Follow us on Twitter

Peak traffic?

Another article has highlighted that Auckland’s traffic volumes aren’t growing anymore – rather stagnating and even falling slightly:

More Aucklanders are leaving their cars at home for the commute to work as high petrol prices bite.

New figures show almost 900 fewer cars a week travelled over the Auckland Harbour Bridge this year compared with last year.

The drop corresponds with a fall in petrol sales in the city and an increase in public transport patronage.

NZTA figures show 1,684,601 cars crossed the bridge in the year to December, 44,545 fewer than last year.

Figures provided by New Zealand-owned petrol retailer Gull from local authority levies on petrol sales in the Auckland region showed 19 million fewer litres of petrol were sold in the year to June – a two per cent drop on the previous year.

The change in volumes over the harbour bridge is very slight (and the above article is wrong with its yearly total as around 160,000 vehicles cross the bridge a day, meaning you’d get to 1.6 million in just over a week, not in a whole year) but the change in petrol sales is perhaps most interesting, highlighting a reduction in driving throughout Auckland, not just a shifting of traffic away from some roads and towards others.

This isn’t just an Auckland phenomenon either, with a more enlightened than average traffic engineer in the USA pointing out that traffic projections may need to be fundamentally changed from how things have been done in the past. He notes:

I’m working on a traffic study where the reviewing agencies asked us to prepare 20 year forecasts in addition to looking at the build out year. Typically, we look at data trendlines on nearby roads and throughout the county to determine a “typical growth rate” for traffic in the area. This has historically been an annual growth rate of 1 to 3%. This often leads us to factoring traffic up 50% or more over 20 years and then layering on the traffic from the proposed development. Factoring existing traffic volumes up approximately 50% is also how traffic forecasts are often prepared for road design projects.

I’m strongly reconsidering this approach. Consider Figure 1 below from the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Highway Policy Information website. From 1986 to 2006, traffic on all of our highways did fit the model of growing by about 2 to 3% a year (or 50% to 60% over the 20 years). But since 2005, we’ve had a significant drop in traffic and the trendline sure makes it look like traffic growth has plateaued.

Here’s that figure one:Further analysis from the famous “Texas Transport Institute Urban Mobility Report” highlights that congestion has remained roughly the same over the past decade, once again reversing a long-term trend of ever-worsening congestion: Mike Spack, who wrote the blog post, makes the obvious – but incredibly important – conclusion from the above data (and a pile of other data he quotes in his post:

Based on national and local trends, my conclusion is that it is very reasonable to think traffic growth has plateaued. The punchline for traffic impact studies: the “no-build” traffic forecasts should be the same as the existing traffic volumes. We don’t need to do opening day forecasts and 20 year forecasts because they can reasonably be expected to be similar.

And given our huge budget shortfalls, this should also mean a policy of fixing the infrastructure we have. NOT expanding our transportation system to add capacity.

There are some excellent points made in the  comments too. This one in particular is very relevant to our debates here in Auckland:

As always, this can be tied back to money. As long as outside funding sources (e.g. state, federal) continue to reward agencies with inflated no-build volumes, there is little benefit to agencies for projecting more realistic no-build volumes.

In addition, many agencies rely on inflated no-build volumes to justify the “need” for a project as required by federal environmental documents.

I suspect that the cost-benefit ratios of most of our proposed roading projects would plummet if we shifted to a “no growth” assumption for traffic volumes. Most projects derive their ‘benefits’ from projecting how utterly terrible things will be 20-30 years down the track if the project in question isn’t built (the increased ‘no-build’ volumes), then highlighting how the project in question will ensure that scenario does not occur. If things aren’t going to get worse in the future, when it comes to congestion and car volumes, then the justification for so many projects just disappears.

49 comments to Peak traffic?

  • Dan Carter

    Unless some country is sitting on an undiscovered lake of oil bigger than any we’ve ever found before then petrol is only going to get more expensive. It won’t run out, because as the price prises demand reduces and supply increases as more difficult oilfields become profitable to extract.

    But the key point is that reducing demand. That’s people not commuting to work in single occupancy cars. The government needs to get ahead of the curve here and start planning for more efficient use of resources, not planning for the trends of 10 years ago.

  • And this is worldwide, or should I say OECD-wide, [ie not China] below figures from the UK. It is hard to see it as we are in the middle of it but this really is looking like as significant a change to our lives as the one that came out of the last great depression [the birth of the auto dependent suburbs]. As this decade unfolds it is looking more and more like every detail of our lives and our built environment will be transformed by global forces such as resource supply and economic change.

  • Matt L

    The thing that I notice is that these kinds of articles are reported every year but the media don’t seem to pick up on the trend and instead treat it like it is the first time that it has happened. If we started getting some regular reporting that numbers are flat/declining it would be interesting to see how the debate about the need for new roads would change.

    Also perhaps the traffic growth models need to be changed from being done by agency/council wanting to build the infrastructure to an independent authority. The current situation is a bit to much like giving the kids the control of the credit card in a toy store and expecting them to exercise restraint. Of course I’m sure there are probably similar arguments that could be said about PT investment but I would guess that if we did some proper analysis of the recent trends along with the projections for recent projects and did some more accurate modelling then we would see quite a different picture.

  • Stu Donovan

    What’s also interesting is converting those aggregate VKT statistics into “per capita” and “per GDP rates.”

    If you did then you would see an even more rapid/significant decline in per capita travel demands than what is shown here. I prefer per-capita rates because they frame the debate more in terms of underlying socio-economic trends, rather than simply “how do travel demands change over time.”

    The impact of oil prices is notable, but one other trend (often downplayed) is the ageing baby-boomer population. My parents (both late 50s) simply don’t drive as much as they did previously – and especially not at peak times. Now that they have more flexibility in their schedules, they are able to pick and choose when they drive to avoid peaks.

    So it may be that not only are we heading towards “less travel overall”, but also proportionally less “peak period travel” This has implications not only for road based transport investments but also PT – which tend to focus on issues of peak capacity, rather than building a high-quality all-day network.

    • Yes that’s a good point Stu, per capita would be even more pronounced, also clearly the improvement of alternative options to driving has an effect…. as Josh has shown on the Harbour Bridge where there are fewer vehicle yet more people crossing.

      Another generational factor is that the car is simply not the current teen and young adults’ fetishised object like they were when I was a teenager in the ‘burbs, that has predominantly moved to digital hardware. Online is cool and that is more consistent with PT….

  • Stu Donovan

    Similar plateau is evident in aggregate NZTA State highway volumes (see chart on page 3):
    http://nzta.govt.nz/resources/state-highway-traffic-growth/docs/shtg-201111.pdf

    Note also that a plateau in aggregate traffic demand may not be reflective of regional/local trends: It may be that a decline in one part of NZ (e.g. rural south) is offset by an increase somewhere else (e.g. urban north).

    Nonetheless, it does suggest that traffic engineers marriage to time-based traffic growth is set for a messy divorce at some point in the future.

  • Looking back through an old post I stumbled across this very rough bit math: http://transportblog.co.nz/2011/07/25/guest-post-can-auckland-do-a-perth/

    AK Rail patronage predications
    If we simply extend the rate of growth from the last year, 16%, and compound it we get the following: [year to June, millions]

    2011: 9.80
    2012: 11.37
    2013: 13.19
    2014: 15.30
    2015: 17.74
    2016: 20.58

    So far [one year] so good June 2011 is about bang on, can it be kept up? I think that really depends on how well integrated ticketing is rolled out. I’m confident for 2012 with new frequencies and Manukau City opening but beyond that?

    • I think that the new timetable in March next year will mean that rail patronage can continue to grow at roughly the rate it has done so in previous years (though the RWC will be a bit of a blip). In 2013/2014 we are likely to get capacity constraints on patronage growing much further – unless we get a bit innovative and start incentivising off-peak travel on the network a bit more.

      I agree that the real way we can boost rail patronage is through integrated ticketing and then adjusting our bus routes to feed into the rail network much more.

      • Peter in Sydney

        There are no new carriages coming on line in March so this is an exercise in re-arranging the existing capacity. This capacity is already strained during the peaks and this badly thought out move will remove any spare paths to/from Britomart that could have allowed the inevitable late running that occurs to be accomodated. It is also counterproductive to consider bus feeders until there is more train capacity available and that will not happen until the EMUs come online. Get the bus feeder ball rolling by all means but be very careful that it does not come to fruition before the EMUs.

        • Matt L

          It is more than just peak changes though, the rumours are that there will be a big off peak improvement as well, i.e. a 15 min frequency during the day on most of the lines (although not necessarily all the way to the end of the line) as well as improved weekend timetables

        • Ben

          Believe me, knowing the bureaucracy it would take until the roll out of the EMUs before the feeder buses amongst other efficiency upgrades were ready to this increase in patronage you were mentioning. Interesting piece on car travel in which I believe will decrease some more then level off although…
          @Patrick, you ask how long it will take the authorities to realise? I say watch 2013, Len Brown getting reelected would mean your question would be realised, a right wing mayor, being elected would or could mean the opposite.

          Josh I a question, our rail system lacks redundency capacity at the moment if a passenger train breaks down or the fact we have heavy freight rail movements. Does the CRL need to include a comprehensive package to increase redundancy capacity such as increased cross overs and/or a third rail line?

          As a side note
          Capacity on existing rolling stock, that is comfortable not crush loadings

          ADL-2: 207 (Crush loading is around 384)
          ADL-4 or ADK 4: 414
          SA4: 425
          SA5: 584
          SA6: 675 approx
          SX5: Unknown but at a guess the same as an SA6 with the SX6 able to hold the most and still have passengers complaining its too cold from the air con in summer.

          • Ben the Council and AT are all over the change in PT use but the government and the MoT [perhaps to please the gov] that seem to be in total denial… NZTA? I don’t know, perhaps they are more responsive to this, or some people there? But then again they report to the Minister too and remember Joyce spent a lot of energy concentrating even more power in transport matters to the minister [as well as allowing some good things, like letting Auckland spend 500 million + on new trains, and being there as Project Dart unrolled]. AC can only do so much with an uncooperative government as the gov spends all our transport taxes for us. And that means, with this lot, all on motorways.

            I do think I saw Joyce shift to a more nuanced view about Auckland transit than he had at the beginning of his term, and one that would cause some difficulties within even his own world view, and perhaps this could have even contributed to him being happy to move on…. perhaps?

            But anyway this observation just makes the arrival of Brownlee all the more exhausting, as any dents that may have been made in the standard NatPat oversimplified prejudices around transport [see Maggie Barry] in Joyce will have to be started all over again. And I fully expect that the new minister to be busy with Christchurch and will frame all Auckland issues in that light. Oh joy.

          • Matt L

            On the issue of redundancy, electrification and the EMU’s will provide quite a bit of it for passenger operations leaving freight as the main issue. The third main line that is proposed will hopefully remove most of that freight issue and parts of it are actually being built as part of electrification but the rest of it will be separate to the CRL but will probably be built over the same time frame.

      • I don’t see our capacity constraints being that severe, except for perhaps in March each year. My general observation has been that even the busiest trains could squeeze more people in if necessary. It’s not ideal, but hardly at crush levels I have seem in overseas cities like New York, London, Paris & Montreal.

  • How long will it take for this change, and its corollary; the consistent year on year growth in PT use, to get funding agencies to invest in the trend and not the habit? Especially at the national level. Ok it will take years for people and institutions so used to a long history of traffic growth to accept that this period is over, and not an aberration, but they have had much longer to experience the growth in PT use in Auckland, and still they fight it like it isn’t really there. It is clear that there is a mindset that PT patronage has to be there first before being reluctantly met if at all. This is of course distortionary; investment drives use.

  • More on the decline in driving in the US here: http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2011/12/dot-vehicle-miles-driven-declined-23-in.html

    down 2.3% year on year!

    And more on part of the reason [I've been saying this is a generational shift and not just a recessionary aberration] http://www.grist.org/transportation/2011-12-27-driving-has-lost-its-cool-for-young-americans?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=gristacct

    We are in the midst of a big discontinuity folks; get ready for change.

  • Ben

    Not the one I was looking for but close enough
    http://www.newgeography.com/content/002500-major-metropolitan-commuting-trends-2000-2010

    And the article mentions increases and decreased across the modes with even increased in PT folks :D

    • Heh. How did I guess that you would post a New Geography article?

      • Ben

        Heh Originally it was to hmmm “wind up” Patrick [/end sarc]

        Actually I was reading through the site when Patrick’s comment came up and so I thought to counter-balance it with that link.

        In the mean time I am reading though here http://www.city-journal.org/ as I continue to “self learn” on all thinks urban

        (that and having SC4 currently open in the background)

    • Malcolm M

      Wendell Cox’s article compares 2000 with 2010, which are 2 sides of the peak. He hasn’t done the analysis over more recent years. He highlights data that support his position, which favours bus over rail. There are agencies such as the Los Angeles MTA that report patronage statistics monthly (http://www.metro.net/news/pages/ridership-statistics/), so we’re not beholden to him for the full story. The MTA’s data show increases over the last 3 years on the rail network, but not the bus network. Wendell Cox’s conclusion for Los Angeles based on 2000 and 2010 data is inconsistent with the MTA’s data for 2009-2011. Because of Wendell Cox’s strongly held positions, I don’t put much faith in his conclusions unless supported by other data.

  • dan carter

    “As would be expected, the lowest solo automobile commute share was in New York at 51%.”

    Where the hell do they put all the cars?

    I work in london, far less dense than NY, our HQ holds about 4000 people and i don’t know any of them that drive a car in. Out of my team 2 cycle, 1 motorbike, 9 train+tube. I’m sure there’s a few spots in the basement for top executives but 50% driving in? I guess they are talking about the state rather than manhattan .

    • dan carter

      correction, one person drives to the outer suburbs, and then catches the DLR into town from there, so car+light rail.

      • Ben

        Like me, drive to Papakura (well will be from Jan 2012 after moving from Papatoetoe) park in the park and ride then catch the train into Britomart to start my shift either in the control room or Britomart Platform and vice versa home (Unless I have the first or last shift which I have to drive to the city anyway :P )

  • dan carter

    interesting sources
    “Kotkin believes in a “back to basics” approach which stresses nurturing the middle class and families with traditional suburban development. He states that the current trend of growth of suburbs will be the dominant pattern around the world.[1] As a result, he believes rail transit is not always ideal for modern cities and suburbs”

    “Wendell Cox is a Visiting Professor, Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, Paris and the author of “War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life””

    Not that you couldn’t make the same accusation of pro-PT bias on many of the sources posted here.

  • Ben

    Hmm I dont have an opinion on Mr Cox’s book however least someone here read the link :)

    “Believes Rail Transit Not Always ideal for modern cities and suburbs”

    Taken on the Literal Meaning he would be right
    Although I wonder how much could be taken out of context

    However some creative thinking here for Auckland might be needed?

  • Riccardo

    Some rail proposals also depend on apocalyptic road growth scenarios. Australia’s Melbourne to Brisbane Inland line depends on projections of road transport doubling (and therefore not being accommodated in existing roads) by 2030.

    • Malcolm M

      Part of the case for the CRL may also be a victim of these inflated growth rates. Peak hour services into Auckland have a typical load of 180 passengers, whereas with 6-car EMU’s the capacity would jump to about 750 per train. This is a 4-fold increase. Where would the growth come from to fill this extra capacity ? Some could come from long-haul bus routes becoming rail feeder services. But after this, new peak hour demand requires a combination of additional downtown employment (requiring new office construction), or current car commuters changing to train. If there is much reduction in car commuting, the owners of parking stations would fight back with discounts because their industry is capital-intensive, and to get a discounted parking fee is better than nothing. The discounting situation would only change if there were retirement of parking capacity.
      I expect much of the growth in rail patronage would come in the off-peak period, for which the current capacity at Britomart is sufficient. Here there is sufficient capacity to run bus feeder services, and rail is an attractive way of going to events and other entertainment in the city. The real need of the CRL is to expand the potential downtown office area, by increasing the walkable area within 400m of a station.

      • Ben

        Spot on Malcolm :-) What might upset the apple cart is Auckland becoming dual or multi core rather than the single core of the CBD than we have now. For example if (and that is a bloody big if) Manukau City became the second core of Auckland which is possible if the Port of Auckland relocates then our entire transport pattern changes entirely. Before some one writes off Manukau I ask them to consider Maunkau as a second core if this Southern Initiative of the Mayor’s takes off. No more 35+ min trips to the CBD if a second core established right at home in Manukau.

      • I think you’ve under-estimated the capacity of many of the existing trains to the CBD Malcolm. Many are 6 car SA trains, which as Ben noted above have capacity of around 675. Take a read through these two posts regarding the CRL and capacity:

        http://transportblog.co.nz/2011/11/08/re-analysing-the-city-rail-links-benefits/
        http://transportblog.co.nz/2011/11/19/looking-at-the-cbds-car-bus-capacity/

        Ben, I think it’s fairly unlikely that we’ll see Auckland becoming more multi-centric. In fact, I reckon over the next few years it’s likely to become more monocentric. My reasons for that are:

        1) With the bringing together of councils, I don’t think you’re likely to see the (pointless often) investment in civic amenities in places like Henderson, Manukau City, Papakura, Orewa etc. Looked at from an individual council perspective, it made sense for them to spend millions on new council buildings, new squares and so forth, trying to build up the profile of their council. Looked at regionally, much of that no longer makes sense.

        2) If you look at where land and house prices are increasing the most (a good indicator of demand and future growth) they are in the inner isthmus area. If we can find a way of allowing for more intensification in appropriate areas in the inner isthmus, then I think that demand will be taken up pretty quickly.

        3) The stigmatism of South Auckland will, unfortunately, take a very long time to overcome. If we are to get a “second CBD” my money’s on Takapuna. Especially if it’s linked by rail to the CBD some time in the next 20 years.

        • Ben

          Or a second CBD at Siliverdale or Hobsonville ;-)
          True on South Auckland my home being stigmatised :-(

          As for EMUs, the new 3 car EMU is meant to have the capacity of an SA4 so in theory the EMU 6 Car should have capacity of 850 (same as the SX6) so plenty of capacity there
          In any case Josh, I suppose we will have to wait and see where Auckland goes :-)

        • I think even if we did follow Sydney’s model and develop Parramatta or North Sydney like “additional CBDs”, we would – like Sydney – continue to have a growing city centre.

          • Ben

            Just to controdict myself Josh I would be inclined to agree there if Auckland did folllw Sydney and go multi core. I agree Takapuna would be another core but that is very close to the CBD any how and could be seen as an extension to the CBD unless we think like the twin cities of St. Paul and Minnepolis. However despite being “South Auckland” (and mkst likely I am loyal to my home) I still say Manukau has a shot at being a core with things like this that would make it attractive: close to airport, close to two motorways, close to rail or even served by rail, major retail, major logistic centres, industry, satellite tertiary campuses, parks, a theme park, a large population within 10mins for work and even ruralness right on the door step. I know I am doing a sales pitch here but do not discount anything until it is actual :-)

          • dan carter

            “: close to airport, close to two motorways, close to rail or even served by rail, major retail, major logistic centres, industry, ”

            heh, that sounds like my description of hell. Give me the characterful, walkable city fringe suburbs anyday.

          • Ben

            @dan, Oi watch what you could hell, I think its paradise. But then again Manukau has its leafy suburbs too, just newer.
            BTW got to put the engine room some where in Auckland :-)

      • Malcolm I think this line of reasoning, although very common, has a fatal flaw. It fails to grasp just how transformative the CRL will be. It assumes that the rail system with the CRL will be the same but with more capacity; so not so. On so many levels the CRL completely remakes not only travel in Auckland but also the whole idea of Auckland itself. It’s not just that there will be these new destinations, and quicker journeys etc, but much much more importantly Auckland will suddenly have an Underground, a Metró, it will make Auckland into a city. More practically, and to answer your question about where will the new patronage come from, the CRL will make the whole network uber cool, fresh, and attractive. It will be more than hip to have got to town, or across town, on the train. Believe me. At the very least it will be visible, it is hard to overemphasize this, right now for most people in Auckland it is pretty close to a secret that we have a rail system at all, and I might add that Auckland has a very dubious sense of identity as a city entirely- the CRL will change this completely. The CRL will give Auckland a completely different idea of itself, and a very different image to market internationally.

        I know it is very hard to conceive of a transformation before it has happened, but then it can also often be hard to recall how things were before a such a change once it has happened.

        And I don’t use the word transformative lightly, very few public work projects can achieve this, and they all have difficult births, mostly the best you can hope for is an incremental change, but I have no doubt that that the CRL can be the ‘killer app’ in Auckland’s development. Perhaps all you sensible engineers and transit wonks will think this mad, but I seriously predict that post CRL, the parts of Auckland without rail will be clamoring for a line. Including the North Shore!

        • Malcolm M

          I agree that the CRL would be a transformational project, and that it would be great to start working on it straight away. But with the politics of the National government the case needs to be made very convincingly, and they are unlikely to commit to it in the next term, and possibly not the following term. AT need to do all the “groundwork” of passenger flow modelling, geotechnical investigations, design, etc. over the next few years, so it is a shovel-ready project suitable for Crown support during the big-bucks construction phase.

          Politics works in cycles, and governments generally get replaced within 3-4 terms, so within a few years there is likely to be a Labour-Green government more friendly to the CRL, and wanting to deliver a big-ticket item quickly. Another alternative is that National Party supporters such as Auckland businessmen (especially CBD developers) make a strong case within the National Party. Over the next few years the evidence of peak oil and peak traffic will become strong enough for them to change their policies.

          If the extra peak hour capacity of the CRL is required in 10 years (which would require contracts in place within about 5 years), National may push a second-best option of a second tunnel from the east. However if this “crunch time” period can be extended to 15 years, then the chances of getting the CRL rather than a second-best option are greater because it would contracted during a period of more favourable politics. To me this “error bar” of when the CRL capacity is required depends on 2 things – the rate of new office construction, and the rate of CBD parking retirement. So getting this estimate more precise should increase the chances of getting the full CRL.

          Incidently I live in Victoria where PT patronage is booming and there are plans for a second underground line because of capacity constraints on the current 4-track underground city loop. State governments in Victoria and NSW recently changed to conservative parties because they were able to convince the electorate that their PT policies were better. My mother was brought up in Auckland, and I have followed Auckland PT political issues through sites like yours.

          • Hi Malcolm, yes I agree with all of the above, and a great deal has already changed quite quickly in AK. We now have local government largely united and at last leading the charge for these necessary projects [but no doubt facing a nasty election fight on this issue in a couple of years]. And at last we have major political parties with concrete policies to fund them, just not in power. And we do have the continued success showing from the recent investments in the still critically limited existing system, and more to come. And it is ‘darkest just before dawn’ as resistance rallies and mounts its last stand.

            Geo-political events could easily have a big impact in the new year as oil supply is on a knife-edge without spare capacity to make up for any biggish hick-ups in unstable source countries [Including Russia, which is now the world's biggest supplier not the Kingdom of the Sauds]. But how helpful the next oil shock will be for securing major capital works investments in a context where the right has successfully sold the theme of austerity to the electorate it is hard to say? [austerity for some, of course, the poorest]. The problem is right there in the phrase ‘oil shock’ It should be no kind of shock to anyone when the price crawls or leaps its way up again from its already hard-to-afford heights, but that’s how it will be sold to us. The CRL will look too far away as a relief in this context. Still I am optimistic that the zeitgeist has changed in AK at last and am now pretty sure that this is in fact an irreversible [albeit delay-able] and global phenomenon, as shown by the numbers in the post above. This is bigger than transit modes, rather it is a reversal of the spread out from the cities that occurred after the last big crisis.

            Down on the ground in AK it is pretty clear that peak capacity is going to be hit before the new trains arrive and I do think we should do our best to make that happen, even at the risk of frustrating some users, by working as fast as possible to build the planned bus feeder stations and integrated ticketing. This is because it is very hard to get any reasonable projections accepted by resistant agencies and commentators- we will have to show people unable to board trains etc… This is a risk, as for some these images will be used to support their view that rail doesn’t work, but on balance I think the public won’t buy that line. It will also become clear that even the arrival of the lovely new trains won’t be enough, especially as they likely to re-stimulate demand too [especially if they have free wifi]. So I remain upbeat that we can keep pressure building.

            Your point about developers is an important one and I do hope that the council are courting them to work on the council owned land around the new stations, unfortunately many are still pouring energy into agitation to force access to new ex-urbian green-fields sprawl sites by attacking the council with the support of and in support of the government.

            I travel to Melbourne fairly regularly and have enjoyed its progress wistfully for years… we can do much by imitating the planning reg changes that have happen there over the last couple of decades. Although I know there are big battles to be had there too.

            Great to have your views on Auckland here.

  • Matt L

    Where will passengers will come from to fill the capacity of the EMU’s? the same place it is coming from now which is from people who don’t want to be sitting in traffic for hours, I think there is a lot of latent demand out there but people have been put off by things like the reliability and the time it takes so as that gets sorted people will start using them. You also need to remember that the EMU’s will be faster than the current trains we have, a trip from New Lynn will be about 25 minutes to town while Papakura will be only just over 40 minutes so at least in the peak and shoulder peak times will be faster than driving for many.

    • Ben

      Until a pesky DL class locomotive hauling 50 container wagons from Tauranga breaks down outside Otahuhu making everyones’ day o_O

      • Matt L

        That’s ok because they are meant to be installing the third main from Westfield to Middlemore as part of electrification so the freight train would be on that :-)

        • Ben

          Hehehe I should of mentioned their second favourite crap out spot of Te Mahia which does bugger things good and proper.
          Just wished they would extend that third line to Papakura as I dread the Metro Port Freighters tearing through during the morning peaks

  • dan carter

    “But after this, new peak hour demand requires a combination of additional downtown employment (requiring new office construction), or current car commuters changing to train”

    With the massive time savings on the western line i would expect a large number of car commuters to change to the train. Why drive in when it’s quicker to get the train, you don’t have to find parking, and you can be on top of your overnight work emails before you’ve even arrived at the office?

  • Hard not to cringe in the face of that Americanism ‘normalcy bias’ but hard not to agree that we have it too: Another great post from Gregor: http://gregor.us/policy/obama-memo-redeem-yourself-with-rail/

  • Kevyn

    Traffic growth has always been closely correlated with the amount of travel that can be afforded by a constant percentage of household income and the number of people in employment. That was often just a general observation before modern computers made the number crunching easy. The baby boom bubble and increasing gender equality have been two of the biggest factors in traffic growth over the last 40 years so it should be no real surprise to transport planners that the last decade would see a slowdown in traffic growth. Depressions and oil price shocks always temporaily stop traffic growth so may the transport planners are still assuming there will be a resumption of traffic growth once the depression is over and higher oil prices have become normalised.

    Then of course there is the argument that capacity has lagged demand for so long that static demand for a decade or two will merely allow us to catch up and provide the capacity needed to efficiently meet the needs of the current traffic volumes. That’s where the petrol tax needs to be ditched in favour of cost-recovery tolling – additional lanes to meet peak demand should be billed to only those travelling at times of peak demand. Then “efficient road network” will be defined by market forces instead of by politicians or some engineering rule book.

  • ‘the transport planners are still assuming there will be a resumption of traffic growth once the depression is over and higher oil prices have become normalised': ROFL

Leave a Reply