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Blueprint for transport from 1976

I sometimes wonder how our transport system, and city in general, became the mess that it is today. Were we really not able to see what would happen with our ‘roads-only’ focus? Why is it only now that we are implementing the kind of PT system that other cities have had for decades?

My grandmother passed away a few weeks ago and my family and I have been busy cleaning out her house. That is no easy task as she was the kind of person who kept almost everything (there were some rooms we couldn’t even enter to begin with), but that means that occasionally you stumble across some interesting items. As it happens a few of these items relate to topics we talk about on the blog. The one I will talk about today, and that helps to answer some of the questions above is a magazine-type publication that was released in December 1976 by the Auckland Regional Authority, the predecessor to the now former Auckland Regional Council. A four-page spread is dedicated to what is called “Blueprint for Transport” that talks about the outcome of the “Comprehensive Transportation Study Review” (CTS Review):

The private car has assumed the role of villain and the costs of catering for it and for urban transport in general are becoming higher than we can afford. Pressure on public funds is reducing money available for transport investment, as the slow rate of central motorway construction has highlighted. Fuel costs have risen steeply and future liquid fuel supplies and costs are uncertain.

How should we make the best use of our transport resources? What is the destiny of the car? Can the car use be made less wasteful? How should public transport be developed? How should we manage the whole complex question of urban transport?

These are difficult questions. In Auckland they have been fed into the Comprehensive Transportation Study Review – a long title fully merited by the ground it covers. From it has come a report which sets out a series of options for making better use of the transport investment which has already been made and for assigning priorities to further investment.

The report has been prepared by Auckland Regional Authority staff under the guidance of a technical advisory committee set up by the ARA in consultation with the National Roads Board, which has subsidised the study. Represented on the committee are the ARA, Ministry of Works, Ministry of Transport and Auckland territorial local authorities.

The first thing that strikes me about the article is the recognition that building more and more roads, in particular motorways, is extremely expensive. In relation to some of the previous motorway-focused plans of the 50′s and 60′s it says:

The CTS Review’s origins go back to the 1940′s, when the Auckland Regional Planning Authority, forerunner of the ARA, first looked at a comprehensive transport plan for the metropolitan area and developed a basic motorway system which was confirmed and extended by the 1955 Master Transport Plan. In 1963 the Regional Planning Authority commissioned the Comprehensive Transportation Study to further assess future needs.

Those earlier studies and the various rapid transit reports tendered to promote transport systems requiring high public investment, much of it in motorway and roading works, and there has just not been sufficient finance available to produce the necessary works at the required rate. Even less money is likely to be available in the future.

For this reason the CTS Reviews’s recommendations suggest that expensive capital works be put off for as long as possible and that low cost alterations be put into effect first – in other words a staged process coordinating many small improvements and relatively few large ones.

The emphasis here is on better use of existing roadway space, bus fleets and cars to keep transport investment within the limits of the funds likely to be available in the next 10 years. Actions which can be taken include traffic management to improve the operating efficiency of existing roads, encouragement of higher car occupancy, more suburban trains and different kinds of bus services.

These are the same recommendations we hear today. Even more frustrating is that some of the suggested solutions are the same as what we are only now getting around to doing:

Some of the public transport options tested by the CTS review include a change in emphasis from an almost exclusively radial bus system oriented to the central business district to one providing a high level of service along all corridors of demand, express buses running on exclusive rights of way to give faster travel than cars and the establishment of transport centres in areas which generate a lot of trips to provide terminals for express services and focal points for expanded local and cross-town services.

Nevertheless it is obvious that the private car will continue for some time yet to carry the majority of people. This raises the paradox that a substantial proportion of public funds will go to easing the way of the private sector, while at the same time there is public reluctance to spend more on public transport.

However increased investment in public transport does carry benefits for the private sector, which will have less to call on its collective pocket to pay for the major roading works which are essential a requirement of private transport.

Perhaps some of you readers can help to shed light on why, even back then, we were able to recognise the need for improvements like overhauling our bus system, but never did it. One feeling I do get from the article is that, while the solutions were known at the time, the implementation was put into the too hard basket.

An interesting aspect of the study is that, for the first time, the impact of land use on transport requirements was taken into account. They recognised that land use and transport are intrinsically linked, however this appears to be where the majority of incorrect assumptions have occurred. The outcome was that controls should be put in place to actively decentralise employment and other activities from the central city and isthmus, to the growing suburbs in the North, West and South, thinking that it would reduce the need for people to travel:

Decentralisation of jobs and other trip attractions will restrain travel growth in the major radial corridors and the report sees this as the only way in Auckland of minimising investment in the transport system, cutting users’ costs, achieving the lowest social and environmental costs and bringing maximum benefits to the whole community.

The preferred land use strategy from a transport viewpoint would therefore promote a high level of job self-sufficiency in outer sectors, limit employment on the isthmus and develop outer sectors in a way which will promote more use of non-radial transport corridors.

“Transport prefers dispersal of jobs to avoid expenses like the central motorway system and Harbour Bridge,” said Mr Pringle. “If employment in Auckland continues to remain very centralised , we have to find perhaps $70 million for a new harbour bridge. The public sector would also have to find money to upgrade sewage and water supplies to the isthmus.

Perhaps even more than the impact of the motorways, the active decentralisation of jobs and other activities away from the central city has arguably caused more harm to the region and its economy than any other single policy. It also shows that decentralisation of employment didn’t happen naturally, but was forced on Auckland.

The last part that I will touch on is a recognition of the political and planning problems that still plague Auckland today:

New powers for regional planning authorities under the proposed review would help overcome the present fragmentation of transport planning, which Mt Pringle believes is worse in Auckland than anywhere else in New Zealand.

For instance: While the cost of providing more peak hour public transport would be high, it could be well justified on cost as an alternative to a second harbour bridge or to major road upgrading. Putting more buses across the present harbour bridge at peak hours would raise the cost of public transport but nowhere near the level of $70 million or so for a new harbour bridge.

A total urban transport budget for Auckland would be the most effective way of ensuring that factors such as these are balanced in setting priorities for spending on transport.

A look at the present system shows some of the difficulties of transport planning. A large number of interests are involved in transport – local authorities and private enterprise in parking buildings, local authorities and government departments in traffic control, the Ministry of Works and Development and the ARA in motorway planning and construction, local authorities in general roading works and the National Roads Board and District Roads Council in the allocation of funds to road construction.

There is no continuity of traffic control along major routes because of individual local body control and there is no provision of, for example, exclusive bus lanes to keep public transport moving quickly in and out of the central business district.

The report emphasises the need for management of transport in Auckland

Thankfully the creation of Auckland Transport has helped in reducing the number of voices in the transport discussion, however I feel that we still need to go further. I very much agree with the need for Auckland’s transport system to be driven by one voice and think that AT should be given a single budget for Auckland to both control and maintain even the state highways within the region.

All up it was an interesting, if not sometimes frustrating read. If only we could go back in time and tell them how wrong the idea of decentralisation was.

You can read the full article here.

80 comments to Blueprint for transport from 1976

  • Frank E

    Hi,

    Can you inform the less knowledgeable reader why decentralisation is such a bad thing?

    • There are huge economic benefits from having large amounts of employment in one location. Have a watch of some of the videos on this post.
      http://transportblog.co.nz/2012/12/05/urban-transport-economics/

    • doloras

      The theory was that decentralization would stop people having commute. On the contrary, whereas in the old days you’d have people commuting from Manurewa to the CBD, or Henderson to the CBD, now you have people commuting from Henderson to Manurewa. I suppose in 1976 they never stopped to think we’d live in a high-unemployment era when people would have happy for a 90-minute commute just to have a job.

      • Frank E

        If you look at the average commute times, I don’t think there’s that much difference between centralised & decentralised cities. For example New York & Chicago have higher average commute times than Los Angeles.

  • Ben S

    I did a bit of digging a while ago and one person who could really answer the question of how we ended up in this mess is a chap called FWO Jones – appointed Regional Planning Officer for Auckland in 1946, he then became Director of Planning for the Auckland Regional Planning Authority right through until the 1970s. He was the main man right through the most crucial time in our planning history.

    He’s lauded and remembered for his work establishing the regional parks of AKL – rightly so – but there are some strange u-turns (no pun intended) in his thinking and policy on AKL’s transport system over the years.

    For example, as early as 1949 he gave a passionate speech gravely warning against the rise of urban sprawl and advocating that AKL should add higher density to the areas closest to the CBD along with the more compact non-road infrastructure to service those areas – yet a few short years later he had seemingly ditched all his progressive thinking and was leading the motorway charge – becoming one of the prime architects of AKL’s notorious system – and getting us into this mess we’re in today…

    You have to wonder what forces were at work to change his views so dramatically – did the big oil lobby of that era get up to the same dirty tricks they got up to in the USA?

    • Patrick Reynolds

      Fro Jones. I meet him when I was a kid. The best answer is probably that he saw the way the wind was blowing. The spirit of the times, the dominance of examples from the US, the move away from British models. There were manipulations in the road take over of Auckland. Another champion of parks, Professor Cumberland had a lot to do with this. Paul Mees has written well on this.

      But one of the big ideas was that with auto served suburbia we could all have Arcadia. Of course it’s crazy; in pursuit of the natural world suburbia kills the thing it loves, but it is a powerful idea. Especially remember this was just after that war in the old urban world. A bit of peace and space; and couldn’t we all have that by car?

      Brave New World.

      • SlowJoe

        Talking about Professor Cumberland, in the last (I think) episode of his Landmarks TV series of the late 70s/early 80s, he posited Twizel as a “society of the future” to which people could escape from the nasty, congested city and live out one’s life never having to leave the semi-rural Arcadia, since you’d able to work and do business via computers and (hehe) holographic projections. While the advent of high-speed internet connections has made working from home possible, I don’t see too many Aucklanders currently leaving in their droves for little one-horse towns.

        On a related note, I believe “decentralisation” was Muldoon’s answer to tackling Auckland’s traffic congestion (after he pooh-poohed Robbie’s Rapid Rail). Some solution.

        • Yes exactly, and this bunch of dim Nats are still wheeling out the idea as the AK CBD and region grows in front of their eyes. Still, why bother with reality when there’s ideology.

          Twizel! Why they ever let a nature romanticising Yorkshireman tell us how to organise cities? He just plain hated them. He wanted to wish them away, but instead became a tool for the sprawl merchants. And what does sprawl devour? The countryside.

          Sometimes there is none so naive as an academic.

          • One more thought. Many of the people i have met or read who posit this fantasy of everyone working via technology and therefore never having to congregate in urban places again are simply misanthropes. They, for one reason or another, just don’t like other people, especially strangers, or people in quantity. And this after all is what a city is and is for.

            Funny that they feel the need to generalise they condition and try to force it on the rest of us. The daft Professor should taken himself off to the wind blasted wastes of Twizel and let Auckland be. He didn’t.

          • SlowJoe

            If anyone can track down the Landmarks episode mentioned above, it’s worth a viewing, if only to have a little chuckle at how wrong Cumberland gets it.
            Hell, to demonstrate the advantages of working long-distance from idyllic Twizel, he delivers his treatise on a set made to look like the loungeroom of a “home of the future” (one that wouldn’t look out of place on a Jetsons episode), and makes a big show of taking off his shoes and replacing them with slippers (how comfortable it is to work from home!). Then he chats with a secretary via a 70s video monitor and chats to a hologram of a farm worker about the fertility of a prize bull (bull also present in the hologram).

            Pure unintented comic brilliance.

      • Greg N

        Reading the document at Victoria Uni’s website has FWO Jones talking about household densities and other areas using census figures from 1945 (or 46?)!
        - for crying out loud we either had, or were having “a little war on” – AKA WWII – and no mention of it anywhere in the documents.[it was 1949 after all, too soon for the next census].

        So any figures from then used for long term planning are going to be a pure fiction as a result, And not at all expecting anything like a baby boom that was about to engulf the country.

        The talk then was of a housing shortage – way, way worse than now, so bad that NZ would only accept single men immigrants and refugees as they could be housed in dormitories, as opposed to couples and the like who would need houses – which we had less of. And wasn’t until the mid to late 50′s that that problem eased.

    • Ben S

      Oh and here’s the original article should anyone want a read:

      http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-Arc02_04DesR-t1-body-d4.html

      Remember, this is from 1949, with such tasty morsels as:

      “Obviously then we cannot continue for ever to concentrate on building up more and more land with single cottages miles from the centre, on constructing miles upon miles of new roads destroying valuable farm and market gardening land, miles upon miles of water and drain pipes, miles upon miles of tram and train tracks; we cannot continue to sink more and more money into even greater fleets of buses—while the very same facilities exist only half-used in the inner parts of the cities. To continue this trend is uneconomical and must lead toward municipal bankruptcy.”

      Gob-smacking.

      • Yup. Well we’ve proved that, oh of course we just didn’t bother with the train and tram tracks, or, criminally, even a little space aside to add them later……. Gunna take a bit of fixing, the mess they left us….

      • Greg N

        Heres a choice comment on Matts original document, it seems this Mr Pringle has some strange thinking, but it does give a clue as to why the pushed for decentralisation:

        “”Transport prefers dispersal of jobs to avoid expenses like the central motorway system and Harbour Bridge,” said Mr Pringle. “If employment in Auckland continues to remain
        very centralised ,we have to find perhaps $70 million for a new harbour bridge. The public sector would also have to find money to upgrade sewage and water supplies to
        the isthmus.

        “Only the public sector can upgrade existing services, whereas the private sector can be asked to contribute a large proportion of the initial cost of providing new services like
        roads in newly developing areas. Some councils already require roading costs to be mostly met by the developer.”

        So, Mr Pringle is saying in effect, we (as in the Public sector/ratepayers) can’t be expected to pay for the costs of all this expensive upgrading of the Isthmus if we want to fit more folks in.
        But, Aha, the Private sector can by dint of building the new roads in the outer developments “for free”.

        So,in fell swoop you have a classic case of “lack of joined up thinking” in that we can’t afford it, but if we externalise the costs to the private sector, well its like all the pollution from our smoke stack really – it just goes up the chimney, and, well disappears…

        Another interesting comment regarding PT:

        “One of the problems facing public transport is is the high cost of carrying more people during the morning and evening commuter rushes. As with other transport facilities, the
        peak demand dictates the size of the solution and this means more capital spending on buses which lie idle for 19 hours out of 24. The expense of catering for two peaks
        totalling five a day [sic - I assume they meant "5 times a week"] is the central difficulty facing public transport and is **gradually ousting private enterprise from urban passenger transport in New Zealand**”.

        So, what they’re saying is providing for the large daily peaks is expensive for PT (what about the peaks on the motorways and roads guys – ah thats right, you didn’t have a joined up motorway system when that was written did you?). And that as a result Private Enterprise can’t cope.

        Hmm, what a turn around nowadays, where that statement could be rewritten to read how public ownership of public transport is being eased out in favour of private enterprise (by Govt Policy)

        All this report does is state the obvious (more people = a big problem), and then propose (even then) crap solutions along the line of “well lets make it someone elses problem and not the public sectors – problem solved!” Yeah Right

  • We could save a lot of paper by just using the reports from 1976 and implementing them.

  • correction

    Interesting, on one hand you champion mixed use developments but in this post you go on about who it has ruined Auckland and that we should of gone for having everyone commute into the CBS everyday.

    From what I read here, the big issue they made was to focus on small projects when the city was still young and had plenty of space. This only served to back the city into a corner where even getting small improvements costs a fortune.

    • I think you are confusing a few different things and I haven’t said mixed use developments have ruined Auckland. Mixed use developments are fine (for example if you are talking about the ability to have say retail on the bottom and apartments above in the same building) and we used to have that in many of the older town centres built in the isthmus. Over the last 50 years however we went completely away from that model with rigid designations of land that mandated only certain types of development could exist in certain areas. Housing has to be in one place, industrial in another and retail in another again.

      My issue is the idea that we should forcibly decentralise the central area thinking that that would solve out traffic problems. As we now know, it doesn’t work and has probably resulted in many people taking much longer trips to get ‘across town’ to where their employment is.

      • Greg N

        Of course Matt, if the original requirements of the decentralisation idea had also been implemented, then we’d have Rapid Transit, Bus lanes for Africa and a PT System to be proud of.
        So that Buses or were the quickest way to get around and between these dispersed areas as was originally planned…

        And like Patrick said with the comment above about (not) providing space for the tram or train tracks, even if you didn’t actually build them is the really criminal decision here.

        The original CTS Review report was probably written as Muldoon came to power, as I recall, he wasn’t quite as bad for the first year or so (up to late 1976).
        But after that he became more and more like Brownlee is today.

        So this report was based on the landscape that existed before the second oil shock, Iran Revolution, wildly out of control inflation, and eventually Think Big. Kind of cheap oil, and expensive cars.

        It is also odd that about the same time, as I recall the Labour Government of the day, cancelled the plans for turning the country area around Rolleston into a “Satellite city” as the term was then, which was a major expansion area earmarked for Christchurch in the ’70s.

        It was such a big and contentious thing, that the Labour Cabinet meet the whole day over it.
        Yet prior to the oil shocks in the early ’70s Rolleston had been pretty much a “done deal” – so at least the Labour Govt of the day could see the way the wind was blowing.

        It took an event of seismic proportions to cause the planners to dust off and revise that plan and have half of Christchurch moving out that way, some 28 or so years later than planned.
        In a much less co-ordinated fashion…

      • correction

        The idea if decentralisation is good it’s more an issue of being poorly executed. The idea is to make self sustaining communities when people can walk, cycle or take the bus to work or the shops. The issue is that we completely segregated these areas, so work may well have been 1km away but people were required to travel some 5km to get there through poor connectivity. Mixed use in terms if living above shops can’t be a total solution as there is just not the demand for that much retail space, in a similar way people wouldn’t want to live above factories or under offices.

        • Its only really a good idea if you don’t want a highly skilled labour force. Have a look at the videos on post I linked to above (second comment). Businesses gain significant agglomeration benefits from being close to each other. Further a larger pool of businesses in one central place gives those businesses access to a much greater pool of potential employees than what is available if you only can pick from nearby suburbs. That is one of the prime reasons many large organisations have increasingly realised and why we don’t see, as an example, major banks or insurance companies moving their headquarters out to the suburbs where the land is cheaper.

          If you are talking about making communities more sustainable then what is more important is designing them to allow for many of the other activities that we do in our daily life to be able to happen without the need to drive at all. That means being able to walk 5 minutes to get a bottle of milk, to a local cafe or pub etc. Have a look at this post http://transportblog.co.nz/2012/11/22/qimbys-needed-to-pass-the-5-minute-pint-test/

          I agree there isn’t enough retail demand for everyone to be living above shops but the point is that in many places we prevented it from being even being allowed to even happen.

          • correction

            England has a highly decentralised development spread and it has not resulted in them having a low skill labour market. The thing about agglomeration benefits is that they are really more true for 20 years ago, technology these days have meant that location is of less importance than it once was.

          • Actually the opposite is true and agglomeration is paying an increasing part in business because while you can work from home, or from another office, it doesn’t compare to being there in the flesh. As an example, an old team I worked in had half of the staff in Wellington and half in Auckland. Now all are in Auckland and after the change the team was able to be much more efficient simply because we knew what was going on. You don’t have to have organised meetings or phone calls to work out what was going on or to get assistance with something, you could look across your desk. It was far more efficient.

            Again watch the videos on that post I mentioned.

          • correction

            Your example is true for old work methods from 10 or 20 years ago. Today if you want to be economically competitive and attract the best staff you are best to be located in a number of cities and countries. This has become even more common place since the recession.

          • That is about being in a lot of different locations or markets to provide services to that market but generally the business will choose to be as centralised as possible within that market. In the UK for example, the major law firms, banks, insurance and accountants all concentrate in central London.

            Another example, I worked in the Romanian office of an English law firm that had offices throughout Europe, especially Eastern Europe. So it was decentralised in that sense. However, every office was located in the capital city of that country and generally in the central CBD of that city. The firm didnt have an office in Prague and one in Brno or one in Warsaw and another in Krakow. That would be inefficient plus make it much harder for people to get to work.

            The exception was the Bucharest office I worked in. We were stuck on the periphery of the city in a business park with poor PT links and it was a disaster. A stupid Romanian partner had chosen that office before the English firm took over and they were then stuck with it. It was a good illustration for me of exactly why decentralisation doesnt work, especially for skilled professionals.
            Skilled professionals want to be in a central location surrounded by other skilled professionals.

    • harrymc

      “Interesting, on one hand you champion mixed use developments but in this post you go on about who it has ruined Auckland and that we should of gone for having everyone commute into the CBS everyday.”
      Could you explain this? I find it totally incomprehensible: this in particular: “should of”??
      Where has he said “everyone should commute into the CBD every day.” Straw man – weak.

      • correction

        If things are centralised where else is there for people to work. Centralisation forces the use of more expensive transport modes and longer commute trips.

        • Greg N

          Only true/needed when you force everyone out into sprawl densities, far from the areas of work. If instead you had less spread out design, the travel times would be way less than you suggest. Especially wiht a well designed PT system implemented alongside the intensification. Not as some planners afterthought.

          In any case, what alternatives do you suggest now? People now clearly do not work and live in the same vicinity any more – so we have to have a transport system that has to move people from A to B and then C for all sorts of things/reasons, all during the day and night, not just for 2 daily peaks like its some kind of human tide washing in and out of the CBD each day.

  • Oh please England!? What that country around London? Decentralised. You are funny.

    • correction

      Yes in England you can find employment, shops and recreation all over the show. Very few people are forced to make their way into the London cbd when you look at the total population. Part of the reason why their pt system is so good is that it gets used in both directions all throughout the day.

      • counterpoint

        Looking at the official stats, it does seem like relatively few people in England are forced to commute into London CBD for work. In fact, a quick google search suggests that only (approx) 15% of people in England would likely be in a position to do so on a regular basis. I also understand that employment, shops, and recreation can be found throughout the country, driving the mixed-use stake further into the heart of British centralisation. How lucky of the British Isles to have avoided swallowing that bitter pill which forces the use of more expensive transport modes, and longer commute trips, while cleverly utilising their public transport system in such a way that trips can be made in both directions throughout the day.

        • correction

          Not too sure why you insist to troll. But of the 53million people who live in England 300,000 (0.6%) work in the London cbd. The Auckland cbd however gets about 2.5% of the entire countries jobs even though it has few passenger rail connections.

          • From my perspective your comments are trolling. I am not sure how long you have been following this blog and you may think that you are raising some revolutionary new points that noone here has ever thought of. However, all the points you raise have been knocked down many times on this blog.

            At the end of the day, it is a philosophical debate. Decentralisation is like libertarianism or communism. It sounds great but in the real world it doesnt seem to deliver a great society or somewhere that is very nice to live. It delivers dead lifeless cities separated everywhere by horrible traffic sewers.

            I have lived in very centralised European cities (Prague) and cities that have tried decentralisation (Auckland). I certainly know which I would prefer.

            I also dont think the UK is a great example of centralisation. Unfortunately the policies adopted in Britain in the 80′s and 90′s were not great for PT or centraklisatiopn and it is only in the 00′s that we have seen any improvement.

            We need to look at cities of comparable size (Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Prague) to see what Auckland could be like. We made the cardinal mistake in the 50′s of removing the trams and have never really recovered. If we had looked at the cities above in the 50′s we would never have made that mistake and we need to look to them now for inspiration. Those are the kinds of cities I want to live in and it is possible in Auckland, it is only a matter of priorities.

          • counterpoint

            I insist sir, because the lack of clarity in your writing (and consequently, your argument) renders it extremely difficult to follow your train of thought. In this thread, after striking a dichotomy between mixed use and “having everyone commute into the CBD everyday”, you seem to be arguing for cities made mostly of loosely connected local areas where “people can walk, cycle, or take the bus to work or the shops”. You then contend execution hampers this design by disconnecting the community (1km turns to 5km), however mixed use living runs counter to people’s desire to live away from shops, factories, and offices. Do we therefore house those workers and shoppers outside the mixed use area? If so, what component of the use is mixed and what is it mixed with? At what point does this model come full circle to centralisation?

            As the debate continues, England is brought up as an example of this kind of development (presumably – this seems quite disconnected when I read it, but nonetheless…). To my mind, in the context of urban planning in the Auckland region, citing the development patterns of a whole nation is somewhat far-fetched, but I am happy to be corrected by anyone who sees the relevance where I don’t. It is then noted that the majority of people in England do not commute to the London CBD for work. Despite the fact that London is by far and away the most significant urban agglomeration in the region, it seems completely believable that the majority of people in the nation would not be commuters to its densest areas on a regular basis. What this has to do with planning in Auckland, I cannot see. Is there an implication that Auckland should emulate some quality of this development? Is this a thesis in opposition to the thrust of the post? If so, in what sense? Do you contend that Auckland plays a role in New Zealand’s development similar to London in England’s (or indeed the United Kingdom as a whole)?

            The majority of the points you have brought to the discussion seem to me to be nothing more than vague implications of one thing or another. But that alone does not make a post troll-worthy. It is more than anything the total ambiguity of the points you bring to the discussion that drives me to this end. The dim but fervent sense that there is some point struggling to be made. This blog is without doubt a well written and well argued resource for transport issues both in the Auckland region and in general. Like any commentary, it will attract criticism and dissenting opinion. But where your contribution goes awry in the contribution part – what is it that you are trying to say? Am I alone in wandering through the unfocused remarks, the diversionary examples? Or is there some soul that shares my dismay at the lack of focus?

        • Greg N

          I doubt your 300,000 people working in London figure is even half way correct. If you narrowly defined London as the old “City Of London” financial district, maybe but London as a city is way way bigger than that,

          See this link http://www.standard.co.uk/news/half-worlds-population-is-crammed-on-tube-record-34bn-riding-london-transport-6567996.html for a 2011 article about 3.4 Billion (thats right Billion with a B)
          trips being made using the London Tube and Buses each year.

          Over a 365 day year thats about 9.3 million tube and bus trips **a day** – so that number doesn’t tally with your woolly 300,000 people work in London number
          - if every worker used the tube or buses twice each day, that would be what, 600,000 (0.6 million) of that 9.3 million trips a day on average?
          And that assumes no other modes are used. And if each tube rider also uses one bus trip as well, thats a mere 1.2 million bus/tube trips a day for those 300,000 people.

          So, where do the other 8 million plus trips a day come from? People flocking into London for entertainment each night?

          I think your figures and argument need much better researching.

          • Frank E

            I think those numbers show that you don’t need a extremely centralised city to have good public transport.

          • Greg N

            Don’t disagree there – but you need to plan it in up front, not try and shoe horn it in afterwards.
            As the current Cross-Rail development in London shows, the costs of doing that in $, disruption and human terms can be hugely horrendous…

            But as a proportion of the UK population that live around and commute to work “in London” – its way more than the 0.6% that Correction stated by a long chalk.
            So the 2.5% figure touted for Auckland of workers who work in central AK as a % of the NZ population is probably close to the actual figure in London too.

  • Ben S

    The 5 minute test is really about building cities from small molecular units (whether you call them precincts, neighbourhoods) and up into bigger units. It makes total organic sense and, more importantly, it makes social sense.

    You could say ’5 minutes’ is about a one square km area – if you look at premium house prices in AKL as proof of concept, school weighting aside, they tend to correspond to the best de facto ‘villages’ that have been created.

    Some of these smaller, more intimate communities have evolved despite the best attempts of the bureaucrats to consign us to suburbia.

    While we messed things up, the Singaporeans – and their HDB or Housing Development Board – were masterful – a growth strategy that used a rich, cleverly thought out take on the ‘precincts’ idea:

    “By the late 1960s, HDB adopted a more sophisticated “New Town” approach to residential urban planning: integrating residential areas with a town centre, parks, commercial and industrial areas and communal facilities such as a sports stadium and swimming complex… towns were comprehensively planned, so that each neighbourhood had its own smaller neighbourhood centre with shops, while the whole town was served by a larger town centre which formed the main activity hub.

    Then in the 1980s… “the “precinct concept” was established to provide a more conducive setting for community interaction. HDB neighbourhoods were sub-divided into several housing precincts, each comprising 400 to 600 dwelling units [with]… a wide variety of recreational facilities for residents — playgrounds, fitness corners, multi-purpose courts… located at each precinct centre.

    I’ve seen this in action in Singapore – it works brilliantly. The key is a structure built on these precincts or hapus or small urban areas or urban villages. How everything else fits together flows off that – most particularly transport. (We could probably develop something unique to NZ like an “urban hapu” concept maybe.)

    You can still have CBDs (read some form of centralisation) and – ugh – business parks or any other component for that matter, but if, by creating demarcated, resourced precincts with a sense of belonging and a sense of scale within the greater urban environment as your default setting for society-building, then you can start to re-frame why people walk out of their front door to journey somewhere else into a whole new context.

    From that you can re-frame how they make that journey – and then you can start to fundamentally change how a city like AKL works, for the better.
    (It’s pretty easy to work out how this philosophy is, vitally, not based around motorisation. But for it to work, you gotta have local area transport systems that connect well to inter-urban systems that connect well to city-wide express systems etc. Somewhere like Hobsonville is going to be severely diminished because it’s designed on the scale of a ‘suburb’ and offers really weak local area transit options – it will become, I’d wager, yet another car-dominated commuter dormitory, where neighbourhoodism is wretchedly compromised).

  • correction

    Sorry but I was clearly mistaken in my interpretation of this site. I thought it was more a constructive transport site bases on the main story posts. I see now however it’s an exclusive fan club of people who have a single limited view on the world who start to troll when anything else is discussed. I think I’ll leave you fan boys to your own little world again.

    • Frank E

      I have to agree. I used to love this site under jarbury, but it’s turning more & more into an echo chamber where other opinions just aren’t welcome.

    • counterpoint

      You knave! That you would leave me hanging is nothing short of a disgrace! Elucidate your argument! Connect the dots that we might glimpse the insight that you so readily deny us! How, forsooth, do you envisage the mixed-use paradigm you present? What is the link between England and Auckland? Does your thesis in fact run counter to the theme of the post, as it is implied, or is there a hidden, more complex dimension coded in the scattered pieces of your replies? Do tell sir, not for I, little more than a troll, but for the transportblog community at large!

    • Couldnt we make the same argument the other way? You dont seem to be prepared to accept our arguments. As far as I can see, there has been no personal abuse put your way, all the replies have set out in detail our counter arguments and evidence to support it.

      You have done what a lot of people do, come on with some theories about cities and decentralisation that accord with what you think. You also refer to some pie in the sky ideas like telecommuting that we have all been hearing about for 30 years with no real change to how things work.

      However, I havent seen any evidence presented by you. This blog prides itself on being evidence based. If you can present some compelling arguments backed with real evidence, we would all love to hear it.

      Here is a crazy idea. Maybe your ideas wouldnt work? Did you think you would come here, out up a couple of posts and the we would all just slap our foreheads and say “My god, he is right. Centralisation would be a disaster. I am going to drive everywhere from now on and start campaigning against the CRL and a denser Auckland so that I can work from home in my semi rural paradise”?

      Many of the people on this blog are dedicated transport professionals who do nothing but think about these issues all day.
      If you really want to see a site that brooks no other opinion, go over to Whale Oil. They will mostly agree with you but be prepared for some virulent personal abuse if you get off the party line.

      • correction

        Sorry but I never saw anyone actually make an argument for be to either agree or disagree. Pretty much all that is happened is that I pointed out a contradiction in the authors post, given with was different from your religious texts you all started hyperventilating and trying to ridicule some rather basic comments. As to where you pulled telecommuting from I do not know.

  • Mr Anderson

    Centralisation vs decentralisation is a really interesting debate and needs further analysis – I suspect both here and in official documents as there still seems to be little information and guidance available. Obviously there are a lot of things we want decentralised, like parks and schools and local retail and cafes etc. Being able to access this stuff locally is essential.

    What becomes more debatable is when we discuss concentrations lf employment, especially office employment. While there’s a perception that decentralisation will have big transport benefits, I think we are starting to realise that’s only true if you ignore the role of public transport, plus it potentially comes at a significant economic cost due to foregone agglomeration benefits. So unsurprisingly the answer is actually quite complex.

    • Greg N

      So, the precis, of the summary of the summary on the “Centralisation vs decentralisation” debate as to which is the better choice is that “It depends…” right?

    • Mr Anderson

      Yes it depends on the type of activity and type of employment. The problem with Auckland is that we’ve got a lot of employment activity in places like Albany, East Tamaki, Ellerslie and so forth which really should be in the CBD – but has been put off locating in the CBD because of the decades of neglect and destruction that place has endured. For example, pretty much everywhere else in the world the publishing industry is located in dense city centres and leverages off agglomeration benefits enormously, but in Auckland a lot of it is way off in random bits of Albany.

  • This discussion is really very messy. I think there are a lot of quite different things being meant by these terms. ‘Correction’ in particular seems to use decentralisation as meaning the same as mixed use [i think]. These are not the same as it is possible to have a highly centralised city full of mixed use neighbourhoods, like London, or a decentralised city full of single use hoods, like Phoenix.

    Furthermore to take the example from above England the country is highly centralised; London is almost the perfect Primary City, it totally dominates its nation in all areas and by all measures. And just in terms of movement issues, people commute from as far away as York and even Scotland to London… you could even do it from Paris, maybe some do? But that doesn’t mean that London is not full of mixed use communities, it is; you can and people do live and work extremely locally. It’s just that the economic, cultural, and political force that is London is like a magnet for the entire nation [and beyond] making it indisputably ‘The Centre’.

    So is issue the centralisation or one of zoning? These are questions of scale [in general slightly fuller more precise comments would help].

    The other ambiguity is that some seem to be discussing compact versus dispersed cities. Again these can be more or less centralised or not. These terms are not interchangeable.

    In general I think it is safe to say that compact cities with a high degree of mixed use neighbourhoods are the most likely ones to have efficient and affordable movement systems with highly developed active modes and less reliance on the private car. And that highly dispersed cities with a higher quantity of single use areas are likely to be auto-dependent and are the most expensive to get around in. Whether or not either has a dominant centre is another issue.

    Though it is worth noting that Edward Glaeser in Triumph of the City makes a compelling case for the most successful cities having very strong centres… but that doesn’t mean they aren’t mixed use. People do live in the hearts of the world’s greatest cities. There is in fact an observable trend in increasing habitation in the very centres of world cities. Alan Erenhalt in the Great Inversion is very interesting about the invasion of Wall St by baby strollers!

    It does seem that Auckland is increasing its intensity, that is to say it is getting denser and more compact and that this will both need better Transit and active mode provision and make it more successful when it is there. The centre of the city is also strengthening, attracting both employment and habitation. And as evidenced by the return of convenience stores the CBD is a much more mixed use place than it was [my calculations make the early 90s its lowest point]. But also neighbourhoods all over are growing local amenity, especially cafes and other retail, whether it’s Pt Chev, St Heliers, or New Lynn.

    So Auckland is growing in the centre, increasing its localism, and intensifying. I’m just not sure that these changes are captured by the opposition of the terms ‘centralised’ or ‘decentralised’.

  • Tamaki

    Agree with Correction.

    There is a huge cbd bias on this site. We spend so much on the cbd via rates trying to make parking and shopping and transit and streetscrapes work. We’re flogging a dead horse. I would rather go for a coffee at glen innes or slyvia park and agglomerate there :) there are lots of connections to be made, and the council subsidy is much smaller in the burbs.

    • Perhaps, Tamaki, you don’t know that things like the shared spaces in the CBD are funded by additional targeted rates raised specifically in the city to pay for that work. And because rates are based on land and building value those city properties already pay way higher rates than SP or GI. There is no suburban subsidy for the centre. Also the increase in amenity and services everywhere is clearly a good thing and not dependant on other areas declining. The success of Sylvia Park or GI is good for the CBD and visa-versa. Long live the local; including the centre.

  • Correction

    I will write this on my laptop rather than my cell phone to see if it helps.

    So going right back to the start of this article we were told that decentralisation is bad and that it has caused all sorts of issues.

    First let’s break down the difference between decentralisation & centralisation.

    Centralisation = having the majority of all work, recreational and shopping activities located in one central area.

    Decentralisation = having work, recreation and shopping activities spread over the city or country functioning as smaller centres.

    Now the first issue I see here is that people seem to be assuming that decentralisation requires large exclusively zoned areas which are separated from other zones through the use of large motorways with complex street layouts, poor public transport and a minimum journey time between zones of 20mins during free flow conditions. This however has nothing to do with decentralisation and is purely related to poor planning.

    As Ben S pointed out in Singapore they did a great job of creating precincts and multiple town centres.

    Now based on the zealous contention to decentralisation it is clear the majority here would prefer that we had the majority of all jobs located in Auckland’s existing CBD limits. Not only lawyers and accountants but we will have steel mills, factories, lumber yards all located in the CBD, even the person who maintains the street lights in Dunedin will be based out of the Auckland CBD. This would push land prices so high people would be unable to afford to live in the CBD, we could afford few parks and all transport would need to be underground. This would mean everyone would have no choice but to travel into the CBD to get to work. The simple task of buying a bottle of milk would require a 1 hour round trip on the train for the average worker. Now this does seem extreme, however given you appear to task decentralisation to such an extreme I can only assume you propose the same for centralisation.

    Of course it is clear why people are in favour of this, this being that once the CBD gets so overly populated the country will have no choice but to build the CRL.

    If we go to the last point of mixed use. Mixed use is pretty much by definition decentralisation as you are spreading things out rather than putting all the shops and jobs in one central location.

    • Mr Anderson

      Your straw man arguments are getting tiring. You’ve assumed a meaning of centralisation (e.g. steel mills in the CBD) that nobody else has suggested.

      I think we’ll call this a first warning for trolling.

    • S

      Part of the argument for the CRL is that it is already needed. Your phrase ‘overly populated’ is questionable because it is difficult to quantify.

      • correction

        Already of benefit yes, needed no. Particularly with the reduction in rail patronage over the past year. If all else were to stay the same the new bus network is all we “need” right now.

        • Greg N

          CRL is not *needed* next year, nor is it funded to be – its wanted by some here, sooner than that, but its actually *needed* within 8 or so years. But building the CRL from woe to go, is going to take some 7-8 or so years, so its a close run thing already. That multi-billion price tag you talk about for CRL is not going to spent in one up front lump sum either – and then we wait 7 years for the CRL to arrive like a second coming. Nope, its a gradual spend, costed at 1.8 million dollars in “present” money, spread over the 7 years of the build. It will be higher than figure possibly when the money is spent due to infaltion over the time between now and when the money is spent, but thats allowed for in the plans, just like any Motorway or RoNS project is.

          Once the new Electric trains come on stream over the next 3 years – with their vast people carrying capacity, and the bus services are realigned to deliver people to and from the closest train stations onto those new trains, instead of competing with the trains – you’ll see PT use, particularly train patronage skyrocket plenty soon enough.
          It won’t hit 3.4 Billion trips anytime soon like London has, but it will certainly increase by tens of millions more PT trips a year over that time.

          Buses as they are, *may* cope to 2021 (best case, possibly not in likely case), and all else will NOT stay the same over the next few years as you predict.
          - because beyond that point the Future Access study (CCFAS) last year showed that buses can’t cut the mustard medium to long term.

          They can’t cut it now beyond the short term without the realignment and using trains for the backbone of the network like they do in big cities like London.

          Once that congestion point for buses is reached you have to invest very heavily in bus, bus tunnels or do something else pretty serious to make up for the fact that the roads will be full (of buses) and cars and not much else.

          The only cost-effective way to manage this lot – the CCFAS study came up with as a solution from all the *48* or so alternatives they looked at, to deal with that is the CRL.
          Without CRL, the realigned bus and trains (i.e. 95% of the PT system) will grind to a halt within a dozen or so years from now. More roads won’t help much – where will they go?

          If you want to judge the train system “success” by 1 year of less stellar growth (out of 10 immediately prior years of steady year on year growth) and when the last 3 years have seen high levels of outages caused by decades of deferred maintenance and electrification of lines work being carried out on the rail network – then you’re welcome to do so, but you will be seriously misjudging the PT situation if you do.

          Heck if you’re really het up about this here CRL thing – move out of Auckland – but you’ll probably end up paying for it one way or other, in either case, whether CRL happens or not.

          • Correction

            Woo slow down a little there.

            I get the feeling you were replying to someone else as I never mentioned the cost of the CRL once, or get all that “het up” about it.

            You are quite right about the new trains however, I get the feeling that once those are running quite a few people will be wanting to test them out and likely stay using them.

            As you mention though some of the reasoning for the need for the CRL is that we are doing various other things at the same time to force its need. The adjustment of the bus network is a good example as we will be sending people who used to take the bus all the way into town to the closest railway station instead. In a way it’s like saying we need a new road as in 3 years time we are going to force everyone who is taking a bus right now to drive.

            Putting that aside for now however, right now the CRL is not held up by a shortage of money as the route is till being consented. If you look at things like the Waterview Connection, that had a route put in place about 2 years ago now, it is only just getting ready for digging the tunnel and spending the big $$$. With luck the CRL will run straight into a government with the money ready at hand, we will certainly have a bit saved up from the RoNS as of that $12B it looks like they are only going to get to spend about $3B before the next election.

          • Mr Anderson

            The 2016 bus network doesn’t “force” the City Rail Link at all. It takes advantage of the additional capacity on the rail network from electrification to reduce the current duplication between buses and trains so that we can reduce/not increase the number of buses in the city centre and also reinvest that money in better bus services elsewhere.

            Please tell me how that can be a bad thing?

          • SteveC

            it’s a good thing Mr Anderson, except that I’ve always seen otherwise parallel bus and train services as complimentary, not in competition.

            buses provide a much finer grained stopping pattern than trains, so cater for the short “hop on, hop off” travel along Great South Rd for example. It’s a different market from the longer distance travel provided by the trains. That said, a single bus doesn’t have to go all the way along GSR to provide that service, rather a reasonable level of service all the way along GSR provided by buses on multiple routes would do the trick. Best of both worlds, eh?

          • Luke C

            many buses deliberately go near, but not past train stations to force people to catch the bus, when a combo would deliver a better job overall.
            For example the Titirangi expresses would be much better of running shuttles between Titirangi and New Lynn station. Then they would also help people travelling between Titirangi and New Lynn, Rosebank, Henderson etc. I admit in short term rail overcorwding may mean we need to keep a few of these services, but once electric trains fully running should be ok.

  • correction

    Actually people have numerous times, any time there has been any mention of employment outside of the cbd it has been responded to with ridicule. Pretty much the people I have responded to are the ones who have been trolling with strawman arguments. Such as counterpoint who suggested that 15 million people commute into the London cbd everyday.

    • Greg N

      Sorry sunshine, if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you twice – don’t exagerate.

      No one here said 15 million PEOPLE commute to London every day, what *I* said was 9.3 million PT *TRIPS* are made in London on the Tube and Bus on average each day of the year.
      Those figures come from the UK Papers, not made up (well if they were from the News Of The World – maybe, but they weren’t from NOTW or made up). Go re-read the article yourself.

      Don’t know what planet you live on that 3.4 Billion trips on PT in any ones land is a shed load of trips a year, per month, per week, per day, per hour or minute, no matter how you slice it

      So, get over your obsession with shooting from the lip, and tackle the issue not the messenger and please, do some basic fact checking if you want to have a proper discussion.

      If all you want to do is troll, keep at it son, I’m sure you’ll wear out your welcome soon enough.

      • correction

        Sorry slight mistake there. Counterpoint said 15% of the country commuted to the London cbd for work each day, so about 8 million.

        Your numbers are quite right however. About 9 million trips are made on the London transport system. This is not to be confused with people going to the cbd each day but the member using pt to go anywhere in greater London.

      • correction

        Sorry for the typos by the way. Predictive txt likes to change words at the last moment with little notice.

        • counterpoint

          Sir, your typographical and grammatical errors, while annoying, are the least of the issues I take with your posts. Irrespective of your opinion in urban matters, you simply fail to make your point known. I still struggle to understand how the various components you have put forward in this thread are linked. What is the relevance of the proportion of the United Kingdom that commute to the London CBD? How does this link to your confusing advocacy of mixed-use development (I say confusing, because you argue for mixed-use while basically saying that people “wouldn’t want to live above factories or under offices”, which I take to mean they would live somewhere else….?). You also miss the point with my trite calculation. Since trolling alone does not seem to convey the message, let me ask directly – what does the population of the United Kingdom that commutes to London CBD have to do with decentralisation? To put the finest point I can, an argument like this would typically be made to show that of the total trips made, only a small fraction are to some area (that we might typically think of being destination for a majority of trips). It would stand to reason, with the population of the United Kingdom being in the order of 51 million, and the population of London being in the order of 8 million, that only a small number of commuters in the United Kingdom would commute to London CBD. In fact, to a first approximation, it would not be unreasonable to say that nobody living outside the London area would commute to the London CBD. One explanation might be, that these people in fact live in other cities within the United Kingdom, and instead commute to work within those cities, perhaps to the CBD and perhaps not. When you say England is spread out, it is implied that you refer to the country. But of course, England (and the rest of the UK) is not a continuous urban mass, and is therefore decentralised. How this analysis benefits urban planning, I cannot say. Do we perhaps look at maps of countries with many cities that are not built adjacent to each other, and champion this as a model of decentralisation? Do you see the city itself as a microcosm of this larger urban network where the city is the base unit? Is this perhaps a comment on the role of Auckland in a New Zealand context, arguing that it should decentralise like the United Kingdom? Perhaps at this point, your other remark about mixed-use development comes into its own, each local community mirroring the roles of cities in the broader national context?

          Of course, these issues are answered to some extent in your rebuttal of 7:37pm, in which you define your view of centralisation as that of a singularity (“Not only lawyers and accountants but we will have steel mills, factories, lumber yards all located in the CBD, even the person who maintains the street lights in Dunedin will be based out of the Auckland CBD.”). The direction veers tentatively into conspiracy territory, positing that the true motives of urban agglomeration lie with the construction of a contentious piece of infrastructure. Is this infrastructure doomed to the same fate as the London tube – to be caught by 0.6% of the people of the United Kingdom? Perhaps only when the workers of Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin are commuting to the Auckland CBD will the project truly prove its worth?

          The point here is not to answer a list of questions, but rather to look at the point you are trying to make and make it. You claim the blog is closed minded and against you. I put it to you that your vague positioning, empty rhetoric, and confusing prose are to blame.

          When clarity of communication is achieved, my reason to troll will cease to be.

    • counterpoint

      While I am trolling, it should be noted that I simply divided the population of London by the Population of the United Kingdom, and arrived at that figure. This was in response to the notion that few people in England commute to the London CBD. I put it to you that it would be impractical to commute to the London CBD if you lived in England but not in London. As I mentioned before, I was unable to work out how this idea of England being a dispersed place was related to your argument, which I took to be that centralisation was on balance negative. I in fact did no analysis whatsoever on the actual number of trips to the London CBD by commuters, assuming at first this was simply a typo. I am still not entirely sure how the dispersion in England (which is an entire country, containing cities that are not all agglomerated into a single urban conurbation) with respect to commuter trips to London’s CBD relates to your thesis on centralisation. Discuss?

      Oh, and TROLL TROLL TROLL TROLL

      • Greg N

        You stated “But of the 53 million people who live in England 300,000 (0.6%) work in the London cbd. The Auckland cbd however gets about 2.5% of the entire countries jobs even though it has few passenger rail connections.”

        First up it doesn’t matter how many train or bus stations you have, it matters how they’re linked up to each other.

        Your 300,000 people working in the London CBD is correct only if define the London CBD as a very narrow area of some part of the “financial district.”.
        Wider London has millions of people in it. Plus the immediate surrounding 13 or counties act as “feeder” suburbs to London make for a total of ten to twenty million “commutable population” easily.

        When I worked in the UK, people in my office floor commuted from **all over** southern England to the offices where I was working in Kingsway, near St Martins In the Fields.
        The building had 15 or so floors in it, and every floor was owned by the same organisation, and every floor had a similar level of distant commuters in it.
        I saw that first hand as when the train strike or bad weather happened, the office was invariably closed for the day as about 80% of people couldn’t get to work as they all lived out of London.

        Wasn’t the “City” Financial district at all, but was definitely CBD by any definition of the term.

        While working their I went up onto the top floor of the skyscraper I worked in, from there, you could see Londons “CBD” in all directions as far as the eye could see – easy to do based on the height of the buildings visible from that location. Tall buildings are offices (tip – they are if they have bigger windows, if not they are apartments).
        So the London CBD is pretty massive by that visual yardstick. And this predated the bulk of the Canary Wharf redevelopment.

        Of those commuters, most chose to live out of London, many lived down at the southern coast of England some near the Isle of Wight, some in Kent, some near Brighton. some further up north, Bedford, Milton Keynes etc.

        They commuted every day like that. But they preferred living where they did, but didn’t have a job there, so commuted and it was fast enough and practical for them to do so.
        Until it snowed…
        Many had lived in London at some poiint, but found commuting better and cheaper overall to living in London and paying London prices
        - mostly as the train and tube system was so good then. Even if crowded at times.

        On that example alone the entire southern England can be seen as the “commuter belt” for London and they can, and are, commuting into Londons CBD each and every day for work.

        So, your comment/assumption that only 300,000 (0.6%) of the working UK population can/could commute into Londons CBD daily is wrong.

        If it wasn’t the case – where do the people who take those 9.3 million PT Trips a day in London come from if they’re not commuting into London from outer areas or further afield then getting the tube or buses to where they go?

        Yes, some are cross town commuters, e.g. live in North London, work in South London etc. And yes, some live in London and commute out
        (I had a ex colleague who did – went to Bristol every day and back from his home in London for his work).

        But just as many you’ll find come from outside London and work in the CBD area
        - the seething masses of people walking to/from Waterloo station over the Thames bridges and/or getting on the Tube at Waterloo tube station then exiting via Temple Tube station with me each morning testified to that.

        The points being that:

        (a) your use of numbers and facts both yours and others is extremely fast and loose to your detriment and credibility
        (b) agglomeration like shit, happens, whether we want it to or not
        (c) people like being together when they work even if they live at other ends of the country – and if the PT system lets them do so cost effectively they will
        (d) the Auckland CBD is not as well served by PT as Londons CBD is yet, but there is going to be growth in the CBD whether you plan for it or not, so might as well plan for it as not
        (e) de-centralisation only works for the longer term benefit of all if you put the PT options in at the same time not afterwards.
        (f) people will live and work in different places – but cost of living and ease of commute to work are two factors which decide the balance of whether they live near work or not
        (g) People are commuting into London each day from all over Southern England – contrary to your assertion that they don’t

        • Correction

          From what I can see my figures are rather solid, its just that I am keeping things in context.

          So in the case of Auckland we have about 100,000 jobs in the CBD being the defined central area. For London if we look at just the CBD you are looking at 300,000 jobs.
          So keep an eye here on the fact that I am just talking CBD, as this is why people are talking about when they talking about centralisation in Auckland.

          Now if we look outside of the CBD Auckland goes almost straight into residential zones, whereas due to London having limits on building heights and the fact that its commercial areas developed along the river a long time ago you get all sorts of employment centres along the river.

          As you quite rightly pointed out yourself London is surrounded by other population centres getting an employment base of some 20 million, What you didn’t point out however was that these are centres are not dormitories but also provide jobs, people can also shop and recreate in this places. So if you include the London Metro along with the regional rail lines you get over 10 million people going to different parts of London and south east England for work. And on a percentage basis only a very small portion go to the London CBD as London does not have a one stop shop for all jobs but rather a number of different areas.

          Going to your points.
          A) Admitted, I used 15 million when I was meant to use 15% ( 8 million)
          B) ?
          C) no one ever suggested people be kept apart or unable to work togeather.
          D We already are planning for growth in the CBD with the CRL designation being put in place.
          E) it is more that PT needs to be planned for and space provided, more importantly however is that with good planning you don’t need expensive PT or a car straight away, A higher portion could just walk, cycle or take some minor form of PT such as a bus.
          F) people also have a choice as to where they work
          G) when did I say people don’t commute to London?

          • counterpoint

            I may be a troll, but I am a man of honour. This post offers a coherency that belies previous efforts.

          • You seem to have started by saying that this post has a contradiction. That contradiction is that he likes mixed use but doesnt want decentralisation.

            But the problem there is that mixed use and decentralisation arent the same thing.

            It seems the whole London discussion above is a massive red herring. Comparing London to Auckland is crazy as they are too different in size.

            The vision I would like to see Auckland realise (and that I have seen work in Europe) is where you have a good train train network like the RER in Paris or the S-Bahn in Berlin. It is really too late for Auckland to have a good underground like Copenhagen or Prague. This would have 5 min frequencies after the CRL is built.

            This would allow people to live far away from the CBD and get there quite painlessly. However, obviously we dont want steel mills and lumber yards in the central city, which I would extend right out to Grey Lynn, Newmarket, Parnell zone. This would be the “white collar” and hospitality industry centre for the city.

            The CRl with its frequencies would allow someone to live in Henderson and take the train to Ellerslie to one of the business parks there. Over time, as people moved away from their autodependency, you will see intensive development with 2-3 kms of the stations. This will be mixed use development, terraced housing or apartments built with shops and bars nearby. This is what you see in European and rich Asian cities.

            So it isnt about saying how the existing Auckland will function differently. It is about changing Auckland to become a new kind of city. A transit city with a lot of people choosing to live near public transport links to make their life easier.

            Of course, 100% of people wont do that. A real transit/cycling city like Copenhagen has a modal split of (roughly) 1/3 PT, 1/3 cycling/walking and 1/3 driving. If Auckland could get from 87% driving currently to 65% driving by 2025, that would be a massive achievement and make us the best transit city in Australasia. But you might still have 50% (if 15% cycle/walk) driving to work.

            Now you might hate a city like that. But that is a philosophical/political question. What you seem to want is a more rural feel while living in a city of 1.5m people (2.5m people in 20 years time). A city that size cannot function properly with everyone dispersed all over the place with no transit to link them. Cars cannot deliver proper transport options in a city that size for most of the population.

            Maybe it would help if you described how you imagine a city of 2.5m people working without a rapid train network and what cities you have seen where this works well.

          • Bryce P

            I’m with you goosoid. That’s the kind of city I want to live in as well. I’d live in Amsterdam if they had nice beaches, surf, great diving and good weather but they don’t so there’s nothing wrong with ratepayers wanting what others have, but in Auckland, rather than what we have now. An Auckland as you describe, combined with the natural features already here, would be a city that people will genuinely want to come to. That may be enough to sway the supposed ‘brain drain’.

        • Luke C

          Yes thanks to high speed trains London’s commuter belt is vast, and takes over half of southern England. Of course many people may only come in a day or week, but come in they do. Doing a 5 second google search you will find lots of examples of people regularly traveling to London from Leeds, Birmingham, Manchester, Wales etc.

  • Luke C

    There a big differences in the types of decentralisation. For example Manukau City centre has a bunch of office towers. These are decentralised in the context of the Auckland region, but centralised in terms of South Auckland. In my mind I dont mind some decentralisation, as long as its centralized!
    For example most of these Manukau jobs are call centres, or local service firms, ie Lawyers connected with the local courts. Clearly these don’t need to be in the CBD.
    Because the Manukau City centre employment is based around a town centre with other retailing, public service, and parks there is sufficient critical mass for Manukau to have good PT links from the surrounding areas.
    What I do have a problem with though is offices scattered through Highbrook, East Tamaki, and Rosedale/North Harbour. There is no critical mass for high quality Public Transport to serve these areas, because offices scattered throughout areas of warehousing. Hence these areas totally lack walkability, public space, and have limited options for food, and you would generally have to drive to get to them.
    These areas would be much much better if the employment was more centralised, ie walkable from Albany centre, or create a ‘mixed use’ employment, retail and living zone around Botany Town Centre (malls are not town centres btw, grrr!).

  • Riccardo

    Guys, look to Sydney. “Centralised Decentralisation”. Alternate CBDs at Parramatta, North Sydney, Chatswood, North Ryde, Homebush and others planned.

    These reflect (for a city of nearly 5 million) the reality that there is both a land premium which locks out industries other than finance, corporate HQ or government, but also some topographic limitations that prevent easy access for everyone. Parramatta is 30km west of Sydney and serves over 1 million people who don’t need to travel all the way into Sydney (but do need to travel). The North Shore business districts avoid the need to use the Harbour Bridge, but are all well served by rail and road. Busways are also in place for Parramatta and are being considered for others. Parramatta is also pushing for its own light rail system.

    Clearly a larger city, but important lessons – you can provide good agglomoration benefits away from your traditional CBD, while still achieving access/mobility outcomes. You do not keep needing to predict and provide into your traditional CBD but let some market forces do their job.

    • Yes of course. And that was what Manukau was supposed to be but despite decades of attempts to make it work, including millions [subsidies, basically] on dreary highways and all the parking you can eat it fails to thrive… has never got over being put in precisely the wrong place and being strangled by all those roady attempts at accessibility. [Takapuna looks good to me as a good vertical variant to the CBD, and it would happen now with a rail connection. Those carparks should be towers with fine views]

      Anyway as has been said above; multiple centres of agglomeration are possible and desirable but this is no argument to strangle the primary centre of the region….Your example Sydney does have satellite centres but it also sure has one dominant primary centre… i just fail to understand the idea that somehow Auckland can thrive economically by spitefully refusing to provide decent connectivity to its already beating heart [not that that is all that the CRL does, but we have been over that so many times].

      It’s like a doctor saying; ‘don’t worry about the blood supply to the heart; aren’t those legs doing well’. A city is one organism and it needs all areas to be healthy, but is there one place that failure is more of a problem than the rest? Yes, and that’s the centre.

      If a dynamic city centre doesn’t appeal I can only say perhaps a city is not the place for you? Plenty of lovely small towns in NZ.

    • Luke C

      good urban design, and excellent PT links between secondary centres is key, and then theres no problem with them.
      However in many cases they have developed as auto dependent centres, so spread serious traffic congestion all over the city.
      For example Takapuna is fine, however Albany is a mess due to highway standard roads separating workplaces, mall and the university, buildings with carparks or solid walls facing the street and so on.
      East Auckland is terrible as there is no centre at all, with workplaces not connected to shopping.
      Most of Ellerslie is ok as there is a critical mass there for some variety of retail and food nearby, with main Public Transport routes running through the middle, however PT from the Inner West is seriously lacking, and some urban design is bad such as carparks facing road. but newer buildings better.

      • Yes. And here there is hope for New Lynn stepping up, and even poor old Panmure. Albany is a disaster made by greedy idiots. This is some hope that Manukau may improve with the rail link by basically shifting its very centre west towards it, already happening tentatively with the MIT campus and that apartment conversion. But that will depend on a good combination of rail and bus service patterns, not there yet but coming. However as noted above disconnected business parks are not agglomerative but dispersive.

        On the whole, and especially if the Council’s vision is allowed to take place, I see the good trends of this century continuing to develop organically. A strengthening centre and strengthening satellites, and everywhere increased localism… including in more distant mini centres like Pukekohe. The delivery of fast, frequent electric rail to places south of Papkura will surely allow them to grow even stronger identities and economies through the growing option of efficient commuting… [and not just to the CBD]

  • harrymc

    “If a dynamic city centre doesn’t appeal I can only say perhaps a city is not the place for you? Plenty of lovely small towns in NZ.”

    Patrick, that sums it up perfectly for me. I love big cities and Auckland isn’t there yet, not without a proper PT system. For some in NZ it seems that every great city in the world has got it wrong and Auckland is the exception.. What would London be without the tube, Paris without the Metro, New York without the subway? They would be…..Auckland probably.
    Big cities will define the next century and NZ needs Auckland to succeed.

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