Welcome to Friday, and to March, traditionally the busiest month for people trying to get into and around our city. The Northwestern Cycleway has been going gangbusters this week. How’s it looking out there for you, around the rest of the isthmus?

Here are some of the articles that caught our attention this week. As always, drop your links and thoughts in the comments. And have a great weekend, still feels like summer out there!

Our header image this week shows a bright yellow electric AT bus parked at Coyle Park on a sunny day. Posted in tribute to a nice reel on AT’s Instagram extolling the benefits of bussing to the beach. (Irony alert for those who’ve followed our coverage of the years).

This Week in Greater Auckland

Petrol stations join the war on cars

It seems petrol stations joined the war on cars yesterday (or was it the Gregorian calendar).

A leap year technical glitch is being blamed for causing outages at fuel stations across the country.

Fuel provider Allied Petroleum and Gull say they are aware of nationwide technical problems affecting motorists across all fuel brands.

RNZ has spoken to one motorist who said he tried four petrol stations this morning and was told the outage was caused by leap day not being factored into the system.

Gull spokesperson Julien Leys confirmed it was a leap day glitch with their technology provider.

“We were aware from this morning about a nationwide technical issue that’s affecting motorists across all fuel brands where they can’t pay for their fuel.”

Speaking of fuel, I was travelling out of Auckland yesterday, an prices at stations outside of Auckland were all more expensive than at my local petrol station. So much for the claim that the Regional Fuel Tax imposed a massive burden on Aucklanders compared to the rest of the country.

Trains off track, not just in Auckland

It’s not just Auckland’s rail network that is suffering from a backlog of deferred maintenance, Wellington is too.

The Wellington region’s practice of replacing trains with buses on maintenance days is expected to be the norm for at least a decade, as the region works through a renewals backlog.

Buses replace trains during maintenance and renewal work, often on weekends and holiday periods and in evenings.

Metlink’s Fiona Abbott told a Greater Wellington Regional Council Transport Committee meeting Metlink is going to require bus replacements for trains “as part of our service offering for the foreseeable future.

“That timeframe that we’re talking about to rectify all the issues is 10 to 15 years,” Abbott told the committee.


KiwiRail needs between $5 billion and $7.8 billion for maintenance and rail investments for the Wellington metro network over the next 30 years.

While we’re in Wellington…

Shout-out to the The Spinoff for their excellent ongoing coverage of what they’re calling the War for Wellington, which touches on housing, transport and infrastructure in the capital city. You can sign up for updates here.

A few recent highlights:

And this one’s hard to argue with – Joel MacManus on how the real struggle is between the old town and the new city:

The New City are the creatives, students, hipsters and yo-pros. They want to live an urbane lifestyle, with trendy cafes, thrift shops and experimental gigs. They look at Melbourne and Amsterdam with their trams, bike lanes and apartments, and aspire for Wellington to be like that.

The Old Town are long-time homeowners, deeply rooted in their community, who are uncomfortable with the way it is changing. They don’t want Wellington to become a big city – or think it would fail if it tried. They look at regional towns like Palmerston North or New Plymouth with their ample parking, wide roads, and quiet suburban neighbourhoods, and aspire for Wellington to be like that (while retaining the amenities of city life).

Meanwhile, in Sydney…

This tweet highlights well the issue of deep train stations. The practical issue of how people access trains is especially important, as the time it takes you to travel down to the platform is usually not included in official travel time calculations. This is a point that was also buried by the ill-fated ALR proposal to tunnel light rail rather than run it on the surface.

If the now-dead Auckland Light Rail project had taken this into consideration, the travel time comparison between a surface and metro style solution would have looked quite different, and likely would have easily made the case for street-running.

Speaking of surface light rail: Sydney is pushing ahead with more.

Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 is moving ahead, with planning approval granted for the game-changing megaproject for Western Sydney.

It comes after the NSW Labor Government invested $200 million in the 2023-24 NSW Budget to expedite the project’s planning processes so construction can begin this term of Parliament.

Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 will connect Parramatta CBD to Sydney Olympic Park via the growing communities of Camellia, Rydalmere, Ermington, Melrose Park and Wentworth Point.

The 10-kilometre extension will include 14 new light rail stops that will provide residents with a long-awaited public transport link and unlock future housing growth.

The future of PT: looks like Seymour saw less

A wild discovery this week: archive video of a young David Seymour rubbishing the value of public transport investment, in what can best be described as a creative Canadian accent. (If the Twitter clip doesn’t work for you, the interview is here, with Seymour speaking from around 03:07).


As journalist Russell Brown points out,

In 2024, Calgary, the city where Seymour was claiming in 2010 that public transport would never work, has a light rail network with the 2nd-highest ridership in North America (it runs on wind-generated electricity) and the most extensive walk-and-cycle network on the continent. So in 2020, the city embarked on *another* LRT, which will be the biggest public works project in the city’s history.

CRL station design in the international spotlight

The Guardian has a nice article about women architects making a difference around the world, which includes a section on the mana-whenua inspired designs for our very own CRL stations.

Māori architectural graduate Elisapeta Heta helped to found the Waka Māia team in the large commercial firm Jasmax, in order to embed Māori principles in the practice’s work. As an architecture student, she says, there were few Māori or Pasifika tutors, designers or thinkers to reference, read about or learn from, but there is now a growing awareness.

Heta’s work on the City Rail Link – the largest infrastructure project in the country’s history – has brought in Māori artists to collaborate on parts of the stations, such as a footbridge that evokes the form of Indigenous stone cutting tools found near the site. In Heta’s view, “projects, environments and buildings that intrinsically weave through the stories of place from an Indigenous perspective result in all peoples having a deeper connection to that site.”

You can read more about the designs in this piece in Metro magazine.

A render of the interior of the new Horotiu station for Auckland's CRL, showing a beautiful ceiling treatment.
A render of the artful interior of Horotiu/ Aotea station. Image: Jasmax.

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are wise investments

We mentioned this last week, but it bears repeating as we wait to see which direction the new Government Policy Statement on Transport will take, to address the intertwined crises of climate, health, road safety, and the cost of living: a UK study confirms that low-traffic neighbourhoods pay for themselves ten times over.

The “mini-Hollands” in the study were brought in under a Conservative mayor, and were “intended to breathe life into [the selected] areas but also act as a blueprint for the future.” (They also just reinforce the roads hierarchy, which says motorways are for motorists, and streets are for people). Could our conservative government let us have a few local-traffic neighbourhoods as a treat and also a wise investment?

(Of course, we do have quite a few safe, walkable LTNs… but they’re generally reserved for the lucky ones who can afford them.)

Double standards. Meme via @IBcycleway on Twitter in response to one by Hayden Donnell.

Consultation opens on Auckland’s Long-Term Plan

The public feedback period has just opened for ten-year budget for Auckland, aka the LTP, and is open until 28 March. It looks like a more open-ended consultation than previous ones, with the major question being doing you want to pay less and get less, pay more and get more, or go for the middle proposal.

What do you reckon, Goldilocks: go for gold? There’s also specific options to say on what you’d like to see more or less of, including for transport.

We’ll take a closer look at this in coming weeks, but a few things stand out:

  • the Mayor’s introduction says it’s time to “fix what is broken, finish what we started, and optimise what we have”. This sounds like a clarion call to complete the cycle network via reallocating road space, among other things?
  • you need to register to “have your say” – on the one hand this feels like it could be a barrier to participation. On the other, it might help ensure more authentic feedback and less astroturfing.

School Streets: kids can have nice things

This ten-minute documentary by StreetFilms shows what a visionary Mayor can achieve in a term or two. In this case, Anne Hidalgo, the re-elected mayor of Paris for her many policies that humanise the city’s streets – like the burgeoning bike network, but also a promise to deliver 300 “school streets” around the city.

So far, 180 streets have been, as one of the interviewees says, “pacified” to the delight of both children and neighbours. The process starts with a temporary installation to show what’s possible:

“They have a palette of materials. So all of the paving, all of the street furnishings, all of the trees and the lights are of a kind. Make them consistent, because then people know what to expect in a school street.”

“What they found in every single case,is that community members, once they see these things are on the ground, they see how the students benefit, they see how parents love it, they see how it creates a new community amenity. That then gives Paris the go-ahead to create more permanent solutions.”

The fallow season

Lastly, if you’re looking for a bit of good news, you could do worse than the return of Alice Snedden’s Bad News, which brings humour and great storytelling to the existential challenge we face:

Her hope is that people feel some despair when watching Bad News, but not to the point of total paralysis. “I want despair to the point of small, moderate, habitual change,” she laughs. “I want people to see that they do have a moral duty to act here, but the required action is not out of reach. It’s not a requirement on one individual to solve this crisis, but it is a requirement of every individual to be slightly more conscious of what their impact is on the environment.”

Related: Leap Year doesn’t just feel longer, it is longer… and there’s still another ten months to go. If you’re feeling a bit flat, Verity Johnson in Stuff says there’s a reason for that:

We’re not cotton mills or coal powered steam engines, and we can’t run our lives like a production line. We’re part of a natural world that long pre-dated the lean, mean, industrial machine mindset of the 18th century that has crept into our collective work-life psyche. And it’s also just wildly deluded. We think we can beat things like fatigue, burn out, natural disasters, collective shock, pandemics, and cultural earthquakes with a few motivational Youtube videos and more coffee? We can’t.

So don’t stress out if you’re still feeling meh. We’ve been through a long-ass winter as a society, and now it’s time to replant and regroup.


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  1. The Old Town vs New City is interesting, if the old towners win people will vote with their feet and the old towners won’t see there adult children and grandkids very often which is something else they can complain about I guess.

    1. I think the article also misses out that the Old Towners are rentiers/gentrification millionaires, people who benefit from sitting on assets and watching them appreciate, as opposed to both developers (who benefit from improving assets) and renters

    1. K-Road will serve different, potentially longer, trips than ALR would have done. There is also a difference between extending heavy rail across one of the busiest streets and destinations in the country and reallocating road space from a transit corridor.

      Different trains, different goals, different environments.

    2. The debate over access-times to reach the platform (light rail in the street allegedly quicker to access than underground), fails to consider that depending on the actual start-point of people’s journeys to the station and the geography of the locality, the walk to a surface-stop may indeed be further or more-difficult than the walk to an underground-entrance plus descent to the platform. In addition, an underground passage may avoid the crossing of a busy road or other such impediments to ground-level access. It may also incorporate amenities such as small retail outlets, toilets, weather-immune sitting-areas etc. It is misleading to generalise that surface-stops will always be preferable to underground.

  2. Great to see surface light rail happening with our neighbours. How about here NZ?
    Bikes on buses in Auckland sounds like a positive step forward.

  3. “KiwiRail needs between $5 billion and $7.8 billion for maintenance and rail investments for the Wellington metro network over the next 30 years.”
    I’ve no idea if inflation has been accounted for but $260M/year in maintenance, just for wellington, sounds like an unaffordable figure. How does this compare with fare recovery and profit from freight?

    1. As the whole of Wellington has worn out, it’s not surprising the repair bill is high. Maybe they should just stop repairing the motorway and wait for the next big shake?

    2. The Wellington rail network delivers more than $260m of external benefits each year. So it’s definitely worth the cost

  4. Question ;- How often does AOR check the condition of the Units they put out and how quick do they get them out of Service as seen here 2 different sets caught over 3 different weeks .The 1st I travelled on at different times over a number of days the 2nd just last week caught at the Strand .

  5. In the video of David Seymour he doesn’t just dismiss “older technologies that we’ve moved on from in the past, ie the train” his own solutions are unspecific nothingness: “looking at how we price different transit options, looking to embrace the best and most modern technology… without having to have a lot of rules or trying to change people’s behaviour through any top down instruction.”

    Vacuous. A hostility to the solutions that work, and no alternatives proposed.

    In case you’re wondering what the Canadian “Frontier Center for Public Policy” is, where he was was a “Senior Policy Analyst”, it’s an Atlas group think-tank.


    1. Seymour is a fluffy bunny, but he did make good points. His stats on Oregan are difficult to argue against. Increasing investment in PT does not guarantee increased usage.
      His point on Sweden was also true and made sense. If you introduce variable road pricing, you will get less congestion at peak times.
      I don’t like the man, but I like you even less because you just can’t see anything beyond your own narrative.

      1. Heidi is a legend…in a great way. Seymour and this government are lies, lies and more lies. Roads of national significance programme – seriously. Suggest have a read of the article Governments war on transport on cutting the regional fuel tax.

        1. A legend As I said, Seymour is a fluffy bunny and there are so many good reasons to dismiss him, but sometimes he is going to be right.
          It’s not very legendary to be so blinded by unpopular opinions that you can no longer be objective.
          Your legend is as uselfull to transport debate as Trump is to a discussion on immigration.

  6. I think the old town thing is kind of nonsense. Lots of those people remember Wellington from the 90s and 2000s when Wellington was really the only city trying to be urban – decent buses, downtown apartments, no mprs in the cbd, the waterfront redevelopment, big external anchor projects like Te Papa and the stadium. And lower rates. Rates are now significantly higher and the urban premium that Wellington used to enjoy over akl and chch is no longer therr

  7. Re fuel prices out of Auckland

    Just used the app Gaspy and chose Rotorua (my partner is down there this weekend) and compared prices to Auckland. These are generally cheaper than Auckland. I guess it depends on where you went out of Auckland.
    Some towns are cheap some are expensive.

  8. Yes and aside from his interesting accent it is notable that one of the criticisms of the left by the likes of ACT is that they have never had “real jobs” but being part of a group like Atlas isn’t viewed in a similar vein

  9. Interesting video on Phoenix, talk about sprawl but they had the space, I guess, for 80 years, water not so much. It grew to one of the US largest city’s & it’s in a desert!

    1. In the past 20 years, the city of Phoenix, Arizona, USA has grown in area by 47%, with annexations totaling 156 square miles (404 km2)—six times the size of Manhattan. Most of the annexations have occurred to the north of the city center. Urban and suburban development has been spreading across the relatively flat terrain, resulting in the destruction of an acre of desert land per hour every hour of every day.

  10. The fact that Old Towners are renters and gentrification millionaires—people who profit from holding onto assets and watching them appreciate—as opposed to developers, who gain from enhancing assets, and tenants, is another thing I believe the piece omits. It’s great to see our neighbors implementing surface light rail.

  11. According to the forums I have observed, the aforementioned resource offers valuable suggestions for individuals to engage in recreational activities and explore captivating subjects. nytimes crossword

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