Dear Wayne,

Congratulations on becoming the third Mayor of Auckland. You have some big footsteps to follow. While voter turnout was unacceptably low – and you really need to work with government to change how local government elections work – there’s no doubt your call to “fix Auckland” struck a chord with many Aucklanders.

We all want to fix something about this city. And there is a lot of work to do, which will keep you and the rest of the council very busy over the next three years.

So let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first.

Our sense is that we have a different vision for Auckland than you do. We think Auckland’s generally getting better, just not fast enough – whereas we worry you may be inclined to slow down or even undo some of the best progress the city has made in recent years.

We look to the future, rather than the past. We seek inspiration, examples, and evidence from here and elsewhere of what’s possible – and we encourage you to do the same.

To tell the truth, it’s hard to compare your vision with ours, because your campaign didn’t really spell out a vision of what Auckland could become, preferring a list of things you wanted to do. In place of a vision, you led with a motto: “Let’s Fix Auckland, Together.”

All right then: let’s. Because we’re keen to be constructive in finding a better way forward, and it might come as a surprise that we agree with you on a number of important areas. Even if we’re coming at these issues from different angles, you’ve identified some pretty big problems with how Auckland Council and its CCOs work.

Here are five key things we agree need fixing…

1. The light rail project needs a fundamental reset

We agree with you that this project has got completely out of control over the past few years. It makes absolutely no sense to spend $15-30 billion on a single project in Auckland, no matter how amazing it might be. The government has been let down by terrible advice, but has also made a series of awful decisions on this project over the past five years.

Even before that, Auckland Transport developed this project in secret, before surprising everyone with it in early 2015 – yes, more than seven years ago. And yet, nothing to show for it in all that time.

Auckland Council has been an oddly silent bystander to this debacle over recent years – probably because your predecessor wanted to play nicely with some of his former colleagues. This has not been a successful strategy, and key decisions have been made in Wellington – which has been about as disastrous as you might expect.

You will have a key role in the governance for this project, so we suggest you use that role quickly to demand a fundamental reset before even more money is wasted on design details for something nearly everyone knows is a non-starter.

That said, the key issues driving the need for something in the light-rail corridor haven’t gone away:

  • Our inner city streets can’t handle more buses. While Covid-19 has dampened public transport ridership – especially for trips to the city centre – over time, this will return. And while CRL will play its part, there really isn’t much more capacity on city streets to add more buses.
  • Meanwhile, Māngere still has unacceptably bad public transport access to major job centres, holding back the area’s potential and forcing a very poor part of the city to be highly car dependent.
  • Also, the government is still building thousands of new homes in Mt Roskill and Māngere – and these people will need good public transport options, to avoid jamming the isthmus with more cars.
  • We still have an airport that’s not really well served by rapid transit, although the Puhinui bus/rail interchange means this is less pressing an issue than it used to be.

The project doesn’t have to solve every potential problem for the next 100 years. The important part is to get something affordable and effective in place now and we can enhance or add to it in the future as required. As such, we think the light rail design Auckland Transport originally came up with more than five years ago is the strongest work done to date here. But we also think that whatever solution is required must come from a robust planning process, one that properly involves the people and decision-makers of Auckland and gives them all the information, not just pretty pictures.

You’ll have some councillors who think expanding the heavy rail network is the way to go, and given the scale of investment the government is considering for the corridor, that should definitely be looked at. But there are pretty sound reasons why – way back in 2016 – light rail was the preferred way forward. And that goes for the Northwest as well as the isthmus; you’ll get way more bang for Auckland’s buck that way.

2. The way Auckland Transport works needs a proper review

You’re right when you say that nobody is happy with how Auckland Transport works. There’s a lot of frustration out there about what Auckland Transport is doing, and also a lot of frustration about what it isn’t doing.

While we might have different opinions about what AT should do more or less of, we agree that something is fundamentally broken in the way this important organisation works.

AT simply isn’t delivering a transport system that works for Aucklanders; we don’t feel safe and we don’t feel we can move around freely. AT has become an organisation of delay rather than delivery. Too many business cases, too many layers of consultation, too many redesigns at the slightest hint of opposition; these delays have depleted our city’s resilience, productivity and quality of life, and they’ve pushed costs up enormously.

And it’s making it harder than it should be to lay the foundations for a liveable future for our children and your grandchildren. We bet this weighs on your mind as heavily as it does on ours.

We’re as keen as you are to unstick the managerial “clay layer” at AT, break people out of their silos, recruit and promote the most brilliant talent, and get things moving.

That said, you will find major reform of Auckland Transport challenging. Unlike the other CCOs, AT has a lot of independent statutory authority, and you’ll need to work constructively with the government to change this.

Simply firing the board or embarking upon yet another CCO review won’t really change anything. If you put two councillors back on the AT board just make sure they’re willing to work constructively with other board members and with government. After all, most of the city’s transport funding comes from the government.

The AT board is just the start of what needs to change there. It is 10 months since the former CEO announced his resignation and there appears to be no progress on his replacement.

Importantly there’s an opportunity to shine some more light on AT’s processes. AT board meetings are currently 95% on the closed agenda, which is completely unnecessary aside from a few contractually privileged items. We all deserve more transparency about what goes on at those meetings and how the decisions are made.

3. We should absolutely be building more affordable cycleways

In a previous mayoral role, you were eloquent about the benefits of getting on a bike. “The cycling thing is good for the Far North and for every one of us,” you said, welcoming the “tourism and job creation potential” of bike routes and leveraging government funding to connect your towns. You get it.

Auckland’s cycleway network is woefully incomplete. Having only a fraction of a safe network has made this smart, simple, affordable form of transport for all kinds of Aucklanders very dangerous, as we have seen this year through a series of absolutely preventable tragedies, a terrible trend you won’t want to continue on your watch.

In fact, the safety benefits of having a full, protected cycling network extend to everyone, whether they’re driving, walking, or cycling. So do the public health benefits, and the productivity benefits. With a complete network in place, people of all ages can use it, from kids to retirees, replacing a lot of car trips, and unlocking hours in the day currently spent sitting in queues or chauffeuring family members.

So we need to build a functional cycle network rapidly. This is fundamentally one of the cheapest and fastest ways to help people get out of traffic, which you’ve rightly identified as a top concern for Aucklanders of all ages.

And we couldn’t agree with you more that it needs to be done far cheaper and faster. It simply shouldn’t take months of roadworks to install a cycleway at the cost of millions of dollars per kilometre.

At the current rate of delivery, it would take something like 160 years to complete a basic cycling network for this city. That’s not just shocking, it’s frankly embarrassing – especially as we watch the mayors of other cities assemble networks within a single electoral term.

You’ve said you’re up to the task of reapportioning space on the roads for cycle lanes, and really, any other option is unaffordable at the scale we need to work.

You have our full support in requiring Auckland Transport to find efficiencies and ways to speed this up.

At the same time, when undertaking multimillion-dollar full road rebuilds including pipes, electrics, lights, planting, rain gardens, bus lanes, it’s a no-brainer to include cycleways – as happened on your beloved Karangahape Road, which is now officially one of the world’s top ten coolest streets.

Improving our network for cycling has been where Auckland Transport has failed us the most. It’s also where Greater Auckland will be watching most closely – and we’ll be calling out anyone who tries to attribute other roading costs to cycle lanes.

4. You need to put a rocket under KiwiRail 

Underinvestment in Auckland’s rail network over many decades has come back to bite us in recent years, with lengthy closures. This will only get worse next year when KiwiRail close major sections of the network for months at a time.

This is a disaster for Auckland, with rail already lagging behind other modes in recovering from the impacts of Covid-19 on ridership. While we obviously want to get the rail network in good shape before CRL opens, simply closing the network down for months on end without consultation – and without a serious mitigation package in place – is a sick joke.

KiwiRail has long screwed Auckland over, and you shouldn’t stand for it. They haven’t properly looked after the rail network for decades, treating it like a low-frequency freight system rather than a modern metro for a world-class city. They prioritise freight trains over passenger trains at any opportunity they have.

This recent news really raises the question of whether KiwiRail should continue to own and control the rail network, especially in Auckland. Please look into it.

5. Get Auckland a better deal on City Rail Link costs

You’ve talked a lot about City Rail Link costs during your campaign. While as you know, there are good reasons to not release updated costs while contractual negotiations are underway – lest that ending up costing us more – you’re right to be concerned about this.

Most transport projects have experienced significant cost increases in recent years and – with a cost of already $4.4 billion – any escalation for CRL will be some big numbers. And it will be incredibly difficult for Auckland Council to meet its half of this increase, as per the current funding arrangements for this project.

You should demand government pay the vast bulk of any increase in costs for CRL. It’s never really made sense for the Council to fund 50% of this project – it’s totally inconsistent with any other major strategic project in the country. That’s just a legacy of a past compromise between Len Brown and sceptical National Party ministers.

Government will probably demand some concessions for such an agreement – like keeping the Regional Fuel Tax in place – and you should find a way to do a good deal. Otherwise CRL will eat up even more of your transport budget, and if you were to get rid of the Regional Fuel Tax you’d definitely have nothing left to make any progress whatsoever on transport matters.

One more thing. Auckland is a young and diverse city. It’s a complex place, with a wide variety of needs and a wide range of voices that need to be heard and respected. At Greater Auckland, we are doing everything we can to make sure Auckland moves forward on the big issues it faces: most notably, addressing the climate crisis, the housing crisis, and the road safety crisis.

We will hold you and the council to account on this each and every day.

You must know that these crises are intertwined, and thus so are the solutions. The work ahead will require a deep, smart, and creative understanding of how all the levers are connected, and how they affect the lives of the people you’ve been elected to serve.

You are going to need your best systems thinking, and your best systems thinkers. A piecemeal approach – cutting this, abolishing that, keeping an eye merely on the bottom line – just won’t fly. So we look forward to seeing who you elevate to the most critical roles in this most crucial of decades.

As you make those appointments, you might want to look at the scorecards of serving councillors recently compiled by Bernard Orsman and Simon Wilson. While these two veteran reporters generally come from opposite perspectives, their scores were surprisingly consistent.

Guess what: in general, they rated the progressive councillors as much more competent at delivering than those who’ve been content to sit back, gripe, and resist change in the last few years.

This might offer you a strong steer as to who your best allies will be for the task ahead.

Best of luck!

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      1. If there is anyone in Auckland who likes AT then I haven’t met them yet. It is their arrogance. If you show them they are wrong they don’t change, they pour scorn. If you show them a better alternative then belittle it, or if it is so obviously better they ignore it. When you show them a mistake they made they stop talking and go to ground. I guess that is what some people are like when they are not accountable to anyone. The sooner they are made to answer to the Council the better.

        1. Are they too arrogant or impotent? Personally I think the main issue is that they listen too much!
          Anyone who thinks AT are arrogant for not acting upon every bit of random advice they receive is themselves arrogant, AT should be acting on high level policies that will “Fix Auckland”, not worrying about whether Joe Bloggs might have to park his car 100m further up etc.

        2. The old Councils used reason and logic to figure out the best course. AT uses management edict. they give quite different results.

        3. The best course for the planet and our future is to provide sustainable, safe and efficient alternatives to the current low occupancy car mode as a means to get around the city – none of the previous councils had that as a priority. Whether AT and AC have gone about bringing the public onside with this course is one thing, but at some point it has to be the course we take – that might be seen as arrogant but we cant keep ignoring the science or the examples of cities actively making a change.

        4. The old council’s used reason and logic? I guess they used binary logic like “cars = good, other modes = bad” and “heritage = good, affordable houses = bad”

    1. Interesting that he said Mike Lee was going to be good for PT. What do others think? From what I have seen Mike is only happy to get his pet projects done and does not want to take advice, I think he will be a blocker.

      1. Yes, that’s my cynicism about Mike, too. If it’s not heavy rail or a historic tram, I have little idea what he favour.

        1. Surely there is the odd heavy rail project still left thats worth doing. Try to direct that energy well, rather than doing something crazy like replacing puhinui – airport BRT with a rail line that runs half as frequently.

        2. The ones left that are still worth doing are quad tracking, grade separations, inter-regional rail, and extending the southern line to Pokeno. Sadly, Mike hasn’t shown himself to be keen on any of them.

          Extending the western line services to Pokeno and Kumeu/Huapai might be worthwhile, but Mike has said that he sees these extensions as a replacement for the NW busway, which is bananas. They’d be fine for accessing Henderson and New Lynn, but terrible for access to Westgate, Te Atatu, the inner west, and the city centre.

        3. The new Mayor is big on Avondale-Southdown HR, having mentioned it several times on the campaign trail. I am not sure if that route is even possible now, but maybe Mike Lee can get busy with that one and stay out of the way of everything else.

      2. One of Mike Lees inane suggestions was to run express trains from Britomart to the Airport. How did he expect them to overtake the freight trains and the regular commuter trains? Perhaps they would be special jumping trains. If he took the time to do some research he would discover that only a tiny % of trips are made from Britomart Station to and from the Airport. Plus you can already access the airport from the CBD via Puhinui Station or by using the 24/7 SkyBus service

  1. Looks like light rail is dead in the water. Think of the wasted millions (maybe hundreds of millions) wasted on it both at AT, NZTA, ALR… all for nothing because.

    Listening to RNZ this morning I heard that guy saying the issue isn’t really the board of AT, it’s the senior management and systemic issues from there down. Nail on the head I think.

    Should be interesting to see what happens in the next few weeks. Darby and Hills won’t be having much say in things I’m guessing.

    I hope my bus isn’t cancelled this morning!

    1. All for nothing because cars are too important to have their flow messed with apparently.

      If WB can be bold and mess with this good on him. If not, get ready for traffic city and for ten of billions to shipped off shore to maintain it.

    2. It got the kiss of death once the word “airport” was mentioned.

      Otherwise, who knows, maybe the tram line to Mount Roskill would have been finished and operating by now.

    3. “the issue isn’t really the board of AT”…

      The problems with senior management are enormous, but they needed to be tackled by good governance from the Board who instead, chose to be “supportive”. It wasn’t that they were holding a contrary agenda (well, most of them, anyway). However, they never held the management to account, and they never did their due diligence. Their choice was either:

      – coming up to speed on the big issues preventing transport system improvements – ie, why AT continues to use outdated methods, why their projections, project by project, are wrong, and why this leads to poor designs and decisions. This would have equipped the Board with the knowledge to question appropriately, and get to the bottom of why AT wasn’t delivering. Or
      – being outcomes focused entirely. Actually looking at the safety and emissions and mode shift stats and saying, “Cut the safetywash and the greenwash. This a bullshit report. You’ve got 6 months to turn this around, or you’re out.” This would have forced the senior management to find better approaches.

      They did neither. They were entrenched in outdated concepts of risk management and of unfit-for-purpose governance approaches that are known to entrench the status quo. This allowed the rot at senior management level to spread.

      1. The issue with AT is that the Council has been asking it to do too many things: Save the planet. Reduce emissions. Do more consultations, Respond to angry dairy owners. Appease self important wine shop owners who don’t want the car parking spot outside their shop removed. Keep the Mayor happy, plan for the future etc etc, And all of this with insufficient budget.

    4. But it is for the best. Light rail was a flawed project that became a zombie project the moment they decided it should be in a tunnel. Now, like the previous schemes, we wait a generation and when everyone involved has gone, we try again.

      1. It was never going be perfect from the get-go, it got twisted and bastardised trying to be all things to all men. Dreaming up stupid criteria like “Fastest possible trip to the airport” even though that was only ever going to be a single-digit percentage of users and going completely AWOL on the messaging of why we needed Light Rail (and not more buses) left it open to cynical political attacks with near-nothing in the way of a public response. We didn’t even get a resignation for the lack of progress or cost blow-outs, just more reports bouncing around desks in Wellington.

        If we’d just built the bloody Roskill bit we’d be arguing over which bits of Auckland should be getting it next, and they’d be fighting to get it. Instead, for our sins, we’re here instead.

      2. I’m OK with a largely surface based system to the airport which does attempt to solve multiple problems but the “Fastest possible trip to the airport” is where they went wrong. Trying to make this a selling point has confused the issue & devalued it’s other goals. Even Wayne is confused as to what is the problem it’s trying to solve. That RM Transit YouTuber guy also commented that it’s perhaps trying to solve too many problems and should be separated out into more projects.

        The Puhinui bus/rail interchange solves a lot of the airport side of things.

    5. The board are responsible for everything aren’t they! If they aren’t happy with the results, they should sack the CEO and get a new one. Oh that is right there is no CEO, maybe that could be an issue…

  2. Although you don’t specifically refer to it “Wayne’s World” may be marked by some big scraps over intensification over the three years. Read today’s Sydney Morning Herald. (It’s already come up with the outgoing Christchurch council.)

    1. Yes, with the new Mayor’s fly over of his “realm” he has already made comments on the opportunity to build more in Kumeu – which is him saying yes to sprawl no to intensification.

      1. He wants the Auckland freight hub there too. So it will be in the middle of a bunch of congested roads that are getting worse by the day. Can’t see any productivity issues there, nosiree.

        Remember, this is all about cutting waste, or something.

        1. Putting _a_ freight hub there might be quite a good idea. Served by unit trains to Northport and shunts to Westfield.

        2. It ‘might’ be a good idea, but sticking a land-intensive operation in the middle of the bit you want to carry the heavy-lifting for future housing, while shouting down proper rapid transit for the corridor you want to run trucks sends strong messages about your desire to not only acquire and perpetually own baked confectionary items, but consume them and still have them available for sale as well.

          Although if there is to be a separate discussion about KR owning the network in Auckland then some firmer action around Avondale-Southdown might relieve the roading pressure, but it won’t fix the actual land-use issue in an area crying out for things like schools and sports facilities.

      2. Taking a helicopter to fly over the city on his first day gives me the following impressions:
        1) As disconnected as possible from the people living in the city, he sees himself clearly ‘above’ us
        2) Not concerned with noise or CO2 pollution
        3) No interest in sustainable solutions to transport

        I hope that it did not set the tone of his ‘reign’.

      3. All that land around Kumeu was good productive soil full of horticulture and lost to urban sprawl, just like land down south:,406,404,387,388,389,390,405

        Even the Government’s brand new national policy statement on productive soil says you shouldn’t urbanise or develop it:

        Too little, too late for Auckland though. Most of it is either developed, zoned Future Urban or Countryside Living

        1. Shouldn’t all land be used for its highest value use? If vegetables grown in Matamata and trucked to Auckland are cheaper than those grown in Pukekohe then give me the Matamata ones please.

        2. You’re recommending the good ol’ market makes the planning decisions again – even though the market is stacked, with the social and environmental cost of driving the vegetables from Matamata not factored in, nor the social and environmental cost of the sprawl factored in.

          Let’s just make the planning decisions outright. And use the market as a tool to achieve the objectives we set.

        3. Heidi has nailed it here. All land should be used for its highest value, but the market does not price in externalities. It is infeasible to price the externalities, so we should use planning to fix the distortions created when externalities are not priced.

        4. I agree that this is the role of planning try pooly fix unpriceable externalities. There are great examples.

          But sprawl, and especially the vegetable transport, is relatively easily priced. Congestion charging, development contributions, RFT and LEZ to price air pollution externalities. RUC’s to reflect cost of trucking.

          The problem with too strong planning tools is (as evidenced by all the special character protections) is these days they’re far more likely to be used to cause net negatives than positives. Even by people who seem to mean very well. Better to not have such tools available.

        5. The market is always going to favour residential, is it? What is the price difference in terms of $/m² between farmland and residential? I though residential is a few orders of magnitude more expensive. I do not expect that pricing external effects of food transport will change that. Transport is only a few percent of the total emission footprint of our food.

        6. Roeland, you would be pricing the external effects of residential sprawl, which would reduce the value of land. These effects would be pollution (noise, sound, air, and water), crash trauma, congestion, social isolation, inactivity, climate change.

    2. I would expect the National party to renege on their support for intensification. Luxon was already lukewarm on it and this election, even with the pitiful turnout, will push him over the line. Expect major stalling by the councils on the issue until the next general election.

    1. According to ATAP 2021 out of the $31.4 billion total 10 year investment around $21.2b is from the government and $10.2b from the council.

      1. ATAP isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. The region-shaping projects like Light Rail were a ‘Decade One’ priority at some point. How’s that working out for us?

        1. Decade one always meant ‘a project we will do eventually’. Decade two meant a project we might do and decade three meant a project we are never going to do but we don’t want to say that.

  3. Councillor Maurice Williamson describes the increased speed limit on Pakuranga Road from 50 to 60 as his greatest achievement as Minister of Transport. He also appointed Wayne Brown as Chairman of the Land Transport Safety Authority.

    1. Lol, even if your sole goal in life was to improve car transport (at any cost even), surely you’d claim some highway infra improvements somewhere. Or a bridge or something.

      But cmon, a 10km/hr limit upping on a surface urban arterial is the weakest achievement I’ve ever heard.

  4. Did Goff receive a similar letter when he was elected?
    Speaking of which, what did Goff achieve during his terms, apart from increased rates and more congestion.

      1. Thanks Sailor Boy.
        I see that Goff was also asked to sort out a bunch of stuff. I haven’t been through it line by line, but wonder what his success rate would be. I think that he did get the HOP Card issue sorted out, but trains seem to run just as slowly, major disruptions coming next year (planned and announced during Goffs term). So some wins, some losses by the look of it.

        1. I think Phil Goff’s reign should have a similar discription to which the libertarian commentator gives John Key’s:

          “The Do-Nothing Years”

        2. I think the blog and a lot of the commenters on here are pretty unified in saying that Goff achieved very little. This is probably reflective of general public sentiment with Brown winning on a campaign of ‘getting shit done’ against Collins running on ‘tinkering at the edges’.

        3. You have to hand it to the “More Roads” team, they actually get stuff built.

          It seems the same on national level. Anyone remembers when Labour and Green picked up the Congestion Free Network? It seems like another age.

          I wonder why that is, maybe the likes of NZTA basically just hunkered down for 6 years until National comes back to office and continues stuff. And with our short election cycle, well, you can always hunker down for just 3 more years until all this train and bus nonsense blows over.

        4. “You have to hand it to the “More Roads” team, they actually get stuff built.”

          I don’t think so, given the political economy of car dependence. Getting roads built when that’s what the powerful status quo machinery wants is the easiest path of all.

  5. With reference to “You need to put a rocket under KiwiRail”, there was a tiny item in the print edition of Friday’s Herald (7 October), the entire wording of which was:

    “The Government has decided to keep KiwiRail as a commercial state-owned enterprise, after a review into whether another form of government entity might better suit ministers’ objectives. Switching to another form might have given ministers the ability to more directly control KiwiRail as well as removing the need for it to find money to deliver a commercial return. KiwiRail also owns the Interislander Cook Strait ferries.”

    This seems like a missed opportunity, to say the least.

  6. Wayne will push for more heavy rail investment, including Avondale-Southdown.
    This would also potentially provide rail services to the Mt Roskill housing NZ developments.
    Dom Rd LRT might only need to run from there to CBD.

    1. Avondale-southdown as rail is a very poor idea. It solves no major problems, fails to bypass bottlenecks on the western line, will be eye-wateringly expensive for very little return.

      A better big rail project is Onehunga line to airport, also expensive, but at least that would deliver rapid transit to Mangere, which desparately needs it, direct to centres of employment and education, and for which there is a viable running pattern: West via Parnell to Airport, and Southern via Grafton to Manukau City.

      Then return Light Rail to its original plan of Queen St to Mt Roskill, and NW, eventually to Harbour crossing.

      It’s not the council’s job to run KR’s freight needs, but they do run Metro passenger rail services. Have an opinion sure, but freight lines are not council biz.

      1. I would say the better option (if they are not doing LRT) is the “Roskill Spur” from Avondale to Hillsborough. It should be cheap to build, provide passenger rail to the government’s Mount Roskill developments, and can balance out the rail network.

        1. Agree as a first step but it should go all the way to southdown. That Mt roskill part of the a to s will be busy as a passenger line. And much more cost effective than spending 15 billion on a light rail line that duplicates the crl then duplicates the inner western line then duplicates the a-s.

      2. There is the rail freight tunnel version this blog posted about a while back.
        “A dedicated freight tunnel direct from the Onehunga marshalling yards to some point west of the New Lynn trench (I favour a point west of the West Coast Rd overbridge). It avoids the steep grades, built up suburbia, and the worst of the western line; so ditch the poor ASL and go for the Mega Freight Tunnel”

        1. Massive overkill. Diesel locos running underground for long distances is not good. Rumor has it the last part of the a to s will be tunneled from around Maioro st to past avondale. But just that short section.
          Heavy rail line on the surface can be used for passenger too while a big long tunnel like that would require big underground stations to be used for passenger trains. Best to just keep it on the surface except for that last bit

        2. @MRB Did you read the post properly?

          It’s assuming electric powered freight, so obviously we would need some hybrids for the meantime (useful for intercity stuff too?). It’s in the context of increasing use of Northport.
          It could be a single track even to save on cost & no stations required.
          Why would they tunnel from Maioro St to past Avondale only when that is the bit you can run by the motorway or in the undeveloped reserve bit. More needing to tunnel the windy (ie so straight tunnel) section through Onehunga.
          This leaves the surface still for options such as LRT, HR spurs or a busway as some have suggested.

        3. “It’s assuming electric powered freight”
          That’s a multi billion dollar assumption right there.

           “could be a single track even to save on cost & no stations required”
          If we are going to build a rail line why not just build it on the surface with stations? Why build a house with no roof? Or a car with no engine?. Those would save money too but if we are going to build a rail line then just add stations so we can use it.

          “Why would they tunnel from Maioro St to past Avondale only when that is the bit you can run by the motorway or in the undeveloped reserve bit.”
          You can run it by the motorway all the way to Hillsborough and then it’s in reserve land until almost onehunga too. As for the tunneled bit, I don’t know, that’s just what I heard through the grapevine, that it would cut out the Avondale incline.

        4. Yes I realise the cost.
          The analogy, if it’s a dedicated freight line, is more like a house with out a garage, not without a roof, quite valid.
          Single bored tunnel (as they would be separate anyway), provision for a 2nd, then could be done at a later date if needed.

        5. MRB, there would presumably be an inland port / marshalling yard around Kumeu. It is not a stretch of the imagination that with all these massive projects that electrification from Swanson out to that yard would be electrified, and the gap from pukekohe to Te Rapa be filled.

          This trying to shoehorn use cases into the same project is what brings us the current light rail proposal. Freight and passenger rail have different needs here. Passenger services will impede freight operations, as they do on the Auckland metro network already, as kiwirail much laments. It is a much better thing for freight to have a dedicated track (3rd main on the NAL, and dedicated tunnel to the quad tracked NIMT) rather than trip over passenger services on double track.

          Evaluate these two completely different needs on their own merits and come up with practical solutions that meet them. No need to compromise both and end up with an inferior product.

        6. Jack. Probably will be a CT site in kumeu I imagine. But 300 or 400 million for a fleet of electrics. Plus electrification auckland to Hamilton. Plus the hassle of running shunts to kumeu and back and swapping locos all the time to go north. And still it’s better to have electrified lines on the surface because if an electric breaks down and you only have diesels spare will have to run it around through Newmarket? Can’t go through the tunnel. Just because there’s wires doesn’t mean every loco will be an electric. Plenty of diesels run under the lines. No problem if it’s on the surface. That would be a rather useless tunnel to only be able to be used by electrics and the whole NAL wasn’t elecfrified.

          As for your light rail analogy, I think I’m the one promoting a simple easy and cheap”city to Mt roskill surface light rail plan”. Whereas you guys are promoting a 15 billion underground tunnel version of light rail that won’t get off the ground.

          Surface a to s with a few stations that can also run freight trains is much simpler than a freight tunnel and then a different transport option on top

        7. Oh also jack in regard to the freight movements impeding suburban trains, the freight are just planned outside off peak hours. If the freight trains steer clear of or go counter peak. Just schedule one to go through at 0630 before the peak and one to go through at 0930 after peak

        8. This blog & I certainly aren’t promoting a tunnelled light rail plan. I’m all for the cheaper surface version via Dominion Rd. Think mode shift.
          I think the freight tunnel is kind of a future thing or goes hand in hand with a major port (at least in part) relocation where electrifying the missing sections and probably also north would be worth it.
          Regarding running freight outside of peak, I’ve had plenty of held up journeys on the Eastern line because a ~9:20am freighter can’t leave the port exactly on time I presume so hold up the suburban service.
          This is one of the major pros of this idea, making it nice urban environment free from big noisy freight trains, hurtling through suburban stations. A surface ASL would add to this through Onehunga etc. Think of all the property purchases for starters.

        9. ” Think of all the property purchases for starters”

          Grant. Kiwirail owns the entire designation already. So no property purchases required. Any buildings are built on kiwirail land.
          Though kiwirail gets a lot of income from leasing the land on the designation so may not be keen losing out on that.

        10. In my opinion the freight tunnel is far simpler than the partially surface alternative.
          Single bore, freight only, no expensive stations, straight flat shot across the ismuths. simple. Now compare that to a double track line, multiple complex flying junctions with the existing lines, likely multiple tunnel sections anyway, or surface sections that put heavy freights through quiet suburbia in the dead of night. Good luck with that one. And it leaves significant bottlenecks in the network, and forces freight to run at night, eating rail maintenance time, and forcing workers onto expensive night shifts.

          The inland port at Kumeu would likely require every train stop there. It will be a major operation, most of the freight will be bound for Auckland anyway. It seems unlikely that trains would head straight through. Im sure you could construct the odd one, but why organise that at Northport, might as well just have that as a more simple operation, and sort everything out in Auckland inland ports, so you can add freight that is southbound from Auckland.

          Counter peak isn’t really a thing, and certainly will not be on the Auckland metro network in the future. That’s half the point of CRL through running. Same come out as what goes in. Strong rail cities also need to run frequent metro services off peak. It is very hard to mix in slow, poorly accelerating freight trains into an off peak frequency of 10 minutes (or ideally better)

          Kiwirail do own the land, but there are sections where there are a decent number of buildings. Probably wouldn’t be that big an issue. But mention that you plan on running 1am diesel freight trains on a steep grade. Again. Good luck. And what is supposed to happen to the 20 or 30 streets they cross, some could be closed. But have you seen how expensive it is to do grade separations as would be required for half a dozen. And the dozen or so pedestrian bridges.

        11. “Single bore, freight only, no expensive stations”.
          So not useful for passenger and not useful for kiwirails current fleet of locos, and we will have stranded diesel locos in kumeu that only run kumeu to whangarei but can’t make it through auckland, unless they go through Newmarket in which case the tunnel is completely useless.
          Then add a few billion more for whatever passenger system you put on top of it for crosstown trips. You’re still promoting 2 expensive transport options in the same corridor as opposed to my one option.

          *heavy freights through quiet suburbia in the dead of night” currently the auck to wrei 120 departs about 0500 and trundle through central auckland and the Whangarei to auck 129 arrives at around 2230 and does the same so no different from now.

          “Significant bottlenecks in the network, and forces freight to run at night”
          Rubbish. Kiwirail currently runs 20 or 30 services in between suburban trains every day around Westfield and only now are building the third main. Northport will grow hopefully but not require 20 to 30 services per day. Even ports of Tauranga only run 14 per day, 7 up, 7 down. Even if Northport grows to those levels in 20 years it still won’t require separated freight lines.

      3. “Brown said the best rail investment option was a heavy rail link that would take freight between Avondale in West Auckland and the KiwiRail marshalling yards in Southdown, on the central city’s southern fringe.”
        Brown is freight focused, and it solves the newmarket problem and contention of trains in the central area post CRL. If the existing POAL car import operation and other freight is to be shifted to Northport, then improving the rail connection to Southdown will be very important. There have been plenty of studies flagging this, and building the link is in the long term plan regardless. A change in policy on the port would simply shift the need forward. Yes the $2.5B cost is expensive but its only a smaller part of the cost to move the port. e.g.

        1. I imagine the right will try and progress this ASAP just as a way of killing off LRT which will no longer have a corridor.

        2. A to S doesn’t help freight though. The same number of passenger trains (ie the bottleneck) exist at Morningside as at the New lynn trench, before A to S branches off. A to S doesn’t improve any bottlenecks at all.

          There’s also the quadrillion level crossings and NIMBYism to deal with. Just cant see it happening.

          Put in a tunnel like suggested above, and make the surface A to S corridor (or at least part of it) a busway.

        3. It gets freight trains out of Newmarket and the new Mt Eden interchange, the route is supposedly future proofed alongside SH20, nimby objections on a route already full of motorway. It should have happened years ago and provides more of what the Auckland rail network is sadly lacking, resilience and alternative pathways.

        4. But getting freight trains out of Newmarket and Mt Eden doesn’t help freight. Those junctions aren’t constrained once the CRL is built. The capacity constraints will be Wiri to Westfield and Kingsland to Henderson.

          It benefits the residents of Mt Eden and Newmarket, but if all you want to do is get diesel trains out of there, you’d just add electric locomotives to all freight trains.

        5. Mt Eden is a fully grade separated 3 way interchange, it’s going to be the highest capacity railway interchange in the country, it can operate at whatever the lines feeding it can manage.

          On second thought, the double track from Newmarket to Mt Eden, through grafton will likely be the system bottleneck. Both junctions can handle whatever can be put through there, but multiple lines have to traverse that section. So A to S would help with this.

          The NIMBYism problem isn’t the highway corridor. Its when the route twists and turns through suburbia well away from any existing major transport route. Across dozens of suburban streets. Running freights up the relatively steep grades and tight (loud) turns day and night would be particularly unpalatable.
          While I count myself as a YIMBY, I’d certainly draw the line before heavy industry in suburbia.

          That’s why a busway seems far more reasonable, it could be rerouted for the designation that goes through suburbia onto the steeper highway alignment. And stay with the highway through the nice grade separations kindly provided by the NZTA.

        6. Cant see why a multibillion dollar freight rail line for a route that has two short trains a day could be the best thing to do for transport.

          Not compared to a light rail network carrying 100,000 people a day.

        7. “Cant see why a multibillion dollar freight rail line for a route that has two short trains a day could be the best thing to do for transport”
          For freight it depends on Northport ramping up operations and taking business off ports if auckland. Also the NAL is only 2 short trains currently due to the state of the track and the improvements happening now will change that quite a bit.
          For passenger rail I think it’s massively underestimated by many. A couple of stations in The Mt roskill to Avondale part will be as busy as New Lynn/onehunga stations as they will be similar times to the city. The Hillsborough to southdown part will create a proper network effect instead of just unconnected individual lines to the city.
          Running pattern should be eastern line to a-s to inner west to crl back to eastern to make a city circle, and then a second line will be western line to city to Southern line.

      4. “will be eye-wateringly expensive for very little return”.

        You don’t think the first 3 or 4 stations on the a to s from Avondale to Hillsborough will be busy? . They are similar in distance and time from the city as the onehunga line.

        As for the cost, kiwirail already owns the land and the spans of the overbridges on the south western motorway have already been built wide enough for a double track. I haven’t seen a recent estimate but it would be interesting to see how much that first bit from Avondale to Hillsborough would cost. It’s putting in track onto open grassland and under roads already built for it. Would likely be cheaper per km than any other project you could find.

        1. “Put in a tunnel like suggested above, and make the surface A to S corridor (or at least part of it) a busway.”

          Don’t think we need to put 2 x multi-billion transport options directly on top of one another.
          Best to just build one that can take both freight and passenger.

        2. As long as they do the substrata correctly otherwise it could end up like the rest of the Auckland network is now .

  7. 15 billion on a light rail tunnel, all to save a handful of on-street carparks. Absolutely bonkers. Sort it out Wayne.

  8. If the current election results hold (and I guess they will, in that specials will generally tilt centre-Left) the council will be finely balanced, 9 centre-Left 9 centre-Right 2 swing votes. If Mayor Wayne acts sensibly and collegially there might be a productive moderate consensus to go forward on; but if he tries his RESPECT MAH AUTHORITAH routine with like the likes of Desley Simpson and Andy Baker, I guess he will find it counterproductive, and policy will generally follow the lines it did last term, despite his blustering and tantrums.

  9. Well one thing is almost certain, we will see something happen under Brown. Whether it will be good or not is yet to be seen.
    I didn’t vote for him, but maybe it is better to have a leader that will do something rather than one that just talks about it. Everyone is sick of policies and plans and accords with almost no actual outcomes.
    Brown said once public transport is more convenient than driving, people will naturally move away from cars without having to be forced to. So will those public transport improvements come in the form of more frequent or comprehensive services? Brown said he will go to experts and public transport users for advice. “It isn’t about the price, it’s about the speed,” Brown added, making reference to mayoral candidate Efeso Collins’ policy of fares-free public transport.

    1. I always thought Brown’s public comments on transport were reasonable: better PT and particularly buses, HR expansion where possible (A2S), more cycle lanes through road space reallocation and LRT having to justify the price tag.

  10. Genuine questions. Given the close down of Auckland trains due to rebuilding the track, could they be used to jumpstart inter regional rail? Who owns the Auckland trains? Could they be leased/ borrowed to run elsewhere?

      1. I wonder if Auckland will end up with a mayor like Chrstchurch’s. He (the Christchurch mayor) said the plan (to dramatically reduce emissions) would make it too hard for motorists and he wanted to make it so “everybody was happy”.
        Mauger said he did not want to see the congestion charging and road tolls, and wanted to ditch a levy on new private car parks.
        So when Christchurch is hit (again) by the adverse impacts of climate change I wonder whether the populace will be just as happy? Will they be as happy as when that last great disaster hit Christchurch?
        Sad that political success is equated to happiness.

  11. If you think cyclists are entitled, wait till you hear from some of my fellow drivers.

    Demand ongoing subsidies to pollute, kill, maim, use space inefficiently and insist public roads be made available (free!) to store their private property.

    Luckily for us, the new Mayor supports cycle lanes.

    1. Basically every study finds that drivers do not pay their respective share from taxes. And a lot of people tend to rather use their property like driveway and garage for other stuff and store their car on the street. That is 8 sqm (or more for some trucks and vans) of public land for free. Try to rent permanently rent 8 sqm for 100$ per week, good luck.

  12. I wonder if Auckland will end up with a mayor like Christchurch’s. He (the Christchurch mayor) said the plan (to dramatically reduce emissions) would make it too hard for motorists and he wanted to make it so “everybody was happy”.
    Mauger said he did not want to see the congestion charging and road tolls, and wanted to ditch a levy on new private car parks.
    So when Christchurch is hit (again) by the adverse impacts of climate change I wonder whether the populace will be just as happy? Will they be as happy as when that last great disaster hit Christchurch?
    Sad that political success is equated to happiness.

  13. I felt like Efeso would be the same as Phil and get absolutely nothing done.
    I like Wayne. Seems rational about PT and doesn’t care much about the impact of climate change. Good luck to him. He will need it.

  14. Hey great photo of track laying inside the tunnel. Does anyone know how far its progressed and if the overhead is started and progression its hard to get information.

    1. When I was looking at the Works the other day they had a highrail cherry picker up by where the lifts are , so they must be starting the 30,000 plus bolts soon .

  15. Mike Lee is obsessed about the tram at Wynyard Quarter and even became an honorary tram driver.
    Sitting on AT’s board, he will get light rail scrapped altogether but extend the Wynyard tram up Queen St like the 1950s and join it with the MOTAT tram which will also be extended and run to various suburbs.
    I’m not sure this is a joke. Strange times ahead.

    1. Honestly, a tram from Wynyard to MOTAT/ Zoo via Queen Street sounds like a pretty good idea. If that is what it takes to start a tram network, go for it.

      1. They “”MOTAT” could do a better job than all these socalled experts , with the building and running of it .

    2. Hilariously, this would be way, way closer to a desirable LR line (a bit better than buses) than what is currently proposed

  16. Dear Wayne, PTUA (Public Transport User Association) has a message for you incase you haven’t seen it yet! They support you as mayor in a statement!

    The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) and NZ Transport 2050 agree that the AT board and the whole AT organisation for that matter should be reorganised to better reflect the needs of Aucklanders. It has become very clear that in the public’s eye AT is severely out of touch with the average Aucklander. Not just on its governance model which it has seen no true independent board representation for the last three years, but with the core assumptions it has on how to deliver transport services for all Aucklanders.

    PTUA National Coordinator Jon Reeves says “The election of Wayne Brown has sent a clear signal that Aucklanders do not want the governments light rail tram pet project.” The PTUA and NZ Transport 2050 want to see the $14 billion budget the government has been willing to spend on light rail trams put back into the pot for public transport improvements Aucklanders actually want, like the spur line to Auckland Airport from Puhinui, and extension of the Onehunga line to Mangere and the airport, extension of commuter train services to Huapai in Nor West Auckland, and the Eastern Busway built in a way that does not wipe out dozens of homes (as AT wants).

    The main areas of concern for our organisations have are:

    1. A disingenuous consultation process with anyone that questions their wisdom.

    2. A modelling approach that ignores best practice from any other city across Australasia in terms of design and vision.

    3. Being Anti-Heavy Rail: A decision was made before the formation of the super city that Auckland suburban rail system would be modernised with dual track, electrification, and a new central rail station at Britomart. Later that this station be expanded to a loop to better connect all of the central city into this $8 billion plus infrastructural investment. AT seems to have gone out of its way to ignore this commitment and instead specifically focuses on building a parallel rail system using Light Rail Tram technology.

    4. AT’s fixation on a single Light Rail connection to Mangere and the airport and expansion of that in every area of Auckland without any clear business case or actual public buy in.

    5. A fixation on the CBD being the target destination for the majority PT journeys despite the significant reduction on journeys to the CBD even before the pandemic.

    6. It’s anti-car or other forms of road transport approach which has seen Queen Street now not even have bus bays or access for people with mobility issues when retailers are desperate for business and PT services are still three years away from being able to use the CRL.

    7. A fixation on all things cycle based with no review on the usage and the effectiveness of the design of cycleways or the safety of those using them.

    Our organisations offer congratulations to Wayne Brown, now incumbent mayor of Auckland for next 3 years!

      1. GA post says befor ALR study comes out…
        “That means for the ~9km route a cost of $1.35 billion for light rail”. (to Mt roskill) .
        Light rail study=9 billion.(to airport)
        When it costs 3 times as much as you expect maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board and consider some other options.
        Many of the arguments in favour of light rail on GA are based on costs drastically lower than the latest ALR group study suggests.
        But once you’ve preached the gospel of cheap light rail its hard to consider anything else.

      1. But sure, why not, I’m pretty bored atm.

        1. You are literally speaking for all Aucklanders. I don’t recall you running any consultation. You certainly don’t represent my views.

        2. Gold Coast? Light Rail. Sydney? Light Rail. Melbourne? Trams everywhere. Any major European centre? Light Rail AND in some cases, trams also. You can see where this is going.

        3. LRT is now a government project. There is some merit to the idea of extending regular services to Huapai and it’s an easy gimme, but you’re so busy pissing your pants over Light Rail, you’re not arguing the actual winnable, sensible arguments.

        4. This isn’t an AT project anymore.

        5. A hub and spoke model involves both cross-town and central routes. Funnily enough, Heavy Rail doesn’t do this, but you seem to be kind of ignoring that. Why is that, I wonder.

        6. We can always improve accessibility for people who need it. Cars, on the other hand, generally don’t tend to be disabled. I’m not allowed to rip sick skids on the main turf at Eden Park either, when can we see some letters to the Eden Park board about that? I mean that’s ‘anti-car’ too, right? Or maybe city centres aren’t places that should double as expressways.

        7. Were they fixated on cycleways, or the light rail that isn’t actually an AT project anymore? I can’t keep up.

        It’s ironic that the PTU NZ doesn’t actually seen interested in extending public transport to people who don’t already have access to it. They seem like they might be happier if they moved nearer to Glenbrook, where they can live with all the other museum pieces.

        1. “A hub and spoke model involves both cross-town and central routes. Funnily enough, Heavy Rail doesn’t do this, ”
          The Avondale southdown designation provides a good crosstown route. One that can be through-routed. And also useful for freight to Northport. But it is ignored/discounted by proponents of light rail as it would render a large part of the light rail plan (dominion rd-Airport) as superfluous.

    1. 6 is pretty funny for an organisation that calls itself the PTUA.
      Opposing bus priority?

      Also I’m a bit confused with point 4. You’re saying the fixation with the airport is bad. But in the section above PTUA is advocating for a Airport to Puhuni spur which would duplicate the existing BRT line. Seems like quite the fixation on the airport..

    2. Mr Wizard, you forgot recent light rail builds in Canberra, Newcastle and Adelaide also

      “A decision was made before the formation of the super city that Auckland suburban rail system would be modernised with dual track, electrification, and a new central rail station at Britomart. Later that this station be expanded to a loop to better connect all of the central city into this $8 billion plus infrastructural investment.”

      Ummm, isn’t this exactly what we got. It was modernised, dual tracked, electrified and we’re just finishing off the city centre loop. What’s their gripe exactly?

  17. “It is 10 months since the former CEO announced his resignation and there appears to be no progress on his replacement.”

    This is because the new Mayor, refused to engage with, or support the proposed new CEO.

  18. The Onehunga line to the airport project you mentioned sounds like a potential solution to address the need for rapid transit in the Mangere area, connecting it directly to centers of employment and education.

  19. Wayne.
    There are very few financially literate reasons to sell assets. They are to:
    Purchase better assets.
    Reducing expenditure, this is only valid when the cost of servicing the debt, exceeds the total yield, dividends plus capital gains, from the assets.
    (This is unlikely given current local body borrowing rates, and the current yields on
    those shares)
    To avoid insolvency when you have exhausted your borrowing capacity at acceptable commercial rates.

    You have admitted that inspite of the superimposed costs of a once in 100 year epidemic, and an unprecedented local storm event, that the Auckland Council still has borrowing capacity at concessional local body low risk rates. Rates that are almost certainly below the yields on those Auckland Airport Shares.
    But it is worse then this. Those very favoursble borrowing rates are dependent on the city’s asset base, including those very shares. Selling those shares will put upward pressure on available borrowing costs.

    Shares that are currently performing markably better then the available investment average, as well as maintaining significant leverage over a very strategic local asset.

    If you are financially literate you would be advocating for more diversity in income streams, not the descent into near complete reliance on property rates alone.

    Paying for this years expenditure by selling assets is what is financially illiterate.

    You have three budgets in your current term, If you sell off the bulk of your liquid assets this budget, how are you going to manage your next two budgets?
    What other of our assets do have in mind?
    And what do you have left to offer for reelection?

    You will have already deprived the mayor of the next term income and options.

    1. After reading this I hope he has not heard about all the Pensioner Units that were inherited from the previous Councils that made up the Super City .

      I moved into a Unit in Massey before Christmas and This is run in conjunction with the Selwyn Foundation under the name of Haumaru Housing . And I hope he Doesn’t do a John Banks and flog them off .

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