying to achieve (like most of NZUP).

Mill Road – the most expensive NZUP project despite being contrary to government’s transport objectives. Subsequently cancelled.

Therefore I think we should be disappointed. Perhaps worse than this I think the Government should be really disappointed in themselves in terms of what they’ve actually achieved – or not achieved – over the past five years in transport. They’ve had such admirable goals and objectives, but have somehow failed miserably in delivering the things to help achieve these goals. It’s very sad really.

So what’s gone wrong?

Looking above at the things which have generally gone right and the things that have gone wrong, I think two big things stand out:

  1. The government has been let down by its officials – especially delivery agencies like Waka Kotahi. While mid-level officials have done an increasingly good job at writing nice policies and plans, the government has been too trusting that delivery agencies would willingly get on with implementing those same policies. In fact it seems like those delivery agencies have done everything possible to undermine and delay progress. I’m surprised a much more significant overhaul of different transport organisations, roles and responsibilities has not occurred yet.
  2. The government has made bad decisions when in a rush. The mess of NZUP since its inception is largely due to the secretive, hurried way it was put together for political reasons rather than aligning with policy. The same can be said for light rail where after previous failures the government were keen to show progress. Then again with the FED/RUC reduction, a massive change to transport funding systems that was hurried through.

Making bad decisions in a rush is something hopefully that can be avoided in the future – probably through having better advisors in key positions. The problem with rogue delivery agencies runs much deeper and will require a lot more sustained effort to fix.

Skypath – what should have been

Looking back, perhaps the government didn’t quite foresee the level of institutional pushback it would get when shifting priorities away from a series of hand plucked mega roading projects towards more of an outcomes-led, multi-modal approach to transport. Perhaps it should have recognised much earlier the need to focus on forcing change within those delivery agencies. Or at the very least, successive Ministers of Transport should have had the very best advisors in the country so they knew when agencies and officials were pulling the wool over their eyes.

What to do?

Looking at the list of good things and bad things above, what’s perhaps interesting is that the government has made a lot of fairly good small decisions, with its mistakes or bad decisions being relatively few in number, but very large in consequence. Ironically this means it’s perhaps easier to put right, because there are only a few things that need to be changed – such as

  • making light-rail a sensible realistic project,
  • making sure NZUP actually aligns with and delivers government transport goals (and getting a good walking and cycling option in place across the harbour) and
  • actually making genuine progress on northwest rapid transit.

But if this is to really stick, I also think more significant change in the transport sector is required – a big shakeup of who does what, alongside the planning and investment processes which shape the future of our transport system.

The government has spent five years talking a good talk. It now needs to start walking the walk.

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  1. Work on the third line from Otahuhu to Wiri continues. The Middlemore station needs an extra platform and that should happen soon. In the Wiri, Otahuhu area there are 20 or more new very large industrial buildings and most have a siding to connect to rail.
    The Southern and Eastern trains now speed along, for most of the journey, sometimes reaching 110km/hr and that has been achieved after many improvements along the way.
    Kiwi Rail has invested $1 billion over the past few years and is increasing its share of goods transported.
    Work on electrification to Pukekohe continues but it takes time.
    I think upwards of 500 km of 100 year old lines and 20 000 sleepers have been replaced.
    Old train lines have been brought back.
    There are many new housing projects close to some stations such as at Middlemore, Sylvia Park, K’Rd and increasing numbers will use PT.

    1. There is a lot happening with the rail system right now. None of it is very sexy, but it is absolutely critical to the network.

      The 2020 rail issues (half speed, half frequency rolling months of zero service) were really annoying, but ultimately they needed to happen.

    2. A lot of good stuff has being done on the rail network. However if light rail is off the agenda then heavy rail is going to have to do a lot of the work. The third main is well underway. Some express services along with the completion of the CRL will supercharge ridership. Transfer between bus, ferry and rail needs to be made convenient. Look at what has being done at Puhinui as an example. It to late now but Woods should never have doubled down on light rail ter Twyford stuffed it up.

    3. The third track between Westfield and Otahuhu is now in use meaning southbound Eastern line trains can bypass the Westfield Junction and travel direct to platform 3 Otahuhu Station. There are now 3 lines available between the Mt Wellington Highway overbridge and Otahuhu station so trains can travel alongside, even *gasp* overtake in this section. After years of disruption, it is heartening to finally see some real improvements coming on line with the promise of more in the near future.

  2. It’s so annoying that New Zealand has a government that won’t get stuff done because everyone wants to argue about it. It’s such a stupid thing. If we just bit the bullet and actually got things done, it would solve a lot of problems. They would have stopped complaining about traffic years ago if they’d just done something about it. But instead they’re just going to do nothing and sit there whining about it.

    I wish that they would just hurry up and build some good public transport for Auckland because we really need it.

    1. There is fierce resistance from AT, Waka Kotahi and the car lobby.
      They are playing political games and resisting intensification, bikeways, lower speed rules, emission reductions, reducing free parking…

  3. Excellent and timely review, Matt. I hope in five years time you are not writing a woeful review on how Simeon Brown has undone the good work done by just pushing through “moar roads”.

    1. My only hope is that in election year, media take an interest in public transport, active modes and emissions.

      I don’t want to pick on one party, but Simeon Brown and National policies need to be examined and reported on in terms of what it would do for emissions at the very least. I don’t know how anybody can look at the evidence and decide that the best idea is for
      “…four lane expressway linking Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga, the reinstatement of the East West Link and the repeal of the Auckland regional fuel tax.

      In case any National party people are reading this; Simeon Brown is the primary reason I probably won’t vote National next year. I feel as though he has heard of terms like induced demand, but just doesn’t understand. And if they get into power and kill light rail; the blame at least partly goes on Labour

      And yes, Labour need to present a plan to deliver if they want to get my vote.

      1. Four lane highways between cities is a must, even with good pubic transport. Even electric cars need roads. SH2 is ridiculous being single lane between Tauranga and Auckland. Not sure how road to zero can be achieved here unless they plan for everyone to travel at 30km

        1. A good rail passenger service between cities is a must, even with all those roads. The East Coast Main being freight only is ridiculous. Economic, wellbeing, equity, and environmental goals just cannot be met by forcing everyone to fly or drive.

        2. Four lane highways between cities isn’t a must; it’s a waste of money and a way to ensure we never reduce our dependence on cars. Electric cars at the level of car ownership and driving that we need for a sustainable multimodal system don’t need more roads than we have now.

          To achieve RtZ, three main shifts are needed when it comes to regional travel:
          1/ Maximum possible modeshift to public transport. PT is considerably safer than driving, so improving modeshift and *not* increasing road capacity (which shifts modeshare in the wrong direction) are both important.

          2/ Improving our regional roads for walking and cycling, with paths separated from vehicles. Focusing on safety therefore points us in the direction of using the available space or taking additional property to provide those paths; trying to find space for additional traffic lanes would be counterproductive.

          3/ Shifting as much freight from trucks to rail as possible, reducing the size of trucks, and enabling local freight movements to occur in smaller electric vehicles and on e-cargo bikes by making sure those modes are safe (ie making safe cycling paths and reducing the volume or traffic and size of trucks on the carriageway).

        3. “Four lane highways between cities is a must, even with good pubic [sic] transport”
          That is the sort of ‘reckon’ that junior politicians sometime think is a good idea and push as policy.
          Then the wiser heads like engineering professionals have to talk them through how it actually works; you have budget of $x billion per year, mostly going into maintaining all those expensive roads and so you need to put the money into projects with the highest bang for buck; aka benefit-cost ratio (BCR).

          Most people understand that putting money into a projects with a lower BCR doesn’t make any sense. Unfortunately you can call them RONS to try and justify building the wrong thing at the wrong time

          The fact that the National party are not promoting stuff which has evidence and sound business case, is really poor level of politics over common sense. It’s worrying coming from a major party that could be in power

          Even electric cars need roads
          You are right. Good thing there is already roads there that have a lot of money spent on them.
          There are also more efficient EVs that can move large numbers of people and freight between Auckland and Tauranga even faster and more efficiently without roads. They are called trains. And regional rail should be looked at as well; not just ‘mor roads’.

          “SH2 is ridiculous being single lane between Tauranga and Auckland”
          The actual experts who monitor traffic volumes and design roading solutions can decide if more lanes give net benefit; not politicians making empty promises. Those same experts are also looking at about 85,000 km of roads in NZ and having to prioritise which roads need work the most.

          Not sure how road to zero can be achieved here unless they plan for everyone to travel at 30km
          You almost got it

          You build more roads, and they will come; aka the law of induced demand. You build wider, faster roads at enormous cost and it will induce demand, meaning more cars/trucks on the road, more emissions and probably more deaths/injuries.

          And that same billions spent on road widening could be used for many other things that are better off in the long. Some ideas:



        4. If you look up Google maps you will find it gives three options to travel by road between Auckland and Tauranga. At the moment they are building a new roundabout south of Katikati so the quickest is to travel on the Waikato expressway to Cambridge and then across the Kaimai range. So plenty of choices and capacity I really don’t think we need 4 lanes. It is good to see all the wire barriers appearing on state highway 2. Having trains as another option would be great. But don’t forget Intercity runs buses you can view the detour through Thames as a bonus we are not all in that much of a hurry.

  4. Good post, thanks. I share the sense of lost time and opportunity. My question is, what’s being done to connect with all the parts of the community who are open to change?

    For example, we see the clever Vision Zero ads on TV, but where are the ones about low-carbon travel?

    Meanwhile, the new Māngere bridge across the harbour would have been a perfect springboard for a big public discussion of a people’s bridge across the Waitematā (which is starting to seem cheap at the original price now.)

    And there’s growing curiosity about intercity rail. So much good energy for a government to tap into, before it’s too late.

    1. “Clever” Vision Zero ads ? I’ve seen no clever ads. I’ve only seen endlessly repeated stupidly banal adverts that serve only to infuriate me at the waste of my tax dollars on rubbish adverts about a man on a mountain bike implausibly arriving to see if the people in a slight prang are OK, an infeasible amount of people climbing out of a car, and a girl with a lisp wanting to be a twin. And they cut the best bit – of the over-worked roadworkers actually doing the hard mahi, getting irritated and saying “Stop that please!!”

      How many times does this advert show a night, per channel? 20? 25? A thousand dollars a time? Two thousand? There is literally millions and millions of Waki Kotahi funds (ie Tax-payer funded) gone into these banal adverts, none of which will have the slightest effect on reducing the road troll in any real way.

      In fact, that is the biggest failing of modern Governments, and especially this one – that when they want to DO something, the first thing is to pay for a rebrand, and the second is to pay for a TV advert campaign. Three Waters advert campaign anyone? The main area where Megan Woods has the upper hand over Phil Twyford is that while he spent far too much time claiming what he was going to do (10,000 houses a year for ten years?), Megan Woods is not shouting from the rooftops, but is just quietly getting on and doing it. Not 10,000 but a fair number, and heaps more in the pipeline.

      1. Maybe you need to retune your sense of humour; the one featuring the speed limit clipboard guy made me smile (even if, technically, that’s not how we review speed limits…). Apparently Road to Zero advertising will cost us about $15 million over the next three years as part of the $2.9 billion they’ll be spending on other stuff like median barriers, raised crossings, safety cameras, lower speed limits and other safe system treatments. It was my understanding that education and enforcement were always part of the standard “3 Es” of road safety alongside engineering, so I don’t really have a problem with Waka Kotahi spending *checks notes* 0.5% of their budget on some advertising to tell people what Road to Zero means…

  5. I think Te Huia is a great example of what is required here; Politicians prepared to stick their necks out and do the hard right rather than the easy wrong. To get on with the work at hand and let the results vindicate their position. In this case it has been the Waikato Regional Council. Well done to them. May their be more of their type to represent and lead us.

  6. You need to make a submission today or tomorrow on PC79 if you don’t want every private driveway and private footpath lit. Some numbskull wants lights everywhere, with associated light pollution and energy consumption in an age where we all have a phone that works like a torch.

    1. I’m going to have to think through the effect on developers for this… if they would have put in a pedestrian access as well as a driveway, but now have to put in lighting on both… won’t the effect be to cut out the pedestrian access if they can?

      My first impressions of the accompanying report into the lighting provisions is that “considering a plan change because of the NPSUD” is just more of the same “Gummint made us” rubbish. If pedestrians using the pedestrian access do need lighting, then providing it is a good thing regardless of whether there’s a driveway as well, so if this is an improvement, then it’s improvement unrelated to the government’s removal of parking minimums.

    2. And here I was thinking that planning rules were meant to manage adverse effects, not create them. Surely the rule should be that homes must not have permanently illuminated exterior lighting!

    3. Someone must have thought Auckland had too many houses and too many opportunities to create more. So they figured they should make driveways wider, require accessible parking at high rates, required separate footpaths with space to get mobility devices past each other at while we are at it why don’t we have lights on all night as well?

      PC79 is just solutions looking for a problem.

    4. If developers want to saddle residents with the cost of maintaining infrastructure to get them safely from the public road to their home, having decent standards should be the minimum. Alternatively, if people need to walk, bike or drive from their home to a public road, better to have a public lane or home zone rather than a private one. Or do you want people driven over before they can even get to the public road?

      1. If there were vast numbers of people getting driven over at 3am then you would be right, but there isn’t and you are wrong.

    5. Dunno about private driveways and such, but some residential streets sure are dark in some places. Sparse lights on one side of the street with large trees shading the light from reaching the other side. Might bring it up with AT or is it council regarding a couple of spots I know of locally. Perhaps there is less light spill since going to LED lights?

      1. Yes. I don’t think it’s an LED thing. I think they’ve only been focusing on providing the minimum light level for the carriageway and have been miserly about spending money on what pedestrians need.

  7. My gut feeling is both that successive ministers of transport have been really badly advised both by their department and, as Greater Auckland has observed on numerous occasions, special advisers such as the Auckland Light Rail Group, and there has been significant push back on some good proposals from conservative interests at cabinet level. An over-reliance on advice provided by private sector consultants (more often than not former Waka Kotahi senior managers) hasn’t helped. Just as the delivery of New Zealand’s extraordinarily ambitious post-WWII hydroelectric schemes in the 1940s benefitted from overseas-trained expertise, I suspect it’s time for the minister to draw directly on overseas knowledge and experience, preferably from without the engineering Anglosphere.

    1. I think both Minister’s understand the issues but Twyford (not just with Transport) has unfortunately proved to be simply not very competent. Great in opposition when you can talk broad concepts but a bloody disaster when it comes to actually delivering – pretty much anything. The LR debacle pretty much sits with him and his interfering when seduced by the bright shiny Canadian pipedream.

      Wood inherited an absolute mess. Earlyish days but his tenure will be judged on whether or not he sorts out Waka Kotahi.

      1. Wood has been in place almost 2 years ( 6 Nov 2020).

        In that time he has announced and killed that pedestrian Bridge and announced the Light Rail proposal.

        I think the fact that in both cases he stood up and announced them shows he is not on top of his portfolio. He should have sent both back with firm request for something more realistic.

        My feeling is that the government does not few all Mass Transit as a priority. It does enough to look better than National but has better places to spend billions.

  8. I think people are overcomplicating and letting Labour off the hook. If you promise something, and don’t deliver it then you are the accountable party. If the people you have in place to deliver the things you want aren’t doing so its on your to change. We also shouldn’t laud BAU things like upgrading train tracks etc, those should be bare minimum. I’ve never been so disapointed in a Government that offered me so much..

    1. They certainly made some doozeys in their choice of appointments. By now they should also have tackled the governance culture and processes, with new legislation as required. These are the reason the sector hasn’t been picked apart and reassembled in a progressive way.

      Those two changes would’ve helped. I think they’ve been too trusting that directions will be followed while doing little to remove the dinosaurs in key positions.

  9. A very clear assessment. I think the Ardern government lacks enough hard-nosed ministers who are capable of holding senior public servants to account. The ones who can do this are too busy with other portfolios.

    1. Labour also lacks access to enough ‘hard nosed’ senior private sector leaders capable of holding anyone to account AND with personal alignment to Labour’s vision. This is their dilemma; they would love to replace many of the members of Boards like WK’s with Labour aligned people but there are so few Labour aligned candidates with real demonstrated capability in delivery. So the National aligned incumbents get to sit around twiddling their thumbs until the next change of government and it’s back to business as usual.

      1. If you have three National-aligned leaders lined up, you fire the first one with extreme prejudice in order to make the second one scared enough to compromise. It’s cheaper to play musical chairs at WK than it is to fight a multi-year battle over bad roading projects.

    2. +1
      Many national government politicians also runs a successful business themselves. They can use the same business management skill to manage the bureaucrats.
      Whereas the Labour politicans are full of ideological social dreamers. The sell a Utopia but failed to deliver.

  10. “Skypath – what should have been”


    It is certainly of great symbolic value, but not of much practical value at the moment. We have already a trial in place called the northwestern cycleway (or shared path). The cycleway sees 2,000 movements on a good day, and while that is better than 0, it is not a success by any reasonable standard. We should be seeing 2,000 movements in an hour, or even in half an hour. Not in an entire day.

    The reason why is well known. It is marooned in a street grid that is pretty much useless if you don’t have a car.

    Any budget we would hypothetically spend on this bridge would be better spent adding an actual bicycle network on our streets. Think of it this way. For $500 million, we could either have:

    (A) that bridge
    (B) 1,000 kilometres of bike lanes on our streets.

    I would like a cycleway across the harbour as much as the next guy, but you’ve got to be honest about this, there is no way that (A) is a better proposition than (B). And even if you ask why not both, even then, I think we should spend the full billion dollars on improving our local street grid.

    The current push to use a lane on the existing bridge seems more reasonable, but again if we don’t want it to fail we will have to do it after we build a reasonable cycling network on the street grids on both ends.

    1. We do need both, and there is the money to do the streets properly as well as have a proper crossing for active modes.

      Don’t forget the RLTP was $37b. And much of that is poorly planned investment – road widening, intersection “improvements” that easy traffic flow, property purchase when road reallocation is far cheaper, renewing as like for like instead of building back better, etc…

      Reallocating that $37b to create a balanced, sustainable network certainly includes all we need to create a complete cycling network which requires and includes the link over the harbour.

      1. OK so to put it slightly differently: which problem needs to be solved more urgently:

        (A) we don’t have a bicycle path across the harbour.
        (B) we are for some reason only building less than 10 km of new bike lanes per year.

        It is (B). There is no point in tackling (A) until we solve (B).

        I would like a cycling bridge as much as the next guy (and I live in an area where I would actually use it from time to time) but honestly the fact that I can’t ride to my nearest town centre safely is much worse than the fact that I can’t cycle across the harbour.

        1. Yup.

          But of course, the reasons for (A) and the reasons for (B) are overlapping. Tackling them both at the same time is efficient systems change. If AT and AC would square up to WK and force the issue of liberating a lane, a lot of WK rot about projections and network effects can be cleaned out. That clean out will help with the local network building required.

          Design for a better crossing needs to be happening now since they’re working on the AWHC, and will apparently be coming to the public this year for engagement. Lordy lordy.

        2. Sorry, but that is nonsense. A bike path over the harbour would be used heavily from Day 1. Yes, it makes no sense to spend half a billion or more on it (when there are so much cheaper ways). But to argue that the most important missing cycleway link in the city should not be built until the network supporting it is in place – sorry, but that isn’t the case at all. We need both, but neither needs the other to make sense.

          All you’ll get with the argument you are pushing is neither of the two.

        3. Damien you would expect the same from the northwestern cycleway. After all these years (I think part of it was already be there in the 1990’s) it is still not heavily used, and it still hasn’t galvanised AT into building some local links to it.

          We need both, but we have to avoid a scenario where we spend a lot of money on a crossing, to then have it used by only 1000 people per day (2000 movements due to most being return trips). We will never hear the end of it. It was kind of OK for the northwestern cycleway since you don’t have the difficulty of crossing the harbour. But for Skypath / liberate a lane I don’t think we will get away with it.

        4. I would phrase it as:
          (A) we don’t have any possible way to walk or cycle between the North Shore (same population as wellington city) and the rest of the Auckland region, except via a 30km diversion around the upper harbour.

          That makes it a big priority. Imagine if, instead of having seven bridges and roads that you can walk and cycle on, south Auckland had zero ways to walk or ride north. Or the west, etc.

        5. That is true, but irrelevant. For most people the way to go to the rest of Auckland is to get inside a car or bus, and cross the harbour that way. This is true whether or not there is a bicycle crossing. The northwestern path did not change this for a meaningful amount of people out west. Skypath will not change that for a meaningful amount of people on the North Shore either. Unless there is something that specifically prevents this from working out west, but not on the North Shore.

        6. I don’t care about changing drivers habits, let them fill their boots. I just want people to be able to walk or ride from one part of the city to the other.

        7. @Riccardo
          The 30km diversion is only if you are living in Northcote and want to cycle to the CBD. Many people live in Glenfield/Albany and the upper harbour would be a better cycle route than Skypath.
          Those that live in Devonport will continue to use the ferry to walk/cycle to the CBD as it would be much longer to walk/cycle to Skypath.
          So, a billion dollars for the people of Northcote and Birkenhead to cycle (on sunny windless days) to the CBD – I don’t think so.
          I wager there will be no cycle crossing on the bridge until the tunnel is built (consultation out next month) and sadly that construction will be delayed as Labour and National argue if it should be rail or road.

        8. Yeah nah, not for just about anywhere except northwest Auckland.

          Glenfield to Ponsonby or Wynyard is 10km via the harbour bridge. 10km the other way gets you only as far as Hobsonville Point. It’s the same with albany, which is just as far from SH18 and SH1 on the other side. The watershed of the two crossings runs between Rosebank and Glen Eden.

          So anyone living in Glenfield or Albany and going to anywhere west of Glen Eden would have a much more direct trip via the Auckland Harbour Bridge. Say Albany Mall to St Lukes Mall as an example, 32km via the upper harbour would be 21km via skypath.
          Glenfield to Mission Bay, 40km around the harbour vs. 19km across it, etc.

    2. +1 spending all that money (1B) on 1km of bike lane would be a terrible decision when that money is better spent on the rest of Auckland’s cycle infrastructure.

      1. It was never ‘1B’ on 1 km of bike lane

        Everybody can have an opinion on the merits of the active mode bridge, but it’s disingenuous at best to make statements that are simply untrue. You are about 50% out on pricing and order of magnitude out on distance

        The bridge once it was taken over from SkyPath trust/AT to WK, was costed at $360m. Then WK burned tens of millions to inflate the price to $685 for the bridge. $785 for the full project.

        But ‘the bridge’ was never that; it was called the Northern Pathway project as it had three sections including to Constellation and onward to Albany through the Northern Corridor Improvements. Depending on where it terminates, would have been ~15km of high quality cycle infrastructure. I suspect tourism alone would have put a bunch of people onto that cycleway, but it would have a big catchment area.

        NCI by the way is a $750m+ project for a motorway intersection and modest busway extension, yet seems to fly under the radar compared with Northern Pathway which got the talkback crowd nicely wound up. I am not against NCI, but the government drops billions into roading projects and people seem happy unless there are cyclists to bully

        There are some good posts on Greater Auckland with more insight into the northern pathway. I won’t rehash, but my personal point of view, is that WK seems to have acted like a bunch of characters from Utopia or Yes Minister, and set the project up to fail. Remember at $360m, the project had a positive BCR; more than other major roading projects.

        If a much more substantial completely bridge was required then at least consider a new bridge that uses that construction for light rail or buses to also get across.

        I just think the proposal WK presented; $785m for a ‘cycle bridge’ (it never was just that) was anything but a hatchet job.

        And now people post that it was “$1b for 1 km of bike lane”. If it was just 1km of bike lane the price would have reflected that.

  11. The East West link has not been cancelled, it is still being re-evaluated.
    In 2018 the re-evaluation of 11 of the 12 projected slated happened relatively quickly.
    There has however been little update to the public on the east west link, the latest in 2021 being “It is important to note that the transport challenges for the area remain and the re-evaluation aims to prioritise and address these challenges, working in collaboration with project partners.”
    The designation remains in place but this government offers nothing more than non-delivery.

    1. It is being re-evaluated in the sense of “We [Waka Kotahi] are just waiting for the govt to change, then it will be back with a new name, and some inflation-adjusted new price! Watch this space!”

      1. What a disaster it would be.
        A motorway alongside the beautiful Mangere Inlet!
        More bikeways would make those projects unnecessary

    2. Had Labour built some of the required upgrades that would be the end of it. But now if National win the next election then the super expensive motorway project will make a comeback.
      The SH20 end of Neilson St could be fixed very easily, the SH1 end is a lot harder.

      1. The Labour MPs and Councillors in Christchurch have been useless. Plenty of people in the community have asked for it. Written articles etc. Including myself.

    1. What Labour said was “here’s $100 million; come up with a proposal please”. Like all transport projects, you have to present something if you want to request funding/subsidy. For whatever reason, Canterbury transport officials haven’t done that yet…

  12. While not always perfect. It seems that something has been done. Finally the logical train loop in the central Auckland area has been done. Now the project group can move on. Rail connection to the airport V12 last I heard it was in and out from Manukau. I was never convinced or liked the idea of tunnelled connection into Auckland central via Onehunga. Tunnels to Northcote point and then above ground into Takapuna was never really going to happen in the next 30yrs. Same with the double sizing of Harbour bridge, its enough of a bottle neck already without adding double the traffic into the same narrow corridor. North Shore has had Bus ride options for years and still there are 3hrs of bumper to bumper traffic.

    Yes Mass transit is the answer but its not going to happen until the average joe Auckland is prepared to stand up and say do it now.
    As for Tauranga its really just the North Shore without the rest of Auckland attached. I doubt anyone there wants a better connection to Auckland. And the rail connection is only good for freight not the long passenger train connection proposed.
    Even with the growing population, we can plan but we well never deliver as long as average joe refuses to pay for it. Aotearoa New Zealand is still a small group of city states that are no bigger than the average large city in most countries.

    1. They promised these things as part of their Transport Manifesto, they got voted in therefore had a mandate to deliver. The average Aucklander has already stood up and said deliver. A good Governement leads its people, a poor Government gets led by the people…also the people don’t mind paying things that are worth it..tunneled light rail at extortiante prices means nobody wants to pay for it.

  13. Two issues:

    A structurally broken CCO and NZTA. Basically those organisation has no accountability. The CEO and the senior managment can get away for poor performance. No body get sacked.

    The Labour government failed to delivery the advertised policy such as light rail, Westgate rapid transit and kiwi build. Even mt roadkill and unitec site barely progressed during the last few years.

    I hope Wayne Brown can get elected, because at least he has the balls to sack the underperforming’s CEO/senior management.

  14. Outside of Te Huia, which given the evidence of the last 5 years I am more and more inclined to think was actually done because it was a political promise and one of the long standing Hamilton Labour MPs was a strong backer, rather than a sincere belief of the party toward regional rail (and makes me wonder if National and ACT attack it next year whether Labour will fight back), the lack of support in not backing more regional rail has been one of the worst performances of this govt, along with the Skypath and LR debacles.

    The disgraceful non-funding of new modern inter-regional trains for the Southern part of the NI, the backing out of the $100m promise to bring Canterbury Regional Rail. The lack of any semblance of public support for maintaining the KR Scenic Trains when KR signalled that they would cancel those trains. It was only because of a campaign organised by individuals, that they and KR were shamed into keeping those services.

    As far as new services go, if anything, it seems from recent articles in the media that several Regional and city councils seem to be more positive and “ahead of the game” in understanding the positive socio-economic and enviromental contribution of regional services than the Central Govt. It was also left to local govt leaders to criticise KR for having no execs with a passenger rail background on their executive by writing to the Minister. We’ve never heard any reply from Minister Wood on that, and there’s been no changes to the KR executive. The First NZ Railplan, a good idea in itself, was free of almost any mention of regional passenger rail!

    Yes we have the upcoming govt’s upcoming parliamentary enquiry into regional passenger rail. After the past 5 years of govt I can’t say I am confident it will do any thing concrete from the conversations and submissions of that.

    So one has to say, that when it comes to it, Te Huia is really the sole good story out of this govt regarding inter-regional passenger rail in the last five years.

  15. We should pre-emptively hijack the BAU agenda.

    As Riccardo said, let them fill their boots, but only with their wishlist.

    Designate all roads that fail to meet Vision Zero standards as unfit for unpowered traffic, essentially making most of the network into de-facto motorways. They are now all WK’s problem and we can dissolve AT, fixing Auckland’s rates for a decade.

    Reallocate the evidently inadequate footpaths along these routes to bajillions of free parking spaces. (This project is already underway in much of Auckland.)

    Eliminate WoF, just like the Northern Territories, so we can applaud ourselves for addressing transport equity by ignoring expensive safety requirements like tyres with tread or chassis with structural integrity.

    In a similar spirit, allow anyone who can sit through one episode of Cory Carson to have an honest-to-goodness driving license. Now the kids can take *themselves* to school.

    With ideas of this calibre, I expect to be National Transport Minister before too long…

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