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Congestion Free Network: Where To From Here?

I think I speak for everyone on the blog by saying that the response to the Congestion Free Network has been beyond our wildest dreams. On Tuesday there were over 11,000 views of the blog – a new record eclipsing the day the government finally decided they could no longer oppose the City Rail Link. The main Congestion Free Network post has been viewed over 10,000 times (beyond people looking at it on the main page) already and we’ve had thousands upon thousands of visits via Facebook in particular pointing towards that post.

Radio NZ did a story on the Congestion Free Network (CFN) on Morning Report yesterday morning, including a couple of soundbites from me talking about the network.

Even Kiwiblog has picked up on the CFN, highlighting that while David Farrar doesn’t agree with every bit of the network, he appreciates the effort we’ve put into the CFN. In particular, he highlights a potential next step:

It would be good for an appropriate agency to independently cost their proposals, and estimate what impact on congestion their proposals would have.

Ultimately what pushed us to work with Generation Zero and create the Congestion Free Network was our despair at the Integrated Transport Programme, its gigantic cost and its utterly terrible outcomes. Remember, $60 billion over the next 30 years for this result: 
When we dug into the modelling results of the ITP in more detail (aside from making us more sceptical about modelling than ever before), the key cause of this congestion in 2041 seemed to be that the public transport system was still comparatively rubbish:

The critical issue behind the results above seem to be that for most trips public transport is getting stuck in the same congestion as everyone else, plus the added time of walking to the bus/train/ferry, waiting for it and then stopping to pick up other passengers all the time. Hence the need for a congestion free alternative: to make public transport the fastest option – good enough to really encourage people out of their cars and by consequence ease pressure on the roading network.

What we want is to have the Congestion Free Network included as an option when Auckland Transport do their next iteration of the Integrated Transport Programme. We think this fits pretty well with Auckland Transport’s approach to the next ITP – as highlighted in their presentation to the Transport Committee in April:itp-transport-committeeAs Matt’s post this morning about roading projects that’ll still happen highlighted, in many respects the Congestion Free Network isn’t radically different to what’s in current long term transport planning documents – it just shifts forward some projects that provide really good improvements to public transport at relatively low cost (especially busway and bus priority projects), suggests a lot less gold-plating of many proposed motorway projects and suggests that we avoid projects which do more harm than good. Rail to the North Shore and Light-Rail along Dominion Road are really the only big projects in the Congestion Free Network which aren’t in the Auckland Plan and the ITP. And perhaps most importantly it shows how a vision of Auckland that is completely unlike any most of us have thought possible before, an Auckland with a vital piece of the jigsaw that we know makes other great cities great and enables them to function well, is completely within reach if only we work towards it clearly.

So we’re going to take the Congestion Free Network to the Council’s Transport Committee and to the AT Board over the next few months to really push for the CFN to be included as an option for testing in the next ITP. We’re also going to continue to promote the concept in innovative and exciting ways. And we’re always open to suggestions about how to refine the CFN further – we are certain that the  idea is vital, we think the detail is pretty good, but we know it’s not perfect.


Over the next few weeks GenZed and ATB will try to get straight answers out of every candidate in the local elections on where they stand on the CFN and related transport, urban form, and environmental issues.

We will report back with some kind of list that should act as a voting guide for these issues.

CFN 2030A

15 comments to Congestion Free Network: Where To From Here?

  • Sacha

    Love your work. One suggestion – perhaps a simple animated version of the 4 maps over time?

  • Konrad Kurta

    Stirling work, guys.

  • Daniel

    Hi Sacha,

    I’ve just created one, and placed it here:

  • Barb Cuthbert

    Greetings, Patrick and the rest of the ATB team from Cycle Action Auckland.
    It’s hard to express how thrilled we were to read your blog on CFN. It’s such a timely and powerful concept, expressed in such cogent terms! The logic is simply irresistible.
    We had hoped to convey our thanks earlier, but were crushed in the stampede of comments to the first blog. We are pleased to accept the challenge to supplement the model with the cycling components – and are gearing up our team to do this as soon as possible. It’s a brilliant framework to build on and cycling is a vital part of the network.

    Give yourselves a rest when you can. The CFN is clearly the result of many hours of collaboration, and we have a way to go still.
    Congratulations and much gratitude to you all.
    Barbara Cuthbert
    Chair and Spokesperson,
    Cycle Action Auckland.

  • Wow positive comments from Kiwiblog on public transport. The regular readers must have thought they had been transported to some alternative reality – a SOCIALIST one!

    Their worst nightmare.

  • AC

    Bloody brilliant you guys. Keep going.

  • Malcolm M

    How much of this can play the “generation” card ? For a 25-year-old now, they will be 52 in 2040 and still have a PT system much less useful than most of the international cities the Kiwi diospera now call home. Gerry and his generation that now appear set to borrow billions for motorways will be in their mid 80′s, having signed the next generation up to huge debts for infrastructure that even now don’t look like good investments to the milenials. The taxes and tolls required to service these loans will starve the city of funds for PT investment, and make the city less competitive with other cities it is in competition with.

    • Sacha

      Really is a crime for such incompetent dunces in power to foist their stupidity on the next few generations. And for the rest of us to allow it.

  • Just added to the post above:

    Over the next few weeks GenZed and ATB will try to get straight answers out of every candidate in the local elections on where they stand on the CFN and related transport, urban form, and environmental issues.

    We will report back with some kind of list that should act as a voting guide for these issues.

  • SF Lauren

    Can we have a post on what is actually different about the CFN and what is currently planned for 2030.

    I’m not seeing any real difference but am told it will turn the currently planned “comparatively rubbish” network into one of the best in the world.

    A breakdown of the differences would be great.


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