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Rudman on the Congestion Free Network

There was a great article yesterday by Brian Rudman in the NZ Herald – and not just because it seems that he’s a fan of the Congestion Free Network. He starts off by arguing that the year of work and the $1 million+ spent on the Auckland transport funding Consensus Building Group has actually achieved relatively little:

What an egregious waste of $1 million of ratepayers’ money that was. Set up a “consensus building group” to develop a formula for squeezing an extra $12 billion of transport funding out of Aucklanders, which the Government had already signalled it would reject.

The cash would have been better spent on a giant fireworks display. At least we’d have got a bang or two for our bucks.

In October last year before the CBG first met, the Government made its opposition clear. The Ministry of Transport and the Transport Agency fell into step and refused to partake. How can you pretend to have a consensus when the people with the ultimate power of veto boycott the process?

Not only does the CBG report propose devices such as regional fuel taxes and “road pricing” tolls that the Government opposes, but it also proposes rates increases, which the mayor is against. It also demands that any agreement reached would have to bind future governments and councils for the next 30 years. This has echoes of the much-criticised backroom deal the Key Government has just come to with SkyCity over pokie machines and the international convention centre.

Personally I think that it hasn’t been a complete waste of time. It got a lot of important different groups around a table to discuss transport issues in Auckland and I’m sure that influenced associations like the Chamber of Commerce and the NZ Council for Infrastructure Development to place pressure on the government to change its opinion of the City Rail Link. That alone was worth the exercise in some respects. Furthermore, it also probably led to one of the more intelligent discussions about road pricing and its benefits that’s been had in Auckland – with the majority of people providing feedback supporting some sort of road pricing scheme ahead of increased fuel taxes and rates.

Yet, of course, the elephant in the room issue was that members of the Consensus Building Group weren’t able to question the merits and make-up of the transport package that they set out to fund.

Instead of agonising over how Auckland is going to fund the $59 billion integrated transport programme of the 30-year Auckland Plan, we should be readdressing the efficacy of the programme itself, asking the key question, will it ensure Auckland’s traffic is flowing smoothly in 2041?

The CBG failed to confront this, saying it was not part of its remit, but did admit in the opening paragraphs of the final report, released on Monday, that “even with a significant increase in investment, the forecast performance of key parts of the transport system will be worse from 2031 than it is today”.

A confession that even if their proposals for extracting an extra $12 billion out of Aucklanders are accepted, things will be worse than now. Its draft report, released in late March, was even more candid, admitting that “even with the fully funded programme, road congestion levels will deteriorate with volume/capacity ratios exceeding 100 per cent on most of our arterial road network by 2041 and emission levels exceeding current levels”.

In other words, it’s a plan that if successfully completed is doomed to fail.

In a nutshell, the argument seems to be that if we spend $12 billion more on transport over the next 30 years compared to what we can afford, things will still be much worse than today – but not quite as bad as if we didn’t spend that money.

congestion-levels-by-decade-differenceIf we look at AM peak congestion levels, the ITP seems like it’s trying to argue that we should spend $12 billion to reduce the percentage of excessive congested travel from 30% to about 27%. That’s four billion dollars for each percentage point of lower congestion!

As we have discussed many times in the last few weeks, it is this crazy situation that led us to create the Congestion Free Network. The ITP clearly tells us that we can’t build our way out of congestion – so the answer is to ensure that people have a choice of avoiding congested travel.

After describing the Congestion Free Network concept in excellent detail, Rudman concludes by noting the following:

It’s the sort of radical thinking that Mayor Len Brown and his transport planners should be engaged in. Producing a plan that isn’t programmed to fail.

We’re ready to help!

CFN 2030A

83 comments to Rudman on the Congestion Free Network

  • Ugh. I don’t know why I read the comments in Your Views when it comes to transport. The first comment is ignorance beyond rebuttal:

    Good Lord, Brian. I seem to agree with you. Except a full-on spending splurge on public transport is unnecessary. This whole notion of a ‘crisis’ in Auckland’s transport is a confection by single-issue zealots and interested parties. Auckland does not do a bad job of moving people around: most other major cities worldwide have far bigger headaches.

    The situation was far worse 7 to 8 years ago when the last Labour government, under pressure from the Greens, refused to fund any major roading infrastructure.

    The Port motorway and the tunnel at Cook Street have had a major effect in freeing up traffic. Esmonde Rd was also a success, as was the Busway. Continual, well-considered developments like these, in response to real needs, are what is required. Not Len Brown’s crazily expensive and hubristic plans.

    So, so much stupid.

    • You could have picked worse, like the monorail one

      • The monorail one is just a misunderstanding of what the impact of such a project would be. Blaming Labour for not investing any money on Auckland’s roads, at the behest of the Greens, is wilful ignorance.

    • SF Lauren

      The guy does have a point however. Transport in Auckland including PT is really not as bad as people make it out to be. It seems the arguments against PT are similar to the ones against cycling where they are all just small excuses rather than any real issue.

      • It’s not as bad as some people make it out to be, but by world standards it’s pretty awful. By the standards of comparable cities it’s pretty awful. By the standards set by Wellington and Christchurch it’s definitely pretty average, and Auckland has over twice the population of those two combined
        It’s also got to cope with many hundreds-of-thousands more people over coming decades, and not investing in it is simply not an option, no matter how much the blinkered morass might think we can just keep on doing what we’ve kept on doing.

        • SF Lauren

          Nope, even by world standards it’s pretty good. It seems people just have a real axe to grind expecting NZ to have the best of everything in the world with a PT system compatible with countries 50 times our size.

          Also how in the world do you manage to get the impression we aren’t investing in it? If you look at the council plans you will see that the CFN is almost a direct copy of them with a few superfluous changes.

          • We don’t expect the best, we just expect a system that’s not wildly expensive and wildly inflexible. As an example, my choices to get from Ellerslie to Onehunga are drive, walk or bus up to Greenlane to catch a bus to Manukau Rd and then catch another bus to Onehunga (making me pay two or three separate fares), or catch a train that only runs hourly at weekends and no more than half-hourly at any time. It’s five freaking kilometres by road. That’s utterly ridiculous. It’s not “pretty good”, it’s pretty pathetic. But you’re a motorways fan, by your own proclamation, and with about the highest number of motorway lane kilometres per capita in the world Auckland is absolutely exceeding all possible expectations.
            The problem is, I don’t want to have to rely on personal transport (of any form) in order to complete a relatively short journey.

          • What other city in the developed world with over 1m people has a PT system worse than Auckland? We still have diesel urban trains FFS!

            Even Houston has started building light rail. Dallas and Austin are far ahead and have quite good PT. There might be some cities in the SW USA who are worse but that is really a race for the bottom.

            As for cycling, we are abysmal even by Australasian standards.

          • Countries 50 times our size? I assume you mean population? I agree it is absurd to compare NZ to countries 50 times our population.

            But even a population around the same is a stretch – Norway, Singapore and Finland for example. Even Slovenia and Estonia with much smaller populations have better PT systems in their main cities.

            And many, many countries with double our population and a main city of similar size have FAR better PT systems – Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark and Portugal.

            You can say that the EU has contributed to some of thse countries but most have been net contributors to the EU and would have received minimal funding for infrastructure. It is all about priorities.

            Again cycling here, as in most English speaking countries, is a joke.

          • SF Lauren

            I did make a typo in my last post. I wasn’t meant to imply we are good by world standards but about average. So neither good or bad.

            In regards to your trip from ellerslie to Onehunga, why not catch the train? You couldn’t ask for an easier trip when going sideways between suburbs. You would struggle to find another city to provide a better service for such low demand trip.

            As for lane km of motorway, that’s a rumor places like this like to spread but it’s completely false. You will find a huge portion of our “motorways” are out in the country however when people compare Aucklands to other cities they include our country motorways, yet exclude them from the other city along with the other cities 8 lane grade separated high speed roads that aren’t called motorways. It’s like trying to compare the male population by only looking at people with the name Jack.

          • SF Lauren

            Goosoid, the fact you measure the quality of a PT network by the use of diesel or electric trains shows that the bar is set extremely high. It would seem the service the PT network provides is irrelevant and it’s the presence of electric trains, light rail and presumably tunnels with underground stations that people look for.

          • Once again you have taken one small point and held that up as a fatal flaw without addressing the vast bulk of what I said or answering the one specific question I asked. I am sorry but this is why you are often accused of trolling.

            But on that one tiny point – the fact is that electric trains deliver a far superior service than diesel. This is illustrated by the fact that 99% of the urban railways in the developed world are electric. It goes to the very heart of the quality of service.

            It just boggles the mind that you can say the quality of PT service in Auckland is adequate, absolutely mind blowing. I can only imagine how terrible the PT system must have been in the N American cities you lived in if you think it is even a pass mark.

            By the standards of the small European cities I have lived in (even Rouen with a population of around 400,000) it is frankly disfunctional, as illustrated by the 87% modal share of cars. Compared to a city like Prague with the same population and a similar level of wage/salary earning, it is third world standard. And that is a system built by a supposedly economically bankrupt Communist state.

            If you think it so good, please explain where are you comparing it to? South Africa?

          • SF Lauren

            Goosoid, modal share doesn’t really show how bad a PT system is but rather that the alternatives are not that bad.

            You will note that pretty much every city that has a high PT mode share is also completely carp to drive in.

            I find in auckland you actually have a choice as both modes are comparable if your doing a common trip. Most of these other countries were people celebrate the PT systems have little choice as PT is the only real option.

            Now one thing that the majority of people seem to forget is that New Zealand only started to get settled about 150 years ago and so none of our cities got to any meaningful size or significant historical status unlike most other cities in the world that are so compact and constrained that again PT is the only option.

          • SF Lauren

            In terms of overseas cities that aren’t much better from my experience., Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Athens, Rome, Washington DC, New York, San Francisco, Miami, Las Vagas, Paris Amsterdam, Ottawa and a bunch of smaller places. Naturally excluding ones with really carp systems like Dubai and Los Angeles.

            I rather liked London and the UK in general however.

          • SF Lauren

            I will point out however that I think we have one of the best road networks in the word for general traffic. So maybe I just don’t have overly high expectations.

          • It seems to me SF that you evaluate transit systems based mostly on coverage, but you aren’t really considering service quality, reliabilty, ease of use or travel time. You’re comment above seems to support this, where you say “In regards to your trip from ellerslie to Onehunga, why not catch the train? You couldn’t ask for an easier trip when going sideways between suburbs. ” after Matt Clouds has said he finds the train to Onehunga pretty useless because it only runs once per hour.

            And indeed you would be right to say that the Auckland system does have good coverage. You really can get anywhere on a bus, train or ferry. But it fails on most other measures of performance. Perhaps you only consider the peak network, when frequencies are good and extra routes run?

            A good example is the bus trip between my place and my girlfriends place. At peak times I can leave one block away from my place, wait no more than about ten minutes and go direct to hers in about 15 minutes for a reasonably cheap fare. Off peak, say going home on a Sunday, the frequency on the route drops to one every two hours, as the main route goes hourly but it is split across two stopping patterns, one of which going a different way.

            So I do think we will have a very good PT system soon, once they roll out the New Network which takes care of all those issues of regular dependable frequency, adding good service delivery to good coverage. Then the only issues will be capacity (on some routes) and the issue of speed/reliability. The last one needs some infrastructure changes to address.

          • SF Lauren

            Nick, obviously frequency is an issue, by dropping services down to such a low level it’s like closing a road each night.

            In terms of Matt Clouds trip however he is still pretty good. If a train runs regularly every hour or half hour its pretty darn easy to catch. I would much prefer that to spending an hour on 3 different buses or spending 2 hours taking the train into the city and then back out again like you need to do in a number of cities overseas with apparently superior PT systems. Given it was only 5km why doesn’t he walk or cycle? Only yesterday people were complaining that the cycle mode share is so low and yet we have a prime example here of why.

          • Why not take the train? Lousy frequency. My entire trip has to be scheduled around the train timetable, and if I miss the train it’s between 30 and 60 minutes until the next one. If there is one, given the early hour at which the services stop running most nights; most nights I wouldn’t finish what I was doing until after the last train had gone. When I’m in Onehunga for an evening it’s on someone else’s timetable, and if I’m going to have to wait an hour to get home because it’s five minutes after a service leaves before I can make it to the station, that’s useless for me. If you’re happy with that kind of “service”, good for you. Most people aren’t.

            Why not bicycle? Sometimes I do – it’s a nice trip, and I can do it in only a little longer than it takes me by car. But in the middle of winter when it’s dark, raining, windy, and cold (remember, evenings), and I have to be functional at the end, that’s a pretty naff option. So naff, in fact, that it’s really not an option. Picky? Maybe. But it’s a perfectly valid objection to using a bicycle, especially when we’re talking about late-evening return trips so on arrival home I’d be wide awake and not ready to go to bed.

            The levels of service you are prepared to accept are admirable for their tolerance, but you are a very, very rare individual. Most of us compare public transport to private transport, and expect something approximating the same level of convenience even if it’s not quite as quick. Auckland fails to be even close to as quick, and the convenience leaves an enormous amount to be desired.

          • SF Lauren

            From what I typically read here people seem to expect it to be the norm to be stuck in congestion for 30 mins when traveling by private car. In fact if we go by the precedence of the CFN private car travel should take even longer and be more congested.

            It really is quite a double standard to suggest that it’d perfectly fine to slow private car trips down by 30mins or so, as per existing, however with PT it seems people want to be able to make extremely rare trips 24/7 with minimal wait time in spacious conditions.

            I would suggest each mode should be used for its strengths rather than all trips, and PT just isn’t suited for rare trips by individuals. If you do want to make such a trip maybe you should pay the $50 or so it costs to provide it to you.

          • TimE

            Sorry SF Lauren, but you’re absolutely 100% wrong. PT in Auckland is atrocious and it’s barely budged. I would argue it’s because the bus network, accounting for the vast majority of PT trips has been neglected for decades – bus equipment, routes, timetables, hub facilities, real time information, ticketing, fares, quality of information, priority lanes… the list goes on. Some of these are going to be addressed, but it’s taken far too long.

            The best way to gauge the quality of a city’s PT is to ask… “Can I reasonably live here without the need to buy a car?” And by reasonable I mean, is it cost effective and how much of my time is taken up by using it, weekday and weekend? In Auckland the answer is patently NO, effectively acting as an Auckland Tax just to live in the damn place. It’s a large part of why I left and won’t be returning anytime soon.

          • patrick m

            Removing an subjective preferences I would say that “Quality of the PT experience” is highly affected by your origin and destination. Some examples – living in Birkenhead up the hill from the ferry terminal and working downtown would be nice PT experience. Living in an apartment near Lynmall and working in Ellerslie, or vice versa, would again be a good PT experience. The opposite might hold for someone living in Greenhithe trying to get to Botany every work day. But then again this last example would be crap even by PV.

            So how do we improve on Nice, Good or even Crap. We increase the frequency, speed, quality, coverage and accessibility of our PT product. The GOAL I believe is to extend to a larger number of USERS this alternative transportation mode.

          • “In terms of overseas cities that aren’t much better from my experience., Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Athens, Rome, Washington DC, New York, San Francisco, Miami, Las Vagas, Paris Amsterdam, Ottawa and a bunch of smaller places. Naturally excluding ones with really carp systems like Dubai and Los Angeles.”

            Just at a loss – I dont even know where to start. The majority of those cities I have visited and they hav excellent PT networks though much bigger. I just dont know what your criteria is and frankly I just am past caring.

            You must live in a completely different reality to mine and most of the people on this planet.

            Or you are trolling – highly likely.

          • SF Lauren

            Goosoid, I suspect the issue is that I have a more realistic expectation of PT than yourself, I don’t expect to walk out the door and get into a high speed train to any destination I can imagine but it seems most others near demand this of Aucklands PT even though no other city in the world does this.

            I can honestly say in Auckland, for the 5 different places I have lived its Ben just a short walk to my local PT mode that has taken me directly to the city.

            Its pretty much the same experience I’ve had in various cities overseas, and in some cases much better.

          • Dan

            I’d say there is a significant case to be made that SF is trolling. The initial comment SF made here is simply fact free opinion that is obviously inflammatory. Poor PT and cycling provision is demonstrably the cause of poor uptake of those modes. SF clearly reads enough here to know this.

            So stop arguing with the guy, it is a waste of time.

          • SF Lauren

            Dan, I suggest you refer to a dictionary as the definition of trolling is not “finding it easy to get round Auckland by PT”.

            I can understand why I am in the minority on this site however as it is well known most people hear don’t like Aucklands PT network. That’s all well and good I say as every is free to have their own opinions. If you refer to less dedicated discussion boards however you will find my view us shared by quite a large group.

          • Bryce P

            Because they don’t know any better. Look at the uptake of PT since Britomart and the Northern Busway.

          • I’m still mystified that I should just consider it acceptable that I could face an hour’s wait in order to travel three contiguous suburbs (maybe even only two, depending how you count them) to the west of where I live. I can walk there quicker than that. I don’t want to get across the freaking harbour, I don’t even want to get across town, I just want to travel three suburbs. But according to the troll it’s apparently utterly unreasonable of me to expect better-than-hourly service frequencies for such a journey.

            In fact, I think it’s pretty much impossible to avoid the conclusion that SF is a troll.

      • Bryce P

        I caught a bus from Te Atatu to Newmarket on Tuesday night and I can honestly say we have a long way to go until PT, in Auckland, is of a good enough quality to make it appealing to the non-peak traveller!

    • PMS

      What is scary is how many likes it gets – NZH need a dislike button….

      • Sacha

        It’s like reading the comments on any of their stories abut the Unitary Plan. Helps clarify further key messages needed for a fruitful discussion, though.

  • Jeremy

    I thought the the difference between commited and fully funded was more than $12b

  • fiddlestixbob

    wow, out of all of the people who post on this blog I think that SF appears to the only one that seems to have a reasoned argument. Everybody else is just too emotive and hammers anyone who doesn’t conform to the sentiment of the few.

    I actually agree with SF in that PT isn’t the answer to everything it has to be part of an overall approach to solution of city travel. To have PT 100% 24/7 available with frequency on demand is unrealistic and unsustainable.

    Matt Clouds response regarding cycling is a prime example of a nimby attitude. Would you be happy if they ripped the roads and banned all cars but made it really safe for cyclists……..Not if it rains, I want my car back…..

    The way I see it is that if they can get the PT sorted in the city so that everyone within 2km of the skytower can travel by PT then the roads will be quiet and I can drive my car really quickly and easily to wherever I want.

    • counterpoint

      “…of all of the people who post on this blog I think that SF appears to the only one that seems to have a reasoned argument.”

      For the benefit of slow readers like myself, would you be so kind to provide a summary of the argument?

      “Matt Clouds response regarding cycling is a prime example of a nimby attitude.”

      I’m going to assume that the term NIMBY is being used here as a synonym for ‘selfish’, since it doesn’t make sense otherwise.

      “Would you be happy if they ripped the roads and banned all cars but made it really safe for cyclists……..Not if it rains, I want my car back…..”

      I went back and read the comment in question, and I didn’t manage to find the part where is was suggested that roads be ripped out and cars be banned. But okay, perhaps this is just employing hyperbole to make a point, in which case what is the point? That if you choose a mode of transport on a particular day or at a particular time that you must live and die by it? Can cyclists not opt to take a journey somewhere by car on occasion?

      I’m geniunely not sure about the Skytower bit, but its actually incredibly easy to get around auckland by car for the vast majority of the day. In fact, outside of peak time its pretty tough to get a more conveneint trip than by car.

    • Jeremy

      SF actually says roads and PT are not that bad, then corrects himself by saying not bad but not good – then say roads are too good. His point, I don’t know. I’m glad the person who said this blog had self interest in promoting the CRL understands him But when the ITP says 74% of proposed new infrastructure are roads and with little improvement to key indicators I thought any person could determine what the most reasonable and realistic thing to do was.

      • SF Lauren

        Actually Jeremy, if you turn off creative reading mode you will see that I started off agreeing with the guy in the herald saying that Aucklands PT was not that bad.

        In a latter post I said it was “pretty good” however I know from past experience if some says “pretty good” and the other person disagrees they will imagine I said it was “world leading”, so I corrected it saying that it was average on did the job.

        I latter said I think we have some of the best roads as again I know from past experience if I don’t say “I want all the money spent on roads” people will assume I want all the money spent on roads.

        So anyway that was my stance.

        We then had a bunch of people telling me how useless our PT system is and that they drive because it’s either too wet or dark to cycle and they don’t want to wait 30mins for a bus or train when they are making a trip that about 1 person does every 3 days.

        • counterpoint

          I’m still not entirely clear what you’re getting at.

          PT in Auckland is bad – everyone says so. But perhaps they’re wrong. Perhaps they do just have expectations that exceed reality, and perhaps they should be prepared to accept less. The trouble with this argument, at least as far as you’ve made it, is that it isn’t clear what would constitute an acceptable PT system. You’ve basically said that what Auckland has, so one answer could just be ‘what Auckland has’. But we run into trouble making comparisons here both with other cities and with other peoples expectations because we don’t quite know what it is about Auckland’s PT network that makes it better than people assume.

          I also detect hints of a suppressed premise here. I could be reading too much into this, but there is a notion in your writing that making PT changes which could improve the frequency, reliability, or catchment are too expensive or difficult. Specifically (edits mine)…

          “[for travelling between Onehunga and Ellerslie] … you would struggle to find another city to provide a better service for such low demand trip.”

          This blog has previously commented on changes that could significantly improve the usefulness of buses by taking the focus away from radial travel patterns, (here and here for example, I only spent 2 mins looking but I seem to remember there being others). If the ‘low demand’ for such a trip actually a reflection of the fact that its somewhat awkward in the current network, then is it not appropriate to suggest the network be altered to remedy this? Both Onehunga and Ellerslie seem significant enough places to warrant some kind of transport connection outside of driving? At the very least, they seem like destinations that wouldn’t fit the profile of

          “…extremely rare trips 24/7 with minimal wait time …” (<- 2:54pm)

          I think the case is similarly overstated here

          "…I don’t expect to walk out the door and get into a high speed train to any destination I can imagine…"

          and here, in your most recent entry

          "We then had a bunch of people telling me how useless our PT system is and that they drive because it’s either too wet or dark to cycle and they don’t want to wait 30mins for a bus or train when they are making a trip that about 1 person does every 3 days."

          Ignoring the spurious rigour in the claim of '1 person per 3 days' and the fact that only one person had anything to say about not cycling in the dark, we're still left with a pretty vague sense of your opinion. Clearly you disagree with the majority opinion here, which is your prerogative. But because the argument lacks coherency overall, and focuses very deeply on small details, readers like myself are just left with the impression that you perhaps generally dislike PT in Auckland (even to the extent that when you expressly say otherwise no-one buys it), or that you that you think other peoples assessment of the PT system here is wrong for some reason.

          • SF Lauren

            Counterpoint, I really don’t know what your game is.

            You come along and say things like prohibiting general traffic from using Grafton bridge has no adverse impact on general traffic.

            And now after I have made 13 posts defending Aucklands PT system from the haters you come in here claiming that I don’t like PT.

            Really I can’t help you, you seem to read everything back to front, making up completely fictional claim that I think PT is too expensive even though I never mentioned cost and then make some other claim that you think I gave the impression the rail line between Onehunga and Ellerslie should be removed.

            Honestly, other than my phoned obvious typos I’m not writing in some encrypted code, just read what I write for what it says, don’t get out the code breaker assuming I’m actually saying the opposite along with a few completely off topic claims.

          • counterpoint

            You might think you are unpopular on this blog for your unorthodox views, but my take is that your unpopular mostly for your writing style.

            “You come along and say things like prohibiting general traffic from using Grafton bridge has no adverse impact on general traffic.”

            This is the sort of thing I’m talking about. The point I made was that there hasn’t been much of an effort to remove traffic from the CBD. Grafton bridge was brought up as an example of a place where traffic is now restricted, to which my response was – so what? This one restriction needs to be placed in the context of fairly significant road expansions in the area, including VPT and Fanshawe, among others. I put it to you that the large amount of dedicated off-street parking in the CBD is also an expression of car focus in the area, and I think the CBD is worse for it. The impact on traffic isn’t the point, its the mode share overall.

            “…after I have made 13 posts defending Aucklands PT system from the haters you come in here claiming that I don’t like PT”

            Again, I never said this. The actual quote that your obviously referring to is this (edited for brevity, the orignal is just above)

            “…because the argument lacks coherency overall … readers like myself are just left with the impression that you perhaps generally dislike PT in Auckland…”

            There is no such claim. To put the complete sentence another way, if you do in fact support PT in Auckland, then your writing style betrays your view. The entire post is in fact an invitation to elaborate on your writing, should you choose to accept it.

            As for this

            “making up completely fictional claim that I think PT is too expensive even though I never mentioned cost”

            Even though I would expect you to have read between the lines here, I’ll clarify by saying that this is not a statement in reference to a claim you maid. Its a musing on the suppressed premise that adapting the PT system to make trips easier is seen to have a ‘cost’, be that financial, time, resident impact, etc. In other words, it’s me thinking aloud about what’s behind your writing. Perhaps there’s a misunderstanding in the way I wrote the above, but for this one

            “…and then make some other claim that you think I gave the impression the rail line between Onehunga and Ellerslie should be removed.”

            Genuinely, I don’t know which part of my comment this is about (quote it).

            To make this perfectly clear, the problem with your writing is not typographical errors, or cryptic turns of phrase. It’s that the points are made with no context whatsoever. A statement is made, but no account is given of how that fits with the proposition. My concrete example your take on PT in which we are left to guess what particular attributes make a good PT network in your story.

            In short, you might just want to broaden your scope a little while reading.

  • Sacha

    Too emotive? Not sure what you have been reading. 100% PT is an obvious strawman, as is 2k from Skytower. Nobody is asking for those, yet you can’t be bothered constructing an actual argument.

  • Sacha

    “for the 5 different places I have lived its bern just a short walk to my local PT mode that has taken me directly to the city.”

    It really doesn’t count as ‘getting around Auckland’ much if all your trips were to the one place the current system has been focused on.

    • SF Lauren

      Sucha, I didn’t say No 1 queen st I said city.

      If you look on a map you will find Auckland city is a rather large place.

      As to going to weird and wonderful places, you just complained that fiddlestixbob said such a target is unrealistic but here you are seeming to imply that’s what your expecting. As you just said going to the city doesn’t even count in your assessment of the PT system.

      • counterpoint

        So then where is the ‘city’?

      • Sacha

        Your lack of basic comprehension is so extreme Richard that I simply cannot be bothered conversing with you any more. Why don’t you set up your own blog. Maybe call it “black and white” so people know what they’re in for.

  • Phil

    I would love to know how many of you have actually been too, lived in, or used the PT systems of all these cities you mention. Let me tell you about a few places I know very well.
    London. It still has mostly diesel trains. Until recently you could not get a train to Heathrow. The Underground system is without aircon and shuts at midnight. There still isnt a rail option across town
    New York. Amtrak gives way to freight making a very slow train journey. The underground is ok but many locals wont use it for fear of being mugged.
    Switzerland: They have a great rail system, buses and trams. But they also have a great motorway system as well (one of the best in the world)..its great to be rich.
    Rome: Trains are reasonably good and they have a very limited underground system. Most PT is by bus which is very hot and takes ages to get anywhere. The last time it snowed they all came to a grinding halt because the buses all had bald tyres.
    Los Angeles: hahahahaha.
    Paris: Underground works fine if you dont mind the smell of urine mixing with your breakfast coffee. Train service is superb, probably the best in the world. Has the highest tax of any of these cities :(

    I could go on but my point is already made. Even these uber cities have PT shortfalls despite having the advantages SFL pointed out of a couple of hundred/thousand years head start on Auckland. Given the population we have and the geographical problems of being built on an isthmus I think the system is pretty good. I live on Northcote Point, my PT options are take the ferry to the city (twice an hour) which is a 2 min walk from my house. Take the bus to birkenhead (every hour) which is a 5 min walk from my house, or walk to Onewa Rd (20 mins) and have a bus to the City, Taka, and Birkenhead every 10-15mins. From Britomart I can take a train to Eden Park or a Bus most places. For everything else I can take my car.

    I realise that many people reading this blog hate cars but that is not a thought shared with most Aucklanders. Most people would surely want PT as an option and not the only form of transport available to them. So surely its not unreasonable to have a bus/rail service that works well in rush hour to the major employment hubs. Reasonably good outside of rush hour and to cross the city, and for everything else, take your car. Surely you can not expect the rate payers of Auckland and the tax payers of NZ to spend billions creating a PT service that panders to the 1 person that demands to live in Waitakere, work in Howick, and visit his girlfriend in Takapuna.

    Sure the system could be better (just like it could be in London, NY, Rome etc) but we have to learn to live with what we can reasonably afford.

    • Sacha

      “Most people would surely want PT as an option and not the only form of transport available to them” – including everyone on here. You are arguing in bad faith.

    • dan carter

      “. Let me tell you about a few places I know very well. London. ”

      As someone who has lived in London for ten years, i can say it is very clear that you do not know it well at all

      ” It still has mostly diesel trains.”
      Most trains are electric and have been for years. I am aware of one service that is diesel, the Gospel Oak to Barking line, and that is scheduled to be electrified. Meanwhile the list of electric train lines is too long to list here but i’ll start with the 11 tube lines, the numerous lines that make up the overground orbital network (excluding the gospel oak / barking line), the train to heathrow airport, the train to gatwick airport, the train to stanstead airport, and hundreds of southern and southeastern national rail services… Really, what services in london are still diesel?

      “Until recently you could not get a train to Heathrow.”
      The Piccadilly line was extended to heathrow in 1977
      The Heathrow express service began in 1988
      The Heathrow connect service began in 2005

      “There still isnt a rail option across town”
      I guess you never took the central line, or the district line, or the hammersmith and city line. And if you want to move diagonally across town there is the bakerloo line, or the piccadilly line, or the jubilee line or the victoria line.
      If you are referring to overground trains, then yes you can’t get an overground train acrosscentral london. This was a planning decision at the start of the railway age that they didn’t want the urban environment destroyed by noisy trains. There are also no motorways through the city. Togeather it make London a much more cohesive city. And a train in an underground tunnel is still a train.

      The trains do stop around midnight during the week, and this is a real source of complaint. On the weekends they run longer, the last ones passing through central london around 00:40, and from 2015 operation should be extended to 2am.

    • Frank J


      Rome – last year it snowed in Rome but that was the first time in 26 years, so this can hardly be used as a basis for assessing Rome’s PT system.

      New York – Amtrak is the intercity system and has nothing to do with commuter or subway trains.
      The city had a reputation for muggings in the 1970s and 1980s. Crime, including muggings, has been falling since 1990, and it is now one of the safest cities in the states.

      Interesting view of the world you have there from under your 8 lane motorway Phil.

      “I could go on but my point is already made.” Well not really.

  • Can someone please explain what AM, IP, and ITP stand for? Then i might be able to understand this post.

  • Sacha

    Would not be surprised if SF is an aspie. We’re often indistinguishable from trolls. But this is not a place for therapy.

    • SF’s case is not helped by his role as a motorways designer and his vocal defence of the crap that passes for public transport service in Auckland. Particularly when he proceeds to wave around many cities that have vastly better levels of public transport service and then say that Auckland isn’t that far behind.

      • SF Lauren

        That’s right Matt, I’m a dedicated motorway designer and that’s why I designed the northern busway, duplication of the western line, the northern busway extension, AMETI, are currently designing the CRL along with the western busway and its connection to the Northshore not to mention a new bus interchange in Manukau.

        Based on that I clearly have a vested interest in downgrading PT.

  • Sacha

    damn this malfunctioning threading.

  • TimE

    I am completely arguing for a 100% PT lifestyle. If I can do it in Barcelona, London, New York, Paris, Toulouse, Lyon, Berlin, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Singapore, Melbourne, Boston, Leeds, Edinburgh, Geneva, Athens, Istanbul etc etc, and it makes my life better, why choose Auckland?

    And by 100% I don’t mean walk out my front door and WHAMO there’s a stop and a 2 minute frequency. I realistically expect a walk (5-10 minutes) to the nearest stop, whatever the mode. I wouldn’t mind a 10-15 minute frequency – actually that would be amazing. With route restructure, proper real time info, integrated fares and a coordinated, integrated PT system, I can then live without a car for 98% of the things I might want to do. The other 2% I’ll rent one of those short term things sprouting up in progressive cities worldwide.

    But if I have to have a car anyway, and its savings in time and cost is as substantial as it is in Auckland given its crummy PT system, then screw it, I’m just gonna head elsewhere, to a place where I can catch PT home at 1am on a Wednesday morning if I want to.

    I’m now of the belief that PT is a critical determinant in Auckland’s future. I just wish it could get some benevolent dictator type personality for a few years to ram the needed changes through. Arguing that it’s just fine as it stands betrays a woeful lack of experience using it, or an ulterior motive to undermine further PT development.

    • And by 100% I don’t mean walk out my front door and WHAMO there’s a stop and a 2 minute frequency. I realistically expect a walk (5-10 minutes) to the nearest stop, whatever the mode. I wouldn’t mind a 10-15 minute frequency – actually that would be amazing.

      Precisely. I’d be thrilled with that. I’m fortunate to have bus and rail within 10 minutes (bus within two, for 5xx routes, but I can easily walk up to GSR to get 4xx routes and also avoid the jams at Harp of Erin), and that walk doesn’t bother me.

      It’s being told I should just suck it up and deal with 30- or 60-minute service frequencies or put up with two or three bus changes (along with about a 40-minute journey including waiting for transfers) in order to travel three suburbs over that pisses me off. Or being criticised for not being prepared to get on my bicycle at all hours, in all weathers.

    • SF Lauren

      TimE, have you actually lived in any of those cities or are you just rambling off some random names?

      Because I’ve been to half of them and found in most cases there weren’t materially better or worse.

      In regards to Melbourne, I don’t know how you arrive at the conclusion it’s PT system is miles better. For an example very similar to Matt’s, I dropped my car off to get detailed in some suburb which took me 20mins to drive to. I then took the train home which took me just under 3 hours by when my car was ready so I took a 20min and $20 taxi ride to pick it up.

      Why Matt is constantly crying about the Onehunga line I don’t know, over 1000 other people seem happy to use it each day and we all know post CRL it’s frequencies to up.

      • I’m “crying about the Onehunga Line” because it’s a low-quality, low-frequency service (CRL is at least five years away, so let’s just park that as a point of improvement, shall we?) and it’s the only option that doesn’t involve my own transport. If it was high-quality, high-frequency then it wouldn’t be a problem. But it’s not.

      • KLK

        The use of an extreme example by Strawman Lauren to justify an inane point with any real back-up.

        I see things haven’t changed here recently…

        • SF Lauren

          Care to explain what in the world you are on about KLK? I gave a sideways suburb to suburb example from Melbourne just like Matt gave for Auckland. Only thing is my trip took 3 hours even though I only had to wait 20mins and make one transfer.

          Are you saying we’re not permitted to talk about bad aspects of PT system in other cuties?

          • You are doing something seriously wrong if it took you three hours to make a rail trip in Melbourne. It doesn’t even take that long to go from Geelong to Frankston, even when the Geelong trains are running hourly. Where exactly were you going from and to?

          • SF Lauren

            The same places as the last time I told you this story Nick, it hasn’t changed.

          • I’m sorry I can’t remember, what where they again?

  • John Polkinghorne

    Just a reminder to everyone to keep it clean, and play the ball not the man, and so on. Thanks :-)

    • Dan

      Good point, John, but trolling can really derail discussion. The thread that SF started — public transport is really ok in Auckland — is a huge distraction when people start responding. A point like that is fine if someone doesn’t know better as you can engage with them. But if they just keep making inane points like that, why bother? It is a discussion forum, not Monty Python’s Argument Clinic.

  • are you serious Dan? You class somebody that thinks that the Auckland PT system is OK is trolling? This is a prime example of the tone of where this blog is heading with the regular posters.

    • Dan

      If transport in Auckland is really ok, what are we all doing here? I’d expect someone who regularly reads this blog, as SF does, knows this not to be the case and is just doing it to start an argument. That is pretty much the definiton of trolling. What the troll actually thinks is somewhat beside the point.

  • Melon

    I agree with the idea that a city’s PT network should be judged on whether you can get by without a car. Auckland = very no.

  • SF Lauren

    Dan, following that link of yours it does not say a troll is someone who can happily get round Auckland via PT. So it seems your accusation is incorrect.

    As I said at the top everyone is entitled to their own opinions, if you don’t agree with someone that is fair enough but there is no need to get all distressed about it.

    Now from the only two examples people have given to show how bad PT in Auckland is both have been during off peak hours and obviously very rare trips. If anything this is a sign of an efficient PT system as in order to provide for these two we would be needing to run about 20 times as many services. In effect, just so Matt could take a train and not need to think about what time it comes we would need to be spending another $10,000 a day just for him. Now I’m certain he wouldn’t be willing to pay and $2 let alone his portion of the $10,000 and so in the end you get what you pay for.

    But, even with that, both of these guys are better off than I was in Melbourne making a similar trip, in fact a quick search on google maps will show you that when making these sideways offpeak trips that PT is not the best option. Even in the celebrated Prague such a trip is not easy and takes at least twice as long as driving.

  • Phil

    @ Dan Carter.

    I am not sure you know London as well as you think you do.
    1.If you had ever travelled from Paddington you would have realised that the entire Great Western Line is operated by diesel trains. This is used by approx 21 million pax a year! They are electrifying this line (slowly) but if you wanted to travel today from London to Swansea you are doing it on fossil fuel. The Oxford service is also diesel so clearly you never went there either.
    2. The Heathrow Express, the direct train link between the main London airport and the city opened only in 1998 (You are 10 years out). The airport opened in 1929 so it only took the Poms 69 years to build a rail link.
    3. There is no rail link crossing London. Crossrail will be completed only in 2018
    Your claim that the Underground is ‘still a train’ fails to accept the point Im making that London does not have the nirvana PT system you seem to expect of Auckland. If you live in Maidenhead and work in City (a very typical journey) you will have to catch a diesel train to Paddington, then change to an electrified underground service to Oxford St before changing again to the central line. If you live in Papatoetoe and work in the city you can take the same train the entire journey!
    And please do not assume the electric underground in London is green energy. The UK produce most of its electricity burning Fuel Oil that has a huge carbon footprint.
    My point being…. compared to Londons population size and economic power Auckland has a perfectly fine PT system!

    @ Frank J.

    Rome’s PT is chaos. The three ‘tube lines’ do not connect well and none of them go to either airport. There is an overground rail service from Leonardo Di Vinci to Rome and only in the last 10 years has that gone all the way to Termini (the central stn). If you want to take PT to the charter airport its a long tube ride to Anagnina from where you will need to catch a bus. The buses are overcrowded and dont have aircon. Trust me, in summer your would rather walk.
    The fact that the buses ground to a halt in the snow is an example of how little effort the Commune di Roma makes to keep its PT system safe and working.

    I dont get your reference to ‘my 8 lane motorway’ are you suggesting that because I own a property on Northcote point I somehow love motorways? Unlike the residents surrounding Eden Park or Western Springs I knew the bridge was there when I bought my property. I factored that against the views when I bought my property and its not a big issue because I dont really hear the traffic. Its not really an annoyance at all, unlike 5000 cyclists passing my gate would be. I am in fact looking forward to when the tunnels are built and I can wave to the cyclists that will finally have a harbour crossing via the new traffic free clip on. It will assuage their disappointment of Skypath never getting off the ground :D In the meantime I will continue to enjoy the panoramic view of the harbour and city that most of you wished you could have.

  • @Phil
    1) You were talking about public transport in London. Swansea is 300km away. A number of intercity lines are not electrified, same with the line down to cornwall, but that’s irrelevant we are talking about city transport. London has hardly any diesel lines.

    2) Sorry quite right i made a typo there, 1998 for the express service. Still a train service since 1977 is a funny definition of “until recently”

    3) You are claiming that because Londons 3 east to west train lines are underground, somehow that means londons transport system is not nirvana we all think it is? I fail to see how being underground makes a PT system crap? The crossrail tube line that you say counts as a real PT east west link, also goes underground through central london and overground in the outskirts, just like all the current tube lines.

  • Phil

    @ Dan
    As you lived in the UK for 10 years you will well knnow that many people commute from the West to London to work. the Maidenhead to city comparison to Papatoetoe to Britomart is entirely fair as they are similar distances and both very much commuter journeys. I am not sure if the residents of Maidenhead would like to be twinned with twotoes but there you go. London’s PT system is worse than Aucklands for all those using Paddington!
    Train service since 1977…you mean the Piccadilly line? Come on, a journey via underground that stops every couple of mins is hardly great PT. Auckland is better served by the bus from Mangere to the CBD so once again, Aucklands PT system is doing fine.
    Cross Rail is a huge game changer for London. It means the people of Papatoetoe’s twin city can travel to Canary Wharf without having to rail to Paddington, tube to Oxford St, tube to Bank, DLR to the Wharf. I point out it wont be ready until 2018. Again, Aucklands PT system is better than Londons.
    This wonderful undergorund system you have fond memories of…do you remember the over crowding? The fact that it is not air conditioned? The lack of toilets? The fact your phone wont work? Most Londoners earning more than min wage wont go near the thing unless absolutely forced to do so.
    So to get back to focus. I stand by my point that given the small population we have, the geographical problems of being built on an isthmus, and the lack of interest to increase the tax burden Auckland has a public transport system that serves its purpose well and the equal or better of many other cities.

  • @Phil
    Anyone can cherry pick data-points to give an unfair view of things. For the vast majority of Aucklanders who do not happen to live near the single rail line of any length, the papatoetoe to britomart rail trip is not representative of their public transport experience.
    The comparison is also not at all fair as:
    - you are comparing a 20km trip within auckland to a 52 km trip from outside of london.
    - you compare it with an unnecessarily convoluted route. To travel from maidenhead to the city you would train to Ealing Broadway and then change onto the central line direct to bank.

    Next you suggest that aucklands public transport is better than londons, because to travel from the west outside of london, into london, and on to a destination in the east, a total of 56km, would require 4 changes. This is not fair because:
    – it doesn’t take 4 changes. rail to padd, bakerloo to baker st, jubilee line to the wharf. A conservative 1h23m according to journey planner.
    – this is not at all comparable to a 20km trip from papatoetoe to the centre of auckland.
    – a comparable trip, 57km from the west outside of auckland to the east, waimauku to east tamaki would take 2h30m by PT and involve at least as many changes.

    > “Most Londoners earning more than min wage wont go near the thing unless absolutely forced to do so.”
    You seem to like bringing up Canary Wharf, a place i worked for 5 years, so lets use it as a comparison. The vast majority of people earn well over the minimum wage, allot of them many multiples of it. Yet the vast majority of people take the tube there. There is hardly any parking, just a few floors underground each of the towers reserved for top traders and CEOs (though usually a couple hundred staff bicycle parks and accompanying lockers and showers), and a few floors of public parking under the public squares. Certainly no public parking towers, because all these well paid londoners choose to take PT to work.

    > “Train service since 1977…you mean the Piccadilly line? ”
    Yes, you said there was no train service, there has been since 1977, as for it’s speed, i have already mentioned the express service added 15 years ago!

    Aucklands PT has a long way to go to be a desirable reliable alternative for the masses, in London it is already there.

  • Phil

    @ Dan,

    You are being picky. Change Maidenhead for Slough. You are ignoring the fact that millions of people using the Great Western Railway have to travel on diesel trains.

    You would not change at Ealing Broadway, it would be quicker and cheaper to travel to Paddington and then walk to the central line at Lancaster Gate. Still not the Nirvana of PT.

    Aucklands public transport system is fine. Lets look at anyone living in Birkenhead. There is a train going down Onewa road every few minutes to take you to the city or you could take the ferry. If you live in the south or west you can take rail or bus. If you live in the East you dont need to work :D What do you expect of Auckland? Do you want a 61% income tax like Londons to pay for your increased PT?

    It would be great if NZ had the wealth of Switzerland, then Auckland could have the PT of Zurich or Geneva (btw neither of them have an underground but they do have a great motorway system) Maybe as the G20 close down Tax avoidance NZ could buck the trend and offer tax havens to fund your PT dream.

    We have to live within our means. Apia cant afford a complex rail network and nor can Auckland.

  • What do i expect of PT auckland? 10-15 minute frequencies on a service that is reliable (i.e. avoids car congestion, i.e. on buslanes), and viable cycling and walking alternatives (i’d ride to work on the shore right now instead of drive but the bridge is in the way). You don’t need to be the richest nation on earth to provide that, new zealand is a rich nation, we just have to divert a little more of the transport budget away from urban motorways and into public transport.

    61% income tax in London? London does not levy income tax. UK top tax rate for income over £150,000 pounds is 45%. After deducting the £9400 tax free allowance most peoples income falls into the 20% band.

    I assume you are adding the old 11% (now 12) national insurance levy to the old 50% (now 45) top tax rate to make 61%. However after you have paid £800 in NI the rate drops from 12% to 2%. So the top tax rate combining income tax and national insurance is 47%, but you have to be earning nearly NZ$300,000 to hit that.

  • Phil

    @ Dan.

    I am sure most public transport in Auckland is 10-15 min frequency during peak periods. Outside of peak why should you expect a bus/train/ferry every 10-15 mins, just arrange your day to fit in with the 30-60min frequency like most countries in the world. You dont expect an aircraft to Sydney every 15 mins, why would you expect a bus service to do this?

    Public Transport is not/should not, and never will be the only transport choice for most Aucklanders. If PT doesnt work for you then take your car, a taxi, walk, or cycle. To expect the state to do everything for you and cater for your every whim is both selfish and unreasonable. You can still ride to work on the shore, you could take a ferry or you could get very fit and ride via Riverhead. The bridge is NOT IN YOUR WAY, the harbour is in your way…Dont like that? Sue God :D The bridge is a convenience to thousands of Aucklanders every day. The fact that you can not cycle over it should have been a consideration when you decided to live on the city side and work on the Shore. YOur complaint is like the residents of Western Springs who complain about Speedway noise even though they bought property knowing the Speedway exists. The good news, if you wait for the new road tunnel you will find the outside lanes of the existing bridge will get a cycle path.

    UK tax rates. Basic rate = 20% on £0-34’370…Higher rate 40% on £34351-150’000…Additional rate 50% on +£150’000 and then add NI at 12% and council taxes and you will find that London is a very expensive place to live and pay tax. Those people you are talking about in Canary Wharf are all cycling because on the taxes they are forced to pay they can no longer afford a car :( I’m sure you never experienced it in London but spare a thought for the people earning $300’000 that only get to take home $114’000. The UK also has huge public debt (thanks to Labour) so it couldnt afford to build a public transport system these days. Be happy you live in Auckland where the Govt can and does invest in PT without punitive taxes.

    No one is saying there should not be investment in PT but I’d rather wait 30 – 60 mins for a bus outside of peak time than pay UK top tax rates.

    • Right so on the basis that when i moved to auckland i knew the harbour bridge is always rammed with traffic on the peak, that means we should never do anything to improve it? We should never have built the busway? And when the original settlers arrived they knew the streets got muddy in winter so we never should have got them paved as we’re not a rich country like Switzerland?

      Re: tax rates, please provide a link to your source for those rates. I am pretty sure my links to HMRC and wikipedia show the correct rates, i.e. 47% top rate for income and NI combined.

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