There is one thing that you can say about the National party and their media sycophants is that they are routinely wrong about Auckland city. Auckland really can’t go wrong by simply implementing whatever plan they are currently railing against. For instance this classically wrong cartoon accurately expresses the opinions being put forward in NZ Herald pieces in the early to late 2000’s.
Back in 2007 when the Northern busway was being put in, they were portraying it as being a white elephant. But the traffic figures at the Transport Blog make it perfectly clear that was simple stupidity.
What actually happened? Although the busway was constructed late, it worked like crazy. By 2012, actual patronage on the busway was almost double what the patronage forecasts indicated:
Needless to say, the pundits in the article have been proven to be completely and utterly wrong. Most were advocating for more roads based on projection of increased car traffic. But the trend both here and internationally isn’t that way. It is towards public transport…
The most recent Census data shows that road traffic is growing at an anemic pace while all other modes are booming:
So despite large sections of very expensive motorway and other roading changes in Auckland being opened up since 2006, it has resulted in a negligible increase in that being people’s preferred mode of commuting transport. The relatively few and much cheaper to implement alternatives in public transport are filled to near capacity a few years after they become available.
But it goes wider than that. The changes that were in the Auckland public transport plan after the National government got tossed from office in 1999 have all been late invariably due to a lack of early funding.
The key projects that have been undertaken, such as the Northern Busway and rail electrification, have often been finished far behind schedule. Rail electrification was supposed to be done in 2011, for crying out loud!
The successful Northern Busway hasn’t been followed with investment in other essential rapid transit projects, such as the (planned but not yet built) AMETI busway to the eastern suburbs and the Northwestern Busway on SH16.
Successive governments have spent billions on Auckland’s motorway network even after it became apparent that demand was flatlining.
From another Transport blog post, it is clear that this shows no signs of diminishing in 2014. The rapid transit network including the Northern busway and the rail network is showing increases in trips of between 13% and 25% across all modes, with an average patronage increase of 16.7%. The Northern busway alone without any significiant increases in services has increased by 12.4%. Even the feeder buses in the throes of changes on various routes show a 6.4% increase.
The overall increase YTD is 7.7% which is a phenomenal shift in traffic towards public transport.
But hey, this kind of thing doesn’t appear to impact on the short-term thinking of our short-sighted and outright stupid National government. Here is a press release by Simon Bridges, the idiot transport minister from Tauranga, on Auckland’s transport needs.
Auckland Council are welcome to have a debate about future transport infrastructure investment plans, but the Government remains sceptical about the options being presented, Transport Minister Simon Bridges said today in response to the release of ‘Funding Auckland’s Transport Future’, a report commissioned by the Auckland Council.
“This is why the National-led Government is spending more than ever before to help build the city’s transport network; around a billion dollars a year. These include very large projects like the Waterview Connection, the widening of the North Western Motorway, the electrification of commuter rail, and the acceleration of motorway projects on the Northern and Southern Corridors.
From memory, weren’t almost all of those public transport projects started and funded by the last Labour government? For that matter so were most of the roading white elephants.
“Aucklanders would need a very clear sense of what results they are getting and whether the new projects would deliver tangible value for money for commuters. They also need to have the discussion about how much more Aucklanders are prepared to pay for their transport.”
This is from the government who in 2009 arbitrarily removed the painfully negotiated regional fuel tax that was meant to allow Aucklanders to pay for their local transport projects without having to go cap in hand to the dithering idiots in Wellington.
Aucklanders are overwhelmingly voting with their AT Hop cards. They don’t get on the motorways to try to find a park close to work. Where it is available they are getting on bus or train because you can read on the commute. The glare of the LCD screens in endemic on all public transport in Auckland these days as people catch up on news feeds, email and books on the way to work.
Helping to extend motorways further is pretty pointless. The congestion figures on the motorways and the bridges is reducing because people use the public transport whenever it is available. Even the current public transport projects in the pipeline are going to continue to reduce road congestion.
And after all, who really wants to have a hour long commute each way to live in some greenfield site at the back or beyond in the manner that appears to be National’s prefered development plan. The flood of people and the massive rises in house prices are in the areas that people want to live. That isn’t at the ends of the motorways. It is in a ever growing circle within 5-15 kms in the now “inner” suburbs of Auckland like Mt Roskill or Glenfield. The places characterised by relatively short commutes on public transport to transport hubs and work.
Building on greenfield sites out past Henderson-Massey or in South Auckland at 20-40km range is completely useless when the costs of putting the roads, public transport systems, and much of the long run infrastructure falls so heavily on taxpayers and ratepayers.
In effect it amounts to a subsidy that the National government is forcing on taxpayers and ratepayers to pay for greenfield developers and their affluent (because who else can pay for the long car commutes?) customers and a boon for their donating buddies in the car and roading industries.