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How to cover Auckland’s (supposed) transport funding gap?

The Council issued a press release today highlighting that it’s shifting to the next phase of analysing ways in which to bridge the $10-15 billion funding gap between the projects that are (supposedly) required over the next 30 years and the amount of money available under traditional funding schemes. Here are the details:

Alternative options for funding critical transport projects such as the additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing, City Rail Link, Penlink, rail to the Airport and the East-West Link will be considered by Auckland Council on Thursday.

“If and when these projects proceed, Auckland will be required to fund part of the cost alongside government contributions.”

“Auckland Council is considering a number of funding options which can be used instead of loading all the burden on to Aucklanders’ rates bill,” says Len Brown.

“While the proposal does not rule out other funding mechanisms such as tolls or fare charges, it does identify three options that need additional work, as a result of public feedback. The proposal is for council to consider doing further work around regional fuel taxes, congestion and network charging and additional car parking charges.”

“I remain open-minded to a number of funding options. What is certain, however, is that Council must consider new ways to fund these major transport projects in a way which is affordable and fair for Aucklanders.”

The report follows a discussion document released earlier this year entitled “Getting Auckland Moving”. Eighty-five per cent of submitters felt additional funding was required to address the region’s transport infrastructure challenges.

“Alternative funding options are required because we face a $10-15 billion funding gap between Auckland’s future transport needs and what rates and taxes can cover. Auckland’s congestion will significantly worsen as the region’s population continues to surge. Auckland and the government need to invest in a mix of road and rail projects to provide the region with a transport system which will cope with a population of two million plus.”

The five most popular options were tolling on new roads, regional fuel taxes, congestion charging, development contributions and additional car parking charges. As tolling of new roads and development contributions are permissible under existing legislation, it was felt they did not require the same level of investigation.

The report proposes that further investigation of the three funding mechanisms take place with the aim of taking a funding proposal to government in 12 months recommending relevant legislation be changed. A consultative working group comprising council, government, community organisations, business and transport groups will be set up to consider and develop the proposals.

“The citizens of Auckland will be given the chance to have their say before any final decisions are made. It is important that we develop fair and affordable funding options for further consideration,” says the Mayor.

Further detail is in a report going to the Council on Thursday, which includes quite a lot of information around the feedback received on the discussion document.

This will be an interesting discussion to be had – particularly around the issue of regional fuel taxes and congestion/network charging – where Central Government has made it quite clear they’re not a fan of either way to raise additional revenue for transport projects. A few months back I highlighted that I think tolling existing motorway onramps (generally known as network charging, although it’s debatable whether that’s the appropriate phrase) was a dumb idea because it would shift traffic from motorways onto local roads. A regional fuel tax was almost introduced in 2008 before the incoming National government canned it, and the idea of road pricing & congestion charging seems to raise almost everyone’s heckles. It seems like additional parking charges might be the easy one out of the lot, although it won’t necessarily raise much cash.

However, I disagree with Mayor (and it seems around 85% of submitters) in that I’m not convinced whether significant additional funding is required to sort out Auckland’s transport woes. While many of the expensive projects on the Council’s wishlist are justified (like the CRL), a large number quite possibly aren’t, plus I think we shouldn’t necessarily consider all these large projects as over and above “business as usual” funding. Much of “business as usual” might not end up being particularly high quality spending (like building heaps of new roads to service growing urban sprawl) plus there should be ways to improve the efficiency of much of our operational spending – like getting better bang for our buck around how we operate public transport – to generate savings that can be reinvested.

Of course that doesn’t necessarily mean that congestion charging, parking charges, tolling new roads or a regional fuel tax aren’t justifiable – or aren’t good ideas. In fact I think all of them might have some merit – though generally through their ability to promote behavioural change and modeshift. But maybe we don’t need to squeeze as much money out of them as previously thought if we’re tougher about which projects make the cut, or perhaps we can offset the money raised through lowering rates as a way of getting public support to implement something like congestion charging.

44 comments to How to cover Auckland’s (supposed) transport funding gap?

  • LucyJH

    I’d nominate Penlink as being unnecessary, I’d like to see a business case for the East-West link or just any justification at all really except “The Auckland Chamber of Commerce likes the idea of it”, and we could save a lot of money on a second Harbour Crossing if we made it rail only.

  • Greg N

    Seems to me that using parking charges to raise revenue is a dumb idea of the first order.

    For a start the issue is not just people “parking” their cars (although that contributes to peak congestion), its the sheer traffic on the roads.
    Trucks and other delivery vehicles won’t be paying those parking charges, yet will be a major part of the congestion that will ensue.

    The tax burden should be created so it is put on everyone as fairly as possible so that all who benefit end up paying fairly.
    Putting on a petrol tax only is not a good idea either, as not everyone drives petrol powered cars.

    There is no one right answer and a mix of funding options is needed including: reviewing the projects and prioritising those for the biggest benefits sooner, along with travel demand changes so that people are encouraged to travel out of peak times.

    If you just up parking charges or just network charge the motorways, then all you’ll do is drive the motorists onto PT that isn’t there (yet) – then were does your revenue come from? Upping the bus fares to make them use the car so you can get them to pay the parking charges?

    Similarly network charges will keep the trucks off the motorways and clutter the local roads – the very places they oughtn’t to be.

    In addition there are some proposed projects which, to use the current term de-jour, are indeed “gold plated”, but not all the transport projects proposed are and we do need at least a silver plated version on some of them to make them actually work (the CRL is one which needs a proper job – not a zinc bronze plated version we hear talk of).

    We also need the Central Government to come to the party here and come up with workable compromises, while recognising that there is not magic bullet here, but what is needed is a understanding that a lot of well placed, yet co-ordinated, “little bullets” over time will get to the end result as well – if this is thought through now and not meddled with too much along the way.

    • Yes but really what proportion of traffic is freight? important but right now this is the tail that wags the dog. Further more a more efficient way to get flowing traffic is to help clear existing routes of that significant portion of traffic that could happily be using complementary means of travel. Get the marginal personal traveller off the road where possible and the whole vast resource opens up for the rest. What would it take in AK 5%, 10% of current drivers to switch to made a huge change in traffic volumes? Not even. Investing in efficient, attractive PT is the best way to keep the roads functioning without spending a further fortune on them and destroying yet more of the city.

  • Peter M

    Yes the question of what Central Government’s contribution “should” be is an interesting one. Given that well over half of NZ’s population growth in the next 30-40 years is in Auckland, there’s a fundamentally good argument that we should be in line for over half the transport expenditure that relates to coping with population growth (i.e. capacity increases).

  • Malcolm M

    There’s some discussion about new ways of paying for infrastructure across the ditch. Infrastructure Australia have just released a report that suggests the sale of existing freeways to the private sector, who would toll them, and the sale funds support the development of new infrastructure. Click the link “Infrastructure Finance Reform—July 2011—Issues Paper” on the link below

    http://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/reform_investment/index.aspx#ifr

    or read The Age’s take on it (with lots of reader comments):

    http://theage.drive.com.au/roads-and-traffic/tolls-urged-on-existing-freeways-20120716-226mr.html

    Infrastucture Australia is composed of professional planners, who can propose things for discussion without it being seen to come from politicians. It would be good to ask the National government their opinion on the suggestions of Infrastructure Australia, and what other options they propose to cope with paying for the requirements of growth – or would they rather stop the growth ?

  • Luke C

    New Harbour Crossing totally unnecessary for decades to come, hopefully never due to ridiculously high cost. Probably largely included for PR purposes as most public wrongly believe Bridge is choke point, which is wrong. Penlink very useful for locals but high cost, and useless for most Aucklanders so if it goes ahead should have high funding from tolls, and small contributions from Council and NZTA. East – West link useful for trucks and professional service vehicles but will get clogged with people going to malls and taking kids to school like usual. So therefore should be a package of local road upgrades in the area, not a State Highway. The only purpose of a State Highway on backers behalf is 100% govt funding. If any expensive new links are built should have high toll as if it is really worth it to business they should pay most of it.
    Only one that is actually really useful and needed is CBDRL, and Council will need another billion or so to fund their share, even under Labour/Green proposals.
    I think a congestion charge on the CBD would be a great way to raise money. Easy and cheap to implement as the boundary would be the motorways, so only about 15 locations where will need something checking number plates or transponders. I think council should borrow money in short term to fund CBDRL, then congestion charge would fund pay off this debt over the next decade or so. Maybe later could expand to cover CMJ, then motorways to Pt Chev, Ellerslie and Takapuna.

    • Fuel tax is still the most elegant, cheapest, and best source of any additional revenue and helpfully acts as a ‘push’ incentive….

      • Luke C

        maybe a few cents per litre fuel tax, but does penalize those who are trapped in car use due to poor residential and business sprawl. Most of the industrial sprawl like Highbrook and Airport Oaks that employ many low income people have really dreadful public transport and is difficult and expensive to make PT work well.
        A CBD congestion charge is effectively a public transport snob tax! Ie once CBDRL in place no excuse not to use public transport, and should pay for the benefits PT users are giving them. Also CBDRL land use entrenched, and a few dollar congestion charge to get a few more cars off the road would help improve CBD environment. Also delivery trucks and tradesmen will benefit as their business cost per hour or charge out rates will be higher than the congestion charge, even if only saves them a few minutes.

    • Peter M

      I’m not a fan of cordon based congestion charging schemes. There’s just so much likelihood of ending up with unintended consequences on your land-use patterns.

    • Ari

      To Luke C, how is the bridge not a choke point??? I drive over the bridge heading north every morning at 6:50am and the southbound traffic north of the bridge is already bumper to bumper. I don’t think we should be building more roads for cars, but am just pointing out that the bridge IS a choke point.
      A fuel tax solution is practically perfect in every way. People don’t notice it so therefore don’t complain about it any more than the normal fuel taxes, it creates disincentive to people using cars, it is an incentive to take PT, it is incredibly easy/cheap to implement,enforce and gather revenue. From what I understand, congestion based charging is incredibly expensive to administer(up to 50% of revenue) and therefore completely ineffective as a revenue generator. Congestion charges are more a behavioural management tool to reduce congestion, not generate money.

      • Hamish O

        Ari, there are five lanes on either end of the bridge, and the harbour bridge is five lanes peak direction, so the bridge therefore is not a choke point. If the second (third) harbour crossing was built there would be benefits, but this is from separating city traffic from suburban traffic, not just pure widening.

        I agree with your statement about fuel tax.

  • Malcolm

    Wonder how much money would have been raised so far if National hadnt ditched the regional fuel tax?

  • Peter H

    Is it possible to charge for parking in a way that the user can claim this cost back from central Government, this would give business near free parking and Auckland Council an income indirectly from central Government.

  • LucyJH

    Yeah, I understand that Len did a deal with Penny so that she would vote for his policies. But f**k that. This is my money and I don’t want it being spent on a road in Rodney that is so unnecessary neither the RLTS nor NZTA would ever make it a priority for the Auckland region, in the many, many years before this council was elected. We would be better off putting money into improving bus services on the peninsula, if we decided to do anything at all for a region of Auckland where (let’s face it) only a really small portion of the population lives.

    • Mr Anderson

      I’m pretty sure Auckland Transport pushed Penlink back (again) in the final version of the Regional Land Transport Programme.

  • Publius

    Hypothetically, what sort of ticket prices would be needed if the council could get a loan to build it all themselves paying it off with ticket revenue / advertising over 20/30years with interest?

    • Mr Anderson

      As Lucy says, huge. And as each additional person on rail generates significant non-user benefits (reduced congestion, pollution etc.) why should those riding the train have to pay for all these benefits they’re generating for others? Subsidising them is only fair.

      • MFD

        “as each additional person on rail generates significant non-user benefits”. Please explain how you reach this conclusion.

        • By not being in a car in front of you, by not burning imported fossil fuels, by not generating air pollution. But still contributing to the economy by working, learning, shopping, or playing somewhere in our city….

          • MFD

            Remarkable! Yesterday I didn’t drive into the city. I didn’t today either and I won’t tomorrow. My wife didn’t either, nor did my children or neighbours. In fact tomorrow I intend not to drive in twice thus doubling the benefit to other Aucklanders. If you treat me nicely I won’t drive in 3 times a day thus increasing the benefit even more!

            The reality is that, ceteris paribus, an additional rail journey has zero benefits for non-users. It’s clear that a reduction in vehicular traffic has benefits but in the context of a rapidly growing Auckland population the indications are that such traffic will increase ergo no net benefit.

          • Where to begin? How about reductio ad aburdum: If half of AK’s population stays home till they die of starvation the benefit to the remaining road users will be clear; empty roads. But then they’ll have no jobs to go to as the economy collapses [except undertaking]. So, ceteris paribus, the 40 000 or so weekly rail trips do help free up the roads for cars, buses, and trucks, while enabling the train users to still engage in economic activity, as I said above. Ergo, benefits accrue to others.

            This is observable in the fact that driving is not increasing; has been largely flat for the last seven years, yet PT use has been growing significantly. If that had not been happening then the roads would indeed be more clogged. Is this really hard to understand, or is more Latin required?

          • Peter M

            Now you’re just being silly MFD. Are you saying that if we shut down the rail network and cancelled all the buses, the resulting congestion wouldn’t have a negative economic effect?

          • MFD

            Driving has been flat ergo no change in pollution and no change in congestion ergo no benefit to road users or anyone else. You could add 100,000 additional train users and no additional road users, Still no change to road user numbers, still no benefit to road users or others. In order for a benefit to accrue to others things have to be better after the action which is alleged to have provided the benefit. If there is no change wherein lies the “benefit”?

            Peter, rest assured that I am saying no such thing as a careful read will reveal. I am stating that Patrick’s explanation is errant nonsense and that Mr Anderson’s claim that one additional rail user generates significant non-user benefits is implausible absent a whole bunch of additional unstated assumptions. An additional rail user is just that – one more person using the trains.

          • And one less car on the road, unless the only option is that that person is either on a train or an unmoving corpse. The little trick you are trying to play on yourself is wilfully looking at only half of the action of the train user; they are not only riding a train they also still part of the economic life of the city BUT NOT CONTRIBUTING TO ROAD CONGESTION.

            You are flat wrong here, it’s not hard to comprehend why; NZTA recognise this, and is why they they contribute to PT subsidises. Being an erudite fellow you’ll understand what a double negative is so let me put it this way; the removal of a dis-benefit is a benefit. All those people using the train are not clogging the roads freeing them up for other users while still working or spending or whatever. Therefore a benefit accrues to the remaining road users.

            The observable outcome is exactly the expected one: not that growth in PT will empty the roads completely but will enable them to keep functioning at a reasonable level without either acting as a total break on economic activity or clogging to a standstill. And this is through the actions of individuals, either new to the city or switching from driving, using complementary modes out of self-interest; because it suits them. So the better we can make the PT offer, and especially the non-road using kind, the higher the chance that our existing roads will remain useful and efficient for longer. Benefit to all.

            Which is why virtually every other city in the world of scale invest in these systems; Auckland can not flourish if it remains auto-dependant. Our widespread road network desperately needs [ie will benefit from] a better and more connected complementary system.

          • MFD

            You assert that there is a causal link between an addition person taking a train trip and the avoidance of a corresponding car journey. This is, of course a logical fallacy.A causal link requires something to actually happen. One can, however, surmise a multiplicity of things that don’t happen as a result. Let’s make a list:

            A car journey doesn’t happen,
            A carpool journey doesn’t happen
            A bicycle jouney doesn’t happen,
            A bus journey doesn’t happen.
            A motorcycle journey doesn’t happen,
            A walking journey doesn’t happen
            Nothing doesn’t happen (ie something else happens).

            To explain the last of these, an alternative to a train journey is that the person didn’t move to Auckland in the first place (or moved from Auckland to Perth) because Auckland’s such a PITA to get around and housing is so expensive. Another alternative is that the person concerned moved out to the suburbs to take advantage of lower cost housing and an improved rail service. It is quite conceivable and plausible that an additional car journey was never going to happen in the first place.

            To really push the point I could state that an additional person taking a train trip has avoided an asteroid crashing into the earth and wiping out all life. Sounds implausible but how would you disprove that?

            You further assert that the avoidance of a disbenefit is equivalent to the receipt of a benefit. A second logical fallacy. Let’s look at an example. I could (hypothetically, of course) threaten to break all of your windows if you don’t pay me $20. Is your response to pay me $20 because my not breaking your windows is a benefit? I think not. It gets even more absurd when I come back and ask you for a further $20 because I haven’t broken your windows a second time.

            Let’s digress somewhat and (reluctantly) accept your assertion that an additional person on rail benefits an existing car commuter by avoiding a disbenefit and hence they should contribute to the costs of providing that additional train journey. The car driver could quite rightly point out that they could “enjoy” the same disbenefit avoidance by discouraging immigration and migration to Auckland in the first place AND it would cost a lot less. The car driver could also, perhaps, point out that the route they take is at capacity and thus there is no additional disbenefit to be accrued (the 2010 business case for the CRL makes this very point).

            Let’s take a look at your “double negative” claim. To be valid this requires only two possible outcomes and requires that they are mutually exclusive. Neither is true therefore it is not a valid construct in this circumstance.

            You seem to embrace a curious binary, deterministic view of the issues as do many others:

            Auckland’s population IS going to increase by X over the next Y years.
            ALL of those additional persons will need to commute to be productive.
            There are 2 ways of getting to work; train or car.
            Since Auckland’s growth rate is a given we must provide infrastructure to meet the given growth rate.

            None of these is a given.

  • LucyJH

    hmmm, that’s quite an angry comment now I look at it. Not angry at anybody commenting here – just angry at what I see as being a massive waste of money.

  • LucyJH

    woooh, I’m not going to work it out Publius but I think the answer would be scarifying. Like, maybe $10 per trip?

  • LucyJH

    I know, I know, every transport agency in the country is constantly pushing Penlink back because it makes no sense! It gets knocked down through submissions and sometimes it vanishes altogether for one version of a draft plan. But time and time again it turns up again because Rodney will just not let it go. And they need to learn how to deal! Although, actually, I read a comment somewhere by Penny saying that Rodney District Council went ahead and took developer contributions to help pay for the road before it actually got approved. So I can understand why she might now feel they have to construct it…. Although my understanding is severely limited, see comments above.

  • LucyJH

    wait that comment makes no sense. What happened to the editing function. I meant to say “my tolerance is severely limited.”

    • Hamish O

      Peter M explained to me in this comment that the editing system was removed because it “was eating up a lot of load time, and contributed to the server failure the other day”.

  • jonno1

    Here’s an idea: implement all the charges on motorists suggested above, apply them to all vehicles (cars, vans, trucks, buses), and spend the revenue generated (including existing fuel taxes & GST) on roading & parking improvements in the area where the cash is collected. This approach eliminates forced cross-subsidisation and saves all those billions of capital expenditure on inflexible rail routes (not to mention ongoing operating subsidies). Alternatively, or concurrently, build the rail links on a full user-pays basis (no public money, but cut out the red tape as a contribution both to the risk-taker and the end-user).

    • Hamish O

      However, cross-subsidisation is useful here as the benefit of the City Rail Link (for example) is greater (to road users) than that of (for example) the Puhoi to Welsford duplicate highway (costing only a bit less). Even the road users who stay driving (as many will) will benefit greater from the CRL as they will experience a great decrease in congestion, that isn’t really possible with a road project due to induced demand.

      You assume like may that roads and driving are full ‘user-pays’, but there are a lot of hidden subsides for driving. You mention parking, and this is a great example as parking is in a way subsidised by both the council providing it very cheaply on the side of the road (which private firms have to compete with), and by the council forcing developers to put in a minimum amount of parking for retail premise. Hence we get a simple situation of supply and demand where a product is oversupplied, so the price decreases. Local road projects (arguably much more import than the 7 RoNS) are also only funded half by petrol taxes, the other half comes from general rates, which we all pay.

      You also mention ongoing subsides. However, I think you will find that a rail line or bus-way will carry the same amount of people as 5-10 lane motorway (depending on the rail network), for a cost per year including both capital and ongoing costs (assuming the capital is paid in part each year) for 30 years for a similar or lesser cost to the motorway (although this clearly varies heaps).

      Also the two things are not are not in any way substitutes. For efficiency we need a balance of both – PT infrastructure for most regular mass transit (the type that cause peak time congestion), and roads for most of everything else (freight, trips requiring huge flexibility etc.).

      But finally, probably my most important point, governments are supposed to take into account external benefits and costs. A good rail line or bus-way encourages growth by intensification, and develops a strong focus on both the CBD and suburban centres. This makes the city a nicer place to be, and is very good for the economy as agglomeration benefits can be achieved (look it up). In comparison a road encourages sprawl, which has an opposite, negative effect. Plus, it is of course a lot cheaper for an individual to transport themselves with PT (a choice most don’t rally have at the moment due to a lack of balance in system quality). Did you know NZ is one of the most expensive places in the world to live in terms of transport?

      So why would we do the opposite to what the rest of the world is doing, when there are all of the good reasons above telling us not to, and we know that Auckland is not any different to anywhere else in the world in this sense. In fact, we are exactly where the US was 20 years ago, will we do the right thing?

      • jonno1

        Hamish, thanks for your detailed reply. I am of course aware that roading is otherwise subsidised already, I only have to look at my rates bill! And obviously motorways are funded from our taxes. Of course, there are a lot of road users whose rate/tax contribution is negative, but that’s another story.

        I realise that most commenters here are strongly pro-PT, but this blog is labelled “Auckland Transport Blog” not “Auckland Public Transport Blog” so I assumed that all forms of transport would be considered on merit. And assuming your cost analysis is accurate, ie that PT costs roughly equate to motorway costs over time, then motorways win hands down due to their infinite flexibility from the user’s perspective. Additionally, we all (or most of us) own cars, so the more they’re used the less they cost per kilometre.

        BTW I’m not dissing PT where point-to-point bulk transport meets peoples’ needs. For example, I use a taxi for occasional meetings in the CBD (I presume a taxi qualifies as PT) as it’s the quickest and therefore cheapest solution. And finally council has woken up to empty busways, eg Remuera Rd, by introducing T3. Also I’m fully in favour of the Auckland electrification project as it will substantially increase the capacity of existing infrastructure. It’s things like the CRT or an airport rail link that make no economic sense to me.

        As for agglomeration, I don’t see why a road (especially an expressway) would be any less beneficial than direct rail or a dedicated busway, in fact it would be more flexible. Actually your ante-penultimate paragraph something similar.

        • Hamish O

          jonno1, I think you’ll find the reason that the focus here is PT is not because PT is better than roads, but because Auckland has a huge imbalance, with a very developed motorway system and not much in the way of PT. If the situation was reversed, we might be campaigning for new urban motorways!!!!!

          You mention flexibility, but if (hypothetically) most roads were replaced with tram lines, and all motorways with high-capacity rail, then the PT system would be the most flexible (assuming high frequency’s). A transfer in PT is the equivalent of turning a corner in your car.

          Obviously this scenario would be terribly inefficient as empty trams would run constantly at a huge cost. Many trips are best served best by private transport, but it is not the ‘private’ part that gives in flexibility, it is the scale.

          But for high patronage trips, such as from suburban centres into town PT is the most efficient option, or it would be if the two systems were in balance.

          Don’t get caught up on the fact that we mostly all (including a lot of people on this blog, and myself) own cars, as this is a long-term thing, requiring long-term thinking. Cars do not last forever.

          I’m not sure if a taxi is PT, but it is very compatible for it when a PT user finds they need to take a trip not covered by PT. Taxis are very popular in London, private cars are not.

          Just like electrification the city rail link will unlock huge amounts of capacity on our existing lines. The CRL capacity will be much more useful though, as capacity growth via increased frequency (as opposed to via bigger trains) also adds significant convenience (something our existing rail network is not).

          I would also like to check that you realise the Airport Link is to serve Mangare (a huge suburban centre / reasonable density residential) and the huge employment area that is the airport vicinity (it is comparable to the size of the CBD in terms of jobs). If it was only for Airport travellers, I agree it would be a waste of time.

          The reason a new motorway/express-way is less beneficial to the economy than a rail line / bus-way is because all proposed new motorways go out away from the city fringe (e.g. Walkworth, Welsford or Kapati Coast, Otaki, Levin or Christchurch northern suburbs), making development away from the city more desirable (and the related economical disadvantages). All proposed new rail lines link existing city suburbs to large employment areas, making intensification of current suburbs (and all the associated economic advantages) more likely.

          In addition new roads re-enforce our auto-dependence, which leads to the death of CBDs and suburban centres, as it is near to impossible for these places to cater for cars with enough parking. You only have to look at Manukau or Albany to see the kind of (uneconomical) urban wasteland created by too much car-dependence (NZ has the third highest car ownership rates in the world!!!).

          Plus we think new roads can lead to “uncongested roads in the future” (from the Herald this morning). I’m sure you realise that even the smartest cities in the world have failed to remove congestion completely. It is impossible as people will always balance their movement out between different roads and modes until the time delay on each is equal. What we wan’t to do is add capacity to urban transport infrastructure, and our best bet for this is with improvements to the public transport network, mainly with the CRL and further bus priority, then more rail/bus-way in the long term.

          I almost forgot to address the T3 lane. It is important to note that the bus lane is only efficient because it is “empty” i.e. uncongested. Sitting in a line of cars it can often seem that buses are never using it, whether or not it is true. Back on topic, although I support T3ing bus lane IN THEORY, T3 lanes are open to a lot more miss-use from those not eligible for it than a bus lane, for obvious reasons. For the few people trying to carpool it is useful, but for those in the cram-packed buses trying to save unnecessary money otherwise spent on cars, it can be rather harmful.

          Plus, of course, we would like more frequent buses to run along that important corridor, so in the future a bus lane may make even more sense. Do note Remuera Rd is only a trial pushed through by the Orakei Local Board, and most of us here hope it remains just that. I am not sure how well it has been going, but it has only been T3 a week or so, so time will see!

          • jonno1

            Thanks again Hamish, I’ll try to digest all that, and I do appreciate your reasoned explanations. And no, I hadn’t considered Mangere in respect of an airport rail link.

            Slightly O/T, but discussion of T3 reminds me that Remuera Rd between St Marks Rd & Broadway is a disaster area at peak times (especially morning). The additional lights at Nuffield St haven’t helped, including what seems to be an excessively long pedestrian phase. Buses stopping outside Kenzie don’t help either. I recall discussing with planners (in the design phase) widening of the new rail bridge to allow a bus stop opposite the station entrance, but apparently at 50m it wasn’t deemed long enough so hey, just continue to block a lane right on the Broadway intersection instead. The Middleton Rd intersection needs some of that yellow hatching too!

            It also seems to me that at least part of that congestion is due to Remuera West traffic accessing the southern motorway to go north at Gillies Ave, thereby having to cross Broadway to Morrow St etc. I’ve never understood why there’s not a northern on-ramp at Market Rd, as there’s heaps of room for one. Access north would then be either directly from Market Rd, or from St Marks Rd onto the southern motorway slip lane south then back north via Market Rd.

          • Hamish O

            It’s a pleasure jonno.

            You obviously commute via Remuera Rd, which I don’t, but I do live very near there.

            If you are correct about “at 50m it wasn’t deemed long enough”, that seems utterly ridiculous! An ‘normal’ bus stop for one bus is only 20m, at 2.5 times that length there wouldn’t be any issues! However there may of course been other issues (cost?) that they weren’t telling you about, or maybe it would have required to start the whole consent process again (at high cost).

            The pedestrian cycle there probably is a bit long, but hopefully train patronage growth will make it more useful. I would hope that AT are able to adjust the cycle remotely based on data they collect to find the right balance, but I suspect this is not the case.

            Traffic lights of course impede on the main traffic flow to help people turn right (and to an extent left), and allow pedestrians to cross, so it shouldn’t be of surprise that new lights are making your strait-through journey slower, but hopefully nuffield st and the car-park users benefit greatly for this cost.

            I’m in two minds about a market road on-ramp. It would be easy to build and take a lot of pressure off all the roads around gillies. But the onramp is also very close to both gillies and greenlane, so I fear it would become another Wellington Street, good for a few people but slowing down the majority of travellers on a very busy stretch of road. It could also have very negative effects on market road itself. Market road is only two lanes past the over-bridge – would it cope? And would the shops and restaurants on the corner with GS Road be the same afterwards?

    • If you charged motorists and car parkers on a full user-pays basis almost nobody would be able to afford to drive, and you wouldn’t need to spend a single extra dollar on roading and parking improvments. The only thing that makes driving accessible to 90% of the population are the institutionalised subsidies of driving, and many decades of spending tax and ratepayer money on road infrastructure.

  • Ari

    From what I understand, the Remuera bus lanes carried 50% of the road users in the peaks, so the bus lane was hardly empty, they were just damn efficient compared to the other lane clogged up with single passenger vehicles. So no, council didn’t wake up, they just caved in to a vocal, but ignorant, pro-congestion minority.

  • Jonno – The short answer is no it doesn’t make them more efficient. What happens buses travel along the road and stop to pick up/set down passengers. Drivers travelling in lane don’t like to be held up this so normally will push their way into the general traffic lane to get past the bus before moving back into the T3 lane. This slows the general traffic lane down making it even less efficient. At controlled intersections buses then get caught up behind cars in the lane which can slow them down further, especially if it causes them to miss a light phase as a result.

    We saw exactly this thing happen when Tamaki Dr was converted to a T2 lane and the study on it determined that both bus users and general traffic were slowed down and the only people that benefited from the change where those car users in the T2 lane. On Remuera Rd they did analysis last year that showed that both T2 and T3 would result in slower overall journeys for people but the local board kept moaning about it and AT eventually caved.

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