Earlier this week Mayor Wayne Brown announced his budget proposal for 2023/24, promising a rate rise of 4.66% – which is below our current inflation rate of 7.2%. Though note that the increase in general rates is 7%, with the total figure proposed to be brought down by some cuts in targeted rates.

The rate increase and other parts of the proposal are in large part about plugging a nearly $300 million shortfall which has come about as a result of COVID pressures and more recent issues like interest rate hikes.

A lot of the discussion in recent weeks – and mentioned in the announcement – has been about the possibility of the council, as by far the largest single shareholder, selling its 18.1% stake in the Airport, which they estimate could raise around $2 billion and be used to pay down council debt.

However, that’s not all that is proposed:

The mayor’s 2023/24 budget proposal is seeking record savings of $130 million across Auckland Council and council-controlled organisations, including Auckland Transport, Tataki Auckland Unlimited, and Eke Panuku Development Auckland. Included in this are operational savings of $60 million that will focus on management and unfunded strategies, rather than service cuts.

Local boards will be asked to play their part in plugging the $295 million budget hole by finding 5 per cent in cost savings from their total annual funding of $298 million.

The detail of the proposal is now available, and what’s particularly concerning for the things we at Greater Auckland advocate for is the potential operational savings Auckland Transport is offering, which will have serious implications for public transport.

AT suggest a savings of $25 million could be achieved through two ‘opportunities’, both of which are public transport related: increasing fares and making more permanent cuts to services.

Raising Fares

The council information notes that the AT Board approved a 6.5% fare increase at their meeting last Thursday, subject to approval by the council’s Governing Body.

A 6.5% fare increase, likely to be implemented in February on top of the government ending the current half-price fares scheme at the end of January, is going to be a real kick in the teeth for public transport users. It will only make it harder for people to justify continuing to use public transport, especially given how poor the service continues to be with the network still impacted by significant cancellations due to the bus driver shortage.

An aspect of fare increases that particularly frustrates me is that AT doesn’t change parking costs at the same time. A check of AT’s website shows in some areas, such as Newmarket, AT haven’t changed on-street parking prices since 2017. Yet during the same timeframe, some PT fares have increased by as much as 24%.

The reason parking prices haven’t changed is that AT sets prices based on achieving parking occupancy ratios of 85%:

Where demand is high, we will aim for on-street parking to be 85% full. With parking spaces being 85% full, they are well used but people can still easily find a space. This is known as the demand-based approach as part of AT’s parking strategy.

Parking occupancy surveys will be carried out to find out whether this 85% target is being achieved. Parking prices will then be adjusted up or down to achieve this 85% target. [emphasis added]

I wonder how different our PT fares would be if we set if we set them the same way? With usage currently still only at about 67% of normal, that would suggest significant fare reductions to get more people back into using the services.

Alternatively, if AT increased parking costs by the same amount as PT, we could see many on-street parking spots become regularly empty – which could, in turn, highlight some locations for quick and easy bike infrastructure to be installed.

I also found this comment from new Councillor and former National Party MP Maurice Williamson on Morning Report yesterday funny, given increasing fares is exactly what they’re proposing:

“What Wayne Brown has put together for this financial year starting next July is, I think, a really, really smart way of making sure that people aren’t paying for it by way of extra bus fares, because that’s not the way to fix big-ticket items is to put the penalty onto people in a cost of living crisis,” Williamson told Morning Report.

“It’s not by doing sort of, tinkering around the edges, but by big, substantial changes.” [emphasis added]

Reduced Services

Earlier this year AT decided to remove a large number of regularly cancelled buses from timetables in order to give people more certainty as to which buses are actually running.

The proposal offered for council’s budget purposes is to keep it that way, noting:

Due to COVID-19 and behavioural changes PT patronage levels are currently around 67% of pre-COVID levels.

The reduced demand for PT has impacted the level of revenue from PT. The current bus driver shortage is also challenging with a number of scheduled trips removed from the timetable meaning less services are being offered than was planned for in the LTP.

At the same time AT is facing significant cost escalation related to the services they provide and activities they undertake in the current high inflation environment. Increased costs are offsetting any savings from the reduced number of trips.

AT are proposing to hold PT services around current levels and not progressively reinstate all removed trips as bus drivers are attracted and recruited. AT are undertaking a network recast to improve the timetable and connectivity of services and will continue to seek further efficiencies to limit the timetable and service frequency impacts.

For all the talk about not cutting services, not returning services back to full capacity should be understood as a cut.

What’s more, the paper suggests AT could go further if needed, further reducing remaining services by 20%.

Higher cost reduction targets will impact even more public transport services. Under the current funding rules, a further $25 million cost saving would require around a $67 million decrease in services due to a loss of fares and co-funding. This would require up to a 20% reduction in services (principally on bus), on top of reductions proposed above.

Increasing fares and further cutting services will likely put PT use into a death spiral that we can ill afford, and all at a time when everything – including the strategic climate and safety goals championed by Council and AT – is reminding us that we need more people than ever on buses, trains and ferries.

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  1. It’s outrageous that the parking costs are not increasing. They should at least at the same rate as the PT fares. If they have a goal of 85% for carparks occupancy, why don’t they have the same target for public transport patronage? Heaps of buses and trains between the peaks have lots of spare capacity. Surely the discount should be more than 10% as it is currently.
    Our PT timetables are still very much peak-focused which is most likely because of the existing work/school patterns that are hard to change so there’s probably a limited number of actions AT can take to change that. Having said that, there are some areas where changing the frequency from every 3 minutes to every 4 or 5 minutes will probably not be noticeable by the passengers but could give AT some breathing room.
    Nevertheless, the first thing that should be addressed is the unfairness in public transport fares and parking fees. This really needs to end because with inflation parking is actually becoming cheaper every year.

    1. “The reason parking prices haven’t changed is that AT set prices based on achieving parking occupancy ratios of 85%

      Where demand is high, we will aim for on-street parking to be 85% full. With parking spaces being 85% full, they are well used but people can still easily find a space. This is known as the demand-based approach as part of AT’s parking strategy.”

      Respectfully Matt, you and I know that this is just bullshit. AT pay scant attention to the Parking Strategy and essentially do what they want.
      There is a mechanism in the strategy where they should re-visit problematic areas regularly. They don’t.

      Sadly, the result of AT achieving an appallingly low return on parking assets (not even matching the cost of capital) means the demise of services that provide value for Aucklanders. Council early childhood learning centres are for the axe. In a time where our learning standards are moving backwards it is counter intuitive to remove opportunity for learning at young ages.

      Aucklanders continue to pay an enormous price for our obsession for travelling by private car, a situation enabled by AT’s regressive policies. We pay with higher rates, the cost of congestion, the costs of emissions, and on it goes. Same old tired leaders, different day.

    2. I parked for a meeting at fort street, it was a Wilson carpark, it was $18/hr. Car park was mostly full as well, I used to park up at victoria street council car parks for meetings. But I simply cannot find a park there anymore. It’s full all the time, unless it’s during the evening/weekend.

      AT is undercharing for council carparks, and as a user it’s frustrating, as the 85% full is a joke. I see it as 0% empty

      1. Average, this is a parking strategy by AT that is just economically non sensical. AT is simply forgoing revenue.
        I bet Wayne is on to this though. If he thinks he can suck more revenue from the port, then he must be capable of doing the same with parking buildings. You don’t need any specialist knowledge, you simply put the price up. How could AT be confident that the market will pay a higher price? Just look at the price of every other car park around.
        If AT are still skeptical, for a few thousand bucks I will give them a consultants report. The good news is that increased prices will pay for that in a couple of days.

  2. The council should make inflationary (~7%) increases to everything across the board, including PT fares, rates, parking, rubbish, fines, consents, etc. Its crazy for rates rises to be so much less than inflation when the council has money issues! The average pay rise over the last year is more than 7% so it shouldn’t be unaffordable.
    The whole thing sounds like typical right wing BS to me: make the city crap just to save a tiny bit on rates each year. And of course the people that vote for that aren’t affected as they have a gold card.

    1. Agree, it’s crazy that rates aren’t going up by the rate of inflation. This should be seen for exactly what it is – austerity.

      I’m all for them selling some golf courses though.

        1. I’d rather hold onto them until we have a mature conversation about how we make green spaces more accessible in the first place. I don’t think just paving them and then putting up more houses is going to add a huge amount of value if it means the loss of open space you’ll never get back.

          You’d think we could have a design competition for a public space that could be easily converted into a golf course for special events and weekends – after all, you just need patches of green, not runways of the stuff. It’d be like not using the empty space in the middle of a horse racing track for something else when we already know you can fit a… well, a driving range in there.

        2. BW, hell no, not houses. Apartment complexes surrounded by green areas. There is a golf course opposite Smales Farm that has ready made transport options that not need cars.

        3. “if it means the loss of open space you’ll never get back.”

          Fair enough, but it’s not open space if you need to be golfing to use it. So it’s not actually open space now either.

        4. However, open spaces are also important as cooling spots for the city. A lot of denser cities in Europe struggle with having no open spaces at all which makes heat waves potentially a lot worse. So while a golf course is not the best use of open space, a golf course-like layout (with maybe a few more trees) may be important in densely paved areas. From a quick look at the map, one of the Mt Roskill courses and the Takapuna one may qualify for such areas.

          Disclaimer: I am not an expert on this and it very well might be that local reserves and the ocean around us are ‘enough’ and these courses are not needed. But it is an aspect to take into consideration.

        5. “Fair enough, but it’s not open space if you need to be golfing to use it. So it’s not actually open space now either.”

          There’s varying degrees of how we could approach this. A parkland that is a golf course on weekends? A golf course but with rapid transit lines running through green spaces? You’d think a Light Rail train running on green rails would be able to withstand the odd kerplunk from a wayward (but let’s be honest, likely well-placed) drive.

          At the moment this debate 100% without value degenerates into imported class war talking points when in reality there’s no reason for us to be wedded to extremes that might deprive us of some really nifty inventive solutions – at a time where the sport of golf itself is going through a period of upheaval either way.

        6. I’d develop around half of it and keep the other half to have two quarter golf course sized parks. A quarter of a golf course is still a really big park.

        7. I’d shy away from development but I’d like to see proposals around opening up fairways as different types of green spaces. Keep the greens, tee bays and maybe some much smaller landing strips for fairways as a challenge – but look to replant and repurpose much more of the space we currently use on traditional golf courses.

          Imagine an alpine-planted course with a fraction of the boring tedious grass. Maintain the key bits to a professional standard, close the parklands themselves for high-profile invitationals, create something new and unique in the golfing world. When you’re not using them as golf courses, they can be used as parklands, reserves and connections for the surrounding suburbs.

  3. Auckland is finished, at least for the next 5 years or so. It’s no better than a regional town but with lots of people. I had high hopes 10 years ago that Auckland was evolving and would become a real cool and fun pace to live but it’s gotten worse and worse, lack of vision and leadership and at the whim of a Transport Agency intent on making it hard for people to get around.

    In 2023 there will be reduced Trains, reduced buses, more expensive to use them, right on the brink of climate catastrophe. You can’t make it up..

    1. Totally agree, without sounding like a boomer on ZB it is actually going backwards. Wow if Maurice Williamson is the answer who knows what the question is

    2. On the brink of a climate catastrophe? One third of Pakistan was under water. Parts of NSW have flooded three times in a couple of months. And so on and so on. It’s only not a climate catastrophe because we have not had our turn yet.

  4. Wayne Brown was elected by 35% of the population of Auckland. His mandate equates to 17%. Allegedly mostly Newstalk ZB listener / participants. These are landowning, tank driving elites that care only for their own personal circumstance, believe that the world, this country and this city are dangerous, and becoming more dangerous. Public transport usage and biking infrastructure, not to mention the overdue and moderate pedestrianisation of Queen Street prove that the upper echelon of this city are not only ignorant, but also irresponsible to both the environment and our future generations. The economy will be irrelevant when coastal properties begin to be washed away with no insurance, helicopter landing pads are king tided regularly, and all the seawall between Takapuna and Milford will be worth less than the ninety five years of Fletcher metamorphosis. Not only controlling construction but extracting and now rebranding as a terraced, overpriced “home” constructor. Wayne Brown devastated Northland with his private business interests and he will do the same in Auckland, if allowed to continue to deny climate change. The fact that cars can occupy space on public roads while not in motion is obscene. Our taxes and rates pay for public amenity, and private motor vehicles can occupy parks, both grassy versions and painted on street versions at will? The machines have won, and most of us drive them around, to the detriment of our well-being. How far will the humble among us have to walk when public transport fares are raised again? How damaged will our lungs be by the under reported noxious emissions from fossil fuelled vehicles?

    1. The only good thing is that Brown does not seem to be completely “right wing”, he does actually seem to want decent PT in Auckland (we will see I guess).
      You can blame the “landowning, tank driving elites”, but the real blame should go to the left wing that ran the council for 12 years and didn’t achieve anything. The right only won because the left couldn’t be bothered voting. I wonder where we would be if Len Brown kept his pants up!

      1. “I wonder where we would be if Len Brown kept his pants up!”

        The irony is that I think Len Brown achieved two massive progressive things against huge opposition – Unitary Plan and CRL. What achievements will Phil Goff’s mayoralty be remembered for?

        But yeah, lots of “sort of left” voters basically could not be bothered to oppose Brown, or support Efeso, so here we are.

        1. The focus needs to turn to why they didn’t vote and to change that. It’s a systems problem (just like with transport behaviour), and it needs a systems fix.

        2. “It’s a systems problem (just like with transport behaviour), and it needs a systems fix.”

          I agree that it is systemic – I don’t necessarily agree its the (voting) system alone that is the main problem. A lot of voters, particularly young ones – have lost the hope that politicians will listen to them, or even if elected with their votes, will actually do what they said they would for them. It’s not that “its too hard to vote”, I think.

        3. “It’s not that “its too hard to vote”, I think.”

          Pippa Coom is actually a good example. In many ways, she was nowhere progressive enough in her voting and actions to make young professionals vote for her again. She tried to balance the fact that she had a heavily elderly/conservative-leaning electorate for her Councillor area with her own more progressive policies – and turned out to not be conservative enough for the boomers, while putting off the kind of people who elected Chloe in the City Centre. I liked her, I don’t have any glib suggestions as to what she could have done differently – but even so, I would only have voted for her to head off something worse (I moved out of her ward a while ago tho). To depend on that (voters choosing you as the lesser evil) is sadly different than having enthusiastic voters on your side.

        4. Agree Gurf. With the Labour party we all thought we were going to get some big improvements to transport and emissions, but all we got was a fuel subsidy, big road projects, and feel-good promises that will never be delivered. I honestly felt more optimistic when National were in power! Same with Goff, it feels like there has been no progress since Len left. So why bother voting?

        5. Sorry, that’s nonsense. Do you ever catch a train from Pukekohe to the city or vice versa and look out the window? There’s a vast amount of work/improvements to the rail line that just wasn’t happening under National. Similarly, although it’s hidden underground, the CRL was restored to full capability after the National government did the usual short sighted penny pinching.

    2. My main culture shock regarding vehicles in public space came when I learned that beaches are considered public roads and when I read this article on people driving up a river for crate day: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/ldr/479878/advocates-fear-for-bird-safety-as-4wd-owners-eye-crate-day
      “Drivers said they had ”legal rights as taxpayers to legally drive down a river” and suggested DOC should ”put more effort into identifying and fencing off the nesting areas”.”

      Honestly, f* them.

  5. I wonder what targeted rates they will cut?
    Looking at my rates bill we pay $82.16 for “Climate Action Targeted Rate”, what is this used for? Something useless no doubt like buying carbon credits? How about scrapping that rate and making car use much more expensive, I am sure it would have a much better impact on CO2.
    We also pay $55.22 for “Natural Environment Targeted Rate”, yet there is no money to fix broken footpaths and build cycle facilities and connect communities. The Natural Environment of Auckland is in way better condition than the built environment is.
    And there is also $84.29 for “Water Quality Targeted Rate”, is water quality not covered by our water bill and general rates bill?

      1. Oh god it’s worse than I thought! Save the environment by running more empty diesel buses with a driver shortage. Sure spending on walking and cycling makes sense, but I can see the money coming out of our rates bill but I can’t see anything to show for it.
        As I said the better approach would be to make driving harder or more expensive.

        1. Oh that is right, you are so weirdly anti bus.

          Busses have an average occupancy of 10. That is 9 cars not driving that’s a win. Yes driving cars is way too cheap.

          Also CART is directly speeding up the transition away from ICE.

          79 new electric buses or hydrogen buses

          “Fleet electrification is an ongoing process, but we have just introduced 35 new electric buses in the Eastern Bays and one in Milldale. Another 56 buses are planned to be introduced by the end of 2023. You can read more about Mission Electric https://at.govt.nz/about-us/sustainability/mission-electric/“

        2. I am not necessarily anti bus, but I really don’t think 10 people in a bus is that much better for the environment than 10 people in 8 cars is. The bus has a much bigger engine, takes a less direct route, spends a lot more time idling, etc. And that average occupancy is probably bumped up by the main routes, these new routes would be lower. Of course electrification makes a big difference, it should be much quicker to electrify the whole city worth of buses than of cars, but at this stage its hard to see any real progress there either.
          I’d rather they spend the money on the routes that do stack up, bigger nicer buses with overhead wires on 100% dedicated bus lanes for example.

        3. I think relatively long term, 10-20 years in the future should be the prime consideration influencing investment decisions. Sure today someone driving might be slightly better, but in 20 years of ridership growth, deferred driving infrastructure / car purchases…. The potential future of high transit mode share is vastly better than the future of keeping on keeping on.

          Every new bus AT gets is electric. How much of new car sales is EV?

          You also can’t separate ridership impacts small routes from large routes either. The ridership interactions are complex. Ie, even though I didn’t take that super late bus home and it was empty, the only reason I went in on a peak trunk hour bus was because I had a guaranteed way of getting home. Think about influencing people’s decision to even own a car at all.

        4. *might be slightly better in some respects, ignoring lots of others, making some generous assumptions…..

        5. “I am not necessarily anti bus, but I really don’t think 10 people in a bus is that much better for the environment than 10 people in 8 cars is.”

          I get where you are coming from on one hand, but also don’t forget that there is a *huge proportion* of Kiwis who cannot drive. Because they are too young or old, because they have disabilities etc. A bus network isn’t *just* about efficiency (but yes, you should focus on making it efficient). Here’s a good example of a person who has to use PT – and it shouldn’t be sh*t: https://thespinoff.co.nz/opinion/09-11-2022/i-have-no-choice-but-to-use-public-transport-in-west-auckland-and-its-unbearable

        6. 10 people in a bus is much better for the environment than 10 people in 8 cars is:

          – The 8 cars take up much more road space, something needed for protected bike lanes and wider footpaths and trees – all things needed to create walkable, liveable urban environments.
          – The 8 cars take up much more parking space, in multiple locations, something needed for parks and apartments, amenities and workplaces – all things needed for liveability and proximity.
          – The bus **should** be driven by professionals, safely, whereas the 8 cars each pose dangers to people using active modes, including at that high-risk time when the drivers are circling looking for a carpark and not concentrating on people walking and biking.
          – The 10 people in the bus aren’t tied to car ownership. If they don’t own a car, they can consider their next shift of abode to be to a place without a carpark, and will be considering car-free holidays.
          – The people having to own the cars have to fork out the money for the land to park the car and the money to own, maintain and operate the car. This affects their household budget, their choice of where to live and how they travel for holidays.

          All of these factors end up impacting the environment. No trip is in isolation.

        7. Jack I see electric cars all the time, still yet to see an electric bus. Heidi you are right, however I still don’t see that this package will make any meaningful change to Auckland’s CO2 emissions. I bet most neighbourhoods won’t even see a new bus route, footpath or cycleway let alone enough of those to change anything. AT will gobble up that money and spend the lot on some mega project of little benefit. The only thing that will work is to disincentivise cars, and the income that produces or saves could then be spent on the alternatives. Any other solution is farcical.

        8. Jimbo, you might be surprised at how small and efficient a bus engine is. Around 200 horsepower, about the same fuel consumption as a SUV.

          Auckland has 150 electric buses being delivered at the moment, about half of them are on the road already.

    1. You really need to read up on where the targeted rates are spent and what they achieve in terms of leveraged value. Most people don’t understand this and so they will think that cutting down targeted rates below inflation is a good idea. It’s the worst idea in the whole package. Will only save ratepayers one latte a fortnight but set back popular, supported programmes by a decade.

      1. Yes.

        Cutting rates is intergenerational inequity. It leads to the selling off of assets previous generations built up, so that future generations are impoverished.

        All so that the current generation can continue their subsidised lifestyles.

        1. Wow!! I find myself agreeing with you for a change Heidi! Absolutely true.
          The reason why we have a massive infrastructure deficit right now is that older generations thought it’d be better to give themselves tax cuts etc rather than building things (that would have in turn actually increased the size of the economy AND decreased inequality with less unemployment).
          That and irresponsible levels of immigration which has further increased the demands on infrastructure while suppressing wages (particularly for lower income people).

        2. Immigration does not suppress wages in New Zealand. This makes sense when you consider immigrants also start businesses, pay tax, contribute to demand, and generally create jobs.

          “Immigration has had small and mostly positive effects on the wages and employment of New Zealand-born workers over the last 25 years. Overall evidence on labour market effects does not, of itself, point to major problems with the level and composition of immigration into New Zealand.”

          Productivity commission – https://www.productivity.govt.nz/assets/Documents/Impacts-of-immigration-on-the-labour-market-and-productivity.pdf

          Our infrastructure and housing woes are purely a lack of willingness to borrow against the increasing tax base for infrastructure, and tax advantaging the funnelling of investment money into a country sized land speculation ponzi scheme.

        3. The same productivity commission that has overseen our productivity improvement rates drop to record lows…
          “The high number of temporary workers also meant businesses had been able to rely on lower-skilled labour and suppress wages rather than investing in plant or employing and training New Zealanders, he said.” – Stuart Nash, Tourism and Economic Development Minister.

    2. we have a grant application in under the Climate Action targeted rate. Funding to help deliver approx 20km of low impact high kilometer cycle trail along our unknown inland waterway. The project is larger – linking communities via active transport trails. If people learn to recreate on bikes, they’ll have a choice to commute on micromobility and save the planet… These sort of projects are how Auckland will meet its TERP commitments, build biodiversity corridors, and engage our communities into volunteering for trail building days, which are great fun i may add…

    1. All this would be good,but we know,it won’t happen,bus and ferry services will not expand,see above post,good luck seeing any walking /cycling improvements, the council already questioning approved projects(Meola Rd).
      It was Goff’s plan,certainly ,not on this councils priorities,would be better to are it completely,at the moment it looks like greenwashing.

      1. The target rate can’t be used for anything else like that.

        What will happen is AT will drag their feet every step of the way (10 times so for the bike stuff). This despite the fact that CATR specifically picked quick to implement projects.

        1. The targeted rate is for stuff AT should be providing anyway. So AT will just move all other money away from PT and active and use the targeted rate only.

        2. Yes. Before the consultation, I asked AC how they implement any of this given AT. They just said it will be fine.

          Here we are half a year later, not a single thing has been implemented to the level where it is of tangible use to the public? Can you guess what happens next?

  6. It will be interesting to compare Auckland doubling down on car dependance with the overseas cities its competing for talent with taking a different approach.

  7. The first table listed above,in the “Opportunity “column,( holding public transport etc), if an organization looks on these things as opportunities, it speaks volumes about their intentions. I’m of the view,sometimes expressed by others,that moving around Auckland,has to be left to disintegrate into chaos,before the penny drops.
    It would seem the next few years are going to provide such chaos,hard to stomach as a PT /active mode supporter,but sometimes the best lessons are self learned.
    Telling the child ,not to touch ,as is hot,nowhere near as effective as said child touching and getting burned.

    1. Are you saying that Wayne Brown is the child and needs to get his hand burned, before he learns the lesson?

      I’m not sure that “moving around Auckland, has to be left to disintegrate into chaos” is such a good idea. Once chaos has arrived, very difficult to escape it….

  8. This is making me very glad I left Auckland. However, I still pay as anything that makes Auckland less competitive is detrimental to NZ as a whole.

    1. Then surely it’s time for other Cities to step up, lead the way and fill that gap? Sadly it’s not like any other City in New Zealand is leading the urban revolution. We had a blank slate with Christchurch and carried on being car dependent lunatics.

      1. Ummmm, excuse me? Wellington has always been more urban than Auckland, and still is. It’s biggest population suburb is the inner city. More people in Wellington use public transport than anywhere else in NZ. More people walk to work in Wellington than anywhere else in NZ. It is far from perfect, but it is far more urban than anywhere else…

        1. It’s not leading the urban revolution though, in reality it has largely rested on it’s laurels in the last 20 years.

    1. Aren’t AT just getting a couple of train station improvements?
      Where is the real vision? What Auckland clearly needs is better walking , cycling and PT near the city with significant increases in density. Yet all they ever focus on is crap PT to sprawl (and roads of course).

  9. One of Labours best unrecognised achievements is the intensification of the city despite strong opposition from the car lobby.
    There are huge numbers of apartments going up over many of our suburbs and giving older suburbs quite a lift. Kiwi Property, the owner of NZs largest mall, Sylvia Park, is building many apartments alongside it. From Panama Road which might be Aucklands largest redevelopment area with 100s of apartments right along to Panmure Station there is renewal. The old US army buildings are currently being demolished to make way for more apartments.
    AT need to better support NZ businesses. One of the reasons for NZs poor productivity is the high cost of sprawl on many counts. For me it is clear that one apartment building on one block of land wiith 50 units is very much cheaper to build than building 50 stand alone houses on 50 separate sections.

  10. Interesting that AT isn’t proposing to can any “gold plated unwanted cycleways” as part of their opportunities. Like Meola Rd, or Great North Road and West Lynn.

    The cynical part of me feels they know that they will not do these projects anyway, so why say it publicly. They will just announce a need for another redesign, and defer it for another 3-5 years in practice.

    But I really, really hope I am being too cynical, and at least the ones that are shovel-ready will proceed.

    1. The big ticket item on Meola Road is rebuilding the *road*.

      I think it will happen, but mysteriously acquire a couple more general traffic lanes whilst simultaneously becoming too narrow a corridor for footpaths and cycleways…

      1. Gawd, I don’t think it’ll acquire more traffic lanes. There’s no place at the intersections to cope with that.

        The attack from Lee for this project, of which only a tiny part of the cost is anything to do with cycling, seems to be because he’s aligned himself with the most anti-cycling nutbars in the city. Some of whom have said to my face that children have no right to move independently around the city.

        Lee has been saying outrageous things, packed full of misinformation. But there are people who are going to try to make sure he’s faced with the truth and made to face up to his errors.

        1. “Gawd, I don’t think it’ll acquire more traffic lanes. There’s no place at the intersections to cope with that.”

          Only because the corner properties are owned by well-heeled professionals who would fight the public works act acquisitions processes tooth and nail. In Otara, they would be taken by now.

          And as for extra lanes – I don’t think it will happen. Not because they can’t fit in (if you drop the cycleways, the intersections *can* get extra lanes!) but because I think that would be a step too far for AT even with this Council. As I said, I think the most likely outcome is that these projects will be “deferred as we review the design / until the funding situation improves from the current constraints”. That’s the playbook of any politicians / bureaucrat wanting to stop something they know people want / that aligns with their policies. Never officially cancel it, just delay it until you are dead.

        2. Yeah, well, let’s see. This community is absolutely outraged. AT’s weak leadership and refusal to believe their own public sentiment research is probably going to bite them on the bum this time.

        3. “This community is absolutely outraged” – that community is always outraged! Might be why they seem to get so much of the budget, communities that say nothing seem to get nothing.

        4. Jimbo. Every resident deserves safe cycling and walking and easy bus journeys – and there’s plenty of money to do so if Auckland’s transport system was being developed in line with the strategic direction, instead of concentrating on roads. Don’t forget that close to $1b is being spent on Penlink, which will induce traffic and make it harder to walk or bike, including to the bus – both in Whangaparaoa and in all the areas that traffic is going to.

          These inner west projects are a small fraction of that kind of money, for a larger population already swamped with traffic from poor urban planning (sprawl). Sure, wealthier areas are good at putting the pressure on, so it’s important to harness that to establish good precedent and get the city-wide programmes for sustainable travel actually happening.

          Example: In Pt Chev, WK has approved $37m from the Urban Cycleways Fund for the Pt Chevalier to Westmere streetscape improvement project. Yesterday we found out via Christopher D’s LGOIMA that only $6.2m is being spent on cycling infrastructure for the project.

          So AT is swiping the cycling funding in order to fund their other programmes – and plenty is being wasted along the way on redesign and reconsultation.

          This *is* outrageous. The whole city is being taken for a ride. It is useful to have outraged citizens digging for information. WK, Government and Council should all be acting to overhaul this systemic problem. This is why, while the rest of the country has implemented their cycleways that were funded by the Urban Cycleways Programme, AT is the only authority that has not.

  11. just a story I wanted to share from yesterday regarding PT in Auckland. Not connected to the post specifically but about cancelling services and it just makes you think. I was in shock yesterday. I gave up some months ago on PT as it was already too difficult for me for my usual travels but yesterday we were going to the cinema and my partner said ‘oh look there is 15 min bus to the cinema.’ I thought fair enough 15 min on a bus is better than 12 min in the car. And the walk to the bus was only a like 5 min. Bus was very late and ride was much longer as well but we got there. And then…
    The real NIGHTMARE began when we left the cinema. It was at 8pm. It turned out the bus that took us there had it’s last service few minutes earlier (it was 8pm! in a fairly busy area). We opened the app and were shocked. The best options we got after adjusting preferences was 50 min with two buses (one going opposite direction all the way to the CBD just to transfer and go back the right direction from there). What’s more annoying the best option included a cancelled bus as a starting point. It actually said underneath that it was cancelled but still was showing it as an option (why AT?! I thought the whole point of cutting services was not to show it as cancelled so people can plan). You had to click on the travel to work out when is the next one within that travel option but then you couldn’t be sure when was the one that you were transferring to etc. Anyway in the end we’ve decided we won’t let AT take anymore of our money and let’s just have a 1h walk home.

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