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A Congestion Free Network

In this recent post we highlighted how, despite $60 billion or more of transport spending over the next 30 years, congestion is due to get significantly worse. This is a pretty disappointing result – occurring both in the scenarios when all the projects are funded and also in the scenario when we spend less money and build fewer projects.There’s about $10-15 billion of spending difference between the two scenarios – to achieve what really seems to be a pretty minimal difference in outcomes. As noted in recent posts, most of that spending is in the form of road projects – many of which make little sense.

The real problem for Auckland, compared to so many cities around the world is not the severity of our congestion but the fact that we generally have no alternative. Most public transport trips are on buses which mix with general traffic – meaning they get stuck in the same congestion as everyone else. For most trips, public transport is a poor alternative to driving. Too slow (because it’s stuck in the same traffic jams), too expensive, too unreliable. While perhaps overblown a bit, transport modelling highlights how pathetically slow public transport currently is for many trips across Auckland:

Improving the quality of the alternatives to driving does help free up the roads by attracting number of people away from driving but really this isn’t the main role of Transit networks. All big cities have congestion – and Auckland will be no exception to this rule. But they also all provide alternatives. The streets of Manhattan are congested but most people avoid it by catching the subway. Nobody drives from Parramatta to downtown Sydney at peak times, they catch the train because it’s so much faster. London would collapse without its Underground. These cities all experience congestion, but it doesn’t matter nearly as much as in Auckland because an alternative, a network free of congestion, exists.

Decades of research show that you can’t build your way out of congestion. Widen a motorway and it fills up again. Build a new motorway and it fills up. Even the widest motorways in the world still get jammed up at peak times:highway401-jammedWhat Auckland so desperately needs is an alternative to its congested transport network. A way to ‘opt out’ of congested travel. True travel choice that’s faster, more reliable and reduces the burden of getting around our city.

So we, in collaboration with Generation Zero, have developed an alternative plan for Auckland called the Congestion Free Network. 

We have a limited congestion free network today: the existing railway lines, parts of the Northern Busway (Constellation to Akoranga) and some stretches of bus lane. In these locations no matter how congested up the roads get, there’s always a congestion free alternative available. But they’re relatively few and far between.

Over the next 20 years Auckland can, for the same price or less as what’s currently proposed in the ITP, construct a congestion free network which covers almost every corner of the urban area. Electrified rail to Pukekohe, busways to Silverdale, Kumeu, Botany to Panmure, Manukau to Botany, rail to the Airport, light-rail along Dominion Road, an extensive ferry network and even rail to the North Shore.

We think that this is a much better approach than what’s in the Integrated Transport Programme. We think that this approach takes the best parts of last week’s transport announcements by Central Government, the best bits of what’s in the Auckland Plan and creates a modern, world-class transport system that Auckland can be proud of. We think that a proper congestion free network will actually be so attractive for Aucklanders that it can be more successful in freeing up the roads than heading down a path towards our own 18 lane motorways.

A plan for a congestion free network must also be realistic. While in many respects we have a lot of money to play with, given the eye-watering sums proposed for spending on transport in Auckland over the next 30 years, we think that there’s probably no need to spend as much money. So we’re going to let you know exactly what transport projects we don’t think Auckland needs and how we can redirect that money towards the projects Auckland actually does need. And have no fear, of course Auckland’s going to have more roads in 2030 than it does today. As we’ve discussed previously a number of roading projects do make some sense – although perhaps not in their currently planned gold-plated form.

We have an idea about what should be in a 2020, 2025 and 2030 congestion free network. We think the projects that make up these networks are affordable, realistic and can deliver a transformational shift in the quality of Auckland’s transport system. But before we get onto what we think, we’re keen to know what you think.

  • How would you phase in a congestion free network over the next 17 years?
  • What do you think are the most important projects to have done by 2020?
  • What do you think should be cut or wound back to free up funding for the congestion free network?
  • What parts of the congestion free network should be provided by buses and what parts by trains?
  • What do you think is the role of light-rail in a congestion free network? Or ferries?

Ultimately, the congestion free network is about giving people real and genuine choice. The choice to opt out of being stuck in traffic:NZH0552245483

125 comments to A Congestion Free Network

  • This is a great concept, but I think most readers have always known that.
    A few important concepts are that because Auckland is still a fairly low-density sprawling city, park and ride facilities for all hubs will be important. I’ve always hoped that we might see dedicated bike paths leading to park and rides with sheltered, secure bicycle facilities, too.
    Hopefully the folks over at Generation Zero would agree, but we need to move to electrified transport wherever possible, both for greater economic freedom (locally produced, renewable electricity vs imported oil fuels) as well as for obvious environmental reasons. Thus we should be planning ahead to upgrade busways for trolley buses, and utilising light rail or trams wherever possible. Central to CBD fringe lines (Parnell, Newmarket, Ponsonby, Dominion Rd, Mt Eden, Pt Chev…) should always have been trams.

    Obviously massive spending on motorways should be put on hold to re-assess their need after suitable public transport is provided.

    • John Polkinghorne

      Auckland might be sprawling, sure, but it’s not really low-density. Across the entire urban area, it’s higher density than any other cities in Australasia (with the possible exception of Sydney). See

      http://transportblog.co.nz/2010/07/21/aucklands-population-density-killing-off-the-myths/
      http://transportblog.co.nz/2012/12/06/myth-busting-aucklands-geography/

      • Park n Ride is a good idea for the truely low density fringes of the city, places like Dairy Flat, Kumeu and Cleavdon. Inside the suburbs however an integrated bus network can do a much more effective job.

      • I wouldn’t claim at all that Auckland was too low density for public transport, but outside of main corridors, the private motor vehicle is going to remain more competitive to get large numbers of people from their homes to a transport hub and vice versa. Suburbia has left us with this legacy, and there is simply no way a meandering bus route can compete with that sort of population dispersal. You could locate smaller park and ride facilities further from major transport hubs, and have people cycle or drive to a local node, but each step of the way adds complexity, cost and journey time. You would have difficulty making this part of the journey ‘congestion free’, also, because you would eventually need to share suburban roads, or the cost would simply be too great.

        That said, if all goes to the Auckland Plan and we get medium density living spaces closer to transport hubs, you could throw a net further afield from those hubs – 10-15km, which could easily be provided for with a comprehensive cycling and walking network.

  • Great collaboration with Generation Zero.
    I could think of many ideas rolled out for a “congestion free” network over the life of the Unitary Plan as well and have written them down previously (or submitted some to Council).

    I’d be willing to lend a hand here with the project – but, yours and Gen-0′s call

  • Congestion pricing must feature in any plan for a congestion free network. A notable difference between the busway and the motorway in your last picture is that use of the busway is priced while the motorway is not. If buses were free to use they would probably also be congested (or overcroweded). It’s important to get transport users’ incentives right as well as giving more choices.

    • Swan

      Exactly. Lets get rid of the congestion by using price signals. Far more efficient than major infrastructural investment and duplication. The busway would be redundant if the adjacent motorway was priced properly.

      • Nick R

        I dunno, that motorway is pretty congested every morning and every afternoon. If that isn’t signal enough then why would price be? Why not just let it stay congested, people who value their time can drive at a less congested time.

        • Swan

          How could the presence of congestion be a signal that gets rid of congestion? Doesn’t sound like a stable equilibrium to me. How could the right price not be a signal? Do you think everyone will pay infinite amounts of money to sit in traffic?

          I guess we could just not worry about congestion, but then why would worry about providing an alternative to it.

          • Nick R

            I could ask the same thing, do you think everyone will spend infinite amounts of time to sit in traffic?

            I fear we are talking about two different things, you want to price away peak hour congestion I believe. I’m not to worried about peak congestion, I’m happy to see it do people can use it as a signal to reduce their travel, transfer it to a non congested time, relocate to a non congested route or shift to a congestion-independent mode.

            I don’t need congestion to be a signal to get rid of congestion, it can work just fine as a signal for people to avoid congestion.

          • Swan

            Nick if the issue isnt peak hour congestion then the whole premise behind a “congestion free network” falls over. If you don’t agree with the thinking behind a “congestion free network”, fine the comment isn’t directed at you. Whether you are worried about it or not though, the fact is we are using our current transport infrastructure very inefficiently, as evidenced by congestion. Road pricing doesn’t simply work by dissuading people from driving, it also works by incentivising better use of the existing road space through higher occupancy etc. It also better incentivizes off peak use which will be cheaper in a road price world than the current world.

          • Nick R

            Peak hour congestion is the issue, I can only assume
            that is the key driver for Patrick’s proposal: avoid peak hour congestion.

            Likewise the time-cost of congestion also incentivises better use of the existing infrastructure through higher occupancy (it’s probably the sole reason bus and T3 lanes were installed) and if congestion isn’t an incentive for off peak use I don’t know what is.

          • Swan

            Higher occupancy is not incentivized by congestion. It is incentivized by T3/bus lanes themselves. T3/bus lanes are a second best to road pricing as they are only making efficient use of the road space where they exist (and for that lane only). Even then intersections etc complicate them. They also only address one measure of efficiency.

      • Swan I am in favour of the efficiencies that can be gained through road pricing but I also know that alternatives will still need to be offered or all you would be achieving is replacing one inefficiency with another- a new and unavoidable tax on movement.

        Re your second comment: You don’t think time is a cost as well as money…? do you only see money?

        • Sacha

          Using ability to pay as a proxy for willingness to do so seems a pretty fundamental flaw in libertarian road pricing fantasies. But knock yourself out, Swan.

          • Swan

            Agreed that libertarian fanasies have flaws. i personally dont think road pricing would even be possible in a libertarian framwwork – the govt needs to be heavily involved. The way you need to think about it is – would person x rather spend $6 or keep $6? If they would rather keep the $6, better to let them do so than force them to pay for infrastructure through petrol tax and rates as is the current system (in other words right now we are all paying) If we are worried about inequality (I am, I imagine you are based on your comment) let’s redistribute cash via the tax and welfare system. Poorer groups tend to be very resourceful and may have far better uses for that money.

  • SF Lauren

    It would seem the plan here is to create a completely separate transport network all over the city. So in a way a spider web of either rail lines or completely grade separated busways.

    It certainly would be quite a cool result however I suspect it will be rather hard to put in place.

    • John Polkinghorne

      We’re being a bit more realistic than that :-) rather than “completely grade separated busways”, a lot of what we’re talking about is just better bus priority in the short term, i.e. bus lanes and so on. Stay tuned for more.

      • SF Lauren

        I agree that’s a much more logical first step and by in large that’s what we are already doing.

        The issue with bus priority is that it is very intermittent and works best in mild congestion. When you get queues that are some 800m in length you need your very own traffic lane for those 800m in order to get your sort of congestion free trip.

        • Yes, so in that case you do the likes of what they are doing on Dominion Rd and make a contiguous bus lane from Mt Roskill to the CBD. It’s not a particularly expensive or difficult thing to do as long as you are happy to squeeze out parking and/or traffic.

      • SteveC

        John, grade separation isn’t necessary to achieve bus based rapid transit, Sydney’s Liverpool-Parramatta T-Way http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liverpool%E2%80%93Parramatta_T-way has at grade intersections with absolut bus priority. Detector loops for traffic signals are far enought back on the T-Way that the signals are green for the bus when it arrives at the intersection of the segregated ROW and a street.

        This method made it cheaper to construct than the Brisbane or North SHore facilities. Fortuitously it was built along an abandoned water supply designation that happend to follow the desired path. I rode it prior to full opening, but it seemed to work well, the timing of signals was spot on.

  • Sacha

    Thank you for proposing an alternative.

  • Roger W

    I’m going to play devils advocate. Just because I like to.

    What you describe is VEHICLE congestion free. The London tube (or any other PT system) can hardly be rated “congestion free” when they are hitting the passenger capacity limit.

    • SF Lauren

      Even then it won’t be vehicle congestion free either. If you look at the example cities the road space is totally congested even with the alternative. As Aaron points out the only way to make the road space congestion free is to put a huge cost on it.

      Similar to what you point out though, regardless of the number of people using the PT system it can suffer from congestion. One of the reasons for the CRL is that without it the CBD will be full of buses. The times I have been to Sydney, Manhattan and Adelaide they have have vast fleets of buses all stuck in congestion brought on by themselves. Even here in Auckland our little rail system suffers from track congestion at both britomart and Newmarket.

      • I think we can safely assume that Patrick isn’t talking about a congestion free roading network, but rather a congestion-independent public transport network in parallel.

        • Doesn’t seem like you can get a good overall outcome by focussing on only one part of the transport system.

          • SF Lauren

            Sydney is actually ripping out its congestion free network right now, and by this I refer to their monorail.

            I guess the thing we gain by this is that if you want a congestion free network you need an independent network that nobody uses. I don’t think this is the aim however but rather to create a second network that may suffer from its own usage induced congestion but it independent of the other network. That way neither network impedes the other giving a very real choice in travel.

          • “Doesn’t seem like you can get a good overall outcome by focussing on only one part of the transport system.”
            You should tell that to the Road Transport Forum!

          • Bryce P

            And replacing it with a network of LRT. Much more useful.

          • Yes Sydney is ripping out a near useless one way looping tourist toy, but they are also building a car free light-rail only street the length of their CBD.

          • Sailor Boy

            And way out past the CBD to the south as well.

      • Not sure if the congestion price would be huge. Recent research suggests changing the behaviour of a small number of drivers in peak times may be sufficient. See http://www.mercurynews.com/traffic/ci_22328900/key-source-bay-area-traffic-headaches-revealed-by

        • Jonski

          This looks like an extremely easy way to record pinch points. So when will researchers in Akl do the same? And if using anonymous data is somehow verboten, what about a free app people can use to submit their commute data?

          • Roger W

            I considered writing a web site to collect that information.

            Then asking radio stations to play requests during peak hours for people to try different driving behaviours.
            Like “No lane changing unless you have to to get on/off the motorway” (i.e get on, move to fast(ish) lane until near the end of your trip, then move out)

            Just to see what effect different driving behaviours would have on average transit times.

            But I figured no-one would actually care to change their driving behaviour.

    • Roger luckily Auckland is of a scale, and certain to remain so for the foreseeable future, that concentrations of humans are more likely to be a desirable economic resource than a problem for the city.

      There are possible exceptions; I am concerned that our institutionalised under projecting of transit uptake allied to cost and space pressures is likely to mean we under build Aotea Station for example. I hope I am wrong and am looking backwards too much, but lets just say that I am looking forward to seeing developed design of this station in particular with some concern.

      Otherwise; bring on those hoards!

  • Adam W

    •How would you phase in a congestion free network over the next 17 years?
    A priority list of the key items that will make a difference – each assessed against each other.
    Instead of political ideologically. There appears to be no financial or beneficial analysis for all the roading projects launched by the Government and this makes no sense whatsoever. Those with the most impact get done first, it’s as simple as that.
    •What do you think are the most important projects to have done by 2020?
    => CRL
    => Complete cycle network for Auckland – grade separated, the $600 million solution talked about recently? This and the CRL would completely transform Auckland – these two together would be like the effect of Britomart 10 years ago on the city
    => Rail to the Airport, opening up Mangere Bridge & Mangere to rail – 2 new suburbs have complete access to the rail network for a minimal cost – priceless.
    => Electrification to Pukekohe – get rid of the old trains completely, and since I use this train it would have a personal benefit 
    •What do you think should be cut or wound back to free up funding for the congestion free network?
    => The second harbour crossing, as stated on this blog lots of times, numbers are falling and the waterview connection is not even complete yet. Why look at funding a massive solution for a problem that does not exist, again it is illogical in nature with no actual analysis done.
    => Linking the motorways thought Onehunga, again a massive solution for a problem that does not exist, again it is illogical in nature with no actual analysis done. Don’t destroy the Harbour with another motorway. I have driven along Neislon street at peak hour times and there is no major traffic jam so I can’t see where this is coming from.
    •What parts of the congestion free network should be provided by buses and what parts by trains?
    => Trains – Airport, Mangere, Mangere Bridge, Wynard Quarter, Takapuna all the way up to Long Bay, beside the beaches away SH1 which is serviced by the Busway, and imagine train stations beside all the beaches again this would be transformational. Mt Roskill connection.
    => Buses everywhere else
    •What do you think is the role of light-rail in a congestion free network? Or ferries?
    => Ferries have limited use beyond what they do currently, as mentioned on this blog their catchment has at least water for half of it, so are only of limited use.
    => Light-rail – again limited use, heavy rail moves a lot more people quickly, maybe Domain Road for light rail. In London light rail only has limited use, the DRL which has to be supported by the Jubilee Line & the new Crossrail lines and the small route in Croydon. I would make this a low priority, get the heavy rail sorted first.

    • Answers to these questions coming tomorrow morning…..!

    • Jonski

      I can’t see rail up the North Shore beaches working, ever. Firstly, you’d need a tunnel between each headland and secondly, just like ferries, half their catchment is in the water. Lastly, the cost of land acquisition (all those desirable seaside mansions) would be eye-watering.

      • Gary Young

        Trams on the other hand can cope with gradients typically found on the Shore. You should see the gradients and bends that the trams in Lisbon wind themselves over and around.

        In addition, trams can run along the existing road network so it is not essential to build new trackbed for a tram service as it would be for a full size railway.

        • Nick R

          Gary, buses can also do that, in fact they already do that. What would we gain by spending hudreds of millions to replace the existing buses with trams?

          • Gary Young

            Nick, trams, unlike buses, are non-polluting, energy efficient and can run on renewable sources of electricity generated from within NZ.

            There will come a time when imported fuels are so expensive that even buses will be a challenge to operate cost-effectively. We may as well get started on future-proofing our city-wide transport infrastructure. It will have to be done one day. Why not now?

          • Gary – Many cities are now starting to look at or are rolling out electric buses. With those there is then no difference between trams and buses on the aspect of power source, emissions etc.

        • Gary Young

          Matt, I am entirely supportive of electric buses, and even hybrid petrol/diesel electric as an interim measure in the shorter term. However, in terms of pure physics it is my understanding that vehicles running on rails are inherently more fuel efficient for carrying large loads or large numbers of people.

          There are many variables but personally I feel energy efficiency should trump most other considerations. We are, after all, facing an energy deficient future.

    • Chris Werry (@chriswerry)

      You could make the Devonport Ferry part of the rapd transport network – currently it out of scope.

  • Attractive and safe cycling routes are cheap as chips compared to the alternatives. And can be quickly implemented. Are popular, healthy and quick for trips up to say 15km.
    They also greatly increase the catchment of PT. I understand transport models assume people are willing to walk 400-800 m to catch a bus, but will bike much further.
    Given the need to cut CO2, our transport system needs to be low or zero carbon.

    • +1

      I think a $100m on shared cycleways and cycle upgrades to main roads would be the single most effective transport thing we could do, and it would be more or less congestion free.

      • +1000
        Having been flat out advocating for more intelligent machine assisted transport we are relying on our colleagues in the cycling community to do the heavy lifting on this issue. But we agree that this is easily the most cost effective area needing urgent attention in Auckland and are disappointed that it seems to have less political or technical support than it warrants.

        Here for example: http://caa.org.nz/

        • Bryce P

          Hey Patrick, I’m certain that the ideas in the presentation you linked to are what is required for Auckland and I’m going to keep pushing it along until we get there. Might need some more help but I’m hoping that if enough organisations and local boards get into it as well then we’ll get a real cycle network that is suitable for 8 (and under) to 80. The road safety benefits that come with it are a massive bonus that cannot be denied. Statistics from overseas prove it beyond doubt.

      • PS1

        Bought an electric bicycle last week as live up big hill, semi-rural west and am not that fit. Can now get to train station! Hooray. Man at Electric Bike shop said sales for Electric Bikes were big in Waiheke and also TeAtatu. Because the western cycleway could be a big haul but the electric bicycle made it more accessible for even more people. But i also think they have a real useage out west where there are longer distances and hills. But yeah, need somewhere safe to park the bike at the train station. So +1 cycleways. And we already have a lot of really oversized roads that just need to be reprioritised. Eg street parking. In the burbs – park in your drive. And then AKC put in a bike lane. easy. Good work on the Network plans. Perfect!

        • Bryce P

          The big issue we have now is the insistence on ‘shared paths’. This is causing problems with pedestrians (I spoke to someone the other day and she was concerned at how fast cyclists were travelling along the NW cycleway, while she was walking along there). The other concern is the ease with which electric bikes can apparently have their speed limit removed. This will, in time, cause some issues I think.

          • Nick R

            The NW cycleway isn’t actually a shared path, it’s legally just for cyclists.

            The issue can be overcome with proper design, the NW is pretty narrow, anywhere you have cyclist and peds mixing you’d want more than 4m minimum width.

          • Bryce P

            NZTA are referring to the rebuilt path as a shared path.

          • But Bryce there are lots of shared paths in the Netherlands and they dont have problems. The issue is with the widths of the paths – they need to be a minimum of 4m. I know you are familiar with the “View from the cycle path” blog and the guy there was saying that on the intercity cycleways in the Netherlands, cyclists often get up to 60km/hr with no problems.

            I also think that is really just one comment from one person. Cycles are still mkjuch safer for pedestrians than

            I havent ridden the NW cycleway but I imagine it is often nowhere near that width.

            As always, the problem with cycling is inadequate infrastructure.

          • PS1

            Interesting. Those issues will definitely need to be considered with the new Ebike technology. Shared paths is interesting though because i often ride on the footpath – which is probably wrong. But I don’t want to die on West Coast Rd, and i ride with my kids, so i do. And where i live I can often go to school and see no or only one other person on the footpath, and i will go around them on the grass. But too many cyclists are dying on the road. It is not working. So maybe it’s about road users sharing the space and also pedestrians sharing the space too as our footpaths are really underutilised in many outlying areas. If you are in a suburban neighborhood then you need to go slow enough for pedestrians . And to be honest the North Western Cycleway – crikey if you can’t cycle fast there then where. . Traffic Calming is about having a relationship with the people and place you are in and sharing and driving appropriately using common sense and decency. It’s a community attitude. We can’t do a seperate everything for every type of vehicle and legislate for every idiot who pimps their bike. If they break the law and take off the electrics then tickets – like a car.

          • Nick R

            That’s good, assuming the rebuilt bit is up to the task. I wonder if it means they’ve gotten over the legal hurdles of shared paths in the motorway corridor?

          • Bryce P

            Yes goosoid, and they do work in NL because of the width. Currently the path would be 2m max and even once rebuilt is only planned (from memory) to be 3m max. It’s getting pretty busy along that route. Also, the Dutch (bless them, they have an answer for everything) use speed humps (a set of 3 or so) along some high speed cycle routes to keep the speed below 35 km/h or so. In context the NW is a high speed cycle route to link suburbs and this function needs to be allowed for.

          • Bryce P

            Here you go: http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2011/11/speedbumps-on-cycle-path.html

            Also, while that comment was from a single person, I’ve also picked up on the theme at a few local meetings, in discussions with locals and at the Local Board meeting I attended last week.

          • Bryce P

            @PS1. West coast Rd? Between Parrs Park and Glen Eden? That road along there is massively wide and there is plenty of room there for uni-directional cycle paths on each side of the road. From memory, the flush median along there is about 4m wide by itself.

          • PS1

            Yes. That bit of west coast rd is extremely wide and should be officially made a bike path right away, and is easily bike-able on the road by an adult. A better crossing to Parrs park, and a better crossing at Oratia Market is needed and then it connects up to the most excellent sunnyvale bike path to the train station. But further along west coast road along towards carter rd there is no verge at all, and enough major accidents, So i have to traverse that death trap before the bikeable bit. So there are bits of excellence. But pieces that are needed to put it all together. It’s a beautiful scenic area to bike in and connects to the train.

          • Some physical separation and intersection redesigns, to give peds and cycles priority, wouldn’t go amiss.

          • PS1

            Yes! I like you Bryce. A physical seperation would mean it could be used by kids going to park, soccer, school, dairy, icecream shop, train. And there’s enough room to do it easily. Usually on the side-bits there’s only one or two parked cars on the whole verge, so it’s mostly empty space.

    • I agree completely Patrick – I think the real focus should be on creating 2km+ cycle lanes to each train/busway station/ferry terminal from the nearby residential areas. In a lot of cases we just need to join up what is already there or put in some signs so people know the best, safest way.

      The percentage of people within Auckland that live within 2-3kms of such a station/terminal is huge.

      I just dont see us convincing Aucklanders in the short to medium term that they should bike 10kms to work. The hills in Auckland will be a major psychological barrier. But asking Aucklanders to ride 2-3kms on safe, pleasant cycleways is an easy sell.

  • Malcolm M

    The government has a target fare recovery of 50%, which it plans to impose on all councils regardless of local opinion. On what basis was this 50% chosen ? Was there a comparison of international cities,of similar size and density, and the government decided “this is what we want to be like” ?. An unrealistically high target could work against most other efforts to reduce road congestion through PT.

    • No, it was a complete arbitrary figure plucked out of thin air by the Ministry of Transport. Presumably it’s no more sophisticated than “passengers pay half and we pay half and going 50/50 is fair”.

      Luckily Auckland already achieves about a 50% farebox recovery, but that is by the by.

  • Nick Iversen

    I get sick of the argument “build a new motorway and it fills up” being used against motorways. It’s the same thing as saying “we mustn’t build motorways because people use them.”

    People using new motorways is a good thing. Really.

    • That may be the case, but that is a different argument from the suggestion that new motorways reduce congestion. Arguably what they do is allow more people to use them at the same level of congestion.

      Kinda points out the uselessness of relying on traffic congestion as the main measure of transport system performance.

    • SF Lauren

      The arguments are more confusing that. They say upgrading motorways makes them more congested, removing them makes them less congested, assuming there is still one left. They also say less people are driving thus there is less congestion, less people will want to drive in the future thus less congestion again.

      Pretty much the arguments are all self contradicting but have the same theme of being against road spending even if said road spending is building dedicated bus, pedestrains or cyclist facilities.

      • Perhaps – but still not as confusing or illogical as the arguments against building a good PT system – or indeed cycling network.

        • SF Lauren

          Are you referring to some of the comments you get in the herald time to time about buses being smelly and such things?

          • Those ones (which are very misguided) and other arguments we see all the time about how Auckland isnt suited to PT, Aucklanders love their cars, Auckland isnt dense enough – all the myths that have been rolled out for years to justify the woeful underinvestment of the last 60 years.

            I dont really think the arguments against roads/for PT & cycling are confusing.

            I would summarise it as “build it and they will come” – whether that be motorways, rail infrastructure, busways or cycleways.

            We just have to ask where the best bang for our buck will come from and right now I really believe the best bang will be from PT/cycling as it is always easiest to grow from a very low level.

        • Just came across this blog from David Hembrow, which very neatly lists all the common “excuses” why other places can’t do cycling like The Netherlands – http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2011/02/all-those-myths-and-excuses-in-one-post.html. Let’s see, how many can we find that have been said about Auckland: streets too narrow, too hilly, population too spread out, we’re not like the Dutch, we have driveways,…

          • SF Lauren

            I’ve always thought the Netherlands had two big things going for it with bikes.

            1) every other alternative is pretty bad, even walking is hard in some places.

            2) you don’t have to wear a helmet.

            Oh and one more. Everyone rides a really carp generic bike so you don’t have to worry about your one getting stolen.

          • Bryce P

            Glen, have a look at this as well: http://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/

          • Bryce P

            The way I see it is that, when it comes to cycle infrastructure and ideas, everyone is trying to reinvent the wheel when in fact, it’s been invented and proven to work. It just needs the political will and funding to make it work. Imagine 3m wide shared paths linking Riverhead, Kumeu, Huapai and Waimauku to the NW cycleway. It would make recreational cycling along SH16 safe and easy and also enable school kids to cycle to school in safety. The fact that NZTA have not done a segregated cycle crossing at the Brigham Creek roundabout is just so hard to fathom. Crossing an 80 km/h road on foot or by bicycle is dangerous, more so for the young and old. If you get hit, there is a very, very high chance you will die.

          • SFLauren – but they also did this:
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuBdf9jYj7o

            In other words, they decided motorways werent for them and demonstrated against them.

            “every other alternative is pretty bad, even walking is hard in some places” – You mean other than the excellent public transport system? Are you sure you arent talking about driving in Auckland?

            Remember, NZ has only had the cycling laws since the early ’90s. I remember the Helmet Lady coming to our school. Since then the number of children cycling to school has plummetted to about 25% of what it was when I was at school.

            Her heart was in the right place but she was wrong. Separated cycleways were what she should have been campaigning for.

          • SF Lauren

            Goosoid, I’d agree that the trams they have that run in their own right of way are rather good, but they are rather limited in coverage. Cycling is by far the superior mode over there.

          • And the Metro system? The excellent intercity trains?

          • SF Lauren, the Dutch do have two big things going for them;
            1.) They invested heavily in cycling infrastructure.
            2.) Culturally, they pay a lot of attention to what the most cost effective option is (and any Dutch person will admit to this).

            Yes, the country is flat, and that to me would be number 3, but most other arguments don’t hold up. In New Zealand you don’t need to wear fluoro cycling gear and tight bike shorts, but most people do by choice. Helmets could be optional once we have a safer cycling network.
            Also, bike theft is rampant in the Netherlands, no matter what kind of bike you have. What constitutes a bike lock here would be laughed at by children over there.
            Their alternative modes of transport are all very good in my opinion, trams, buses and especially the high speed intercity trains, which are fast and frequent. This is a country where people are angry if a train is 2 minutes late and outraged if it’s 10 minutes late.
            They are, however, known to have traffic jams that literally traverse the entire length of the country, although the roading network is pretty good too (with some smart things like flashing amber traffic lights after hours and free right turns at most intersections).

      • KBilly

        Have to agree SF Lauren

        Congestion is going to get worse… yet apparently at the same time people will be driving less??
        ” you can’t build your way out of congestion”…. but if you build (insert any project other than a roading project) we’ll be congestion free??

        • Bryce P

          You have misread the post. It refers to the PT network as being un-congested, not the motorways. As has been proven elsewhere in the world, people will still drive after a quality PT network is implemented. It’s just a reallocation of funds to enable a choice for residents. The roading network exists. A quality PT network does not – yet.

        • Nick R

          KBIlly, the point is if you build some non road projects you can travel congestion free, by avoiding traffic entirely.

          So no, not about building our way out of congestion, but building parts of the transport system that aren’t affected by congestion.

          • KBilly

            I already travel congestion free, I just leave for work earlier. And even if I do decide to travel in congestion, my commute is still faster than taking Public Transport. Congestion free means nothing, less than nothing when your jammed into a bus or train with dozens of other people.

          • Sacha

            Feelthy people. :)

          • Nick R

            I quite like people actually, I have a bunch of them I call friends and colleagues, some special ones I call family, and one really special one I call my partner.

          • KBilly

            Your guys constant need to try and place people into categories says more about you, than my posts say about me. So I prefer my quick door to door commute by car over being jammed onto a bus or train. Is that really so hard to believe? Doesn’t mean I hate people or think people are filthy.

          • Now I dont know where you live but the trip may be only faster by car because the PT infrastructure is so crap. If half the plans that were in place before 1955 had been carried out or if the CFN network was implemented, it may be a completely different story.

            When I have lived in really good transit cities like Prague (same population as Auckland) commuting by PT has been so good, I would never have contemplated driving. Even the partners in the international law firm I worked for took the tram or metro.

            I also imagine that you have parking supplied by your work? If so, what would you do if that was no longer available?

            What is your alternative solution to Auckland’s traffic issues? Keep expanding the roads ad infinitum or do nothing? Did you read the consequences of that according to the CCFAS?

          • Roger W

            No, he plans to let other people make use of PT, and thereby profit from the reduced congestion to drive.

            Oh, I have a shot at talking to Len Brown tonight. Wonder if I should take it.

          • Hi Roger- that would be great we’ed love to hear what he says… feel free to print off the maps, or download them to a Pad or whatever.

          • KBilly

            “What is your alternative solution to Auckland’s traffic issues? Keep expanding the roads ad infinitum or do nothing? ”

            Yes, do nothing, it’s the cheapest solution of them all. Like I said, I start work early, 6am actually, and my 18km commute takes 15 minutes door to door.
            I’m surprised the ATB doesn’t promote time shifting more. Using our existing transport network more effectively is a no-brainer.

    • Gary Young

      ‘I get sick of the argument “build a new motorway and it fills up” ‘

      Why? Decades of observation of motorways in many countries shows that is exactly what happens.

      • SF Lauren

        Compare it to this Gary.

        You build an icecream shop and you end up getting the number of customers you expected. Build another and again you get the number of customers you expected.

        Would this conclude you to thinking icecream shops are bad and that nobody likes them and the only reason they go to the icecream shop is that it isn’t at capacity yet.

          • SF Lauren

            Goosoid, it is rather pointless arguing that what happens in 0% of cases is the reason not to expect what happens in the other 100%.

        • Sailor Boy

          No, but if you want to get an icecream shop that operates far under its capacity, then you would probably look at building a donut shop that can throughput 15 times as many customers, faster, and cheaper to take them out of the icecream shop and allow them a congestion free purchase.

          • SF Lauren

            Doing such a thing sounds like a monumental waste of money. It would help people wanting to buy donuts to carry on buying donuts but it would do nothing to help the 80% of people buying icecream or the other 18% buying frozen yoghurt (buses) which are also sold at the icecream shop.

          • Sailor Boy

            But what if the majority of the people at the icecream shop would be jkust as happy to have donuts if the service were quicker than for icecream?

          • SF Lauren

            That’s an extremely large what if which you would probably want some facts on rather than just guessing. There is also the question as to if it was actually faster or just less congested.

          • I think the better analogy is there is an ice cream shop, and only an ice cream shop, and it is always busy. You build another icecream shop next to it, now you have two busy icecream shops but people can still only buy ice cream. Is that evidence for building a third ice cream shop, because you already have two full ones?

            Or do you maybe start to look at adding a donut shop instead of even more icecream stores?

          • SF Lauren

            Nick, although your analogy holds true in a number of small towns. We are lucky here in Auckland to have a donut shop out West, another down south and a smaller one out east. We also have a really nice frozen yoghurt shop up north, plans to build a new one out both east and west plus being lucky enough to be able to get frozen yogurt at pretty much every icecream shop in the city bar a few of the small quiet ones.

          • True, but nevertheless ice cream shops currently represent about 93% of all food stores due to government policy refusing to allow almost anything else over the last six decades. Meanwhile demand for ice cream has been stagnant since 2003, yet demand for donuts has grown tenfold in the same time. The frozen yoghurt stands are going really well and we need more of those, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have more donut shops either.

            I think about the only thing we’ve got enough of for the time being is ice cream.

        • And then everyone gets fat because all there is to eat is ice cream :(

        • Gary Young

          However, SF, past experience indicates that if you build a motorway you get more customers than expected – so then you have to build another motorway which fills up with even more customers than you had for the first motorway.

          Your analogy is interesting but is not supported by observation of cause and effect in the real world of road transport.

          • SF Lauren

            Gary, that is a common misconception with road projects. Most people seem to think a road is designed to be free flowing and congestion free for 20-40 years, this is not the case and particularly with road upgrades.

            Most projects are designed with both a design year and a budget in mind. In some cases this design year may only be some 10 years after construction. As to if motorways always get more traffic than expected I really don’t know for sure, in some cases yes and in others no. One issue would be that everytime capacity frees up on a road a developer sneaks in and builds a big shopping centre or a bunch of new houses.

          • Roger W

            And that’s the old
            “The developer is required to mitigate LOCAL TRAFFIC ISSUES” problem.

            Near where I live the local ratepayers group is campaigning because they are P/O’d that the developers 2-6 KM further south have piggy backed on the local roading, resulting in every significant road operating in excess to 100% of designed capacity.

            On the other hand, a number of them also campaigned against allowing bus services to their neighbourhood to keep the “undesirable element” out.

        • counterpoint

          Forgive me for not being the sharpest reader on here, but what is frozen yoghurt in the context of the analogy (we have one up north, new ones coming in the east and west)? Or is this analogy just overly specific about nothing at all?

    • counterpoint

      It may not be true in the absolute sense, but surely its not hard to see how one might reap diminishing returns on new motorways over a period of time? A new motorway in 1960 isn’t equivalent to a new motorway in 2013, particularly in an urban setting.

  • Christopher T

    I’d contend that before we can even start thinking about congestion-free networks it will be absolutely necessary to consign AT’s Integrated Transport Programme (ITP) to the waste bin of history, rather in the way that previous generations dumped the Morningside connection, etc. While it contains some worthy individual projects, the rest of it reads like a road engineer’s wet dream: big tunnels, wide roads, eviscerated landscapes, all that sort of stuff. What it doesn’t read like – and this is where the thinking behind this Congestion Free Network (CFN) proposal is spot on – is as if it’s been thought about holistically. The ITP works from a fundamental premise that as single-occupancy private motor vehicles (SOPMV) are the preferred choice of movement in the city now they will be in the future. That’s its essential flaw; SOPMV are neither a sustainable nor an efficient mode of movement in an urban context.

    The first thing that has to be done is to introduce some efficiencies in the existing network. Rudimentary things like extending bus lanes, introducing bus priority at signalised intersections, increasing service frequencies on the train network, introducing off peak ticket discounts, ensuring that pedestrians and cyclists are considered equally with motor vehicles at signalised intersections. Basically, I’d suggest that we have to start de-prioritising SOPMV but before that’s done there’s got to be a radical shift in the way planners and users think about urban movement.

    As for the most important projects: the CRL is key; so is grade separation of the rail network. The current reconfiguration of the bus network is absolutely essential; integrated fares should be fast-tracked. Unsurprisingly, I’d propose that all big-ticket roading projects be scaled down or abandoned: Puford, AWHC, Penlink, East-West Link, etc as being symptomatic of an unthinking, robotic way of approaching a self-created problem. It’s odd that the proposers of these so-called congestion-relieving programmes don’t seem to have any awareness that they’re responsible for creating the problem in the first place. Oddly enough though, trains are – except for those two recent examples of cut-price engineering, the Britomart approach and the Newmarket junction – still, after some 150 odd years, relatively congestion-free.

  • Chris O

    Things I’d like to see? CRL, a driverless rapid transit system to the North Shore using a rail-only crossing of the Waitemata. Definitely agree on the cycle infrastructure upgrades. I’d love to see Auckland copy what cities like London and Vancouver are doing – a few fully-seperated from traffic cycle routes where it makes sense, backed up by safe routes along side streets and cycle priority measures at strategic intersections.

    I’m still optimistic about the potential of high-capacity personal rapid transit to start replacing the intermediate components of the transit network (ie local buses) in the 10-15 year time frame. I know there’s a lot of skepticism about it now, but my hope is that by the time some of the “big ticket” rail projects have been completed, there will be some overseas PRT systems (operating at urban scale) to evaluate for performance and potential fit in Auckland.

    • Why wait? I have my own congestion free “high-capacity personal rapid transit”. It is called an electric bike.

      It goes about 40kms on a $1 charge at an average speed of 27km/h with minimal effort so it can cover 2-3kms in less than 10mins. It never has to wait in traffic jams and it can be carried on public transport. It requires no special clothing, i.e. lycra (as long as you ignore the bike helmet law – recommended) and is good for your health.

      And it cost only $1,700!

      You can already see this PRT system operating overseas in cities such as Shanghai, Amsterdam and Copenhagen along with its low tech cousin, the non-electric bike.

      Welcome to the world of tomorrow!

  • Sacha

    Because transport is exactly like confectionery.

  • Sailor Boy

    Before 2020.

    Finsh Busway to Albany,
    Ameti to Botany,
    Start CRL,
    Trams on Queen Street
    Low hanging fruit(cycle and bus lanes)

    After 2020

    finish CRL,
    Rail to airport,
    Ameti busway Botany to Airport
    DLM to Albany and Takapuna
    Trams on Dom Road,
    Trams on Ponsonby Road
    NW busway
    Finish cycle network

    After 2030,

    DLM westgate to Botany, and on to airport,
    Trams on NNR, GNR, Sandringham Road, Mt Eden Road, Manukau Road, Khyber Pass Road, Parnell Road, GSR, and Remuara Road, Symonds Street
    Trams in Takapuna and Albany, and on Lincoln Road.
    DLM to Silverdale

    I think that is largely it. I don’t think that htere are any major roads that need doing, just gradual upgrades where necessary, like the Albany Highway upgrade.

  • DaveB

    Please Gen Zero, can we have a collaboration in Wellington as well. Here in Welly it seems that the groundswell has swung right away from rail-based alternatives to major motorway development with a few pathetic bus-lanes “promised” by 2022. Those of us who try to speak against this strategy are labelled “loony greenies” (or worse) and seem to have been seriously marginalised. A whole new generation of young voices prepared to challenge the current rearward-facing bandwagon would be really welcome.

  • Melon

    Bike lanes and optimisation of bus lanes seems like a no-brainer, as does rail to the shore that tunnels under the harbour and links with Aotea station, and breaking ground on the CRL ASAP. Prioritise all of the above before any major road links – it’s quite possible it would all cost less in total than the new harbour crossing.

  • The TomTom Congestion index gives a good perspective of congestion in various cities around the world. Auckland is right up there and is more congested than New York and London.

    http://www.tomtom.com/en_gb/congestionindex/

  • Well the bigger the bigger the city the worse the congestion, if all else is equal. This is our very point. It is only because we have no quality alternative to driving for almost all journeys at all times for all people that such a little city can end up having such poor stats. A problem that is quite easily fixed if we just invest away from the problem and cleverly, instead of spending more than we can afford to try to get everyone in their cars at once here…. a fully set of suggestions in the morning.

  • exaucklanderinsydney

    What a horrendous site that 20 lane motorway is!!

  • Roger W

    @KBilly. Your trip is faster. But YOU are making it. One of the trade offs you are making (and possibly why a PT “person” is worth less per hour than a car “person” if the costing analysis) is because if you are not driving, you can do other things. Read a book, talk, study, surf the web, watch a video, etc…

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