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Auckland: a sprawling car future?

Written By: - Date published: 7:17 am, March 12th, 2011 - 77 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, public transport, same old national, transport - Tags: , ,

The government has released 8 papers on its view on a 30-year blueprint for Auckland.  The plan isn’t to be released for another 11 days, but National are impolitely putting its view out first.

And what a twentieth-century view it is.  One of an ever more sprawling city, with ever more sprawling motorways, ever more cars clogging its veins, ever less community, and ever less government money.

We won’t fund Auckland’s dreams” they say.  Which unfortunately translates to “Aucklander’s dreams” and “Auckland voter’s dreams”.  No, they’ll only fund their nightmares.

Auckland has always been underfunded, generating at least 1/3 of the tax revenue and getting far less in government spending.  At this point in time, Christchurch does have to be the focus, but we cannot afford to let the heart of the economy stop.  It’s not an either/or proposition, the rest of the country must keep functioning to help Christchurch back to its feet.  As such, we still need to invest in the future of Auckland – National need to learn their slogan of “re-vitalising Auckland” does not stop at putting their model of regional governance on it.

So the spatial plan needs support.  It was largely drawn up under the guidance of National’s appointed SuperCity Transition Authority, led by Mark Ford, who they were prepared to pay $540k per annum of Aucklanders’ money; Len Brown and the Council have now had the chance to put their gloss on it.  I’ve not seen it, but from what the government are rejecting it would appear to have a focus on a higher-density city with much more vibrant public transport.

National are still in love with the car, despite fuel about to hit record prices and showing no signs of dropping.  They want a city that is already the size of London with 1/10 the population to keep expanding over more productive farmland.  One where it is already not feasible for those on the peripheries to do their shopping in the centre.  Christchurch is complaining it now takes 2 hours to get across their city; Aucklanders know they already can only do it that quickly outside rush-hour.

So we need a car alternative.  As someone who regularly travels by rail in Auckland, the need for central-loop is obvious, as it was back in 1924 when they dreamed it up.  If anything happens between Newmarket and the central city – a signal wrong, trespasser on the tracks, train  with engine difficulties – the whole network grinds to a near halt.  The loop would solve that and make rail so much more viable.  It also means that the network won’t reach capacity in just a few years’ time.  National’s pre-cursors scuppered the tunnel in the 20s, National scuppered it in the 50s and 60s, and they seem determined to do it again, regardless of Auckland’s wishes.

National also seem determined to antagonise their own voters on the blue North Shore.  Joyce seems likely to shortly announce a second harbour bridge rather than the much-preferred tunnel.  The bridge will no doubt be less rail-centric, forcing more into their cars.  They also don’t like Len’s other rail idea of an airport link (much as every international city has), preferring to continue to funnel tourists down suburban streets to the city instead.

Auckland Council’s plan has high-density housing to make public transport more accessible and feasible; the government prefers to remove all city limits and have Auckland reach for Hamiltron.

It’s almost as though National, so confident in their polling, want to play Russian Roulette with Auckland voters:  They like us, now how about we force a corporate governance model on them…  and now, let’s try denying the public transport they voted for, let’s see how unliveable we can make their city and see if they’ll still vote for us…

77 comments on “Auckland: a sprawling car future? ”

  1. lprent 1

    I don’t think it is the road lobby. More like the subdivision developers

    • Marty G 1.1

      yup. that’s where the big money in sprawl is. you see that the developers who have brought up land ringing Christchurch are already competing over where new subdivisions will be built – this is a huge windfall for them.

  2. Sanctuary 2

    If Labour has any nous, it will campaign on transport issues in Auckland this year.

    I can’t work out why National has so qickly developed such an anti-Auckland tin ear towards the 09. I guess English and rest of the provincial/rural rump probably just have that reflex hatred of Auckland that just gets worse and worse as you head south. John Key? Key isn’t a real New Zealander from anywhere – he is a member of Global Elitistan, who happens to sleep most often in a huge mansion in Auckland. Possibly the playa here is Steven Joyce. He is a hopelessly corrupt crony capitalist. He iss absolutely determined to ensure he transfers as much money as possible to his mates – in trucking, development, broadcasting, – wherever he can.

    Still, whatever reason why, National is really, really vulnerable to a lot of pissed of Aucklanders right now.

    • KJT 2.1

      This is NACT’s revenge for voting for Brown and preventing the great fire sale of Auckland’s assets.

  3. Peter 3

    I naively thought the whole idea of the Super City was for Auckland to decide its own priorites.

  4. Luva 4

    I’m not doubting you, just struggling to find the answer myself. Does Auckland really generate 1/3 of tax revenue and subsidise the rest of the country

    • Marty G 4.1

      Auckland has a third of the population and an above average median income, the highest in the country apart from Wellington and Otago. So, yes, I would say it generates a third of the tax base.

    • lprent 4.2

      It wasn’t explicitly stated, but I think that was the transport revenue. And yes it does.

      • Colonial Viper 4.2.1

        Well considering the number of cars in AKL and the kms they drive, that’s gotta be a lot of petrol tax dollars going into the coffers.

        • Kevyn Miller

          The data you are seeking is in Auckland’s contribution to the Government’s surplus in 2005 – Estimating the net flow of central Government funding from the Auckland region in fiscal year 2005 at http://www.aucklandnz.org/portfolio.cfm

          That study calculated that Auckland contributed 30% of registration fees, 27% of petrol tax and 25% of RUCs. Thats about 20% less per capita than the average region pays a year.

          It also made this intresting point: Auckland contributed more revenue in 2005 than one would have expected based on an estimate using only population size (i.e. 35% of revenue against 34% of population). Auckland also received less expenditure (31%) than would have been expected based on a naïve estimate using the proportion of the population (34%)…A key determinant of these results is Auckland’s demographic profile.

  5. jcuknz 5

    If we assume that the country needs food production to sell and bring in the ‘necessities of modern life’ then it seems like madness to continue the spread of any city. On the other hand if the development was in the form of satellite towns situated on non productive land that could be a valid alternative. The happy days of a house on a quarter acre section was fine when the country had a population of one or two million but now, what is it … four million and going up … that is simply not viable. Satellite towns largely self contained with little need to travel between them. employment based on various industries … ‘company towns’ without the drawbacks these have developed through big business in the past. The trouble with Auckland and other large cities is the bad arrangement of living/working which obviously needs a socialistic government to sort out to reduce the need to travel great distances to work. Compacting population so that public transport becomes a better alternative to individual transport, unless it is a bike or similar. Though there is a health risk with public transport that might be balanced by exercise at each end of the journey..

  6. James 6

    “Auckland has always been underfunded, generating at least 1/3 of the tax revenue and getting far less in government spending.”

    Are you saying that those who generate the most tax revenue should be who benefits the most?

    • Luva 6.1

      Great question

      • Colonial Viper 6.1.1

        Those on the highest incomes already benefit the most: I mean, they are on the highest incomes 🙂

      • bbfloyd 6.1.2

        J…stupid question…. based on ignorance and driven by bigotry, it seems… getting a fair share of government sending on infrastructure, which would allow the city to function at a more efficient level does NOT give aucklanders any extra benifit over and above the rest of the country… but an efficient,,, and cost effective auckland infrastructure WOULD benifit the rest of the country.

        try to think with your head, and not your “rump”…

    • handle 6.2

      “Are you saying that those who generate the most tax revenue should be who benefits the most?”

      Wrong question. It’s about investment, not distribution of income. Official projections show that most of this country’s population growth over the coming decades will be concentrated in Auckland. Those people and their businesses need infrastructure that can’t be built overnight, incuding decent public transport. Starving this region of its fair share of funding has left it very under-prepared.

      • KJT 6.2.1

        Looking at a low energy future it would be better to attract business growth away from Auckland.

        Smaller towns where there are not the same problems. Industry and the people who work in them can be in easy commuting distance on public transport, foot or bicycle.

        Auckland has not had its fair share of funding, but we need to have a really good look at continued growth in Auckland with continued spending on Auckland.

        Satellite towns with green belts in between (Workers in their industries living close by) may help solve the high prices of housing concentrated in Auckland and the high costs of transport and commuting within Auckland.

        A lot of thought should be put into this when rebuilding Christchurch. Imagine the brand and tourist opportunities of the worlds first fully 21st Century eco city.

  7. Bored 7

    Hey Sanctuary, I like Global Elitistan, got a nice ring to it.

    On Auckland and cars it has long been obvious to me that the whole city needs a rethink for the low energy future, mass public transport etc. Even the Americans are moving on this. Check his out, its about high speed rail and its implications. Basically says do it or be left behind.

  8. Afewknowthetruth 8

    There is nothing new in any of this this. Under Labour the direction was exactly the same -an ever increasing sprawl of concrete and asphalt gobbling up farmalnd, and carving up of large suburban sections for multi-unit dwellings.

    The difference is we are now living in a post peak oil world, so the consequences of the insanity will arrive very soon…… 2014 at the latest, but probably before then.

    When the industrialised agricultural system goes under we should not be surprised to see mass starvation in central Auckland.

    Fuckwits are impervious to truth until it clobbers them in the face.

    • Bored 8.1

      Fuckwits are impervious to truth until it clobbers them in the face.

      So true. The worst in my book are the techno cornucoptics…the buggers cant do the simple maths on growth and finite resources…or even work out that a finite resource will actually run out. They also seem to think that technology is exempt from the laws of thermodynamics. Fuckwits indeed.

      My absolute venom is reserved for the market fantasists who seem to think that if you throw enough money at any issue a magic cure will bbe discovered. Total fuckwits.

    • bbfloyd 8.2

      AFTT… to be fair, one would have to acknowledge that the last major suberban expansion that took place in auckland was well entrenched by the time labour took office in 1999… to have halted it, or attempted to stall it would have had massive repercussions… what did happen,, once the catchup in neglected infrastructure had been largely gotten in hand was a shift toward focusing on public transport…

      i have to admit that i find it disappointing to stil be hearing the old” labour did it too” mantra… it is misleading and innaccurate… granted, the labour govt didn’t move fast enough to suit most,, but, as with every time they are installed to office,, they have first to deal with the consequences of national govt neglect of aucklands basic needs…and their short sighted encouragement of the kind of property development that has led to a whole generation of substandard houses being built… botany was allready a fact by 1999.

      so apart from reinstituting large scale state house replacement(to make up for the tens of thousands of state houses sold in the 90’s) and buying back the rail network(signalling a shift in priority toward rational public transport and freight movement),,,, what did they institute that could be characterised as “the same as national”?

      • Afewknowthetruth 8.2.1

        True. Labour just carried on doing what National had been doing, just as National carried on doing what Labour had been doing before that, and Labour kept doing what Natoinal had been doing before that.

        I suppose you are asking me to choose between the lesser of two evils.

        We cannot possibly make any genuine progress as long as any of those braindead dinosaurs are in charge, so the sooner it goes off the cliff the better:.

        One good thing about National is that they will drive the NZ economy and NZ society off the cliff a bit faster than Labour would. Therefore vote National?

    • Draco T Bastard 8.3

      When the industrialised agricultural system goes under we should not be surprised to see mass starvation in central Auckland.

      That’s something that I’ve been dwelling upon. I seriously cannot see anyway to feed Auckland once the energy crunch comes – it’s just too big.

      • Bored 8.3.1

        Cuba managed it on far less resources when the sugar ruble dissappeared. Its down to feeding yourself from the soil and suplementing it with economic participation.

        • Draco T Bastard

          I’m thinking more along the lines of distribution within Auckland. We can feed them if we can get food to them.

        • George.com

          I’m off for an extended trip there late in the year, including an on the gound look at current urban food production. Anyone interested can contact me

          w a i k a t o t r a i n s at g m a i l dot c o m

        • George.com

          I’m doing an extended trip there late this year including an on the ground look at how their current urban agriculture effort is progressing. Anyone interested can email me on

          w a i k a t o t r a i n s at g m a i l dot com

      • Jum 8.3.2

        I can Draco T Bastard

        If people were actually starving in NZ and that’s a big ‘if’ the government will take over all land by Public Works Act regulations to grow food. You forget that a government such as the one we have now is capable of anything.

        • Colonial Viper

          The only reason that anyone in New Zealand might be going hungry today is because they have made bad life choices.

    • Marty G 8.4

      “when the industrialised agricultural system goes under we should not be surprised to see mass starvation in central Auckland.”

      it’s this kind of patently stupid statement that makes things so difficult for the rest of us trying to argue for the need to prepare for oil crunches.

      NZ produces enough food to feed 35 million people. even if the oil energy available to the food system in nz were to halve we would still have plenty of food and energy to transport it – we produced more than enough food to feed 4 million over a hundred years ago with no oil input.

      on top of dedicated agriculture, we have a huge potential to increase food production with nearly no oil input via urban gardening

      moreover, people are not going to sit in central auckland and starve.

      • Afewknowthetruth 8.4.1

        You are completely ignoring the huge inputs made into agriculture in the form of phosphate, potash, urea etc. which are totally dependent on oil and will disappear soon after cheap oil and gas do. Without those soil fertility will decline rapidly and a lot of the land will return to the semi-barren state it was in before artificial fertilisers brought it to life in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. Food production will plummet one season after urea application ceases. There is also the matter of water used for irrigation, most of which will not be available for much longer because it takes a huge amount of energy to pump water.

        Pre-industrial NZ supported a population of less than 1 million at a time when the foreshore was a buntiful food basket and large fish were plentiful. Neither now applies.

        ‘it’s this kind of patently stupid statement’ Top marks for arrogance based on ignorance. I’m afraid it is you who is making patently stupid comments.

        • Bored

          AFKTT/ Marty you might notice below somewhere I said a few straight words to Floyd, theres nothing I dislike more than a leftist acting like a RWNJ troll. For what its worth I think you both have valid points, not a lot of ignorance evident, just differences of opinion. I dont foresee Otarans starving because of oil depletion, they might however if those who have the food are allowed to distribute it to only those with the cash.

        • Marty G

          “You are completely ignoring the huge inputs made into agriculture in the form of phosphate, potash, urea etc”

          no i’m not. we can easily feed ourselves without petroleum products. countries did it with greater populations on smaller and less fertile lands for centuries. we produced enough food to feed our present population back before we used petroleum products.

          Moreover, peak oil is not no oil. you talk about artificial fertilisers in the 1920s-40s as if we will have none of these at all. In fact, it would take about a 90% decline in production before our oil supply was down to those levels. the worst depletion scenarios don’t leave us without oil. We have something like 80 years current needs in known reserves in this country. In a crash, the priority would become getting that oil and using it for our food production.

          The cheap oil age is over. What comes next is a major transition from life as we know it and it will be very bad, if an unmanaged, in many places. But it is not starvation in New Zealand. For that to happen food production would need to decline by 90% even as we allocate more and more of our remaining productive capacity into food production, and despite the fact that we will have oil, just not as much as now.

          • George.com

            An examination of the Cuban experience may help explain things a little. They experienced a massive economic shock within a space of months. They lost access to 1/2 of their oil but also trading partners, machinery and consumer items. It was all over within a year or 2. That forced them to take drastic action.

            It’s doubtful that the global economy will fall into such a slump in such a short period of time. The slide will be, I think, a lot shallower. I am not saying it will be smooth, but probably slower. That’ll give some time to reconfigure things without the massive dislocation Cuba experienced. On the other hand I don’t mean that the Bill English prescription of do nowt and ‘let the market adjust’ is any salvation. More likely stupidity actually.

            The lesson from Cuba is not the events leading to the reshaping of their food production and food distribution, but how they reshaped it. What options they chose. The country is not a paragon of self sustainability. As an example, whilst a large % of fresh fruit and vegetables is growing within urban limits, maybe 50-60% in the case of Havana, the country still imports large quantities of its food. It also has issues of supply and demand and distribution.

            Also, Cuba is still reliant on oil for many things. It consumes around, I think, 160,000 bpd. Around 80,000 bpd are extracted locally and around 110,000 bpd supplied by Venezuela, with the surplus exported. Here is a Cubans take on Peak Oil

  9. Colonial Viper 9

    These National plans bode badly for what is to come in Christchurch.

    Basically this stuff is more of what they planned to do anyways.

  10. The Baron 10

    Bunji, would you post a link to the Govt’s 8 pages please, so we can have a go at making up our own mind?

    • bbfloyd 10.1

      baron…. read the whole post…. the plans aren’t being made public forELEVEN days… he is responding to statements by the govt that pre-empt that release… clear??

      • The Baron 10.1.1

        Whoops. Wanna try that again Floyd? Just read them all on the DIA website, and you have a link below.
        Do try keep up.

    • The Baron 10.3

      Ah, I suspect I know why you didn’t post a link to the papers. Having now read them, it appears that you’re simply making a whole pile of shit up.
      I don’t have time to Fisk you fully now, but some factors that leapt out at me were:
      – that Auckland receives 31% of investment from govt, compared to 33% contribution. Is that far less?
      – priorites for building a greater stock of housing are predominantly through use of existing urban areas – not much planned for new land releases at all. It also lists community opposition to land use intensification as one of the primary problems here.
      – almost every public transport idea I have heard in the last 5 years is directly referenced and costed, and referred to in an integrated manner. Great ideas like extending the busway to orewa are included – as is a cross-harbor rail link. It also includes a table that i think said public transport takes over 40% of current funding for handling approximately 5% of capacity.

      So I’m at a bit of a loss. Where are these nightmares again? It’s easy to interview your keyboard i guess – far harder to actually read and understand what this publicly available info (that you don’t link to) is actually saying.

      • handle 10.3.1

        The discrepancy in transport funding is far greater than a couple of percent. It has been going on for decades so is not a party political problem.

      • Colonial Viper 10.3.2

        It’s easy to interview your keyboard i guess – far harder to actually read and understand what this publicly available info (that you don’t link to)

        Right, because you do such a good job of linking to the publicly available info yourself lol

        • The Baron

          You’ll see from the timestamps that handle had already done so in response to my original post. No point in being unnecessarily repetitive.

      • Draco T Bastard 10.3.3

        It also includes a table that i think said public transport takes over 40% of current funding for handling approximately 5% of capacity.

        Got link?

          • Draco T Bastard

            5% as at 2k6. What’s the use now? This is a valid question because the use of PT has been increasing.


            Public transport use grew by 4.4% over all modes in the year to June 2008, with rail passenger numbers up 18.4%.

            Seems that people actually want to use PT – perhaps the problem is that there isn’t enough to cater to everyone who wants to use it?

            • The Baron

              Maybe you’re prepared to make that investment based on wikipedia and faith, but I’d like a bit more rigour. Lets say it rose by 4.4% every year – by my maths, that means that still less than 10% of capacity would be handled by PT. Though to be fair, you’d also have to take some account of any investment increases during those five years as well.
              Either way, it appears that PT is sucking a massive amount of cash for only a marginal increase in handled capacity. In other words, I’m not sure this was the knockout blow you were looking for.
              Anyway, care to engage on any of the other points? I’d rather have a response from Bunji of course has to how he justifies this tripe – but sadly he doesn’t appear to be the talkative type, so I’ll stick to you for now.

              • Bunji

                Sorry, have a life. Been out with family all day.

                I’d largely refer you to transport blog who are much more expert in these matters than I.

                I’m just dipping in, but a number of points.
                – PT has been rising by more than 4.4% many years in Auckland.
                – PT 40% of investment? Maybe in 2008/9 when there was a big rail improvement, but not most of the time. In fact, from this transport blog graph you can see the chronic lack of investment in all Auckland’s transport infrastructure over the years. Yes they may have reached 31% of investment in the last couple of years and my “getting far less in govt spending” may recently be out of date – but you need to spend at those levels for some time to make up the shortfall.
                – Yes current PT use is low, but it’s coming off a ridiculously low base because of the state Auckland’s PT infrastructure was in. From the 60s Auckland had looked to LA as the transport infrastructure it wanted to follow, and they succeeded in getting PT use below LAs. Buses too infrequent to rely on and virtually non-existent trains – no-one is going to use them. Recently, yes there’s been a (comparative) lot of investment – and it’s been rewarded by up to 20% increase pa in train use, as well as significantly improved bus use. You have to build it before it can be used.

                The governments argument is that people will use cars because in the past people used cars – even if that was mainly because that was pretty much the only available option. The Council sees that as unsustainable – they’ve seen oil prices, LA smog, and every increasing car journey times. They also see that when you build PT, it gets used.

                Transport Blog’s conclusion is worth quoting in full:

                Where’s the analysis of how the world is changing in the next 20-30 years? Where’s the analysis of how higher fuel prices may change transport patterns? Where’s the analysis of whether concentrated or dispersed employment makes for a more efficient transport system? It seems, overall, to be a document based on 1960s transport thinking – predict and provide. Assume that car traffic is always going to grow (even though it’s currently not growing) and then work out where all the new and widened roads are going to go. I’m not aware of any other comparable city to Auckland undertaking this approach to transport policy internationally. Most are investing heavily in expanding their public transport networks, most are working out ways to reduce the dependency of their transport system on oil – which is becoming increasingly expensive. Most want to shape their cities in ways that are friendlier to people, not necessarily cars.

  11. handle 11

    How overturning the Auckland region’s long-established Metropolitan Urban Limit will affect land pricing:

    Like Christchurch the developers sitting on large parcels of land just outside the line stand to make a killing. Ratepayers and taxpayers will be expected to pick up the tab for all the extra roads, sewers, social isolation, etc. Corporate welfare for the win.

    • handle 11.1

      Business refuses to change the way it operates too. Lazy developers of both business and residential buildings demand sprawl to allow their cheap easy low-rise pattern to continue. Then they bitch and moan when rules designed to intensify development impede their old-fashioned approach.


    • Well in the Waikato/Waipa the developers and speculators have their beady, greedy, little eyes on the prime farm land just outside the main towns like Cambridge and Te Awamutu. The local council keeps snatching parcels of land sold by local farmers . Its has the beginnings of urban sprawl already. The Green Belts is in danger and the Right-Wing organization the Chamberof Commerce has more say in council matters that the elected council. In a world that has a food shortage its unbelievable
      that good food growing land should be built on. The future is bleak and the speculaters will just pack up and go and make their money by ruining some other place.

  12. Bored 12

    Bunji, you say Auckland has always been underfunded, generating at least 1/3 of the tax revenue and getting far less in government spending.

    Far be it from me to be critical but I dont think that the statement is the slightest bit useful. Auckland may generate a third of the tax for any number of reasons such as it being where the head offices of companies are etc etc. A more pertinent question on Aucklands wealth and tax generation might be “how much taxable wealth is generated inside Auckland as opposed to wealth garnered from the whole NZ economy”?

    I suspect that Auckland to be wealthy needs the tax system to redistribute money into infrastructural areas around the country so that the good business and corporate folk of the Queen City can rake in the rural profits from financing farming etc. I also suspect that if the roads to Turoa were a shambles in ski season then the upmarket 4WD driving denizens of Parnell would be highly agitated.

    • bbfloyd 12.1

      bored… you need to actually say something relevant if you are to disagree… displaying an ignorance based on bigotry is’nt going to do more than explain why you aren’t worth talking to.. and give me an excuse to lampoon you… it amuses me momentarily,, but useless in the scheme of things..

    • KJT 12.2

      Most of New Zealands manufacturing and value added exporting is centred on Auckland and Christchurch.
      The largest share of transport funding goes to Wellington, which mostly produces hot air.

      However continuing to keep most of the jobs in these cities, with the congestion, housing and transport problems this entails, may not be the best solution.

  13. Bored 13

    BBFloyd…I see you are keeping yourself amused momentarily, which seems to be about as far as your attention span and ability to reason might allow. I did a quck scan of your recent comments, it seems you have called a few people recently fuckwits, wankers, ignorant bigots, childish little boys etc, even advised them to piss off. Such intellectual capacity sure is something to aspire to. Be my guest, lampoon yourself.

  14. Clare, Beijing, China 14

    Maybe people’s priorities about living in suburban houses will change because of sitting in traffic jams. In China it seems to me they are more focused on family and community. Also, once you get more cars you have to start cutting back on cars. You can only use your car in Beijing certain days according to your number plate.

    • Colonial Viper 14.1

      Maybe people’s priorities about living in suburban houses will change because of sitting in traffic jams.

      One constraint that I see is that people need to go where the jobs are so they can make a living. In NZ that is almost inevitably Hamilton and north of Hamilton.

      In China – rural peasants usually cannot get approval to move into urban areas.

  15. gnomic 15

    Nothing new here then. Since the second world war Dorkland has essentially been run in the interest of car salesmen. The citizenry have played the part of Mr Toad. Alas, even I a dedicated cyclist, sometimes succumb to the joys of effortless speed along with aircon and a good sound system.

    The National Party is the party that’s always wrong of course, and Joyce is not a genius.

    It’s pretty simple; the private motor vehicle for all and sundry is over, if not tomorrow, within a couple of decades. Time to get with the new programme, or if you can’t, get out of the way.

    Don’t even get me started on urban sprawl. Greed and stupidity, stupidity and greed. Homo insapiens.

    ‘He was about half-way through his meal when an only too familiar sound, approaching down the street, made him start and fall a- trembling all over. The poop-poop! drew nearer and nearer, the car could be heard to turn into the inn-yard and come to a stop, and Toad had to hold on to the leg of the table to conceal his over-mastering emotion. Presently the party entered the coffee-room, hungry, talkative, and gay, voluble on their experiences of the morning and the merits of the chariot that had brought them along so well. Toad listened eagerly, all ears, for a time; at last he could stand it no longer. He slipped out of the room quietly, paid his bill at the bar, and as soon as he got outside sauntered round quietly to the inn-yard. `There cannot be any harm,’ he said to himself, `in my only just looking at it!’

    The car stood in the middle of the yard, quite unattended, the stable-helps and other hangers-on being all at their dinner. Toad walked slowly round it, inspecting, criticising, musing deeply.

    `I wonder,’ he said to himself presently, `I wonder if this sort of car starts easily?’

    Next moment, hardly knowing how it came about, he found he had hold of the handle and was turning it. As the familiar sound broke forth, the old passion seized on Toad and completely mastered him, body and soul. As if in a dream he found himself, somehow, seated in the driver’s seat; as if in a dream, he pulled the lever and swung the car round the yard and out through the archway; and, as if in a dream, all sense of right and wrong, all fear of obvious consequences, seemed temporarily suspended. He increased his pace, and as the car devoured the street and leapt forth on the high road through the open country, he was only conscious that he was Toad once more, Toad at his best and highest, Toad the terror, the traffic-queller, the Lord of the lone trail, before whom all must give way or be smitten into nothingness and everlasting night. He chanted as he flew, and the car responded with sonorous drone; the miles were eaten up under him as he sped he knew not whither, fulfilling his instincts, living his hour, reckless of what might come to him.’

  16. Carol 16

    Bought a bicycle in the autumn sales yesterday. I haven’t ridden one since I lived in London, and won’t be riding it on West Auckland roads in the near future, but I will hopefully be one who supports cycleways for the future. I’ll be looking to take my bike in my car to the nearest cycleways, at least until I can feel confident about riding again.

  17. RobertM 17

    The National strategy today, is the brat pack strategy. Win and hold the vote of the ordinary people in the provincial cities. They assume their vote in the cities is struggling mum and dad with a car or two and children to ferry. Therefore the traditional Nact hostility to public transport is strengthened. In part too, they just hold to the traditional kiwi views of the 1950s and l960s that the age of rail and public transport is over. Nat thinking and that of their brat pack genuines hasn’t got past the 60s idea of the quarter acre section, nuclear family, church and one wife one man, for life.
    I’m all for public transport and the Owen McShanes of the world need to shut down with the Micheal Laws . We do need the concentration of urban growth to centred in Wellington and Auckland within about 6 kilometres of the city centre and fed my modern light rail. It seems to me the very disruption that Light rail would cause in Queen St is part of the point. The modern trams would have priority at lights and traffic attempting to cross tramways in the central city and at major intersections would deliberatly face a red light for longer period- to make car commutting much more difficult. Planning for public transport in NZ, notably in Christchurch has always assumed that the bus is an optional and alternative mode for people and they ahve access to cars. But increasingly in future, by both choice and need,people won’t.
    The Lee and Auckland council strategy can be legitimately criticised on the grounds that its l930s thinking and that the 3ft 6inch line don’t really go were the action is or where tourists or leisure people want to go . The current and proposed rail system largely serves unexciting dormitory suburbs or the fringe of more interesting areas and its development is driven by the idea of expansion of public housing and apartments of doubtful social and community interest and need. In the evening we have a one hour interval bus service along Tamaki one of the most naturally glorious and cafed and bared zones in Auckland. Yet an expensive rail link to the airport is a higher priority for mayor than light rail or more frequent buses or a sensible cheap rail link to the air terminal off the NIMT>

  18. kevyn 18

    One where it is already not feasible for those on the peripheries to do their shopping in the centre. Christchurch is complaining it now takes 2 hours to get across their city; Aucklanders know they already can only do it that quickly outside rush-hour.

    Seriously? You mean it’s not feasible for people on the periphery of Waitakere City to shop in the centre of Waitakere City. The tenet of your argument is travel distance so the appropriate comparison is with the residents of Matamata and Otorohanga not being able to do their shopping in the centre of the Region. If you are trying to argue that Auckland is more congested than Christchurch rather than simply more sprawling then you need to use an appropriate congestion indicator but you’ll need to FOI NZTA to get it since the travel time survey is no longer freely available on their website.

    Auckland has always been underfunded, generating at least 1/3 of the tax revenue and getting far less in government spending. That’s a very Roger Douglas argument. It’s time somebody contributed a leftwing response – “from each according to their means – to each according to their need.” Auckland, Waikato and Canterbury have always been wealthier than Northland, Gisborne and West Coast, so it has always made egalitarian sense for the first 3 to subsidise the roadworks of the last three. So, nothing unique to Auckland there either. The only unique thing is that over the last decade Auckland was added to the list of poor regions being helped by Waikato and Canterbury.

    [I can email the Transfund spreadsheets (with NZTA updates to fy 2009) to anybody who wants them as NZTA will charge an arm and a leg to supply them under FOI]

    • lprent 18.1

      The only unique thing is that over the last decade Auckland was added to the list of poor regions being helped by Waikato and Canterbury.

      The critical thing about this has been when it was underfunded and at what level it was underfunded (and that you appear to ignore). That consisted most of the 1970’s, all of the 1980’s, and all of the 1990’s (ie for about 25 years) and the level of funding during that period was at about a quarter of what was required. This was across the whole of roading and public transport sectors. During that period the number of people in Auckland consistently rose, as did the level of commerce being done in Auckland, and the level of goods flowing through Auckland (which is on a frigging isthmus and therefore acts as a choke point between Northland and Waikato.

      The reason why it was put on the urgent list in the 00’s was because it’d been consistently starved of transport funds for a bloody long time. Because of the lead times most of the projects only started being usable in the mid 00’s

      The first projects that were kicked off in the 00’s were those to get the bloody trucks moving and stop clogging the isthmus. In particular the inter-motorway crossovers and motorway to port links that had been started in the 1970’s and then stopped because Auckland didn’t vote for Muldoon. I have looked at those stubs of motorways around K Rd and towards the domain for my entire adult life wondering when they were going to get done. I’ve also been driving that stupid route from the northern and southern motorways that required me to potter around central Auckland going from one to the other that fed trucks into the most congested area of Auckland

      Similarly the motorway extensions allowed the trucks to stop jamming the motorways on the outskirts of Auckland. The motorways to the airport stopped trucks clogging the routes there.

      Double tracking and the bus lanes and bus ways means that we were have been able to move some commuter traffic off the roads, which has finally managed to relieve some commuter congestion. You can actually see the fall off in traffic on places like the bridge now.

      I’ve driven in every other city in NZ between the 1970’s and now. No other city ever had the the congestion that Auckland had, but they simply haven’t gotten as bad as Auckland has because it was completely underfunded for so many decades.

      Basically you’re ignorant about the transport issues and history in Auckland. Read back a few decades more and consider what has been done for Auckland over the last decade is literally the minimum required to catch up on decades of neglect of required transport.

      I have no interest in promoting a commuter car heaven here. But we need the rail commuter system finished so it won’t jam at Britomart, which it is starting to do now. Ideally there should be a rail out to the airport. At some stage SH20 needs to be finished to pull trucking load off the bridge. And finally the bridge needs a replacement with a tunnel (so we can do rail to the North Shore) started in the next decade because it’ll take a half decade to build and the bridge looks like it will only last another 10-20 years

    • lprent 18.2

      You mean it’s not feasible for people on the periphery of Waitakere City to shop in the centre of Waitakere City.

      I don’t know about Waitakere city ‘centre’. Where is its centre? New Lynn, Henderson, somewhere in Te Atatu, possibly out at Massey?, I have no idea. But ‘Waitakere city’ doesn’t have a centre and I suspect it alone is as large as Christchurch. Same thing with North Shore. But the motorways pretty much bypass all of those centres apart from Massey and Albany. It takes a bloody long time to get anywhere off the suburban edges to shopping centres.

      Manakau does have a centre and it is on the motorway. Of course it is still a pain in the arse from Howick or the peripharial suburbs in Manakau.

      I live in the Ponsonby end of Grey Lynn. It takes close to 30 minutes to get into the city and park (half getting there and half parking) – the link bus is faster. Which is why I either go to St Lukes (15 minutes), or Takapuna (18 minutes). Of course those times are all outside of rush hour. Takapuna may be 3 times the distance but I can get directly on to the motorway. If it is rush hour you can double or even triple all of those times.

      The supermarkets are easier because there is one in Grey Lynn and one in College Hill on my way home by bus. But I live in one of the absolutely best areas to access all of these things in Auckland.

      If I want to go to the Owera, the Waitakeres, or Manakau city from home then it takes at least 45 minutes (and more usually an hour) out of rush hour. In rush hour it can take anywhere up to about a couple of hours depending on the number of accidents blocking traffic. And I live where I live because I can do that – contracts and jobs have had me working everywhere from Manakau city to Albany to New Lynn over the last couple of decades. I did manage to work from home for decade and now I literally work in walking distance (if I do a 25 minute walk up and down hills which is contraindicated the recent heart attack) or 35 minutes walking and on a bus. But that is more the luck of the companies than anything else. Usually I have to plan on a hours commute each way

      • kevyn 18.2.1

        Bingo – “the motorways” – now your onto it. The construction and widening of those motorways have allowed four Christchurch sized cities to function as one city-region, the same as Los Angeles. Motorways have two psychological effects. One is the dramatic off-peak decongestion that occurs by providing these high-speed links then sets a new benchmark for measuring congestion, ie normal no longer means 50kmh and lots of traffic lights or roundabouts. The other is that longer trip lengths possible within the same travel time become the norm or, to put it simply, local gets a whole new meaning. So where living in Grey Lynn and shopping in St Lukes was not normal in the 1920s or even in the 1950s it is normal today in every town or city big enough to have multiple shopping centres but it is only in motorway or railway cities that Botany Downs is considered local for someone in Titirangi or Birkenhead. This is essentially what it is at the heart of the induced traffic problem.

        Administratively Henderson was the centre of Waitakere city and it is the hub of the transport network for the old Waitemata County/Henderson Borough area which makes it the shopping ‘centre’ for that portion of the city. it is already not feasible for those on the peripheries to do their shopping in the centre. is a problem common to every city that has developed in the motorcar age and has grown much beyond 100,000 population. Auckland and Wellington’s motorway mindset has grown that to a regional idea much faster than in Christchurch although reading GCUDS makes it clear that Christchurch thinking is in the same ball park due to the greenbelt having the same effect as motorway building.

  19. Kevyn Miller 19

    lprent – you can’t possibly be serious about that Muldoon comment as the root cause of Auckland’s traffic problems.

    • lprent 19.1

      Not all, but go and have a look at the transport investment for the auckland region against population from about 1960 onwards and what it was spent on.

      After the late 70’s virtually all of the motorways and major roading stopped. Literally with unfinished ends of off ramps and temporary routing expidients in place. Instead there was a program of increased government subsidies to tarseal metal roads in the region. Between 1980 and 1985 almost all of the back country metal roads in the electorates that voted National got tar sealed – inluding up around my parents non-productive 88 acres. I would find you the comments that Muldoon made at the time, but I’d have to dig them out of hardcopy.

      The late 80’s and early 90’s had little transport investment overall country wide, and a falling percentage against population and vehicles in the Auckland region. Most of that was extending the motorways with just a few city updates, like better roads to the airport from the south – good for people from Waikato.

      The expidients and off ramps were finally started to be completed in the early 00’s. So were the transport systems that actually do something for transport in the city. But in my opinion systematic under investment in the Auckland transport systems started with Muldoon. His reasons were made quite clear at the time.

      Because Aucklands population and vehicles increase far faster than anywhere else, each delayed decade ensured that the price of the transport projects increased massively as well. Large parts of the cost of most roading projects now is simply trying to not cause too much disruption to existing traffic. So the projects are merely keeping pace with congestion despite their massive bills.

      Because these projects were stopped in the late 70s and early 80s by Muldoon, they never got done because they steadily got hellishly more and more expensive. The easy projects were done instead. The ones in the country. This last decade the projects done in Auckland city are the projects that were due to be done in the 1980s

      The trip to my parents farm from town dropped steadily from 90 minutes in 1975 to about 50 minutes in 2000 when they sold up. Meanwhile the time to go from to the airport (as an example) during the working day went from about 15-20 minutes in the late 70s to my having to allow 60 minutes by 2000 (and still having to hustle sometimes).

  20. Kevyn Miller 20

    I don’t have to go far to have a look at the transport investment for the auckland region against population from about 1960 onwards and what it was spent on as I have all of that information from the roads board’s annual reports in a spreadsheet.

    What you say about Muldoon is consistent with my memories of the time. However the roads board’s records are not consistent with the timeframes you are giving.

    The huge increase in local road seal extensions in the Auckland region occured in 1983/84 and lasted till 1989, which was the very period when Auckland’s motorway traffic counts surged dramaticly whilst Wellington and Christchurch state highway traffic counts were stagnant.

    The big decrease in real capital expenditure for the whole country occurred throughout the entire Muldoon period with the initial impact being most noticable in rural regions such as Manawatu and Marlborough and the really big impact for Auckland and Wellington occuring in Muldoon’s second term. All four of the main centres at that time ended up with motorways that stopped in mid-air or that were scaled back to two lane undivided expressways. The extension of the Northwestern motorway from Pt Chev to Grafton Gully was the only significant addition to the nation’s motorway stock in the 1980s and even that was severely compromised through spaghetti junction.

    The fact that there was less than $120m available for highway construction each year during the 1980s means that improvements to rural state highways was largely limited to replacing the last remaining one-lane wooden bridges and adding sealed shoulders so that most of the curve and grade easing projects proposed for the 70s and 80s were still outstanding at the end of the 90s and many are still outstanding today, including some curves that have been on the blackspot list for all that time.

    The figures for capital expenditure per vkt since the mid 1960s are the most revealing:
    New Zealand-3.0-2.0-0.5-0.5-1.0

    Fortunately most of the motorways stalled in Hawkes Bay, Canterbury and Otago had actually secured the required land before the Muldoon miracle so their completion costs are less affected by land price inflation since the 1970s. Fortunately that was also the case for most of the southwestern mway.

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