Last week’s transport announcements were in many ways a triumph for Auckland Council and Auckland Transport, as they finally got the government to buy into the transport direction that is set by the Auckland Plan and then given more detail by Auckland Transport’s Integrated Transport Programme (ITP). The ITP is a 30 year transport strategy for Auckland which gives effect to the transport chapter of the Auckland Plan, fills in the details of projects to be built over the next 30 years and then analyses the performance of the transport network over that time frame. Key elements of the ITP reflect the big ticket transport items in the Auckland Plan that were supported by the government last Friday: the City Rail Link, AMETI and the East-West Link and the Additional Harbour Crossing project.
So far this sounds like a great story: Auckland’s come up with a long-term transport plan involving a number of very expensive projects and the government has broadly agreed with that plan. Unfortunately, the ITP is complete rubbish – full of stupid projects which simply don’t make sense and lacking a true vision for Auckland’s transport future. And somewhat surprisingly, even with the eye-watering price tag of $60+ billion the transport network’s performance gets considerably worse over the next 30 years.
Congestion gets worse:Greenhouse Gas emissions get worse (the numbers on the x axis refer to land-use scenarios, with 3 indicating a medium growth scenario):There’s little increase from the current 50% of vehicular trips to the city centre in the AM peak being on public transport:We don’t get anywhere near the target for non-car modeshare during the AM peak period across the city:The prime reason for the failure to meet so many of these targets is that the public transport system remains a relatively poor choice for most trips compared to driving. Therefore people still drive, the roads still get clogged, the greenhouse gas emissions [and all the other dis-benefits of auto-depenancy] continue to increase, there’s little change in modeshare and so forth. Perhaps the situation is best summed up by the graph below – which highlights the continued relative unattractiveness of the PT system in the future:According to the graph above, pretty much no PT trips are less than half an hour long in the future – a pretty terrible outcome. Furthermore, it seems that hardly any employment is located within a 60 minute trip on public transport – another pretty terrible (although less plausible) outcome. Whether this reflects some serious errors in the transport modelling process or whether this is a true reflection of our future I’m not sure, but these results indicate that in 2040 we’re going to be in much the same situation we are now under the ITP: a relatively crap public transport system meaning that for most trips we’re still going to be car dependent. And no wonder, when you look at the funding in the ITP most of it goes to roads.
So much for a transformational shift.
I’m not sure whether the government’s advisors have highlighted the flaws in what they’ve just bought into. Perhaps the government felt that after giving the thumbs up to the City Rail Link it also needed to balance that with support for an eye-watering number of motorway projects, even though the big picture of what all this spending leads to doesn’t really make sense.
Over the next few weeks we’re going to discuss in detail an alternative to the government’s transport package and the Integrated Transport Programme. A far better alternative that’s around the same price but will deliver far superior outcomes. An alternative that will truly give Auckland an alternative to the congested roading network, an alternative to rising greenhouse gas emissions, an alternative that will make achieving the modeshare shift targets far more possible and which will finally deliver upon the promise to make public transport the ‘mode of choice’ for longer trips.
We call it the Congestion Free Network and we look forward to sharing it with you.