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Letter to NZTA

 BRITOMART JULY 15_3753
After the launch of the National Land Transport Programme in Auckland last week  I wrote the following letter to NZTA with our concerns focussed on two future projects in particular. We have already received a reply confirming engagement on the issues raised:
We are all having quite a bit of trouble taking all the transport institutions seriously over RTN designations and intentions. The failure for any action to have been taken over a route through Mangere and the Airport over the last decade, and the constant reductions of any available space for a rail ROW there, or at least one not prohibitively expensive, make all the assurances we hear increasingly hard to believe.
 
Now we are expected to have no concerns at all about a process which shows every sign of just being another massive state highway with a little pretend drawing of a train in the sump of a massive road tunnel.
 
Tommy Parker confirmed today that buses on the bridge are to be the RTN solution, ie what there is now.
 
Our view is that this puts the cart before the horse. NZTA should not be starting with a solution without any clear description of the problem. We do not see why it needs a designation over a stretch of water to analyse what may be missing across here. Although it is not the designation that is the problem, but the lack of a needs focused, creative, and open minded analysis that troubles us.
 
As to us it is clear that what is missing from the existing bridges is a real RTN route [assuming SkyPath happens]. Therefore we expect to see real exploration of what delivering rail only tunnels [or bridge] would do to shape demand here. A rail system would certainly be higher capacity than road tunnels, and, well planned, would also likely be much cheaper and stageable. Adjacent rail systems do add resilience as the TransBay Tunnels did in Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 in San Francisco. And not do have all of the disbenefits of the massive increase in vehicle numbers throughout the whole city [congestion!] that more traffic lanes will.
 
We know than any additional road capacity here would be a total disaster for the city, which we are currently de-carring, and the CMJ which is already full, and the North Shore local roads. We also know, and NZTA almost brags about this [see below], the main outcome would be a traffic inducement on a massive scale:
 
AWHC - Induced Demand
This is ‘decide and provide’ in a bad way, a huge programme of traffic creation; $6 Billion to get people out of buses and into the driver’s seat. What ever we build across this route will be used; what an amazing opportunity to choose to shape both demand and the city in a wholly positive way.
 
However the fact that NZTA is not currently allowed to spend on rail capex, and anyway really is mainly a State Highway provider and then is not calling for any outside expertise to explore rail systems is also not encouraging:
AWHC -Route Protection scope
It is our view that both a driverless Light Metro system, or a continuation of AT’s proposed Light Rail network across the Harbour, to Takapuna and up the Busway, need to be properly explored as the next possible crossing over the harbour. As they are likely to achieve all of the aims NZTA and AT are charged with delivering for the city much more completely and at a lower cost than any additional traffic lanes and without any of the disbenefits.
 
– the economic benefits of true spatially efficient urban transport system linking the Shore to city and the isthmus RTN
– make a massive transformational shift to public transport
– real carbon and other pollution reductions of scale from a 100% electric system
– huge place benefits, including a real reduction in city car and bus numbers
– no additional massive costs on approach roads
– resilience of additional systems as well as route
 
We would like to meet with NZTA at the highest level to discuss this further.
 
We are extremely concerned that institutional momentum is building for a very very poor outcome for the city and country and are determined to improve this process.
 
We look forward to your reply,
 
kind regards
 

53 comments to Letter to NZTA

  • Nice Patrick. Well done.

  • Ricardo

    My vote is for rail to the shore, however it gets there (tunnel, underhang on bridge, etc) so long as no lanes are sacrificed on the existing bridge. Commonsense and observation shows that the bridge itself is not the traffic bottleneck, it is more the feeder roading at either end. Then maybe the dedicated bus lanes can be used for trains instead of buses, increasing efficiency of the land already taken.

    • Nik

      To create resilience in the transport system, utilising the existing bridge to underhang rail doesn’t seem like a good idea. I’m not an engineer, but I doubt that the bridge has been built to allow the structural load, given that it was built without half its present lanes and devoid of walking and cycling access.

      Upgrading the bridge by dedicating some lanes to buses sends a message that public transport is more important than SOV, so why wouldn’t you start changing peoples vocabulary and influence the way they think.

      I’m also interested in what was taken to build the busway.

  • Ricardo

    Apologies, not ‘bus lanes’ but dedicated bus roading on the shore alongside the motorway.

  • Chris Randal

    I wish you the best of luck, seriously. It really is about time these people were educated/taken to task etc

  • Simon

    Good to see. I hope they don’t fob you off to some lackys. A critical issue here must be the ban on NZTA investing in rail infrastructure. How different would their plans look if this barrier was not in place?

  • Well my intuition is that the cheaper higher capacity RTN route is the best piece in the jigsaw to add here.

    But what we are calling for is a process that fully explores all options from first principles. Like the CCFAS that was carried out to test the validity of the CRL against every conceivable option.

    • George D

      This, more than anything else, is what is most distressing about the NZTA. Their job is not the movement of cars. Their job is the movement of people and goods, in the way that is most efficient, convenient, and cost effective.

      Conflating these different things means inferior outcomes, often massively so. In this case that is obvious.

    • tuktuk

      Well done Patrick – this is the clincher argument:
      ‘But what we are calling for is a process that fully explores all options from first principles. Like the CCFAS that was carried out to test the validity of the CRL against every conceivable option.’
      Failure by the NZTA to at least research alternative options to building this $6 billion CBD destruction device, represents a further loss of any sort of professional credibility by the management clique driving these sorts of projects….. Mr Martin Matthews, CEO of the MOT, I’m looking at you. Are you able to provide any sort of meaningful BCR?

      • There is a BCR kicking about, I beieve it’s around 0.4. That is 40c back for every dollar spent. I hear that MoT (no matter of the quantity of vehicles owned by the head) is rightly unenthusiastic.

        And that BCR includes agglomeration benefits, which may be arguable, and does not include the additional costs of further massive road and parking works that this project would not doubt provoke.

        After all; where on earth do these millions of additional vehicles go? The CMJ? Well that’s full except in the middle of the night, when the bridge is also empty, so no, the CBD? Well that is not only full, but the Council is improving the public realm on a plan with fewer not greater numbers of private vehicles… So where?

        • George D

          Well exactly. At a time when the Bridge is not even close to capacity, and while existing BRT options haven’t been optimised (not even close).

          This thing is a $6 billion “solution” in search of a problem.

        • Frank McRae

          I’m surprised it would even have a BCR of 0.4. For a $6 billion project that would mean $2.4 billion worth of benefits. How could a project that bypasses the one part of the system with excess capacity (St Marys bay) and links two bottlenecks provide $2.4 billion worth of benefits?

          • I’m no expert on the technicalities of BCRs but this doesn’t give off a convincing sniff does it?

            No doubt there are those totally bogus emissions savings, completely ignoring the massive traffic inducement. Not to mention crackpot time savings, that ignore the delays at any destination caused by the new congestion…

            We would love to run an analysis of this by someone qualified to look at it…?

        • tuktuk

          ‘After all; where on earth do these millions of additional vehicles go?’
          And that is the other kicker argument. Where do they go? A $10billion motorway tunnel extension through to Penrose? Or double stack motorway overlooking the leafy suburbs of Remuera on one side, and Epsom on the other. A second Newmarket viaduct anyone? Double deck CMJ casting shadows on Ponsonby and Parnell?

          How many extra multi story car-parking buildings in the CBD? How do you feed those car-parking buildings in the crucial congestion hour between 8 and 9am. This second harbour crossing is going to be backed up under the harbour as there is no physical way to get those extra cars through already busy CBD streets and into those car-parking buildings.

          Just keep asking the pointy questions – this second harbour crossing proposal has not had any serious analysis done. It does not stand up to any sort of scrutiny.

    • SC

      Hear, hear! The current process always seems to be “the roads are blocked. The answer must be more roads”. Let’s see a full development process (and hey, if roads win on merit, then roads it is. But frequency vs capacity, and too much frequency due to too little capacity simply clogs)

    • Ash Ketchum

      Interesting letter Patrick. While I agree with your calls for a proper assessment to be undertaken i do have some questions that you or the many well informed readers on this blog may be able to answer.

      1) Has anyone looked into the state of the existing bridge? I.e Is it structurally sound to continue carrying the increasing (debatable) levels of general traffic and increasing freight? If i remember correctly, the NZTA claimed that the most recent upgrades to the bridge were the last as the structure of the bridge would not be able to accommodate additional upgrades. The bridge is after all quite old. I imagine the Skypath will only add to the loadings on the bridge.

      2) It seems your letter misinterprets the word “trips” for “car traffic.” Correct me if i am wrong but 65% growth in trips does not necessarily mean 65% growth in single-occupant private vehicles.

      3) Is there not potential to use part of the existing harbour crossing as a dedicated bus lane once the additional crossing is place? Unsure on the rail idea. Has any work been done to justify rail to the shore? At face value is seems there is plenty of capacity left for the northern expressway however the main issue is giving it ROW over the bridge. I don’t see the point in investing in rail if the main issue is the ROW component, which may potential be solved once the new crossing goes in.

      4) I agree a full options assessment must be undertaken prior to the additional crossing going in which considers all modes and even the “no-build” option. Notwithstanding point 3 above, I still think it is important to future proof for rail once capacity for the northern expressway peaks.

      • Ash. Thank you for your thoughtful questions.

        1. NZTA have said that with proper care the life of the bridge is essentially unlimited.

        2. Err? if expanding the traffic lanes induces more ‘trips’ won’t these be on that mode?

        3. Of course, and that is always one of the first justifications for the extra traffic lanes, but if that is the purpose of building them then why not just build the missing RTN route directly? As that would not need to be six lanes wide. Of course it could be bus tunnels, but why not go further and build the smaller in diameter, higher capacity electric rail ones? These don’t need such expensive ventilation and of course don’t flood the city with hundreds of buses. They do need lines either side but the Busway already provides a ROW on the north, and if with LRT there will be an extant one on the south. If Light Metro, that cost will still be less than landside m’way works proposed.

        4. Yes to a proper study. No to future proofing for rail; AKL weasel words. I don’t agree that the only test of rail’s value on this route is the capacity limit of the Busway proper. The limit to bus numbers in the city is an important issue too. Of course some huge underground bus station could be built there, and bus tunnels across the harbour, but that seems like a rather wilful effort to go to to avoid building a rail line. One that would also solve Wynyard Quarter’s looming access issue, be fuelled by our own clean electricity and free roads and streets from bus domination…

        • Ash Ketchum

          Some valid points raised. Especially the bit about flooding the CBD with buses. But still;

          1. I did some digging around and remembered where i found the info re the lifespan. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10613035. So it looks like the clippons have a limited lifespan of 40 years and thats willing truck restrictions are put in place. So, lets say we cater for 80% of future trip growth to the CBD on buses and a light rail tunnel, how do we cater for the remaining 20% + the increases in freight traffic to northland if the capacity of the bridge is effectively capped? I’m being highly optimistic in assuming the 2016 network will be competitive enough to cater for 100% of cross town trips from northshore past the CBD too.

          2. Not necessarily. While i do agree that additional lanes will induce single occupant vehicle demand, your point does not take into account the potential for a bus lane across the bridge which i would imagine make the northern bus more competitive and gain a greater market share of trips to the CBD (ontop of the existing 40%). Plus the additional crossing may have rail which could cater for a percentage of the trips. You can see why there’s a big assumption in your point.

          3. I guess your argument here ties back to my first point. Do we need more lanes or is the existing bridge sufficient? The main problem in my eyes lie in its structural capacity to cater for future commuter and freight trip growth.

          4. I agree with you here. The limit of buses into the CBD is a definite issue and one that will surely require light rail at some point which is why it should atleast be future proofed. The question is when does that point come? Remember that if we are going to invest in light rail its not only for the length of the crossing but up to perhaps Albany. What is the cost of implementing that and is it worth it if we still have plenty of capacity for buses into the CBD and the northern busway?

          I should mention that I am a supporter of a light rail tunnel across the harbour instead of more roading. But these are some of the points that keep me from being completely sold on the idea.

          • The other elephant in the room, and why all work now is premature, is the $4billion+ we are currently spending to completely bypass this point on the network: the Western Ring Route. No one knows what will happen to traffic demand once this opens, let alone what will happen as NZTA continue to spend billions on it all the way from SH1 at the north, through Onehunga, and widening through Mangere. Much is made of growth in commercial activity at the airport. Won’t trips from this area be optimised to use SH18 and SH20 than through the city and bridge?

            Anyway regardless of how free traffic flow is over the harbour the CMJ will still be tight. In fact the CMJ is likely to be much worse once Waterview and the SH16 works are complete. They will induce and expedite more traffic more quickly to this bottleneck. $6B to shove more vehicles at the CMJ looks like simply a marketting tool for some mega engineering marvel to tunnel under that too!

            3. Future TRIP growth is met by new RTN route and WRR. Traffic demand is managed rather than stimulated. That is the rational and responsible plan.

            4. The cost of converting the Busway to LRT is low, it’s already grade separate and the geometries are fine. LRT is just really good, really high capacity bus. Buses on the Shore become east-west local access and feeder services for LRT [or Light Metro] on the spine itself. It would not be a disaster to have excess capacity for a while on that spine in order to get a much quicker and direct trip to the city. This would indeed induce faster uptake! We are already observing ~20% growth on the buses that get stuck in the city and share traffic on the bridge. Imagine what a much quicker and smoother service would attract. To Wynyard in minutes. Connecting with the trains of the CRL a few minutes later, and the biggest concentration of employment in the country.

            Drivers would win here too, fewer buses especially on Fanshaw and the bridge, and fewer other drivers as so many will choose the new fast route. The equilibrium between driving and Transit is described well in this link. But remember the Transit option must be good, fast, frequent, reliable: http://www.smh.com.au/national/new-motorway-will-derail-commuters-20140217-32hvs

          • Nick R

            Ash, if I may:

            1) The 30-40 year lifespan is without any traffic management, NZTAs website states that the bridge will last indefinitely with restrictions on trucks on the clip ons (and regular maintenance one assumes). One quesiton is why would many trucks be on the clip ons anyway, the clip on lanes lead to Ponsonby, Fanshawe St and Cook St. Trucks carrying on to the other motorways or to the port should be on the centre lanes in any case.

            2) That is what the buses already have, lanes over the bridge. Same route, same distnace, same travel time, same capacity. Sure they don’t have a purely dedicated lane on the bridge itself, but the bridge isn’t the choke point. Furhtermore, NZTAs last plans had buses sharing with traffic going to and from Shelly Beach Rd and Curran St. So negligible difference in reality, these so called bus lanes would amount to painting some green stripes and erecting some signs. NZTA have confirmed that they additional crossing will not have rail.

            3) Freight growth is fine, freight is less than 6% of traffic on the bridge and their proposal doesn’t increase capacity on the strategic freight network as I’ll shortly explain. The question is commuters. Is there commuter traffic growth, do we want more commuter traffic? Consider this, the harbour tunnel plan connects to the same lanes in the same spaghetti junction as we have today. There is literally no extra traffic capacity past the city and on to the other motorways, not for commuters, not for freight. Therefore the only place this extra traffic can go is onto city streets as Shelly Beach Rd, Fanshawe St and Cook St. Consider that, it’s a five or six billion dollar project so that more people can drive to downtown at peak times (and then what, where do the go, where do they park?), while doing nothing for the state highway network. If getting commuters to downtown is the goal, there are much easier ways to do that.

            4) The city is effectively full for buses and termination already. That is why AT are starting construction on the CRL this year and why they are investigating light rail also. If you want to work out the cost of light rail you can factor at around 50m per kilometre for fixed way, plus or minus 20%. So about $750m from Albany to Wynyard, plus the cost of the crossing itself (presumably a tunnel). Add in a Takapuna spur and you’re looking at a two billion dollar project. That would move up to 20,000 people an hour per direction, which is three times what a six lane motorway tunnel would do. Three times the people for one third the cost.

          • Jamie Walton

            +1 Excellent answers Nick!

  • Andrew R

    Great initiative. Try asking for an audit office review if you aren’t successful (and with Simon Bridges in the background I am not optimistic).

  • Mr or Mrs Brown

    You mention “We have already received a reply confirming engagement on the issues raised”…. but have not shared the reply?

  • Evan James

    A road-based system ingnores two problems – The air quality: Let’s face it, the air in down town Auckland is foul, it stinks of diesel. Downtown car parking: Where are the vehicles going to park when they arrive at their destinations. There was a rather famous picture during an election campaign a few years ago showing cars queued on the Southern Motorway, stating the only way to get the motorway traffic moving again was to change he government. Only problem was the picture was taken on the Nelson Street off ramp and the cars were waiting to get into downtown Auckland, and the situation hasn’t changed. Other than some land in the Viaduct Harbour area there is just no spare land left for car parking. No here’s an idea, build a ring of multi-storied carparks in the outer reaches of the CBD and connect them to the downtown precincts by light rail – just joking.

  • Chris D

    What is the rationale for not permitting the NZTA to consider rail infrastructure?

  • Bruce

    The government did miss a trick after the GFC regarding infrastructure spending. NZ$ went up, the economy spluttered along etc. The reason for our dollar going up was a combination of high dairy prices and that a lot of countries started quantitative easing (money printing). If the RBNZ had been authorised to print NZ$2B pa for 5 years that would have been NZ$10B that could have spent on infrastructure (ie CRL, rail to the North Shore, Airport, other projects around the country). Ordinarily money printing can release the inflation genie but when it is spent on infrastructure that increases productivity it can have minimal inflationary impact while providing many benefits. The CRL could have been completed by now and those other projects underway. As a side-effect the NZ$ would have been on average about 2% (estimate) lower over the past few years as a result (something the reserve bank has been trying to achieve – a lower NZ$) which benefits the manufacturing/export side of the economy. The other advantage of course is that it wouldn’t affect NZ’s borrowings internationally as for all intents and purposes it is money out of thin air.

    • buttwizard69420

      I’m incredibly wary of suggestions that we could have printed our way to economic growth and that it would have helped lower the exchange rate – given the NZD’s level of international trading turnover, I suspect it would be like trying to dam a river by skipping stones across it.

      Your point about the infrastructure is bang on though, we would be in a far better place if we had focussed on public works to help us grow our way out of the GFC and infrastructure bonds backed by the Government would have been a welcome investment option for people who had been burned by finance companies. Plus, you know, we could have actually had a functional CRL by now.

      • Bruce

        I hear what you say about the volume of currency involved etc and that certainly would hold true regarding spending actual funds in circulation to adjust the dollar. Quantitative Easing in general is of little substance however when most of our major trading partners are doing it (USA, EU, UK, Japan, China) then they are effectively weakening their currency and strengthening ours at the same time. We weren’t in the situation where we needed to have large scale QE like those countries however I feel that on a small scale as mentioned would have had many positive benefits with little in the way of negative side-effects. Spending it on productivity improving infrastructure means it doesn’t really affect inflation and NZ could have done with a slightly weaker dollar (it still would have had some effect) all while not adding to our debt.

  • SJC

    No wonder the government is confused if we are going to have heavy rail there, and light rail there…. hmmm.

  • DLB

    Great letter – I look forward to the response. Thank you for your continued work on improving New Zealand’s transport system

  • Early Commuter

    Starting with the problem not the solution is correct.
    It needs to be defined in functional, not technical terms – as such it must be agnostic to any technical solution (road, rail, or hovercraft)

    X people from Y position to Z position (airport) per hour, average travel time <A

    Way, way too soon to even consider whether we need roads, light rail, or any other solution until we have firmly established our outcome goals here.

    You can't compare options until you know what the evaluation criteria should be

    • Yes I agree. And, first and foremost the no engineering option must be explored.

      To many single occupant vehicles? Perhaps that’s because the current route is underpriced?

      Toll the current network by time of day and type of user and watch the problem change.

      I suspect we’ll then find we have too many buses arriving downtown, so either upgrade them to higher capacity more space efficient, but capex high rail, or build some grade separate bus system. Although that is likely to be just as expensive and less optimal.

      But please let’s look at it.

      • Early Commuter

        Gosh, a “non asset solution” sounds like dangerously revolutionary talk there Patrick.

        Optimising the existing mix of transport assets (roads, tracks, footpaths) seems smart to me. Before tolling I’d like to see some “coat of paint” solutions – reducing post-intersection merge points, reducing on-street parking on major arterials, and increasing the number of (painted) buslanes.

        If we got rid of that horrible third (left hand) lane on the Southern, just north of Tip top corner, which merges into the other two – or did the same on the Northern just before Albany where again three becomes two – would we actually get a better roading system with *fewer* lane metres?

        Then there are other behavioural modifications. Perhaps we need dedicated transport police again? Keeping left; moving off quickly at lights; indicating – all could reduce congestion for limited expenditure.

        • Well actually I think tolling is the secret weapon here. Try this for a thought experiment: Toll the current route [and the rest of the network for fairness] in order to fund the new one; then watch as the traffic demand shifts or even drops in real terms -> already weak justification for new road route evaporates!

  • George D

    There’s a disconnect between how the Minister and his officials are thinking – “smart”, “innovative”, “efficient” – and how they’re acting. If this Government was following through with the promises that Bridges is making, then we’d be in a really good place. So I think there’s room to move. But it will require pressure on the dinosaurs in the NZTA who are causing us to invest in obsolete technologies and solutions.

    “I plan to explore opportunities for strategic partnerships with the Japanese government, as well as industry. “I will continue to promote New Zealand’s renewable energy advantage,” he says.

    Mr Bridges will also use the trip as a fact-finding mission. “It is vital the Government is up to date with developments in alternative energy sources, intelligent transport systems and robotics.
    “Being across these developments means we can ensure New Zealand laws are fit for purpose, allowing us to take advantage of the significant safety, efficiency and environmental benefits of new technologies.
    http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/minister-promote-nz-its-test-bed

  • The Real Matthew

    It never ceases to amaze me how much notice our authorities take of this blog and Generation Zero. Two self-serving lobby groups that represent the interests of a small minority of rich white people who want to create the city they want at the expense of the rest of the population. Two lobby groups that claim no political affiliation yet by “sheer coincidence” run similar policies to the Green Party.

    Patrick Reynolds has shown time and time again on this blog that he lacks knowledge on multi-modal transport. His transport goal is to eliminate vehicle traffic and all of his solutions are based around this goal rather than rational discussion about creating options for people.

    Patrick’s lack of knowledge is best shown by this statement “– no additional massive costs on approach roads”. Patrick is attempting to spread the myth that you can build a mass transit system in isolation without any additional expenditure. It’s laughable to suggest that this is the case. Their trying a similar approach to this with the new Parnell Station and it will cause traffic chaos, congestion, poor environmental outcomes and stress if decent numbers of people try to use the station. At the other end of the scale is New Lynn which cost millions in surrounding work after the rail upgrade to create a clusterf%&$ that made the area a no-go zone.

    I’m very disappointed that NZTA has chosen to engage further. It’s a bit like corrections engaging with the Sensible Sentencing Trust!

    • The fact that any rail crossing also requires lines either side is so self evident that I didn’t feel the need to spell it out. But it seems that I do. These have been discussed by us in the past, eg for Light Metro:

      http://transportblog.co.nz/2012/01/27/light-metro-for-the-north-shore-a-superior-alternative-to-a-harbour-motorway-tunnel/

      And I do expressly mention continuing AT’s planned Light Rail Network that will already be at Wynyard Quarter, across the harbour and up the Busway.
      Neither of these proposals are clearly without cost, but both are likely to be considerably cheaper than the land side road works.

      As to political allegiances I have none. I have never been a member of any political party, I am not now, as I prefer to work with, and criticise, all groups on merit. Furthermore I prefer discussions of all proposals on their value and am not interested in the idea that just because one group or another likes or dislikes something that changes its value.

    • Linz

      “Their trying a similar approach to this with the new Parnell Station and it will cause traffic chaos, congestion, poor environmental outcomes and stress if decent numbers of people try to use the station”

      Yup – “traffic chaos” in the back streets of Parnell, with all those 4WDs trying to get to the station to take the train. *Nobody* ever walks to the station. //sarc

    • Then stop reading the blog. I don’t read WhaleOil (which I consider the polar opposite of TransportBlog both in philosophy and approach, i.e. evidence based (TB) vs raving loony) because it is just ridiculous and does not even attempt to support its position.

      Just stop reading. You won’t be missed.

      Perhaps the authorities listen because the proposals made are carefully thought through and backed up with evidence. Unlike the majority of transport projects.

      “Patrick is attempting to spread the myth that you can build a mass transit system in isolation without any additional expenditure.” – No just without as much expenditure as an equivalent roading project will require to move the same number of people.

      Please declare your political allegiances or conflicts of interest so we can assess where you are coming from.

      “represent the interests of a small minority of rich white people” – Dr Sudhivir Singh never looked that white to me – I must find out where he tans.

    • SC

      So… improving access to public and discussing improving access to housing in the country’s biggest city is in the interests of “a small minority of rich white people”? Given the majority of this blog is about improving affordability and access, that statement does not line up (not even going to bother with the ridiculous, unsubstantiated comment on ethnicity and economic standing).
      The fact is there is never rational discussion with the government about transport. This blog encourages public discussion and is more likely to get the public involved in such processes. The government solution is simple: roads, let people buy cars. There is only one option there: buy a car, or don’t go anywhere. Not everyone can afford a car. Not everyone can afford the time stuck in endless queues. As for environmental outcomes: an EMU producing no carbon at the site of the vehicle and little noise, versus an endless queue of revving, idling engines, horns going, those in the vehicles getting stressed, nice clouds of exhaust gases gathering? Are you sure the latter is the better outcome? Building public transport infrastructure gives options. To claim advocating non-vehicular solutions reduces options is utter rubbish.
      No one implied infrastructure comes without cost. The reason the cost goes up is because successive governments have done patchwork “fixes” without tackling the problem. Adding to the roads is this patchwork fix, and it is a mode the government is stuck in. Build a road, vehicle numbers go up, road gets clogged, standard of living goes down as everyone is impact. In most cases, building roads simply costs a heap for a fix which rapidly blogs, gets broken by the heavy use and inhibits other modes of transport from growing. Not saying roads are never the answer, but they are not ALWAYS the answer and should not be viewed as such. Unlike the current situation. And no, “all-roads” is not multi-modal.
      Auckland needs significant expenditure to cover these years of neglect and give people options. If a road works, it works. But try saying a continuous stream of vehicles going from the same point to a second identical point, one person per vehicle, where the car is the only option is more efficient, productive and provides more options than one proper transit system alongside said road.
      The tone of political affiliation implies a political affiliation in itself. Should I point out the irony of the average economic standing of the government currently advocating roads and shooting down any alternative public transport options in light your first paragraph? Unfortunately no government has taken the challenge of giving Auckland options, which has led to the situation today.

    • Jamie Walton

      Get real Real Matthew. Self-serving? I think self-sacrificing is more like it.

      As for your personal attack on Patrick, you must be reading what he writes incorrectly. Patrick almost always points out that having good public transport gives people more choices and reduces congestion on the roads to make the roads better for road users. Is that not obvious?

      As for Patrick allegedly not having multi-modal transport knowledge, do you mean the type of knowledge that the geniuses at the NZTA have that keeps causing all the problems? We don’t need any more knowledge like that, it keeps making things worse, decade after decade.

  • Dave B (Wellington)

    The [so-called] Real Matthew alleges that, “His [Patrick’s] transport goal is to eliminate vehicle traffic”. When has Patrick ever even vaguely suggested this? Reduction of traffic, certainly. Elimination? – a very different and baseless claim.
    It is the sign of a sore loser, to resort to mis-representing an opponent’s position in the hope of attracting ridicule. Yet all too often we see this on this blog by a few who somehow feel threatened by its stance.

    And why the insinuation that because this blog espouses ‘green’ transport policies then it must therefore be affiliated with the Greens? Another swipe by one who is seeking to cast aspersions?

    A reality which The Real Matthew might like to consider, is that many on this blog would happily support the National Party if that party dropped its wrongheaded transport policies. There is a simple reason that this blog appears anti-National. Because National is anti- the things that this blog advocates through evidence-based reasoning.

    Why so disappointed, that a little ‘engagement’ with the authorities now appears possible? Is the Real Matthew worried that REAL facts and evidence might bring about a REAL CHANGE in the currently VERY SKEWED way of justifying major transport investment?

  • tuktuk

    I think the Real Matthew must be worried that perhaps the vested interests he represents are no longer going to monopolise the voices that the government hears……This has never been about left versus right. The argument has always been about economic rationalism versus a few greedy rich pr$%ks who have made their fortune and social power on the basis of buying influence.

  • Outstanding Patrick.
    I fear the day when extra road lanes under the harbour are going to dump traffic into the Shore suburbs. And the master plan to generate 60% more traffic. How wide is Esmonde Road going to be? The maths suggests an extra lane. The whole plan has madness stamped all over it.

    Did I hear someone say light metro at one third of the cost?

    • Makes you wonder, 65% more traffic… but I understand they can’t widen through Spaghetti Junction or down the southern or northwestern anymore… So where does this traffic go? Only logical conclusion is it ends up on Shelly Beach Rd, Fanshawe St and Cook St.

      What good does more traffic downtown and in Ponsonby do?

      • More traffic anywhere is of course a disbenefit of a project. I am astounded that NZTA can boast about a project that generates more of it. The traffic intensity of our economy is falling; ie we are generating more economic growth while driving less, in other words it is completely out of date to assert that we must encourage more driving as more driving correlates to a growing economy; that is no longer so.

        Actually our steadily growing economy has occurred with booming PT per capita use and falling VKT per capita. PT up, driving down. We shouldn’t build whaling stations after the whales have started to decline.

        The negative externalities of more traffic are self-evident, the most obvious is of course congestion, the thing NZTA are supposed to be fighting. Then there are the environmental, health, wellbeing, death and injury outcomes. And of course the ruinous double down on our addiction to imported fuel and vehicles. Such a path is anti-resilient too.

      • Ash Ketchum

        Cheers for the response to my earlier comments Nick. Those were the answers I was looking for. One further question, is there a particular reason a LRT system is preferred over heavy rail other than cost savings?

        • Light Rail is cheaper to build for as it can handle steeper grades and tighter curves. And can run on streets, say to Takapuna. But has less capacity. Also if AT builds its proposed city-side network then a system will be at Wynyard ready to cross the harbour, further lowering the cost of taking it to the Shore.

          Light Metro has higher capacity than LRT and is cheaper to build than Heavy Rail, but does require grade separation. But grade separation also brings the great cost savings of going driverless for either heavy or light rail. To connect with heavy or light rail a cityside line would also be needed, probably Wynyard to Aotea.

  • Stranded on the North Shore

    Thank you Patrick. Where do I sign this letter? 😉

    RE: Driveless Metro – yes please, one like in Vancouver’s SkyTrain, not London’s docklands slow LRT or Singapore’s LRT which is slow too.

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