There’s been a lot of discussion after Auckland’s roading network completely collapsed on Thursday due to a crash on the Newmarket viaduct, which caused huge delays.
More than two hours later, traffic on almost all of the city’s arterial routes was gridlocked, with buses backed up in city streets and motorists reporting speeds of less than 10km/h.
Journeys that normally took 15 minutes were taking more than an hour.
Automobile Association traffic spokesman Phil Allen said he had never seen traffic so bad in central Auckland.
The association launched traffic-mapping technology on its site 18 months ago. Routes marked in black show where traffic is moving at under 25 per cent of the speed limit. “I have never seen so much black in the CBD. I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Having the Newmarket viaduct blocked off just before rush hour during the busiest week of the year for traffic (March madness) is pretty much a “perfect storm” in terms of things that can go wrong. Interestingly the train system ran just fine throughout the event because of its fundamental separation from the roading network – whereas most bus route in the area got completely nailed by the delays as they spread from the motorway network onto the local roads.
Len Brown’s comments in the Herald highlighted that while events such as what happened on Thursday are incredibly difficult to plan around, the ‘fragility’ of Auckland’s transport network to events like this is a really big issue and something improved public transport would help reduce:
Mayor Len Brown said the gridlock showed “why we need to invest in an integrated transport system including trains, ferries and buses”.
“Only through initiatives such as integrated ticketing, our new electric train fleet and the City Rail Link, can we unclog our roads and unlock the potential of Auckland.”
Cameron Brewer’s comments are, unsurprisingly, less sensible:
Auckland Councillor Cameron Brewer said he had to miss the Orakei Local Board meeting because of the traffic. He left the Town Hall at 5pm, spent 40 minutes on Hobson St, opted to take the Northwestern Motorway, got off at St Lukes and made his way across town to his home in Ellerslie, arriving an hour and 45 minutes later.
“When the airport western ring road to Waterview is complete that will take some pressure off SH1, but what that one accident shows is just how reliant almost all of us are on cars, and that’s not going to change much in the foreseeable future.
“It should be a real wake-up call to the mayor as to where the real problems and frustrations lie for most Aucklanders – that is in traffic jams.”
Mr Brewer said he’d like more improvements to the motorway network and more bus lanes, ferry terminals and cycle and walkways, rather than the CBD rail tunnel.
While the Waterview Connection is a project that would help a lot in situations like this – by providing that much needed “alternative route” – unless Mr Brewer is advocating for a return of the Eastern Motorway project I can’t quite see how further motorway improvements would change what happened on Thursday. And he should have just taken the train to the Local Board meeting as it was held not too far from the Meadowbank train station.
And it seems like the chaos has continued today – not helped by Auckland Transport’s stupidity in not running anything better than hourly trains across much of the rail network even though there are a huge number of events on in Auckland.