Quit whining, Millennials, and save for a home!

The other week, BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander put out a statement chastising young people for not saving harder to buy a home. As I pointed out, his argument was based on a pile of untrue assertions and misleading data. Others also expressed similar views. In a further statement reported by Jenée Tibshraeny, he clarified that crazy house price increases have actually made it harder for young people to afford a home. It’s nice that he’s aware of that, but the rest of his article suggests that he thinks the hole he’s in will turn into a tunnel if he keeps digging. Alexander’s core advice remains: Young buyers these days …
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No, Boomers, it’s not like it was back in the day

Last week BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander was in the paper with some stern words for young people trying to find somewhere to live in a city that doesn’t have enough housing to go around. As reported by Susan Edmunds: Think your parents got an unfairly great deal when they bought their house for $40,000 – or thereabouts – 30 or 40 years ago? Not so fast. BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander says young people priced out of the market are wrong to point the finger at retirees. […] “The cost of borrowing to purchase a property has plummeted and because of this structural jump in demand for property prices have …
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The politics of Auckland

Elections last year in other English-speaking countries got me thinking about the urban implications of political geography. The US presidential election and the UK’s Brexit vote both featured large divides in voting patterns between big cities and rural areas and small towns. As the Economist observed, the US electoral map actually consists of a whole bunch of Democratic-voting urban areas and Republican-voting rural areas, rather than red and blue states. Even in Texas, which votes consistently Republican, Houston voted massively for the Democratic candidate. The red areas in this map are mostly empty: And as the BBC observed, the vote against Brexit was strongest in London, a few other large …
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New data on cycling

We’re always on the lookout for interesting new pieces of transport data. Smartphone apps and automated trip counters provide an increasing amount of usable, timely data that can tell us how, where, and (at times) why we’re travelling. Moreover, transport agencies are increasingly open about publishing their data and opening it up for others to analyse. For instance, Auckland Transport now publishes data from dozens of automated cycle counters on its website, allowing organisations like Bike Auckland and Transportblog to track and analyse the benefits of investment in safe, separated cycleways. But transport agencies aren’t the only people with data. I recently ran across two interesting sources of data on …
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Get in quick to open up our government and government data!

This is a guest post from reader Isabella Have you ever wanted a government organisation to be less opaque? Or thought “if only we could get the data on that…”? Or admired some gorgeous datavis and wanted more? Now’s your chance! Get your ideas in BY WEDNESDAY 24TH to shape New Zealand’s Open Government Action Plan. This dull-sounding document is important: it’s the plan for the work in local and central government to open up publicly funded data for reuse, and to open up government processes for better accountability, transparency and creativity. There’s more every year, and it’s getting better and faster. Help steer it! Transportblog readers, bloggers, commenters and all – this is …
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Congestion in large Australasian cities

Is Auckland abnormally congested? I occasionally hear people bemoaning that Auckland is one of the most congested cities in the world, or at least one of the most congested cities for its size. I’ve previously taken a look at this from a few angles – looking at trends in traffic delay in Auckland and average commuting time in large cities around the world. Auckland looks pretty good on the latter measure, which kind of belies the “most congested city” rhetoric: For another look at the same issue, we can take a look at data on traffic delay in cities across New Zealand and Australia. Helpfully, the Australian Bureau of Infrastructure, …
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Growth in cycling on new separated cycleways

Last week, Auckland Council unanimously voted to approve the construction of Skypath, the long-overdue walking and cycling link across the Waitemata Harbour. (There is still the hurdle of a potential Environment Court appeal by opponents.) Well done to all the councillors, some of whom had previously expressed scepticism – the city will be better for their votes, and their willingness to rethink an occasionally contentious issue. Great news. The #Skypath vote just has passed unanimously!!! pic.twitter.com/ZzBtjfAQJc — Generation Zero (@GenerationZer0) July 21, 2016 In the wake of the Skypath decision, it’s worth taking a look at what’s happened to cycling in the city over the last year. The other week, …
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Are Aucklanders paying too much in rates?

Aucklanders (and, I suspect, people in general) complain about high and rising property taxes. But are our rates actually too high? Compared to what? An article last year reported on what ratepayers are paying in each of New Zealand’s territorial authorities: Not surprisingly, rates in the most sought-after areas are also high. Those living in Auckland, where the average household income is around $76,000, face annual bills of $2636. The average house price in Auckland was $678,533 in February. But residents in Christchurch face comparatively low bills. At $1706 a year, they make the top 10 for cheapest rate bills. In other words: In 2014, the average Auckland ratepayer paid …
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Is public transport an “inferior good”?

I’ve recently been taking a look at Statistics NZ’s Census data on car ownership in Auckland. One interesting observation is that low-income households are considerably more likely to not own a car. One implication is that minimum parking requirements, which require everyone to have carparks (or pay for their provision every time they go to the shops), are a quite regressive policy. (More on this in a future post!) And, of course, providing frequent, reliable public transport services and safe walking and cycling options throughout the city will benefit low-income households the most. (In other words, separated bike lanes are not just about hipster urbanism!) Another interpretation of the data …
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Opening up the data

An interesting TED Talk on opening up data from cities City agencies have access to a wealth of data and statistics reflecting every part of urban life. But as data analyst Ben Wellington suggests in this entertaining talk, sometimes they just don’t know what to do with it. He shows how a combination of unexpected questions and smart data crunching can produce strangely useful insights, and shares tips on how to release large sets of data so that anyone can use them.
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