A brief video put together by Waterfront Auckland featuring the images of Craig and Sydney (aka oh.yes.melbourne) showing the changes that have occurred in the Wynyard Quarter in helping to transform it from a run down industrial area to a stunning people space.
Life under the Victoria Park Viaduct
Photo is credited to oh.yes.melbourne
Last week Gordon Price was in Auckland and held an Auckland Conversations talk about sustainability. If you didn’t get to hear it live, the video has now been put online. At an hour and a half it is quite long but was definitely a good talk so worthwhile watching it if you have the time.
And the presentation is here.
Note to Auckland Council: you should really look at putting these on YouTube so they can be easily embeded
In this recent post Matt mapped census journey to work data across Auckland.
I will now use this data to draw some high-level inferences about returns on Goverment investment in transport infrastructure in Auckland in the period from 2007-13, i.e. between the last two census. The specific question I want to answer is: Given the level of Government expenditure in different transport modes in Auckland in the last 7 years, which mode(s) appear to have delivered the best returns in terms of their ability to accommodate growth in journey-to-work (JTW) travel demands?
Let’s look at the data. Total number of JTW trips by mode for the last two census are summarised in the table below, along with the change (growth) between census.
- Note 1: “Private vehicle” combines JTW trips for private/company cars, trucks, passengers, and motorcycles.
- Note 2: Public transport combines JTW trips for bus and rail.
This shows how an additional 23,223 JTW trips were undertaken on census day. Of these trips, 10,200 (44%) were undertaken by car; 9,118 (40%) were undertaken by public transport; and 3,825 (16%) were undertaken by walking/cycling.
Matt has helped pull together a spreadsheet of government transport investment by mode from 2006-13. This includes investment by NZTA (nee Transit) and local government. In the table below I have added total expenditure by mode, and then used this to calculate an average cost per (new) JTW trip and (additional) JTW-km.
Note 3: Average trip length was calculated as the weighted average trip length using HTS data.
Now we start to see some interesting trends. From these numbers it appears that Government investment in public transport and walking/cycling has been approximately 2.6 and 6.7 times more cost effective than investment in roads during this period, at least when measured on a per JTW-km basis (the differential is even greater when you use the $ per JTW trip indicator). This in turn suggests that it would be more cost-effectively to cater for growth in JTW travel demands by shifting investment away from roads and into public transport and walking/cycling.
This raises the question of how much should our current investment levels shift in order to deliver approximately neutral investment outcomes for each mode? To help with this I have calculated what I call a “neutrality factor”. For each mode this is calculated as the ratio of 1) it’s share of growth in JTW-kms divided by 2) its share of total expenditure. This tells you how much expenditure on a particular mode would have to change to have achieved a ratio of 1.0, i.e. a mode’s share of JTW-km growth was equal to its share of Government investment.
In the table below I have calculated the neutrality factor for each mode.
When calculated on this basis, it would suggest that we should increase government investment in public transport and walking/cycling expenditure approximately two-fold and five-fold respectively, while reducing investment in roads by approximately 30%.
Of course, this analysis is a “partial analysis” because it assumes demand (number of new JTW trips and kms) is held constant. In fact, if we were to see such a shift in transport investment priorities over a sustained period of several years then you would expect the demand for each mode to respond accordingly. More specifically, shifting government investment away from roads and into public transport and walking/cycling would be likely to encourage more people to use those modes, which would in turn warrant greater government investment. Hence, the changes in transport investment priorities suggested by this analysis are likely to be relatively conservative.
This is obviously a back of the envelope (“BOE”) analysis.
The most obvious issue is that JTW trips account for only a proportion of total travel. Education travel is another major contributor to peak period congestion. However this tends to be slanted in favour of public transport and walking/cycling – such that including these trips in the analysis seems likely to confirm these outcomes.
The other is that we are lumping together capital and operating costs. While this makes sense in the long run (because after all, capital investment is really just a very lumpy operating cost!) it may be distorted in the short run. Hence it might be useful to extend our analysis by calculating the effectiveness of transport investment from 2001 to 2013. Indeed, the period from 2001-2006 seems to have been associated with less dramatic changes in travel demands than the period from 2006-2013.
While this analysis certainly could be improved, even now it seems to provide a useful indication of the relative returns from Government investment in different transport modes from 2006-13. I also feel somewhat justified using it because members of the current Government frequently justify their transport investment priorities on the grounds of raw 2006 JTW mode share. I’ve followed their lead and focused on JTW trips, but instead looked at the change in demand over time and then compared it to relative expenditure levels.
This tells quite a different story than if you look at raw JTW mode share.
On this basis I’d suggest that Government investment in public transport and walking/cycling in Auckland has typically delivered more cost-effective returns than investment in road based transport infrastructure. So the next someone tries to argue that we should invest more in roads because “86% of Aucklanders drive to work by car”, please challenge them on the basis that relative potential for growth – rather than the level of existing demands – should be the primary determinant of our future investment priorities.
Footnote: In the most recent census private vehicle mode share appears to have dropped from 86% in 2006 to 83% in 2013. Given that we’re yet to see the effects of electrification, new EMUs, integrated ticketing, and the New Network, one would have to think that the relative returns from Government investment in public transport might be similar high if not higher by the time the next census rolls around.
A few questions:
Does this motorway really need to be extended all the way to Warkworth?
Does anyone ever drive at the speed limit on this stretch of motorway?
Photo is credited to oh.yes.melbourne
At the end of 2012 Gordon Price @pricetags visited Auckland and spoke at an Auckland Conversations event on Moving beyond Motordom.
Auckland and Vancouver – The New Post-sustainability City: Allies from Unexpected Places
Gordon Price – Director of City Programme, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver
Tuesday 25 February, doors open 5pm, welcome 5.30pm
Upper NZI Conference Room, Aotea Centre, central Auckland
Has sustainability had its time? Given the doubling down on fossil fuels and carbon transfer by countries like Canada and Australia, is there any point to pursuing modest and inconsequential strategies in our cities?
Are post-motordom cities like Vancouver able to resist the development of sprawl-feeding road infrastructure, the squandering of valuable agricultural land and an unwillingness to finance sustainable transportation infrastructure?
While the challenges of sustainable development are more important than ever, local leaders need new alliances to build the post-sustainability city. Gordon Price will dissect current trends, pose some provocative scenarios and, using Vancouver as an example, offer some alternatives.
Gordon speaks on urban issues and the development of Vancouver in cities around the world, and is also a regular lecturer on transportation and land use for the City of Portland, Oregon and Portland State University
Gordon was elected for six consecutive terms as a Councilor during Vancouver’s most transformative years and which lead the city to be voted the world’s most liveable city.
Gordon Price is Director of the City Program at Simon Fraser University.
Gordon was a Councillor at City Council in Vancouver, British Columbia for six terms from 1986 to 2002. He served on the Board of the Greater Vancouver Regional District (Metro Vancouver) and was appointed to the first board of the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority (TransLink).
Gordon is a long-time columnist for Business in Vancouver.
He curates the influential blog-site Price Tags, which comments on urban issues. He covers the fundamental transportation choices; the relationship between city hall and developers; and the political will required to carry through on intensification.
Gordon is an enthusiastic photographer and has been documenting Vancouver and other cities since the early 1980s.
Gordon has written several essays on Vancouver and transportation issues (The Deceptive City , Local Politician’s Guide to Urban Transportation).
In 2003, he received the Plan Canada Award for Article of the Year – “Land Use and Transportation: The View from ’56″ – from the Canadian Institute of Planners.
You can register here.
In some more great news it was confirmed yesterday that Janette Sadik-Kahn has agreed to come to Auckland in May. That is almost certain to result in another Auckland Conversations event.
This is great news and just in case you haven’t seen it already, this is her talking about some of the changes she made to New York.
Lastly I just worked out that this happens to be my 1,000th post published on the blog (wasn’t counting, honest). I’d hate to think of how many hours that entails.
Mercer has released their 2014 quality of life rankings and Auckland is third in them once again.
Top 5 Cities
1. Vienna, Austria
2. Zurich, Switzerland
3. Auckland, New Zealand
4. Munich, Germany
5. Vancouver, Canada
Vienna is the city with the world’s best quality of living, according to the Mercer 2014 Quality of Living rankings, in which European cities dominate. Zurich and Auckland follow in second and third place, respectively. Munich is in fourth place, followed by Vancouver, which is also the highest-ranking city in North America. Ranking 25 globally, Singapore is the highest-ranking Asian city, whereas Dubai (73) ranks first across Middle East and Africa. The city of Pointe-à-Pitre (69), Guadeloupe, takes the top spot for Central and South America.
Mercer conducts its Quality of Living survey annually to help multinational companies and other employers compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments. Two common incentives include a quality-of-living allowance and a mobility premium. A quality-of-living or “hardship” allowance compensates for a decrease in the quality of living between home and host locations, whereas a mobility premium simply compensates for the inconvenience of being uprooted and having to work in another country. Mercer’s Quality of Living reports provide valuable information and hardship premium recommendations for over 460 cities throughout the world, the ranking covers 223 of these cities.
“Political instability, high crime levels, and elevated air pollution are a few factors that can be detrimental to the daily lives of expatriate employees their families and local residents. To ensure that compensation packages reflect the local environment appropriately, employers need a clear picture of the quality of living in the cities where they operate,” said Slagin Parakatil, Senior Researcher at Mercer.
Mr Parakatil added: “In a world economy that is becoming more globalised, cities beyond the traditional financial and business centres are working to improve their quality of living so they can attract more foreign companies. This year’s survey recognises so-called ‘second tier’ or ‘emerging’ cites and points to a few examples from around the world These cities have been investing massively in their infrastructure and attracting foreign direct investments by providing incentives such as tax, housing, or entry facilities. Emerging cities will become major players that traditional financial centres and capital cities will have to compete with.”
Vienna is the highest-ranking city globally. In Europe, it is followed by Zurich (2), Munich (4), Düsseldorf (6), and Frankfurt (7). “European cities enjoy a high overall quality of living compared to those in other regions. Healthcare, infrastructure, and recreational facilities are generally of a very high standard. Political stability and relatively low crime levels enable expatriates to feel safe and secure in most locations. The region has seen few changes in living standards over the last year,” said Mr Parakatil.
Ranking 191 overall, Tbilisi, Georgia, is the lowest-ranking city in Europe. It continues to improve in its quality of living, mainly due to a growing availability of consumer goods, improving internal stability, and developing infrastructure. Other cities on the lower end of Europe’s ranking include: Minsk (189), Belarus; Yerevan (180), Armenia; Tirana (179), Albania; and St Petersburg (168), Russia. Ranking 107, Wroclaw, Poland, is an emerging European city. Since Poland’s accession to the European Union, Wroclaw has witnessed tangible economic growth, partly due to its talent pool, improved infrastructure, and foreign and internal direct investments. The EU named Wroclaw as a European Capital of Culture for 2016.
Canadian cities dominate North America’s top-five list. Ranking fifth globally, Vancouver tops the regional list, followed by Ottawa (14), Toronto (15), Montreal (23), and San Francisco (27). The region’s lowest-ranking city is Mexico City (122), preceded by four US cities: Detroit (70), St. Louis (67), Houston (66), and Miami (65). Mr Parakatil commented: “On the whole, North American cities offer a high quality of living and are attractive working destinations for companies and their expatriates. A wide range of consumer goods are available, and infrastructures, including recreational provisions, are excellent.”
In Central and South America, the quality of living varies substantially. Pointe-à-Pitre (69), Guadeloupe, is the region’s highest-ranked city, followed by San Juan (72), Montevideo (77), Buenos Aires (81), and Santiago (93). Manaus (125), Brazil, has been identified as an example of an emerging city in this region due to its major industrial centre which has seen the creation of the “Free Economic Zone of Manaus,” an area with administrative autonomy giving Manaus a competitive advantage over other cities in the region. This zone has attracted talent from other cities and regions, with several multinational companies already settled in the area and more expected to arrive in the near future.
“Several cities in Central and South America are still attractive to expatriates due to their relatively stable political environments, improving infrastructure, and pleasant climate,” said Mr Parakatil. “But many locations remain challenging due to natural disasters, such as hurricanes often hitting the region, as well as local economic inequality and high crime rates. Companies placing their workers on expatriate assignments in these locations must ensure that hardship allowances reflect the lower levels of quality of living.”
Singapore (25) has the highest quality of living in Asia, followed by four Japanese cities: Tokyo (43), Kobe (47), Yokohama (49), and Osaka (57). Dushanbe (209), Tajikistan, is the lowest-ranking city in the region. Mr Parakatil commented: “Asia has a bigger range of quality-of-living standard amongst its cities than any other region. For many cities, such as those in South Korea, the quality of living is continually improving. But for others, such as some in China, issues like pervasive poor air pollution are eroding their quality of living.”
With their considerable growth in the last decade, many second-tier Asian cities are starting to emerge as important places of business for multinational companies. Examples include Cheonan (98), South Korea, which is strategically located in an area where several technology companies have operations. Over the past decades, Pune (139), India has developed into an education hub and home to IT, other high-tech industries, and automobile manufacturing. The city of Xian (141), China has also witnessed some major developments, such as the establishment of an “Economic and Technological Development Zone” to attract foreign investments. The city is also host to various financial services, consulting, and computer services.
Elsewhere, New Zealand and Australian cities rank high on the list for quality of living, with Auckland and Sydney ranking 3 and 10, respectively.
Middle East and Africa
With a global rank of 73, Dubai is the highest-ranked city in the Middle East and Africa region. It is followed by Abu Dhabi (78), UAE; Port Louis (82), Mauritius; and Durban (85) and Cape Town (90), South Africa. Durban has been identified as an example of an emerging city in this region, due to the growth of its manufacturing industries and the increasing importance of the shipping port. Generally, though, this region dominates the lower end of the quality of living ranking, with five out of the bottom six cities; Baghdad (223) has the lowest overall ranking.
“The Middle East and especially Africa remain one of the most challenging regions for multinational organisations and expatriates. Regional instability and disruptive political events, including civil unrest, lack of infrastructure and natural disasters such as flooding, keep the quality of living from improving in many of its cities. However, some cities that might not have been very attractive to foreign companies are making efforts to attract them,” said Mr Parakatil.
That’s a good result for Auckland although no change from previous years. The next highest Australasian city was Sydney at 10 followed by Wellington at 12. It’s also important to remember what these rankings are actually designed for which is to help large companies work out how much of a premium to pay employees they send to work in foreign countries i.e. you would have to pay someone a lot more to go and work in one of the bottom 5 countries than you would to work in one of the top 5. The bottom 5 is:
219. Sana’a, Yemen Arab Republic
220. N’Djamena, Chad
221. Port-Au-Prince, Haiti
222. Bangui, Central African Republic
223. Baghdad, Iraq
The rankings are done by scoring cities across 39 different criteria across 10 different categories. They are:
- Political and social environment (political stability, crime, law enforcement, etc.)
- Economic environment (currency exchange regulations, banking services)
- Socio-cultural environment (media availability and censorship, limitations on personal freedom)
- Medical and health considerations (medical supplies and services, infectious diseases, sewage, waste disposal, air pollution, etc)
- Schools and education (standards and availability of international schools)
- Public services and transportation (electricity, water, public transportation, traffic congestion, etc)
- Recreation (restaurants, theatres, cinemas, sports and leisure, etc)
- Consumer goods (availability of food/daily consumption items, cars, etc)
- Housing (rental housing, household appliances, furniture, maintenance services)
- Natural environment (climate, record of natural disasters)
You have to buy the full report at US$499 to see all of the rankings but in the past it has been noted that while Auckland ranks 3rd overall, the one area we fell way behind on wass infrastructure for which we ranked 43rd. I don’t know if that ranking has changed at all but I suspect not that much (it will probably be a few years before the current tranche of transport projects are completed before that happens).
Also I note that Mercer have provided the top and bottom 5 cities for each region. For North America one in the bottom 5 is one that a few commenters have been bringing up recently saying that we should emulate. That city is of course Houston which ranks at 66th overall.
The Sun rising over the CBD
Photo is credited to Craig
Looking forward to when this square gets upgraded.
Photo is credited to oh.yes.melbourne
A view of Auckland from the Waitakere Ranges
Photo is credited to oh.yes.melbourne
This weekend has been a particularly big one with so many events on and with the exception of the Big Day Out, Auckland Transport haven’t exactly be doing a stellar job when it comes to event management with the recent cricket matches in particular being quite shambolic. As such we knew that this weekend would be a real test for AT but it was one they said they were prepared for and were confident of being able to handle the crowds.
Well unfortunately that appears not to have been the case with lots of reports streaming in last night about all sorts of issues, many of which are reminiscent of the RWC opening night. Below are some of the issues that we saw.
The CBD was packed with people from both the lantern festival and from those coming and going from the Nines or Eminem concert yet pretty much nothing was done to improve pedestrian priority. This was particularly evident around the intersection of Victoria St and Kitchener St where huge numbers of people were walking and trying to cross the road. The picture below doesn’t really do that justice but you can see a pretty busy Victoria St. You can also see some traffic cones out and there was someone there who was supposedly meant to be making things work better however their focus seemed to only be on stopping the pedestrians to allow cars to flow. Once again traffic management seems to mean that moving cars is more important than moving people.
This is the response we got from Auckland Transport when we suggested that they should have closed the intersection.
But it was other parts of the CBD too, Fort St which should have been humming with people was allowed to be taken over by cars trying to rat run somewhere.
It seems that once again despite probably tens of thousands of people trying to walk around the city cars were treated as king and pedestrians as the least important.
Buses seemed to have a patchy night. There were some reports of them working well but also lots of reports of them failing and too infrequent. Northern Express services in particular seemed like it was only to standard weekend frequencies with some buses 30 minutes apart, completely inadequate for the numbers of people in town. When this photo was taken after 9pm there were an estimated 300 people waiting (more around the corner) for a bus that was a long way away.
Here’s another one
There were issues with other bus services too.
Of all the modes about the quietest noise was about the rail network which seemed to generally work ok – although there were a few complaints. This is perhaps the most surprising because my understanding is that there was a chronic shortage of drivers (for various reasons) which may explain why the timetable looked so light.
I get the feeling now that while Auckland is still very much a car city that Aucklanders are quite prepared to catch PT to large events and people are learning to enjoy big city events. The problem we now face is that our management of our transport networks for anyone but those in cars is woeful leading to very poor outcomes and probably holding a lot of people back from using PT altogether. What is needed is for AT to be more bold, to put more pedestrian priority in place or even close intersections/streets to vehicles. They also need to a much greater provision of PT services. With big multi event days like this weekend it means not just a couple of extra services tacked on to a regular timetable but a proper set of frequent services. The question is if anyone will be held accountable for the constant event issues that keep arising.
I also can’t help but think that many of the long talked about city centre ideas would have helped greatly with all of this including the Victoria St Linear park, a bus only Queen St with wider footpaths and a proper east/west bus corridor on Wellesley St.