This is a guest post by Heidi O’Callahan

Settle in for a long read. This post-and-a-half is too important to cut short.

At last month’s Auckland Transport (AT) Board meeting, one of the Board’s tasks was to check that AT is on track to deliver the Transport Emissions Reduction Pathway (“TERP”).

The political will is consistent and clear: Auckland Council (“AC” or “Council”) has directed AT to implement the TERP.

Clear Council Direction: Last month, the Mayor recommitted to the implementation of the TERP — publicly, and on the international stage — by signing a declaration that cannot be interpreted as being “aspirational” nor fluid as to “timeframes”.

The TERP follows the evidence, it is achievable, it will make our lives better.

And it starts with strong oversight, to release AT staff from “entrenched ways of working” and “organisational conservatism”.

Targets and Timeframes, Aspirations and Achievability

Unfortunately, at last month’s meeting, the directors used words so ambiguous that they have unwittingly withdrawn their commitment to the TERP.

Acting Board Chair Wayne Donnelly said, describing the TERP targets for 2030:

I acknowledge the discomfort with the Climate Plan and the TERP because the targets are clearly not going to be achievable in the timeframes that are talked about in those documents…

this resolution does talk about continuing to support TERP as a comprehensive pathway to the ambition of the Climate Plan. It doesn’t say we’re somehow blindly wedded to TERP […] timeframes

Acting Deputy Board Chair Mark Darrow talked of “adding some emphasis” to the resolutions, with a suggestion to change “AT continues to support the TERP” to

AT continues to support the aspiration of the TERP

He also brought up a data point about recent E-vehicle imports – implying this may mitigate the relaxing of timeframes for the TERP. (This was odd, given the TERP assumes very high E-vehicle uptake, and is clear that raising it any higher is impractical, placing too high an economic burden on households, and too high a demand on the electricity infrastructure).

But don’t panic, yet – the situation is still retrievable.

Here’s the thing. The targets and timeframes for climate action are set by science. They’re integral to the TERP, and non-negotiable.

Unless the Board commits AT to the targets and the timeframes, words like “endorsement” and “support” for the TERP are just greenwash.

This pivotal moment of organisational change is no time for faltering reluctance to follow the Council’s clear evidence-based direction. If the Board is not confident, due diligence could include commissioning a review by an international expert in decarbonisation. But the Board didn’t even question AT’s Head of Transport Sustainability, nor the Council Lead Transport Advisor, who were both present.

Why does this wording matter?

“Ambiguous direction” has often been AT staff’s excuse for failing to deliver on strategies that shift the status quo, followed by excuses like “emerging financial implications” and “competing objectives”, until finally the strategy is diluted, ignored or killed. The result: far too many Lost Opportunities for change.

This is not a theoretical debate. Lives are lost, time is lost, reputation and public trust are lost, and we fall further behind right when we could be leading the way.

Rueful, doubtful, unevidenced language like that used by Donnelly and Darrow is exactly how targets and timeframes become unachievable.

Clear Council Direction: This is part of the Council’s unequivocal feedback (draft) to AT about their draft 2023 Statement of Intent. It is part of a clear, unbroken instruction to implement the TERP, including the Letter of Expectation in December 2022.

Where do these progress-scuttling myths come from?

The broad context at play is that Auckland Transport must transition from a failed planning paradigm to one that rises to our existential challenge.

This is good news: the new paradigm will produce a safe, affordable, low-carbon transport system that allows everyone to get around easily and in healthy ways. The old paradigm is what got us here and created the problems we are all keen to leave behind (congestion, low accessibility, air pollution, daily road trauma, widespread physical inactivity, poor public health, crippling transport costs… and looming over all of us, climate change).

Transitions are tricky, even when they’re so obviously necessary. And some staff find it hard to accept that skills, habits of thought and tools they have relied on for so long need to be put down, and new ones picked up, to accomplish what needs to be done.

For example, key staff at AT have resisted modernising their planning approach, because they genuinely believed that large-scale, short-term reductions in emissions could only be achieved by using road pricing so aggressive it would reduce well-being and equity — in other words, that cleaning our act up would somehow be bad for Auckland and Aucklanders.

Never mind that there is an international world of evidence showing otherwise. AT staff claimed they knew this, because they’d “modelled it” — using a model whose known limitations make it inappropriate to the task.

Fortunately, this ill-conceived argument against change didn’t survive the Council’s deep dive into the evidence. The TERP clarifies that the opposite is true:

Ultimately, the transition to a low-emissions and climate-resilient transport future is a pathway towards wellbeing for all Aucklanders. The actions presented in this document would mean more affordable transport choices; noticeably safer streets that promote independent travel for all ages and abilities; increased levels of healthy physical activity; improved air quality and reduced noise pollution; reduced congestion; and more effective use of limited public funds and road space leading to economic and social benefits.

Indeed, the TERP knocks down many of AT’s planning misapprehensions, and calls on AT to learn to do things differently, fast.

Yet, the AT staff in question still occupy the same positions, retain the same beliefs, and continue to spread the same myths to resist the same changes. And because these changes haven’t been made, the misinformation about “targets” and “timeframes” being “aspirational” and “unachievable” continues to spread.

Closer scrutiny by Board members – the wise minds tasked with exercising governance wisdom – is needed to support the TERP’s direction to “Supercharge Walking and Cycling”, in particular.

AT’s systemic aversion to investment in active modes is well-known. It’s not just seen in the frequent “restructuring” of the teams trying to make our streets better for walking and cycling. It’s starkly visible in the figures. AT consistently applies for much less walking and cycling funding, per capita, than the national average. And it delivers less walking and cycling infrastructure per capita as well.

This feeds a vicious cycle: because people are denied the opportunity to see that improvements can be delivered, a culture of “can’t do” develops. Because it’s so painful to try to get results but fail, repeatedly, champions inside and outside the organisation lose hope, and stop trying. The public and politicians lose confidence in AT, and (incorrectly) assume that systems change is inherently slow.

Why do people in positions of leadership revert to expressing doubts about TERP’s targets and timeframes? Is it because they prefer the apparent safety of incremental (but ineffective) change? Are they scared of stepping up to the challenge of transformative action, even if it will deliver a truly safe present and future?

December 2021: Council instructs AT to get on with early climate actions

Eight months before the TERP was formally adopted, Council gave AT the order to get on with some early delivery actions. This was a full 18 months ago.

Item iii, asking AT to fold walking and cycling improvements into all renewals and improvements happening on the strategic network, certainly didn’t happen. If it had, Auckland Transport’s approach would have changed immediately, enabling the delivery of healthier streets across the city.

Instead, AT defied the direction, and selectively paused key projects in this category — precisely because they involved safe cycling and micro-mobility infrastructure!

Item iv, ensuring a pipeline of shovel-ready walking and cycling projects ready to go as funding appeared, didn’t happen either. Case in point: what happened when funding became freed up from the cancelled walking and cycling harbour bridge?

The Minister of Transport expressly directed that some of the funding from the Northern Pathway should be diverted to advance Auckland Cycling Network projects.

Council’s “early delivery” instruction in late 2021 was perfect timing for reminding AT to pounce on this Northern Pathway funding to advance cycling projects. After all, a cross-agency group was being formed at the same time to prioritise projects for receiving this diverted funding.

And yet, a year later, while other projects that fulfilled the Minister’s requests had gained funding, none of them were “additional strategic priority investments in the Auckland cycle network”.

In other words, Cabinet directed that some of the half-billion dollars should go towards cycling in Auckland; Council directed AT to run towards any money that was going [for sustainable projects]; and AT failed to secure it. Did they even try? Or is it that the quality of their bid was not up to scratch?

Even after this, AT still didn’t ready itself to capitalise on other “funding injections”. For example, when the CERF fund opened, AT secured much less money per capita than other places, on average.

On the one hand, AT staff were claiming that Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Plan:

does not demonstrate if or how the change in mode share can be achieved

And at the same time, they were sitting on their hands while targeted funding rained from the sky.

This is really bad for Auckland.

We are deprived of the improvements we have a right to expect – for what?

We are fearful, daily, for the lives of our family members – for whom?

August 2022: Council instructs AT to implement the TERP

The TERP was approved ten months ago, in August 2022, and directs AT to “allocate existing funding more effectively”. That means AT should stop doing things that are no longer in line with the strategic direction, and thus make financial room to start doing the new things that are.

So did they reallocate project funding accordingly? It appears not. AT’s finances would be far rosier today if they had, because many projects that are clearly misaligned with the TERP — e.g. those that require road widening — are typically expensive by nature. Just to give one example, hundreds of millions of dollars could have been released by pausing the Eastern Busway for a rethink and a redesign. This is an order of magnitude bigger than the cut to capital costs that AT has had to stomach with the Mayor’s budget.

Such decisions were possible immediately, as the TERP gave plenty of detail about the principles that should be followed:

With these principles in mind, a high-level assessment of how future decision making aligns with the TERP is possible, even before the creation of a more detailed Methodology

The following guidance certainly allowed AT to make some immediate decisions about accelerating or pausing projects:

[C]onsider the required relative change in trips for each mode as another indicator of where effort should be focussed.

What about the budget for planning itself? The TERP required the immediate development of a “prioritisation methodology”. This was a top priority because it was needed to inform all the upcoming planning processes:

[The TERP] provides direction that Auckland Council and Auckland Transport must incorporate into future Auckland Transport Alignment Project, Regional Land Transport Plan [RLTP] and Long-term Plan processes.

Instead, planning resource was directed towards a review of “the processes for and approach to development of” the RLTP. A review of this kind would only be worthwhile after planning for the TERP has been completed, and if its author does not hold the following beliefs:

investment in public transport and active modes… will simply not be attractive enough for most trips, in the Auckland context, to achieve the scale of change needed to reach the net zero target by 2050…. [and] once a dispersed city form is in place, the impact of infrastructure in shifting transport behaviour is limited

So, no, the planning budget was not redirected to the TERP. As a result, AT will now struggle to develop an RLTP 2024 that can deliver the needed level of emissions reduction. Who will take responsibility for this?

October 2022: AT announces a “change in direction”

After the local election, AT’s interim CEO Mark Lambert abandoned official direction and suddenly announced a “change in direction” which further delayed delivery of the TERP actions. While he may have imagined this is what the Mayor was asking AT to do in an initial letter (which was not official direction in any case), it was certainly not what the letter actually said.

A LGOIMA response hints at the extraordinary amount of time subsequently wasted on actively delaying TERP-aligned projects:

[C]orrespondence regarding the inner west street improvement projects between AT and AT board members, or among AT board members, in the period from 19 October 2022 to 28 February 2023 inclusive… Our search resulted in approximately 10,000 emails… There may or not be other correspondence which occurred via the private email address of board members, to which AT does not have access

2023: What AT told the Board about delivering the TERP

Bringing us back to this year: the Board’s recent discussion and decisions about AT’s progress delivering the TERP were centred on two papers by AT’s General Manager of Planning & Investment, Jenny Chetwynd.

The first of these was called Auckland Transport’s Response to the Transport Emissions Reduction Pathway, and was discussed in the closed session of the March AT Board meeting. In short, this paper:

  • Presented a change in “operating context” as hindering the delivery of the TERP, thus asking the Board to “seek clarification from AC as to its expectations”.
    • In reality, the changes mentioned are financial challenges, political expectations, and weather events. These are all excellent reasons to accelerate the delivery of the TERP. Are staff asking the Board to seek a chink in Council’s armour?
  • Advocates for a pivot towards “recovery” of the current transport system.
    • In reality, “recovery” preserves the system’s outsized contribution to Auckland’s emissions, whereas the TERP’s well-evidenced work presents a balanced pathway of transformation, involving both adaptation and emissions reduction.
  • Sought “closer alignment of central and local government emissions targets”.
    • In reality, the Council’s TERP targets are aligned with the science, and should set the pace and scale of change – whereas, the government’s ERP targets are based on advice that the High Court has acknowledged does not put “New Zealand on track to reduce domestic net emissions by 2030 as per the IPCC global pathways.”

At the May AT Board meeting, Chetwynd presented a second paper of the same name, which:

  • Stated that AT has not completed the TERP’s “prioritisation methodology” work and claims doing so is “not currently feasible”.
    • In reality, having a methodology to assess and prioritise workstreams and deliverables is fundamental to the competent management of any organisation. This work should have been done soon after Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Plan was passed in 2019. The TERP said it was needed “immediately”.
  • Revealed that AT is waiting to see if its application to Waka Kotahi for $1.8m is successful before commencing work on developing a Vehicle km Travelled (VKT) reduction programme.
    • In reality, this work should have started in 2014 when the Low Carbon Strategic Action Plan required AT to reduce VKT.
The 2014 direction to reduce VKT.
  • Described AT’s initial approach to VKT reduction “through the levers available to AT”.
    • In reality, it was curious that the critical levers AT has been resisting for years were not mentioned (examples in the bullet points below). Perhaps they are mentioned in the appendices — which were not provided with the Board papers — but an intention to adopt any one of these practices at scale would be significant, and likely to have been included in the summary paper:
      • Widespread tactical road reallocation to cycle lanes,
      • Shifting to “vision-led” planning instead of being tied to what the traffic model says, and
      • Delivering a city-wide mosaic of low traffic neighbourhoods.

These papers confused the Board, and derailed productive discussion.

Low traffic neighbourhoods for excellent VKT reduction

The paradigm shift we need still isn’t happening

At the May meeting, the CEO of Waka Kotahi (WK), Nicole Rosie (who sits on the AT Board) noted the implementation plan would not bear fruit any time soon:

What do we get for the first piece of that plan in terms of an emission reduction? I don’t think we really get anything. We get some plans, and get some information. So I think we just need to be really honest with Aucklanders about that. Because, the idea that we’re somehow achieving a reduction in emissions by doing a plan, is not true.

Rosie is right, and AT has left it too late to treat emissions reduction planning as a desk exercise.

Luckily, nimble sustainable planning allows for plans to be improved as they’re being developed. Experiments, practical trials, monitoring, data analysis, public demonstration and engagement can all be designed to inform the implementation plan, on the fly.

Within just a few months, a learn-as-you-go planning approach, which turns every assumption on its head, and is led as boldly as the crisis demands, can:

  • Improve streetscapes, encouraging mode shift, and reducing VKT and emissions.
  • Inform programmes about the timing and scale of change possible
  • Inspire the public

Can AT produce a VKT Reduction Plan that doesn’t involve years of paperwork before delivering a single project? What can be done immediately to foster, elevate and seek out the skills needed to deliver at the pace required? Can the AT staff now skilled in innovation — via the Streets for People programme — be helping to guide this?

Those are the kinds of questions the Board should be asking.

Where to now?

AT has been dropping the ball on TERP again and again. This was never so clear as it was at last month’s Board meeting.

Who will catch it, and run?!

The AT Board should take a no-nonsense approach in its oversight of this all-encompassing change. There’s no call for accepting excuses or giving up 7 years in advance of the first major milestone.

CEO Dean Kimpton’s key task now is to assemble a leadership team with the competence, capability and experience to deliver a full transformation of our transport system. We have no more time or space for any nay-sayers and can’t-doers.

AT needs all the visionary, “yes-and” people it can find, and a Board ready to clear their path of any remaining barriers to swift success.

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  1. “Because it’s so painful to try to get results but fail, repeatedly, champions inside and outside the organisation lose hope, and stop trying.”

    Probably the sensible thing to do.

    There is absolutely no hope of getting anything positive out of AT or the Council – outside of some kind of revolutionary change, which won’t happen either. Just, it won’t happen. The only way forward is through grassroots urbanism. Mass take-up of e-bikes. Communities creating Safer Streets for themselves and defending them against car maniacs with forklifts. Let’s stop wasting time and emotional energy yelling at the AT brick wall for not moving, and just get on with it ourselves.

    1. I believe grassroots is the ONLY way. If you get someone to do stuff against public opinion they will do anything they want, but not what they promised to their supporters (unless they promised torture and robbery, this sort of stuff is usually implemented easily and eagerly).

    2. > Communities creating Safer Streets for themselves

      Good luck. If you start making safety improvements to local roads you will soon find yourself arrested and prosecuted.

      I would love for the local roads in my neighbourhood to be safer for children to walk, bike, and play, but there’s no realistic way a community can make changes.

      1. You can creatively use accepted activities to modify the system, or the community can just change its own behaviour.

        Parklets were a subversive way of reallocating roadspace, legitimized using a vehicular platform or by paying for the parking space.

        As a community you can use free street parking to narrow the road and reduce median speeds, rather than mashing the berm and blocking footpaths.

        You can support events like fun-runs that claim back streets and public spaces from vehicles for the day.

        You can use community activities like team sports to demonstrate how easily short car journeys can be replaced by walking and biking.

        You can walk your kids to school or respect crossings and speed limits as a driver.

        Your business round table can make a point of providing safe, convenient bike parking at their premises.

        Perhaps most importantly, you can push back when someone brings up tired old canards and excuses for doing nothing.

    1. Hi suggest everyone goes with as many people as possible and runs as noisy a protest as possible within legal limits- Heidi’s catalogue of failure is abysmal, shocking

  2. The political will really isn’t consistent and clear. If it was, things would actually be happening. As far as council is concerned they can get the best of both worlds by adopting plans that say all the right things while not actually doing anything that would annoy voters in the short term (e.g. on street parking). Wayne is happy to get some nice photos at this international conference but get down to brass tacks and he does not care about realizing TERP.

    But all this local government politics is just the first step anyway. If AT somehow woke up and decided to start being useful they’d just can it at the first sign of unhappy consultation feedback, even if they know it’s a good project. Until our vetocracy problems are addressed, none of the noises council makes in this direction matter.

    1. It’s important not to fall for this line, Stoat. Every piece of official political direction from Council to AT has been consistent. That’s all that AT has to consider.

      AT have been set up with sufficient independence to that, as supposed transport expert, they can respond to unofficial comments with up-to-date advice and information, helping politicians on their journey of upskilling.

      A sustainable transport network is fundamentally more affordable than what we have – AT could be making great progress explaining this to the new Councillors. If they understood it themselves.

      Instead, they have leapt at the opportunity to respond to individuals’ regressive comments that depart from all-of-council official direction. And with more gusto than they have ever used to respond to official, progressive direction.

      1. So many Councillor and Local Board updates I’ve seen AT staff present projects that have already been watered down in internal AT workshops, in an attempt to be palettable to politicians.
        They then attempt to defend these options with weak arguments, rather than simply stating that the policies of AT and Council are to make these changes.
        The briefing from AT managers to the staff making these presentations (or better still, the managers should also be attendance) would be that you are not required to ‘defend or justify’ the project, it is more that the presentations need to provide a clear overview of how they link to policies, and that should suffice.

      2. “AT have been set up with sufficient independence”

        I’d call that supposed independence. In practice, they serve too many masters – staff have to try to triangulate between their own senior staff and their own board, the politicians (Council AND Local Board!), as well as various lobby groups and the general public.

        Not much space left over for courageous work, when all too many of those groups are willing to kick the blame back to you whenever you try to do something right and ethical (but which changes the status quo). That was my biggest gripe with Phill Goff. Whenever the sh*t hit the fan, he was all too willing to knife AT in the back even though he made a big thing out of supporting active modes and PT in principle. Not a leader, just another manager, he was.

        1. That’s all true of the situation AT staff find themselves in.

          But my point is the situation the AT Board is in. THEY are not constrained by this triangulation. THEY have the independence required.

          If the directors have decided to do anything other than perform their duties of governance in a professional manner, abiding by all ethical codes of conduct and nimbly responding to the actual challenges of the day – say, to prevent getting sacked – then they are acting as politicians themselves.

          We don’t need another layer of politicians. We need governance. It’s different.

        2. Nor is it true of the CEO – unless he felt the Board would sack him for bold leadership, and sticking to the official direction. If our CEO’s have attempted this, it’s not been obvious to observers like myself.

          Nor is it true of the ELT – unless they feel that the CEO would sack them for bold leadership, and sticking to the official direction. (Ditto – it’s not been apparent.)

          Bold leadership of progressive action is rewarded by the benefits of that progressive action – growing public and political understanding and support.

          Indecision, inaction and equivocation? That is rewarded by loss of public and political support, and a civic discussion that becomes less informed each year.

      3. Agree Heidi, not all politicians have the same view but the majority and thus the official position is to reduce emissions through land use and urban design and enabling pt and active modes. Because we too would like a world for our kids to live in. It is galling that a loud minority stir things up, slow down progress and then, not infrequently, claim changes that are pushed by those that are more courageous, they had stymied at the time. The official direction is the only thing that should matter.

      4. Hi di Hi Heidi – thanks for this valuable quality piece of journalism. I share your frustration and what you have written is really valuable, it is a catalog of shame and just shocking. I am an AT employee and the lack of progress boils my blood. People just don’t get the depth and speed of the climate emergency we are in and how much we have to do – 2 degrees slips out of reach with all the delay, 1.5 long gone. Keep up the great work

        1. Thank you, Flim Flam. You are always welcome to contact me with ideas for how else I can help.

          One specific question I have is this: We know that staff were specifically told not work on the TERP. I want to pin down exactly where the instruction came from – it’s one of two places. If you know this, or can find out, I’d really love to hear from you.

  3. The article exposes much greater fundamental issues with integrated transport land use planning in NZ. In the context of NZ only having 5m people:

    a) TERP is not (yet) statutorily required. This is true of many NZ planning documents and raises issues of planning efficiency. It would seem better that central government directs which are required through NPS/RMA or local government legislation.

    b) AT doesnt have access to all the toolkit needed to bring emissions down. These are spread across Central Govt, MoT, Waka Kotahi, AT, HUD, and in other regions Regional and district councils. It’s very difficult to get an effective and coordinated approach given such a context. NZ’s planning system is very fragmented.

    1. Yes. However, the TERP identified this problem and directed AT to take a logical first step towards resolving it, which was to immediately develop the “prioritisation methodology” –

      “This prioritisation will map roles and responsibilities at the appropriate level of detail to each agency to aid implementation.”

      Done well, this methodology would provide a practical exposition of the fragmentation of the planning system and point to what’s needed to resolve that bigger problem.

      But as the AT paper shows, they haven’t done that methodology piece of work and consider it “infeasible”.

      1. But it isn’t statutorily requiredand it doesn’t have the status of regulation. So it is nothing more than a paper tiger. It was written to give the appearance that someone gave a rat’s arse, but they didn’t really.

  4. You have to wonder what AT’s rationale is at present,the “status quo” is delivering a debilitating experience of commuting in Auckland, yet they (AT) seem happy to maintain it. AT are maybe hoping for some sort of “Hail Mary” play to materialize to save the day.
    With no money to work with,their expansionist projects are stymied,and they (AT) seem unable,unwilling ,to adapt their thinking.There are plenty of overseas and local examples of nimble local body planning ,but you know ,Auckland is different,and they wouldn’t work here.
    The road space is the road space,until it’s allocated to achieve efficiencies,Auckland will continue to suffer,as a desirable destination to live and work.

    1. Probably waiting on congestion charging to free up space. Let Central government make the unpopular call and then claim the credit when it facilitates more bus and cycle lanes…

  5. I just realised how many times this article refers to the affidavit of Hamish Bunn. That guy was named by Hayden Donnell as one of the major villains at AT:

    This is why I keep saying that there is no hope of a political solution, because there is no-one who will fire Hamish Bunn, and he can’t be voted out. And I hate to say it, but sometimes I think this blog seems to think that if it just gets the “facts and arguments” writes, and “pleads” convincingly to the right people, their minds will be changed. No. They’re just laughing at you.

    The real problem is that urbanists/PT enthusiasts have absolutely no socio-economic power which could “force” the bureaucracy to the table. No, the only way forward is grassroots urbanism. Give up the buses and trains; mass e-bike takeup is the way forward.

    1. Just looked up what the TERP says the target is for public and active trips: 62% of trips by 2030, cf with that comment from the affidavit that says 50% can’t be managed by 2050.

      Have the directors read the affidavit, and the TERP? Have they prepared a spreadsheet outlining the key points of difference?

      Did they respond to the paper about the RLTP process review with – “So, if you’re doing this work, can we assume you have now accepted the TERP direction on topics like modeshare targets, and denounced what you wrote in your affidavit?”

      Sure, they can’t sack staff, but they can ask the CEO about his approach. And sack him if non-delivery can so obviously be traced back to staff choices.

  6. Those Board papers have a section called “Ngā tūraru matua / Key risks and mitigations”

    Is this “key risk” a new low for AT?:

    “Public perception that AT can deliver on the TERP goals within current funding parameters leads to misaligned and unrealistic expectations, reputational damage for AT, and slows progress towards the goals.”

    You couldn’t make this shit up. It seems AT don’t understand what they’re supposed to be doing – and then go and blame their damaged reputation on public perception. FFS.

  7. I do not like to agree with the current mayor, as he has zero democratic mandate and is a terrible continuance of stale pale males and of course a provably corrupt businessman. However, he is correct in ascertaining the many CCOs are bloated, somewhat Wellington-like bureaucracies, far too tied down in semantics.

    Aspiration was Efeso’s favourite word during his mayoral campaign, and he meant it when he said it.

    Radical, revolutionary, reformist action is required to address our climate emergency and as a wealthy city, and wealthy country, we are part of the “Global North”. If we do not have the gall to actually address the very obvious excessive release of CO2 by our cities transport network, then we have no right to call ourselves a city, and certainly no type of supercity! Tokyo, Mexico DF, Sao Paulo, Seoul and many other monstrously populated cities do have the right to call themselves “super”; but Auckland remains a big town, with very divided geographical partitions; which are as random as how Palestine became Israel through some cartographers errant pencil line.

    The curse of Rodney Hide is very real in our great city and it is present with the violent legacy of colonialism, and the ignorance of neo liberalism that dominates our body politic; very much the disease that Auckland Transport carries. Do little, not very often, but enjoy that visual aspect from your office!

    In front of me at Auckland Central Library is a book by Dave Letele (BBM) titled NO EXCUSES. He is a true hero, despite a lack of political leadership, in spite of health issues that have only begun to be addressed in the mainstream, and that is the saddest thing: that NGOs and “voluntary” organisations do the real work in our society. Political will is only as strong as those you represent; and when you principally represent landowners, then very little has changed since the Middle Ages!!!

    So to AT’s leadership: NO EXCUSES!!!!

    1. Matthew Thorne, just to put the record straight:
      Prior to Israel’s formation (1948) the area which is now encompasses Israel and Jordan came under the “British Mandate for Palestine”. This came about following the first World War, when the territory was liberated from 400 years of rule by the Ottoman Empire. There never was a State of Palestine, nor a historic race of “Palestinians”. The 1948 partition divided the area into Jordan (Arab) and Israel (Jewish). Hostilities between Arabs and Jews immediately broke out, and displacement of both groups from their ancestral homelands ensued. Israel absorbed the Jews expelled from Arab lands, while Arabs in the newly-formed Israel were given the choice of remaining to become Arab-Israeli Citizens (now 20% of the population), or leaving for Jordan or other Arab countries. Many Arabs who migrated were forced into refugee status and never assimilated by their own. They formed the roots of those who now call themselves Palestinians. The line drawn on the map to divide the territories gave the Arabs significantly more land than the Jews. However many Arab States have never recognised Israel’s right to exist, leading to today’s sorry impasse.
      My apologies for straying off-topic.

      1. hi maybe mention the jewish death squads who terrorised the palestinian people after ww2 murdering hundreds and forcing them off their land into permanent exile to create the modern state of israel

  8. They could start by stopping their speed bump program.
    Firstly they end up costing on average over $200k per project.
    Secondly, they have imbedded carbon emissions from the concrete/asphalt.
    Thirdly, they increase emissions from vehicles wasting energy slowing down and then to speed up again and add to fuel and maintenance bills.
    Fourthly, they increase road noise (braking, the bump noise, accelerating).
    Fifthly, they increase levels of particulate in the air and waterways (brake dust, fumes etc).
    Would much rather see this money used in bike lanes, footpaths etc.

    1. Yes (sort of).
      If 30kmh speeds are desirable, then install 30kmh speed signs and speed cameras.

      But – the ‘speed bump’ programme isn’t about vehicle maintenance or noise or emissions. It’s about attempting to make vehicles slow down, so IF there is any accident with a pedestrian then hopefully it is a survivable accident. The slower the speed, the less mess there will be. That is why speed bumps are used. Find another way of slowing down vehicles, and I’m sure it’d be used.

    2. Ah, the old nonsense again.

      They don’t cost 200k. If you see any “average” that claims that, it will include whole intersection upgrades (raising and rebuilding a whole signal or roundabout), or programmes covering multiple treatments, or projects covering other works. A bit like claiming that our cycleway projects cost millions per kilometre and all the while bad-faith hiding the fact that they literally tend to upgrade everything about the street including stormwater, utilities and side road intersections.

      The “slow down and speed up” emissions crap is badly researched (if at all) stuff looking at a speculative immediate point in time, which is a fraction of your whole drive.

      And of course ignoring the fact that if you drive to the local slower-speed ENVIRONMENT, you don’t need to slow down and speed up all the time. Also, what do people do when they come to an intersection, or a traffic jam? NOT slow down to save on emissions and car wear? Should we build three extra lanes and grade separation at every intersection to reduce our emissions? No, wait, there’s actually politicians who claim that adding lanes helps with emissions. God help us.

      I get it – you hate traffic calming. However, with our wide, car-centric streets, tables and bumps are one of the few means we have to slow down our roads physically without having to do whole street rebuilds to narrow lanes.

      1. “The “slow down and speed up” emissions crap is badly researched (if at all) stuff looking at a speculative immediate point in time, which is a fraction of your whole drive.”

        Its a slightly less mind-boggling version of the stuff that I once saw that “showed” how people cycling on our roads actually increases overall emissions, because it forces drivers to slow down and then overtake and speed up around cyclists riding on our roads.

        1. Sounds like a good argument for separated bike lanes.

          Would just leave the road warriors on packs and that would be inconsequential.

        2. Yeah, cycling on those unprotected imitators of cycleways is a suicidal thing when it’s on a major road. Smaller road without much traffic doesn’t really need any cycleways.

      2. You’re right, often they’re even more than $200k! (And that’s without other improvements either).
        As for slow down etc. There are increasing numbers of bumps in 50km/h zones so yes vehicles (including buses and ambulances) do have to slow down to around 20km/h to go over them. Even in 30km/h zones people often have to slow further unless the very rare smoother bump is installed.
        This absolutely increases emissions.
        Trying to compare these to intersections is an illogical argument. Intersections are necessary, adding speed bumps to existing roads are not.
        Individually each circumstance of a vehicle slowing and accelerating might be a small increase in emissions, but by the time you do this several times on a trip you’ve burnt an extra 0.5 litre of fuel (approximately 1kg of CO2 emissions) now multiply that out by 5000 vehicles each day (5000kg CO2) then by a year (1,825,000kg) each year from one road alone.

        1. We get it, you don’t like speed bumps.
          Now walk a small child to school and tell me you don’t like them.

        2. What you might be observing is places where AT are trying to change the built environment before lowering the speed limit to what it should be. The speed limit might be 50 but it doesn’t mean the road user rules necessarily allow people to drive at 50 there; they need to drive no faster than what is safe.

          Would you prefer them to lower the speed limit without the traffic calming? Or do you think the traffic calming should happen at exactly the same time as the speed changes? (It seems to be too hard to get this to happen.)

        3. Heidi, if they’re going to lower the limit say outside shops, schools etc then that’s one thing and fine and it should be enforced. Installing expensive, carbon producing, noisey and simply unpleasant speed bumps is a whole other thing.

        4. Are we only allowed safety outside schools, shops, etc?

          Why would that be? Does it come from car drivers’ vague recollections of walking from to the car from a school, shop, etc? And a vague sort of feeling that this is where people walk?

          I think, rather, we want safety everywhere, so we can walk, scooter, bus-and-walk, bike, use our mobility devices… everywhere.

          To our friends’ places. To the park. To a factory. There are no limits to where we have a right to doing so, safety. There’s also absolutely no right to driving at a speed that doesn’t provide safety for others.

          I can’t fathom why you think there is.

      3. Errrr – can you prove that the emissions increase have been badly researched? I think not!
        It is about the efficiency of the catalytic converters, they work best when hot and therefore at slow speeds, less Nox are captured. On diesel engines the particulate matter exhaust increases dramatically on acceleration and therefore the slowing down and speeding up around speed bumps does increase pollution.
        I’m not arguing against traffic calming measures, but they work best with speed cameras and heavy fines.

        1. The bad research is referring to its misapplication, rather than its lack of veracity. People have extrapolated the narrow dataset as if its applicable to what happens in the real-world situation of cities. In reality, the overall impact requires understanding that:

          – there is mode shift from driving, as well as a reduction in trips, in response to the provision of safe speeds, as many non-drivers suddenly gain independence from being chauffeured.

          – in cities, we’re not dealing with cars being able to choose between different steady state speeds. They need to stop frequently for intersections; keeping a lower, steadier speed between these frequent stops creates lower emissions than aiming for a higher speed and having to break more. Speed humps are part of achieving this lower, steadier speed.

          – while some drivers may slow down and speed up in response to speed humps, many will react more reasonably, by lowering their overall speed in all areas. This has a knock-effect on other drivers who experience their slower speeds. It normalises safer driving, because slower speeds are more pleasant for most people. Less stress turning onto busy roads. More peripheral vision and connection with the social and physical environment, etc. This means speed humps, like other traffic calming measures, are a lever, helping to create a safer driving culture overall. Which, due to the first two bullet points above, is lower emissions.

        2. When a fine is the penalty, the only crime is being poor.

          The Browns Road/Weymouth Road 30kph zone is a great example of limits and traffic calming working together, without further enforcement.

          You can sit at 30 and comfortably roll over every hump, so that’s just the way sensible people do it.

          If you want whiplash and a print of your hairline in the headlining of your car, that’s your problem.

  9. Strategic confusion.

    Many politicians, governors, executives, and staff are stuck between last century’s comfortable but useless strategies, auto-priority, discount externalities, and the clear but more demanding strategies required for the realities of this century.

    The only way out of this mire is through proper grown up forward facing leadership.

    The past’s habits may feel easier right now but to cling to its failed certainties is useless and only exacerbates and accelerates real current problems; feels easier but fails to help, and crucially fails to fix the reputational problem.

    Who are the leaders who will drag this strategically confused transport agency forward?

    1. hi maybe mention the jewish squads who terrorised the palestinian people after ww2 murdering hundreds and forcing them off their land into permanent exile to create the modern state of israel. Known as the Nakbah

  10. Any policy document that advocates VKT as an economic instrument is so flawed you have to question the rest of it. What else did they get wrong?

    CO2 is the problem and CO2 is easier to measure than VKT so why the hell would anyone advocate using a proxy that is less measurable than the problem?

    1. We’ve discussed this before, miffy. We’re after methodologies that have been shown to work. Using VKT reduction targets – and the changes that analysis shows are needed to achieve them – is a proven approach.

      CO2 is only one problem of many that Council needs to resolve, and the TERP addresses them together.

      If you try to address *just* the CO2 problem – and I’m assuming you mean through electric vehicles only – and then come in afterwards to try to address all the other problems, it would be incredibly expensive:
      – first, there’d be the high vehicle and electricity infrastructure costs of electrifying the fleet,
      – next, there’d be high transport infrastructure costs to try to resolve all the other problems associated with car domination.

      It’s both far cheaper and better to address them altogether.

      Frankly, the idea that they would ever find the money to address problems like access, equity, children’s independent mobility, and street liveability – which require an approach that reduces VKT – after the public have had to fork out so many billions of dollars on new cars.

      That’s what should be called “unachievable” and “aspirational”.

    2. Miffy, have you even read any of these documents? They explain quite clearly why VKT reduction is needed. Basically you can’t electrify the vehicle fleet fast enough and that means you have to also reduce VKT. So you have to measure VKT to understand whether you’re making enough progress here to hit your overall emissions reduction goal.

      Oh, and also reducing VKT delivers a tonne of other benefits.

      1. The only way we have of measuring it is when they note down the mileage when the car gets its WoF each year. We know noting about whether the car was used in stop/start traffic every day, whether the engine warmed up, whether it was used by one person or five, whether it traveled at 60km/h or at 20km/h. By comparison we know how many litres of fuel were sold every week and how much carbon comes from each litre. They opt for VKT because they are anti-car and don’t care all that much whether emissions are reduced or not. These people are every bit as dangerous as climate deniers. Neither group are helping.

        1. But miffy we know the averages for all those things, so can fairly easily work out what the relationship is between VKT and emissions.

        2. The ridiculous truth about VKT is that the best way to estimate it is probably from fuel sales using avergares. ie estimate the proxy from the actual. But the point I am trying to make is if we squander political capital on reducing VKT without caring about how all those things can reduce emissions then fairly quickly the public will see the whole thing as anti-car. Which I am reasonably sure is actually right. We can’t afford to let the anti-car brigade bugger up our best chances of addressing climate change.

        3. OK so we can price the CO2 emissions. I.e. make fuel more expensive.

          Do you think that won’t rouse the anti-car brigade?

          Specifically, we have to increase the price of fuel until it has the desired effect of making people buy less fuel. Which almost certainly means having people drive their cars less.

          So we might just as well right now start doing things to better accommodate people who aren’t driving cars.

        4. What does “anti-car” even mean?

          Is it the same as “anti-cycling” or “anti-public transport”? Why is anti-car a bad thing but these other ones are “sensible” and “common sense”?

        5. Auckland has two issues that need addressing.
          First is congestion. As we can’t afford to build our way out of this, we need to reduce the amount of traffic on our roads. The most efficient way to achieve this is through congestion charging, just like in Singapore.
          The second issue is CO2. This can be addressed by mandating a GHG reduction in the fuel specifications, just like is done in Europe and California.
          If people still want to use their private vehicles and pay a congestion charge and more for their fuel, that’s free market economics and the congestion charge can be increased.
          Monday raised from these initiatives can be spent on better PT, cycle paths and where needed, new roads.

        6. Improved vehicle efficiency and congestion charging are both useful. Analysis shows they are part of the solution – but there many others required, too. Have a read of the TERP. Safety, access, air pollution and liveability are just some of the other challenges posed by our car dominated transport system.

  11. More people need to be asking why, a few times over.
    Why is the timeframe too short?
    Why can’t it be done?
    Why do we need another report?
    I think there a just far too many people at the council going around in circles.
    The north kerb and berm of Meola Rd, Pt Chev end, is currently dug up with something happening with underground services. I do hope this will be reinstated with the cycleway in mind. I don’t see any evidence of this on the council page or media…

  12. I used the newly constructed separate shared pathways which follow the rail service from Olympic Park to Auckland CBD. It was a much improved experience from dodging sheepishly apologetic motorists pulling out of driveways without looking first, whist navigating past misaligned decayed concrete pavers, tree roots and potholes in the pavements; having to do this because the alternatives involve risks of being threatened and even physically run off the road shoulder, or painted on Bike lanes by self- entitled motorists devoid of any manners, social conscience, or fear of legal consequence. For infrastructure commentators to present this as an acceptable environment for “confident’ cyclists is an insult to the intelligence for most people.
    Well done…we need to put more pressure on city planners and funding agencies to enable neighborhoods to develop construction of a comprehensive and protected infrastructure for NZers to have confidence in using ‘active’ and mass transport options as a serious viable alternative to reliance on private cars, and challenge propagandists who seek to associate these innovations with Neo-medieval ‘conspiracy theories’ regarding the “15 minute” city.
    Re AT and “TERP”… Oh dear! There’s a technique in interpersonal relationships involving a “black PR” approach called “clutzing out”. A “clutz” in Urban dictionary meaning, “Someone who is extremely careless, stupid and a hazard to be around”. In this instance describing the actions of AT, and various other vested interests, extending the “consultation” into convoluted and contested processes to facilitate grabbing as much funding as they can, while designing the worst possible infrastructure for active transport modalities, in order to avoid actually producing anything that is remotely useful to the prospective users.
    In recent history, Motoring NZers developed a serious social and political stigma against cyclists, and adults using public, or “mass” transit options; themed along “only people who cannot afford to own a car use public transport or cycle”. NZ transport industry’s cultivation of this mindset supported some obnoxious assumptions regarding personal social/economic status and stigmatized use of personal transport modes which fell outside of privately owned motorized vehicles. The proselytizing of this matter went so far as to far affect the construction and use of NZ’s transport infrastructure, locking in persistent low quality services which supported mass passenger transport, and prioritizing the transport infrastructure needs of motorists and commercial vehicles over those of every other road user, including pedestrians.
    Walking and cycling for transport became unsafe for the users. It is less than a decade since the bicycle has been seen as anything more than a toy or piece of sports equipment. The emergence of ‘active transport’ had been made unnecessarily contestable and the establishment of suitable and safe user infrastructure has been hewn from a space of antagonism between ‘active transport’ users, and everyone else…including being designed by people who were too well paid to care beyond using a bicycle to virtue signal. Enough of that – except go figure as to how this situation has contributed to make it such a difficult task to cut down the carnage on our roads.
    Its time for NZers to grow up about the situation. The scrum of motor vehicles and anxious parents that gather outside schools in the late afternoon didn’t get there by itself. Where did all the bike sheds go and why?
    Separate networks of bike paths must be a much cheaper option to build. Such pathways were networks in many State housing complexes. Sadly, later on, the State housing neighborhoods also attracted muggers, mainly because the personal security of people living around them was not a social and economic priority. Bullies of all varieties hate an audience.
    Separated cycle/micro-mobility infrastructure networks disrupt the pleasure some motorists get from taking their out anger by SCARING THE H*LL out of people who dare to use a form of transport they do not approve of….
    Go figure and more importantly challenge.

  13. Like other technocratic cultures, AT has decided that its main purpose at all levels is to reduce risk rather than increase opportunity. To manage rather than lead. A focus on legalistic compliance and ‘reputation’ shows where it believes that risk is.

    The only way AT’s culture will improve fast enough is by permanently removing some of its managers and putting in place ones who know what is needed – like the CEO candidate who pulled out after hearing the incoming Mayor’s chest-beating and expertly detecting the lay of the land.

    Because if AT’s Board keep supporting regressive stances like the reports above, then the CEO does not have the backing to firmly remove the problems.

    AT’s Board reports to the Council’s governing body, not to the Mayor. If Councillors keep meekly supporting the AT Board, then both groups will minimise the risk to themselves by doing as little as possible. What a proud achievement to tell their grandchildren about.

  14. Wake up folks! We’re being played like fiddles here. AT and ACC are masters at applying the “Predatory delay”…. this is identified as “the blocking or slowing of needed change, in order to make money off unsustainable, unjust systems in the meantime.” It is not delay from the absence of action, but delay as a plan of action- a way of keeping things they way they are for the people who are benefiting now, at the expense of the next and future generations.”
    For delay to be truly predatory, those engaged in it need to know two things: That they’re hurting others and that there are other options.
    The primary tool for doing this is by playing both sides an argument against each other, creating and endless circular chain of disruption to arriving at any valid resolution and way forward…
    I could point out that this forum is an instrument of that technique. How many posters here “feel heard”? Reading what amounts to a few good points buried in lots of ‘word salad’ is also a ‘time sink’. Good points made degenerate into ‘word salad’ using these discussion forums if there is no way forward provided or interaction and meaningful responses with people who are actually empowered to respond in material ways, like actual public events and education workshops do not happen.

    1. Greater Auckland/Transportblog did not get the Congestion Free Network into official policy by holding “public events and education workshops”. It is not the 1960s or 1980s. There are other ways of influencing change now.

  15. I agree with those saying the change needs to be grassroots. But how do we inspire the wider public how much better things could be if we could change from car dependency? Most of the people I work with, my family and people I know still express disbelief that I bike to work and mock PT. And Onehunga had a pretty toxic grass roots reaction to the LTN.

    These things can definitely happen with a grass roots wave of support but need someone or something inspirational that can appeal at an emotional level to a wide spectrum of the public. Right now people’s sense of identity is so tied up with car world culture they won’t shift on logical arguments. It’s a social construct that will be very challenging to overcome. And I don’t want to sound defeatist, I’m trying to figure out how that happens. Sometimes the biggest challenges precipitate the most creative ideas for solutions.

    Of course we look on with envy to places like Paris and Barcelona where political will has turned out to be the big factor in real change.

    1. The reaction to the LTN in Onehunga wasn’t grassroots. There, the Council had agreed to a trial of a set period. Objective data was being collected, indicating considerable success. Rather than allow the trial to continue to the end, Council collapsed in the face of toxic anti-change bullies.

      1. I suppose so, the guys with the forklifts believed themselves to be taking grassroots action against an oppressive council with an agenda to force them out of their cars to destroy their way of life. I of course don’t believe this and absolutely supported the trial and know that the need for real evidence based solutions is real.

        Unfortunately the toxic anti-change bully hype machine seemed to capture that feeling in the sense it motivated real physical protest action. I would love to find a way to channel that into positive change.

        1. Yeah. The residents filming the guys with the forklifts and reporting them to Council and the Police also believed they were “grassroots”. The residents asking Council to step in and stop elected representatives from inciting hatred and bullying, and from spreading lies about the project, also believed they were “grassroots”.

          The incident was one of many blots on Council’s copybook, indicating fearful and weak inability to lead. A disengaged population, failing to vote because they have neither respect nor trust in Council, is one of the outcomes.

          As for the Police, they were MIA.

    2. There is grass-roots activity that gets ignored or marginalized, but is still responding to the transport environment.

      The USA had teenagers’ bike-outs doing their own, high risk version of Critical Mass on urban freeways.

      We have the pit-bikes and scramblers often, but not exclusively associated with gangs.

      Consider how well an unregistered pit bike or ATV fits its user’s need:

      Low capital cost – under $1500 brand new

      Low running cost – engines under 200cc, $500 rego and wof optional (see acceptable loss…)

      Easy storage – under the house, in a small shed, half a dozen in the garage…

      Acceptable loss – confiscation or abandonment are manageable costs compared to a car.

      Extreme manoueverability – congestion is an old-guy problem, as is police pursuit. Reserves, foreshores, alleys and footpaths are viable routes, including stairs.

      Macho as all get-out – you can pop a wheelie, when has that not been cool?

      Like scooters, these have been overlooked in their fitness to the physical and regulatory environment as experienced in the city.

      1. Yes but most of the machines brought in by retail suppliers are cr*p for serious use….watch this. Scooter Pothole Test – Big Wheels vs Small Wheels; Link-
        The models recommended are not available here, nor are they welcome on public transport. It demonstrates the reason why ACC regards this mode of transport as “dangerous”. Its not when good quality items are made available. But the retailers here are making choices for us, which discourage their use. For example, one of the few “big wheel” scooters suitable for street use on the NZ market has only one rear brake when it should have dual braking. Are these industry choices being made to discourage adults in particular from using them as personal mobility? Also the video in the link demonstrates how most of the “unsafe” items listed are the same items made available by mainstream NZ retailers.

  16. Great article Heidi. Totally agree the middle managers need to be replaced.

    I don’t expect much from Dean. He appears to be brought in as an interim measure and I expect he will likely finish up his 18 month term with a restructure and probably some more job cuts. But probably not the higher level managers.

  17. “Because it’s so painful to try to get results but fail, repeatedly, champions inside and outside the organisation lose hope, and stop trying.”

    When you are emailing elected representatives and CE’s – list the good people at AT. Say nice things about their efforts.
    Counteract the internal reputational assassination by those who seek to drive out those good people working to bring in change.

    1. The only way through this is with grassroots people power. Those able to do it just start cycling and using the new infrastructure. If you don’t feel safe using the cycleways provided, like the narrow painter lanes don’t, use the footpath. If people growl about it tell them to put it in writing and send it to AT. If the experiences aren’t. good talk about it, write in and complain. If they are good write it up online. Give praise where its due. That is the only way we will get what we want. Otherwise we will have to continue to live with other peoples’ solutions, not the outcomes we want. There are other people who do not want to see their rates money spent on protected cycleways and walking paths, for their own reasons, and they are forming lobby groups too, sometimes angry ones if they are not getting their own way.

      1. We have examples from all around the world about how change is effected. There is no “only way” and every place has changed due to a range of factors bringing pressure from different directions.

        Grassroots community building and campaigning for change is no panacea. There becomes a point when a lack of progress on that front brings frustration. I’m doing what I’m doing at present for the exact reason that the grassroots work I was doing was being stifled by systems that it was unable to influence.

        Grassroots action relies on people in positions of responsibility stepping up, and is complementary with actions to hold those people to account.

        This is not either/or. We’re stronger when we work together and acknowledge each others’ contribution.

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