Despite huge spending on motorways and flattening traffic growth, there’s little doubt that Auckland’s roads are often bursting at the seams – with congestion costing us between $250m and $1.25 billion a year (depending on how you measure it). Little events, like a breakdown or poor weather, send the network “over the edge” and into collapse. Compared to other cities around Australasia, Auckland has the worst travel time reliability:travel-time-reliability

It’s expected that over the next 30 years, congestion in Auckland will continue to get worse and spread throughout the day – no matter how many billions of dollars we throw at building more motorways:

The real problem for Auckland, compared to so many cities around the world, is not the severity of our congestion but the fact that we generally have no alternative. Most public transport trips are on buses which mix with general traffic. This means they get stuck in the same congestion as everyone else. For most trips, public transport is a poor alternative to driving. It’s too slow (because it’s stuck in the same traffic jams), too expensive, and too unreliable.

All big cities have congestion – and Auckland will not be an exception to this rule. But most cities provide alternatives. The streets of Manhattan are congested, but most people avoid congestion by catching the subway. Nobody drives from Parramatta to downtown Sydney at peak times – they catch the train because it’s so much faster. London would collapse without its Underground. These cities all experience congestion, but it doesn’t matter nearly as much as in Auckland, because an alternative – a network which is free of congestion – exists.

Decades of research show that you can’t build your way out of congestion. Widen a motorway and it fills up again. Build a new motorway and it fills up. Even the widest motorways in the world still get jammed up at peak times:highway401-jammed

What Auckland so desperately needs is an alternative to its congested transport network. A way to ‘opt out’ of congested travel. True travel choice that’s faster, more reliable, and reduces the burden of getting around our city.

Our alternative is the Congestion Free Network. 

We have a limited congestion free network today: the existing railway lines, parts of the Northern Busway (Constellation to Akoranga), and some stretches of bus lane. In these locations, no matter how congested the roads get, there’s always a congestion free alternative available. But they’re relatively few and far between, as shown in our 2015 Congestion Free Network, the baseline for our future maps:

CFN 2015

In three steps out to 2030, Auckland has the ability to create a much more extensive Congestion Free Network. With a combination of rail line extensions, new and extended busways, an enhanced ferry network and the implementation of modern light-rail, Auckland can create a true alternative to being stuck in traffic. And at a cheaper price than the current transport plans!

2020 Congestion Free Network

CFN 2020

2025 Congestion Free Network

CFN 2025

2030 Congestion Free Network

CFN 2030A