The Spinoff's Simon Wilson makes some suggestions on how to free Auckland's roads and free the city from transport gridlock

The Spinoff's Simon Wilson makes some suggestions on how to free Auckland's roads and free the city from transport gridlock
Photo: TVNZ

By Simon Wilson*

The government and council have announced a two-year plan to investigate congestion pricing for the inner city. It’s a breakthrough in relations between the two bodies, burbled transport minister Simon Bridges. Last year, the government and council announced a 30-year plan for building more transport services. It was a breakthrough in relations, burbled then finance minister Bill English. Was it? Are they? 

Long-term planning, all good, we need more of it. But long-term planning when it means a failure to introduce short-term fixes? This is just finance minister Steven Joyce putting the whole thing in a cupboard till sometime never after the election, isn’t it? While Auckland stews in traffic. What is wrong with these people? 

The city’s transport woes have been a long time coming, but in the last couple of years they’ve turned into a real crisis. Why? Because population growth has suddenly accelerated

Through 2007-2013 (ie, during most of the term of the current government) the number of people in Auckland grew by less than 20,000 per year. In 2014 that number jumped to around 35,000 and in both the next two years it approached 45,000. 

At the new rate, the city’s population of 1.6 million will hit 2 million within the next 10 years. And well before then, as mayor Phil Goff warns, we’ll have gridlock.

(VIEWS OF AUCKLAND, INCLUDING THE SYMONDS ST OVER-BRIDGE, LEFT, AND ELLIOTT ST, CENTRE).

So the government has suddenly got pretty good at talking about how much money it’s going to spend on our transport. But where’s the action plan for now? Are they serious about helping Auckland deal with the crisis or have they simply decided to do a lot of talking? Or have they just run out of ideas? If that’s what it is, we can help. Here, presented entirely in the spirit of being helpful, is a plan for what they could do now.

The Spinoff Action Plan for Auckland Transport Right Now 

Barney Irvine of the AA says phased traffic lights would help. Well, yes. Obviously, Auckland Transport should do all it can to ensure the lights control traffic flows as efficiently as possible. Aren’t they doing that already? 

He also suggests rethinking lane configuration with moveable barriers. They’re definitely doing that now. 

More to the point, these things are not the key. Fewer cars on the roads is the key.  

The problem for the government, even if it was committed to short-term fixes, is that some of the most effective ways to deal with congestion are unpopular. Like, full-blown-citizen-rage unpopular. 

Like, the surest way to reduce the number of cars on the roads is to make parking more expensive and harder to find. No, please, don’t stop reading! 

Can I say that this is not about stopping everyone from driving. On the contrary. Tradies need their vans and they need roads open enough so they don’t waste hours sitting in those vans. Parents need to ferry kids around after school, and you’ve got supermarket shopping and events to get to in the evening. For many people, there are safety issues, especially if you’re alone, especially at night. No one is suggesting a ban on driving. 

But there’s something else about driving in Auckland. I had a man come to see me the other day at work. Our offices are on Customs St and he drove down from Ponsonby. He was late, and eventually he called. “I’m just driving round and round,” he said. “Where am I supposed to park?” 

It had not occurred to him that it’s ridiculous to drive into the central city for a reason like that. He could have caught a Link bus and been there more quickly. He could have Ubered or caught a cab and been there even quicker. He seemed fit enough, he could have ridden a bike. 

Just for the moment, imagine this. The government and the council announce a new vision for transport in Auckland, with stage one to be implemented right now. It includes more trains and buses, disincentives for private cars, more support for cycling and a whole lot of stuff to enhance the quality of the non-driving experience. If it works, leaving the car at home will mean it’s easier for most people to get to work, and if you’re heading into the city it’ll be more fun getting there and more fun being there.

1) More trains and buses

Services have been improving in frequency and reliability, and Auckland Transport is right now about to roll out a new, busier schedule of bus services. That’s good but not good enough.

Immediate funding is required for more trains and buses in the evening and at other times. The aim is for timetable-free services on as many routes as possible, for as many hours as possible. Whenever you turn up, there’ll be a bus or train along within 10 minutes. 

2) Focus on the outer city

There are no rapid transit (rail or fast bus) services in many parts of town, especially in the suburbs and industrial/commercial areas of the southeast, the west and around the airport. Their arterial roads are the busiest in the city, and it’s inexcusable. 

Long-term fixes are planned. But they need buses and dedicated bus lanes right now. So: do it with portable barriers and temporary shelters and just get it going.

3) Reduce the number of inner-city parking spaces

And use the freed-up road space for pedestrians, cyclists, street stalls and green features. Do it with road cones and planters.  

4) Boost the parking tariffs

For the carparks that remain, double the cost of using them. At least. 

5) Engage businesses and commuters in the plan

Incentivise businesses to close their private carparks and incentivise commuters to trial other commuting options.

6) Roll out a big new bike-share scheme

Bike-share is a good option for tourists but that’s just a bonus. Its greatest value should be as a quick, easy and super-cheap option for locals to get about town. The council already intends to scope the options for a big new bike-share scheme and it can’t come soon enough. 

Features should include: e-bikes (because this is Auckland), cheap to use, free for the first half hour (so locals use it all the time), and lots of stations to collect bikes from and leave them at. It should also have stations at the park-and-rides and in nearby village centres, so you’ll be able to use a bike for the first/last part of your commute.

(BIKE SHARE STAND, MILAN. PHOTO: PIXABAY).

7) Create more bike lanes

On city streets, on suburban roads, wherever they can go. Again, do it with road cones and other temporary dividers. 

8) Organise ride-sharing

Don’t hope it happens. Make it happen, by assigning a team of council staff to work with businesses and local communities to create registers and put travellers together. 

9) Reclaim the streets

This is critical to the whole project: restricting cars won’t work unless the overall experience of being in the city – especially when it comes to the retail experience – is improved. The approach has to be bold, experimental and flexible. 

Convert some streets in the central city to pedestrian, commercial, entertainment and other mixed uses. Don’t spend any money yet: do it with portable barriers and road cones. Experiment, revise and refine, then spend the money later to lock in what works. 

10) Limit private vehicles entering the central city

Actually, if all the other measures above are adopted, cars probably won’t need to be “banned” from the central city. But if disincentives don’t work restrictions are the alternative. 

11) Green light the third rail line

For a mere $50 million the government could finish the third rail line to the inland port at Wiri. It’s needed because commuter trains prevent freight trains from using the other lines during peak times. The new line would take 300 trucks off the roads during peak hours, and has a good business case. It’s ready to go, all it needs is for the government to say yes. 

12) Cancel the new motorway project

There’s no good business case for the East West Link from Penrose and it’s going to cost close to $2 billion. Finance minister Steven Joyce told a select committee in parliament recently that many of Auckland’s current transport projects, including the City Rail Link, don’t have a good business case. That’s true, but he didn’t mention this one. In reality public transport projects rarely stack up in on the official measure, because their use is hard to quantify economically. But it’s no excuse for the East West Link, whose purpose is entirely commercial, for freight, and which therefore should be possible to quantify pretty exactly. 

Here’s the question: what could we spend $2 billion on instead? All the other measures outlined here would together cost a small fraction of that new road. It’s gross mismanagement of public funds for that road to proceed. 

13) Stop all the other motorway projects

Put a moratorium on all the lane widening and other motorway projects currently on the books. Let’s try much harder to reduce traffic rather than encourage it. Divert the funds into these other proposals as well.

(VISUALISATION OF THE PROPOSED EAST-WEST CONNECTION MOTORWAY AT ONEHUNGA, AUCKLAND. CREDIT: GREATERAUCKLAND.ORG.NZ).

14) Improve the quality of public transport 

Free wifi would be an excellent start. Better bus shelters in many parts of town, and more of them.

And for heaven’s sake, why don’t railway stations have concessions for traders? More life, more safety with more people around, more to do, things to buy… is it really necessary that ours are so barren? Besides, Auckland Transport: it’s a revenue stream. 

15) Sell the idea 

This is also essential: spend good money on a major marketing campaign. Call it “Free the Roads, Free the City”? Something even better? Focus on the improvements in public transport services and the benefits, to individuals and to the city, of leaving the car at home. 

Easy to mock doesn’t make it wrong 

It all sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? Easy for a politician to mock. Make driving easier by encouraging people to stop driving? 

But it’s true. As long as we try to solve the problem by creating more road space for cars, we will just keep making it worse – because all that does is encourage more people to drive. That’s what we’ve been doing. What we need is to make it more appealing for people to catch the train, hop on a bus, ride a bike or find some other way to get around. 

There’s good evidence this works. Public transport use is up up everywhere and on the Shore they really get it: over half of all commuters on the harbour bridge during peak times are now riding in a bus. 

There’s a focus on the inner city in much of all this. But it’s not simply to improve the quality of the inner-city experience, although that’s important. It’s also, crucially, to take cars off the motorways leading into town. 

These proposals are provisional and experimental. That is, the council and government should try things, build on what works and discard what doesn’t, and keep the measures that achieve popular support and will stay useful long-term. 

Got more good ideas? Let’s hear them and let’s try them: that should be the mantra.

Can’t stress enough: it’s got to be an integrated package. If you’re going to make it harder and more expensive for people to drive you have to make it easier and cheaper for them to use other options. If you reduce the number of cars in the central city you have to ensure it remains the lively commercial and entertainment heart of Auckland. If you enhance the central city you absolutely must make sure the outer urban areas are not abandoned to the nightmare of endless cars. 

Stage 2, by the way, should also start now. It involves more planning. Fast-track the Congestion Free Network, which means scope the light rail services now, make a decision on rail to the airport and what kind it should be, and start building more rapid bus lanes. Also, assess the measures of Stage 1, refine and lock in the ones that work.

(THE CENTRAL SECTION OF GREATER AUCKLAND’S PROPOSED CONGESTION FREE NETWORK OF PUBLIC TRANSPORT).

And those congestion charges? 

Sure, go ahead and scope them. We do need to know much more about the options: their costs, the logistics of introducing them and their impacts not only on traffic but on different segments of Auckland society. They can’t become merely another punitive tax on the poor. 

If Auckland is going to introduce a new tax – that’s what it is – we should have a good, well-informed debate about it. Steven Joyce is right about all that. 

But let’s not get confused about this. Doing a two-year report to come up with a proposal is not the same thing as taking action now to resolve a crisis. 

Joyce’s plan with the congestion charges study has a pretty obvious subtext: he’s putting off the day when he and his government have to change their approach to Auckland’s transport woes. They must know that what they’re doing is not working and is not going to work, but they really don’t want to talk about it now. 

Why not? Because the measures they need to take could be unpopular? That’s not good enough. Because they are beholden to a freight lobby that cannot see past the fenders of its own trucks? That’s not good enough either. An effective plan is available and it’s really not that hard to implement. And when they do take it on, who knows, is it really so hard to believe that Aucklanders will quickly embrace the better transport networks and the better city it helps create? Of course not.

*Simon Wilson is The Spinoff's Auckland editor. This article was first published at The Spinoff here and is used with permission.

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Or use a Singaporean style "5 year Certificate of Entitlement to own a motor viehecal" that owners need to bid for. That way you can set the maximum number of vehiecals on the road. The down side is that the poor and those not in the major cities will crucify you.

No, that will just mean driving will be for the elite. That's NOT how we want to define society.

I think it is a good way to define society, rather than rewarding people for being lazy and stupid, while taxing people for being hardworking and enterprising.

They certainly would, and with good reason. Very difficult to live in small towns or their hinterlands without having a car, unless you want to get creative and tow small trailers behind bicycles to do your shopping, or other solutions like that.

Simon Wilson is an idiot ..... plain and simple . Does he not realise that many of us have to travel on the roads to do our jobs.

We dont all sit at home in front of computers all day writing the type of left-wing drivel he espouses

Boatman,

There is certainly an idiot around,but it's not Simon Wilson. No country loves its cars more than Germany;BMW,Mercedes,Porsche and of course,Volkswagen-the original people's car. But,go to say Frankfurt and public transport rules.
You said before that you have done well in life,so I suggest that you travel a little,it might just prise open your tightly shut mind and let some light in.

16
up

I grew up half way down Dominion Road in what was glorious Auckland (then). And as a frequent visitor from the far south of the country, I can say with authority that the place is now a hell hole by comparison
Best thing that would happen is that the population of Auckland halved. You would be having a whole lot more fun if you managed that.

Really? Dominion road is fantastic; lots of cheap Asian eateries, lots of things to do and see. Much less boring than 99% of NZ suburbia is.
Yes the road itself is in need of an upgrade - this has been scheduled for the last 10 or more years but has been delayed while the council and government decide when to (not) do light rail.

11
up

I could get to school in Khyber pass by public transport in 25 minutes. Where I went surfing was uninhabited. Now it's McMansions with an hour and a half commute one way. Inhabitants are too tired and stressed to surf. It's a tragic place Auckland right now.
(As for Asian food. Your Dominion Road cheap Asian eateries are rubbish, certainly uninteresting. The cooks likely are accountants trying to get residency as skilled. In my small place last night dinner was properly done. Chrispy Fish in Roti - and Chicken skewers. (and the Peanut Sauce was not 'Boil in Bag')

I'm with you KH

I was born at Brightside in Brightside Rd at the foot of Mt Eden, lived for the first 4 years in Cricket Ave beside Eden Park in Valley Rd, then we relocated to Dominion Rd Extension at the foot of Mt Puketepapa for the next 15 years. That final house is gone now, under the motorway link. Have been back many times. The place is stuffed. They can have it. My history is gone. Obliterated. As for the asian eateries you can guess why they arent located out in Otara and East Tamaki and Manakau and Otahuhu - the local peasants can't afford to eat in them

You still can get to Khyber Pass from Dominion road in 25 mins on public transport. There is a bus every 3 minutes at peak and 7.5 mins off peak.
Every time I take someone from outside Auckland down Dominion road they find it quite interesting. It is definitely very different to most roads in NZ.

I surrender Jimbo. Dominion Road looks good. - if your experience is Manurewa or the even more remote outskirt ghettos.

Hey I never said it looked good, lets face it is a bit of a shit hole. But not everywhere needs to be clean and shiny and exactly the same.

LOL - he did say they find it "quite interesting"... and I'm sure they do!

@Jimbojones.. Love a Duck is my favourite! Always my first stop whenever I am in Auckland from this side of the ditch..

Can't be Graham Brazier.
Must be Don McGlashan.

Graham lived just opposite Carmen Ave (on Dominion) But the song was Don - of course. Here's a bit from Wiki. ".....Dominion Road was immortalised in song in 1992 by Don McGlashan, the song being recorded by his band, The Mutton Birds. The song caused some local debate for its reference to "a halfway house half way down Dominion Road". While the house is no doubt fictional, the line caused many New Zealander to wonder exactly where "halfway down Dominion Road" is, as an extension has been built to this road. However, the extension was built after the song was written.
The song's music video suggests that halfway down Dominion Road is the intersection of Peary Road and Dominion Road, and much of the video's footage shows the area between the road's Balmoral shops and Mt. Roskill shops. In 2013 an unofficial brass plaque was placed in the footpath by an anonymous artist to mark the halfway point along the road......"

Which extension are you referring to?

The Dominion Rd Extension I know was in existence prior to 1960's and began at Mt Roskill shops intersection with Mt Albert Rd and ran out through Roskill South across Richardson Road and out to Waikowhai

The reference to the extension is in a quote from Wikipaedia and is clearly wrong. Yes I agree with you that the extension was in place for decades before the song. Balmoral was my stamping ground. Sad what has happened to it.

In your opinion... Its actually a great place to live and highly sought after.

But why bother fixing a problem when you can just pretend as if you are going to fix it in 2030 (and still somehow get re-elected)

2 billion for a new motor way
3.5 billion for a loop at the end of a rail line
1 billion in other road projects

That's 6.5 billion dollars dived by $35,000 for a self driving car. That's 185,714. Yes the NZ people could own a fleet of 185,000 self driving cars.

What can you do with 185,000 self driving cars?

Run an automated car pooling network where the average occupancy is 3 people per car instead of 1 person. That's 555,000 people moved around the city in a single journey.

You can manage peak commute times, with automation, allowing a two trips per automated vehicle, now moving 1,100,000 people across the city in the morning. That's ONE MILLION car parks that can be removed and some of that space would be freed up to do the unthinkable - build some residential housing in it's place.

Between work hours a fleet of 185,000 self driving cars could easily move another 1 million people to/from appointments, and allow time to recharge.

At peak commute in the afternoon that's another 1 million people moved around.

After work, a fleet of 185,000 self driving cars could easily move another 1 million people to/from social events, dinner, late shifts, and allow time to be recharged.

That's a total of 4 million car journeys in a day. Enough to service all of Auckland, and remove all private vehicles form the road. Now that no one needs private vehicles, we can increase speed limits where appropriate, say 20% efficiency gain in transport. Now we're at 5 million journeys per day.

But, but, but, you can't buy self driving cars right now for $35,000? So what. You can't drive on the new motor that hasn't been built, you can't ride around the rail loop today. And you won't be able to in 5 years time either. But I assure you self driving cars will be $35,000 or less in five years.

But, but, but, we don't want to spend our tax money on self driving cars. Morons, the money you'll save from not having to own a private car, not having to pay for parking, not having to pay for petrol or insurance will make it cost neutral to you, and cost neutral to the government. Yes that's right buying 185,000 self driving cars will actually saves us 6.5 billion in taxes, and costs you nothing extra in vehicle expenses.

But, but, but, you can't buy self driving cars right now for $35,000? So what. You can't drive on the new motor that hasn't been built, you can't ride around the rail loop today. And you won't be able to in 5 years time either. But I assure you self driving cars will be $35,000 or less in five years

No, no they won't.
Self driving cars, in the sense of level 4/5 autonomy, will not even exist in a publicly accessible form in 5 years time, let alone be available for NZ$35k a piece.
The technology is certainly coming, but don't let the likes of Elon Musk overpromising and (severely) under delivering convince you the future is now.
There is still a huge gap between a truly autonomous vehicle and the basic beginner level stuff that's shipping now. It will take a lot longer than 5 years to get the tech up to scratch.
20 years from now, maybe, you'll be able to buy a Honda AutoCivic for $35k. 5 years? No chance.

You could also check out you tube for small vehicles, I saw an interesting electric one from Sweden based on a Bike but with 4 wheels and room for a passenger tandem seating and covered in. Less than half a car length and width no price but didn't look expensive as fairy gadget & bling free. I doubt a politician would want to consider as it might solve a problem and remove the need for them!!

Bikes are not the answer. The weather is too drastic in Auckland to warrant that. Sure it may work in other countries who's climate is less rainy but it will not work here. The city is too widespread for it too. Sure it's great for Ponsonby residents but not for Glenfield, Henderson, or Blockhouse Bay.

What we need is better city planning, but the problem is it's pretty far along to efficiently change this so we are going to have to do it the slow, expensive way. Subways, distributed city centres, toll roads, expansion of arterial routes, all need to happen.

Could I suggest a Auckland City Council business rates discount or from Government a nationwide company tax rebate for businesses that have some large percentage (say 90% or 95%) of their staff who use public transport, bike or walk to work?

Excellent idea

More lefties wanting to keep people contained. A car = FREEDOM. Utopia for these anti car people is all of us living in high rises, (Grenfell Tower anyone) with a bus stop outside.
I am getting pissed off with new cycle lanes. A new one along Rosedale Road to intersection with Bush Road means now the traffic is backed up further as the second lane is not accessible to left turning until you nearly get there. Same as Upper Harbour Drive. People on bikes AFAIK were not getting run over in these places.
Make users of Public Transport pay the real cost of the trip, not the subsidised price.
Sharing of bikes, gee real fun in the winter when it is wet/cool and summer, when it is too hot. What about people who do not want to ride a bike? Take the bike to hospital for your operation.
Cars are the way of the future still.

Not that I agree with you. But you have a point. people love cars and the freedom they provide.

Let's be honest a car is part of NZ culture. We stop trying to make people change to meet our ideals and give them what they want in the most efficient possible manner. A car to take them form home to work, without any of the stress of dealing with traffic, car maintenance, or finding a car park.

Guess what does exactly this. Autonomous self driving cars. It's the future. Don't fight it, find ways we can be at the front of the pack for adoption.

Having a car for "freedom" is one thing, but its not sustainable or practical for everyone to drive to and from the city centre every day for work.

There's plenty that could be done on all fronts to help with congestion but yet another 2 year delay, oops sorry "study" to tell us what we already know is just more can kicking by the government and council.

A very quick easy change would be to stop any parking along arterial roads like Dominion and Mount Eden etc. There's absolutely no need to allow parking on them at all and if the few pinch points were addressed they'd be double lanes to and from the city. Sure it wouldn't solve the problem but it'd help in the short term.

Have you heard of Electric bikes? Nah too busy ib your car listending to Hosking no doubt.

in - fixed it for you.

I felt I had much more freedom when living in London and had no car. Could stop in for a beer whenever I wanted, didn't have to think about parking, life was much easier.
Roads are massively subsidised, much more than public transport. If they aren't, why haven't the government sold them off like every other asset? Its because people couldn't afford the true cost of roads.

This is Auckland, not London. There is a pub at the end of every street there.

Not any more - 25% drop in pub numbers from 2001-2015.

https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/number-of-pubs-in-londo...

Wow - fascinating link - I had no idea about the problem. Good on the Mayor in trying to preserve the very fabric/essence of London pub culture.

(Grenfell Tower anyone). FYI hundreds of people in NZ die in cars every year - much more than public transport.

I've been commuting by bike for years in Christchurch, freedom to park virtually anywhere, freedom to scoot past the queues of traffic, why would I pay to trade that for being stuck in a metal box? Every time I drive I'm struck by how annoying and restrictive they are.

Winter is colder here, summer is more extreme, luckily we have access to warm and waterproof clothing down here so it's not an issue. Note that the article isn't saying everyone should ride a bike, just that many more people could. I'm tired of that straw man argument.

Yep, a couple of hours a day commuting to and from work in Auckland = FREEDOM...enjoy your Auckland FREEDOM.

Subsidies Bus and Train and also increase the frequency - though initially may be lose but soon people will start using it.

If I have to take a bus, I know the service is hourly during non peak hour and 30 mins in peak hour. Should have every 15 mins during non peak hour and every 5 to 10 mins during peak hour and see the difference.

You wouldn't believe the subsidies already going from rates towards public transport. In addition to that public transport is ridiculously expensive.

Making it more expensive to travel to work and taking away carparks in town will only increase expense for many, without making public transport more viable. Unfortunately for many public transport is wholly non-viable.

(Disclosure: not saying this for me as I'm able to walk to work.)

Have you ever tried to use link to go a short distance in CBD for a meeting? Apart from not every 10 mins the stop at Victoria Park baffles me? A one stop I was told a 10 in break so that they can run to scedule? Now in Wellington were using public transport is a breeze. However big ups to Auckland rail, always use it, more rail lines please and to the shore.

That was my thought as well. From experience it is quicker to walk from Ponsonby to the bottom of town than to use the Link. Rail and ferries are good though.

That tallies with my experience 15 years ago - Brown Street to Shortland street was about the same walking or bussing at 8am.

I was in Auckland late last year, Caught the bus from CBD to Manukau (25 km journey) took over 90 mins on 3 different buses, On the way back 40 mins in the train. In Brisbane I can catch a train from CBD and be at Gold Coast (70km journey) in 50 mins..
Auckland hasn't changed that much in 10 years

And you haven't mentioned the price yet either. Or the danger when doing those sorts of trips at night.

From the article "At the new rate, the city’s population of 1.6 million will hit 2 million within the next 10 years"

From the Auckland plan "Statistics New Zealand has projected medium population growth of 700,000 and high population growth of one million people for Auckland over the next 30 years. Given Auckland’s history of rapid population growth, Auckland Council believes it is prudent to plan for the high-growth projection."

A little maths and the population growth is a little faster than the Dept of Stats high figure. Seems like immediate action needed now. Don't bother with a 2 year study - implement now - if it doesn't work they will have wasted some money but not as much as a 2 year study and then action.

This is a plan for Auckland?

The Spinoff appears to be unfamiliar with the workings of Phil Goff and his bureaucrats at Auckland Transport et al in setting out the unitary development plan. The Auckland unitary plan is to double, triple or quadruple the size of the Auckland regional towns, whilst confining the growth of the city to the 8 - 10% range. This vast expansion of greenfield development far away from Auckland City is consuming huge infrastructure costs and creating a requirement for lots more car based travel.

The Spinoff plans for Auckland are nonsensical as they focus on the city, when the city is not allowed to grow.

Auckland planning is sprawl heavy and the future is wall to wall cars.

The 15 proposals have a common factor; they are trying to address the consequence of a problem without attempting to address the cause. All 15 proposals are doing are trying to buy time as these "solutions" are only temporary fixes and future growth of Auckland will soon swamp what ever temporary relief they bring.
The root cause is the growth of Auckland.
I have already commented that I find it baffling as to why AA Insurance requires a call centre 100 metres from Queen Street towards the Sky Tower. This is just one example.
Who are the winners here - the staff faced with problems with daily transport issues such as traffic congestion and inadequate transport, the company paying high rentals for prime office space, or the central government who are expected to bail the Auckland Council out for what are local problems.
With technology there is absolutely no need for those jobs in AA and no doubt many, many other businesses to be located in the CBD.
Such businesses need to look to the suburbs or regions.
It amazes me that in the 1970's regional development policies were scrapped on a free market basis that they had to sink or swim The concentration of businesses in Auckland is a consequence of this - why should the rest of the country under the same free market sentiment not let Auckland sink or swim on its own so that the true cost - both social and economic - of locating in central Auckland is recognised. At that point, maybe those concerned will start to take practical action rather than pumping huge sums of money into a short term fix to alleviate the current but worsening situation.

You need to read about Agglomeration. Its why cities exist and why they are successful. People want to work with other people, see other people, have lots of things to see and do. Employers want lots of talent to choose from.
Yes the AA call centre may or may not be a good example. But why would a business pay high rents if there was no advantage.
I think Aucklander's are quite happy to pay for their own true cost through fuel tax or congestion charging, but the government won't let us. But at the moment AUckland only get's it's 'fair share' of the transport budget (if there is such a thing), so I'm not sure what you are getting at.

@ Jimbo. Try Jane Jacobs "Cities and the wealth of Nations" She also wrote "The life and death of American Cities" (confession - I have not read the second.)

And a trump voter no doubt.

Auckland has decided to turn its back on Agglomeration and instead of growing the city prefers tripling the size of the exurban towns. The Auckland Unitary Plan exists to actively destroy the Agglomeration benefits. This is why construction businesses prefer to invest in other cities in Australasia at much higher rate than in Auckland. Likewise in following years businesses will leave Auckland for towns and cities offering greater levels of Agglomeration.

Auckland is in many ways a self solving problem, the Auckland Council works to destroy Agglomeration benefits, so over time jobs will leave Auckland and go to places where Agglomeration is improving.

The only problem for NZ is that we are trapped in the same country as the idiotic town planners of Auckland and it is painful to watch Auckland actively destroy its potential in front of us.

Some cities. I visited Detroit about 30 years ago. Yes there is a move from the country where farms are well automated to the city but not every city grows. London went from about 9m when I was born to about 7.5m and I believe is now growing again. People assumed some of the really big cities would just keep growing: Tokyo, Mexico back in the '60s but they didn't. The theory is congestion eventually stops growth.
Think about Auckland - it is a small city similar in size to Glasgow, Leeds, Lille and about 100 more just in China that you and I have never heard of. Transport really should be no problem.
Agglomeration can only work if all parts of the city can communicate with one another. 10 years ago I knew a manager who worked in Manakau and chose to live in North Shore - could/would she do it now?

Auckland small in size? Cripes, the city is huge! From Long Bay in the north to Papakura in the south is one hell of a distance - must be 50 km or more. What about Howick in the east to Henderson in the west? And these aren't the extreme limits....if you started talking Pukekohe or Whangaparoa or Kumeu, or beyond, Auckland is huge!

I doubt congestion stopped tokyos growth, no one drives there the trains are fantastic. Auckland can comfortably grow, just gotta redirect all that money from roads to trains. I really can't understand how our government could possibly be so one eyed or downright stupid.

How about making public transport free and making all private vehicles pay motorway tolls to offset the cost.

While it would probably help it won't fix the fact that our public transport is crap.

10
up

Stop the immigration! Otherwise, Green New Zealand will be destroyed .

How about we import a bunch of jeepneys from the Philippines or Tuk-Tuks from Thailand, intensify housing in the inner suburbs, and make do with an endless cycle of jeepneys picking people up and dropping them off for 50 cents a ride. Will go with National's overall approach of "growth through importing the Third World".

I'd like to see the government redirect some of the roading money and use it to incentivize telecommuting as a viable business model. My company has 150 people in our office, from all over Auckland, plus two guys who currently telecommute (from Melbourne and Whangarei). However, as all our work, and even our meetings, are computer-based, there is no reason that the rest of us couldn't do the same. I'm sure that we're not the only company in this situation.

Another bonus is that, if enough people telecommuted, then this could also have some impact on the Auckland housing issues — the only reason I'm in Auckland, is because it is one of the few places in the country where my job exists. I'd much rather live in a smaller town and telecommute if I was given the chance.

Why would the government need to incentivise it? If it makes sense, people would do it. Personally I couldn't think of anything worse than working from home but maybe that's just me.

I am all for telecommuting and do as much of it myself as I can . Why on earth does it require public money ?

Don't buy office space.

Toll roads - Doesn't the Bill of Rights say something about the right to freedom of movement?

How are toll roads at all impinging on the freedom of movement?
I think you are seriously misunderstanding something...

More taxes (tolls). I still can't believe NZ citizens - among the most heavily taxed people in the world - still want even MORE taxes. You were right with everything you said up there The Best Status.

we are not heavily taxed. Try most European countries.

And the US - they've got federal, state, local and (often) ground rent/community taxes - and sales tax - and inheritance tax - and tolls roads - and co-pay - and and and and.....

These possible tolls seem to be being justified on the need to change commuter behaviour but up to maybe half the traffic I see on Auckland's motorways seems to be freight. Many more vehicles are probably just trying to get past Auckland city with no intention of commuting into it or out of it. Also - the ability to use cars is actually a benefit to society - not just the driver. We shouldn't be making transport harder for any group. Trust Joe public - he is in a much more informed position to make decisions about what mode of transport is most efficient for him. Don't try to impose ideologically driven impractical solutions on him!

Of course it is to change consumer behaviour. But for the better.
Tolls are a way of equitably paying for the cost of infrastructure.
The problem we have in Auckland, as with any public good, is that overuse is incentivised. Tolls are a way of ensuring that the marginal cost of usage to Joe Public is commensurate with the true cost of usage for the infrastructure.

I very much object to / dislike the idea of tolling roads when there is no reasonable alternate 'freeway'.

As the author of the article rightly points out:

"They [congestion charging/tolls] can’t become merely another punitive tax on the poor."

To charge those already disadvantaged by distance to sit in traffic is so, so, so very inequitable and just plain wrong.

"I very much object to / dislike the idea of tolling roads when there is no reasonable alternate 'freeway'."
Spoken like a true liberal.
All costs need to be socialised.
Things are "just plain wrong."

"To charge those already disadvantaged by distance to sit in traffic is so, so, so very inequitable and just plain wrong."
Isn't that the whole idea - to reduce the stagnation of traffic on the roading infrastructure?
I fail to see how it is at all inequitable to charge someone relative to the cost of the good they are consuming.
In actual fact it is extremely inequitable for me to be paying for you to drive to work, when I cycle or take public transport - which is what is currently happening.

What are you on about - I assume if you cycle, you cycle on roads? I assume if you take PT, it uses either roads or rail? The costs of all those networks are socialised. That's the nature of public networks.

And the point is, they shouldn't be.
Each user should be charged an appropriate marginal cost.

They already are - it's called taxes.

Tolls are a tax on those forced to live further out from the city, and they're being used to keep rates down for those who live further in - despite the fact those living further in receive the benefits of that and thus have more valuable land. Take away the city and the land is worth squat. It's time NZ looked at rebalancing income tax and land tax.

So where is all the money going to come from to build a decent public transport system to allow Joe Public to have options? At the moment his decision is being made for him as driving is the only option!

Read the article:

12) Cancel the new motorway project

13) Stop all the other motorway projects

Phew - voting Robt - best comment today. Seems as if those advocating for these charges live in Central Auckland with buses etc easily available. Want to scream - think of others for once!

Every time a country doubles its population, the share of the countries assets and natural resources per capita is halved - Maybe this is why the following distances on the motorway are about half what they used to be. Immigration is a very temporary solution to lagging GDP. In the end the citizens will be poorer. But I think some people would like NZ to resemble Mumbai.

By that theory, the US is the third poorest country in the world and Tokelau the richest

Are being deliberately obtuse?
There is no doubt that the individual share of natural resources is inversely proportional to population.
A classic is the oil wealth that has flowed to the people of Norway (now among the very richest in the world) compared to the UK with similar resources but ten times the population.

Your gave me a delicious vision of becoming the richest ( the only ) man in NZ and possibly in the world . Need to buy more guns.

One day the price of oil will likely shoot up again. If the next financial calamity hasn't been triggered before then I expect that will trigger it. It should also address congestion but that might be the least of our concerns.

I guess when all is said and done more is said than done.

Congestion cannot be fixed - the roads will always be clogged. There is no way to build more roads to end congestion.

The only answer is to provide an alternative. Greater Auckland has provided the solution; the Congestion Free Network. Auckland is a great city and despite some of the naysayers here it will be better if we provide a good PT system.

Given the analysis and all the figures have been blacked out it's pretty obvious that the motivation to not release the report is because it is contrary to National Party policy. I think Simon Bridges needed to be investigated.

This is ridiculous.
None of this is commercially sensitive, in the context of things.
It is simply a gross abuse of power.

Smarmy Simon. Seriously, the sooner he's sitting on the opposition benches - the better!

who cares - its Auckland

Why in anyones name would we nationally fund a rail line to give Port of Auckland an inland port,
Let them eat cake i say...now who said that...
Its friday...

OMG - Brilliant!

Were I an Aucklander I'd be asking: Simon, will you marry me?

Inappropriate

A fan of corruption I take it?

I think you've got the Simon's confused. AKLers ought to divorce Simon Bridges and marry Simon Wilson.

Sounds like a game of F**k - Marry - Kill, Interest.co.nz Edition.

Talk about the tail wagging the dog , the bus companies dictate our public transport policy and pricing not AT .

With an utterly useless and horrendously expensive bus company cartel running the disgraceful Public Transport service, the show who needs AT ?