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AUCKLAND’S TRANSPORT WOES

Updated: Mar 16, 2021

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Auckland was the only one of our four main centres not to have any settlement plan when it first got under way. Instead, a collection of chancers, traders, and escapees from Australia’s penal settlements settled in the scrub around the Waitemata Harbour when it became clear in 1840 that Auckland would become the seat of government. With substantial harbours on east and west the thin isthmus of land wasn’t congenial to planning. The city just grew wherever it could. By 1900 its population far outstripped the other centres. Connectivity between parts of the city has always been weak. No effort was made for more than a century to construct an underground public transport system, and what is emerging is a hybrid that will probably be under-patronised by the public compared with comparable cities elsewhere in the world. Aucklanders learned early to depend on their cars and show almost no signs of giving up on them.


One Mayor, John Allum, stands out as having had the foresight to push for the building of a harbour bridge that would open up the North Shore to people, cars and buses. In 1959 after 30 years of talk, a narrow 4-lane bridge opened that had to be widened almost immediately at a cost that would have been half had the first vision been accepted by officials in Wellington. Motorways, extensions and a tunnel followed, each one almost too late by the time it was opened. Every day drivers sit in lengthening queues, emitting fumes and fuming in equal measure, trying to get to their destinations. Meanwhile, huge sums of ratepayers’ and government money are being spent trying to convert Aucklanders to public transport, but given the shape of the city, buses and trains will never have the appeal of private cars. Tradespeople, couriers and commercial traffic of all kinds choke to a halt even on the motorways.


Enter, belatedly, planners armed with ideologies. Recently, in the name of promoting healthy lifestyles and lowering car exhaust emissions, more and more money has been invested in public transport and cycleways. But, the public sticks resolutely to cars while a hugely expensive spaghetti of cycleways sits largely unused. I promised my grandson that I’d give him a dollar for every cyclist I saw riding up the gold-plated Franklin Road installation in Freeman’s Bay. Four years later he’s received $12! Only the arrival of electric bikes looks like it might lift his bank balance. Meantime, cycleways encroach on carriageways, slowing cars further, and increasing motorists’ anger whenever they see expensive work on footpaths next to them which cyclists could easily use without the cycleway.


Bashing motorists has become Auckland Council’s favourite pastime; roads narrow, orange cones are permanently in place, and corners become more difficult for cars to negotiate while Councillors resolutely shut their eyes. Queen Street and its adjoining streets have been stripped of parking and turned into single lanes, gradually turning much of the centre of the city into a ghost town. More and more shops are vacant. Auckland’s current Council risks a massive class action against it for the damage it has done on top of Covid to merchants’ livelihoods by not re-jigging Auckland Transport’s brief. Councillors have an annual input to overall policy which is then enacted by Auckland Transport and are the ones who should pay for failing to change AT’s ideology that clearly isn’t working. Instead, they just ignore the problem.


And it carries on. Last Friday Phil Goff with his successor as MP for Roskill, Michael Wood, now Minister of Transport, sang a nonsensical duet about a $31 billion Transport Plan for Auckland over the next ten years. You guessed it: lots more money for public transport, where patronage has fallen this last year, walking and cycling, all of it with a view to getting people out of their cars and reducing carbon emissions. On the last, no one seems to have realized that by making car transport slower, the overwhelming majority who remain wedded to their cars will sit in congestion for longer, puffing out exhaust that would reduce if carriageways got people to their destinations more swiftly.


And there wasn’t a mention in the new plan about Auckland’s urgent need for another harbour crossing. Millions have been spent over the years as the NZ Transport Agency studied options like another bridge, or a tunnel (that it appears to favour), only for the reports to gather dust while developments around the Viaduct and the rest of the waterfront close off suitable points of ingress and egress from the tunnel. It’s only three weeks since Aucklanders were warned by NZTA about the state of the existing bridge, now more than 60 years old, and groaning under the weight of increasingly heavy use. It beggars belief that Goff and Wood had the chutzpah to announce what they called a plan without mentioning the state of the bridge and the urgent need for another crossing.


I think it was Lord Keynes, the famous economist, who said that the height of stupidity was to keep on providing the same failing solutions to a problem while expecting them to produce a different and better outcome. Auckland, sadly, is a city adrift. We suffer from a weak Council, faltering infrastructure, unpopular ideas aplenty like light rail, and a bloody-minded determination to punish motorists who are crying out for leadership that will produce new and bolder approaches to long term problems.


2,605 views55 comments

55 opmerkingen


Robert Miles
Robert Miles
28 mrt. 2021

A great deal of the problem is what are the Auckland light rail for and are the ideas of the light rail planners appropriate use of light rail, Fifteen to twenty years ago the enthusiasm for trams and light rail was mainly about restoring something like the closer part of the old Auckland tramway system in particularly to Remuera, Greenlane, Dominion Road and Mt Eden Road and Port Chev with presumably cut and cover in the area around Quay st and Britomart . These ideas were also built around using a closed Northland rail route as a light rail corridor to Henderson and New Lynn,

The main thrust of the light rail enthusiasm in Auckland however has been driven by…

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Robert Miles
Robert Miles
30 mrt. 2021
Reageren op

In the mid 1950s road competition up to 55 miles (90km) should have been allowed rather than 30 miles, that would have eased the rail congestion and the need for steam locomotives and while lowering the traffic on branch lines would not have reduced it singificantly enought to lead to major branch closures before the late 1960s. The mothbaling of branches with minimal or no traffic was adopted quite early in Australia.

Any viable inter city passenger service depended on regular ordering of quite large batches of new carriages from the 1950s to progressively replace the 50/56 feet carriages built in 1930/45 which offered comfrotable first and acceptable sleeping cars but slab like second class seating to cram them in,unacceptable…

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When John Banks was Mayor he commissioned a study of the Auckland transport situation. A few salient facts found:


  1. Auckland at its most dense (Ponsonby because of the smaller section size) has less than half the population density required to make any public transport system break even.

  2. The majority of the traffic on the harbour bridge is not travelling to or from Auckland: It is passing through the isthmus.

  3. The occupancy rate of vehicles has been steadily falling for years. 20 years ago it was 1.3 persons per vehicle now it's around 1.1.

  4. Approx. 50% of rush hour traffic is "education related" (a figure I still find staggering). I suppose this includes kids being taken to school, students going to…


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Reageren op

Totally. Its called 'Traffic calming' or sometimes' planned congestion'. Ludo didn't make it up. Check out United Nations Agenda 21 and 30..It's not random madness but a plan to control us all in the name of saving the planet. Check them out on You Tube. There are consultants , like Ludo, trained in these Agendas,( usually RMA qualified ) who are contracting to Councils all over the country to push this crap down our throats. Unless the rest of us wake up and start fighting back our whole way of life will be gone . Jacinda has said little about it in NZ but in a U.N. shore speech she stated she was committed to implementing Agenda 30…

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larry
larry
18 mrt. 2021

Typical interesection car line up ... 5.30 PM Greville Rd.-5 or more minute queue- with bike lane EMPTY and access to motorway blocked (bike lane obstructed).as well..


Bike lanes bedlam on a regular basis ... all over town.


Auck Trans cycling geneii ... take a bow. Your subversive tactics to get people out of cars and onto bikes is a raging (as in "road rage") ... success.

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Max Ritchie
Max Ritchie
17 mrt. 2021

Cycling advocates often talk of making Auckland the Copenhagen of the Pacific. Copenhagen is flat. Just imagine riding your bike into the city from Glendowie! Of course young, fit cyclists do, several (sic) of them. A different sort of public transport might work but Auckland’s topography makes both cycling and mass transport extremely difficult. The green nirvana is a return to horses and living in your village life-long. That’s while they jet about to climate/carbon conferences of course.

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If we want to reduce CO2 from transport the answer is a carbon tax and rebate. $200/tonne. Then we'll see the cycleways busy and buses full. Of course when democracy meets desire it takes the fork in the road. I don't care much - no grandchildren to explain human stupidity to...

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Reageren op

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/18/climate-crisis-cop26-president-global-targets

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