Uptown Pocket Park

Auckland Transport has been busy over the last few years buying up properties along the route of the City Rail Link in preparation for when the project will finally get the green light. Most of those properties are going to have buildings already one them however one site in particular has been an empty lot for many many years.

Symonds St Pocket Park now

That situation could have continued while we wait for the CRL however fantastically Auckland Transport, the Council, the Local Board and the local Business Association are hoping to get together with the community to create a temporary pocket park on the site this Sunday.

Symonds St Pocket Park

What a great initiative and way to make better use of the land for the next few years at least.

CRL delay adds significant costs

The government’s stubborn attitude towards the City Rail Link is going to add $270 million to the council’s debt once it is eventually built. That is from a combination of increased inflation costs and the council having to pay in full for the early enabling works in full. The council is having to officially delay the main works of the project till the 2018/19 financial year after Audit NZ didn’t agree with them that they should include the government’s contribution from 2015/16. A special meeting is being held today to approve the change announced on Friday and the agenda highlights the financial implications from the project being delayed. First here’s the background information.

5. The CRL is the game changing project for Auckland, the most significant piece of our transport network which will ensure that Auckland can continue to grow without transport grinding to a halt.

6. We have been engaged in ongoing discussion with central government about the funding of this project. Government has moved from an initial position of opposition to the project, to one of commitment to contribute to funding from the year 2020. We know that this is not soon enough and have continued to work collaboratively with government agencies and ministers to support our case for earlier funding.

7. In the 2012-22 LTP we assumed central government funding would commence from the year 2015-16 and the financial data for the 2015-25 LTP has carried that assumption through. The consultation document has been written with three alternative scenarios set out for public consideration:

  • Option 1 – government funding starts in 2015/16 and project proceeds on original timelines
  • Option 2 – government funding starts in 2018/19 – enablement works only for next three years and then construction starting in 2018/19
  • Option 3 – government funding starts in 2020/21 – enablement works only for next three years, construction starts in 2018/19, backed by a firm commitment for government funding from 2020.

8. While all three scenarios are described in the public consultation document the LTP financials are currently built on Option 1.

9. Over the last couple of weeks, as staff have been preparing the consultation document for Governing Body sign off later this month, it has become apparent that Audit New Zealand’s view is that it would be more prudent to build the LTP financials on one of the alternative scenarios. In order to ensure we prepare a consultation document consistent with Audit New Zealand’s expectations, I am now proposing that we adopt Option 2 as the basis of our LTP financials.

10. This option will continue to keep the pressure on the Government to contribute funding earlier than the current commitment, but gives more time for us to work with it to achieve a common view. It also allows us to keep faith with our private sector partners by progressing the enablement works. While it delays the construction timing by a couple of years it has only a relatively minor impact on the financial situation.

And here’s the financial implications

CRL delay financials option 1

CRL delay financials option 2

So by delaying the CRL by two years adds almost $100 million in inflation costs and we can assume it would be a similar amount again if the project is delayed further to 2020 like the government still seem to be holding out for. The extra debt from enabling works is likely due to the council believing that once they have paid for them that the government will only contribute 50% of the remaining costs and not reimburse them for the early works – despite the governments agencies and the minister himself seeming to agree it is sensible for those works happen as currently planned. Unfortunately the government continue to hold out on the timing.

Even that is too ambitious for new Transport Minister Simon Bridges, who said last night the Government remained committed to a 2020 start.

“The Government would only consider an earlier start date if it becomes clear Auckland’s CBD employment and rail patronage are growing faster than expected. To date, all indications are that this is unlikely to occur.”

Mayor Brown was keen to highlight the Government’s agreement in principle last year to support a project it previously opposed.

“We have moved them from a position of total opposition to one of commitment for funding half the project from the year 2020,” he said.

While the employment target was never likely to be met – and is a bad measure anyway – he definitely may want to get some independent advice on the rail patronage figures. After the government announced they would support the project in June last year the Ministry of Transport started monitoring the targets. In August they released the second update and about patronage say

Rail patronage

Auckland Transport’s Public Transport Monthly Patronage Report for June 2014 shows rail patronage of 11.4 million trips for the year to June 2014, compared to 10 million trips for the previous year. This is an increase of 1.4 million trips or 13.9 percent.


Growth of 1.4 million trips for the year to June 2014 is the highest annual growth in Auckland rail patronage achieved to date.

If growth continues at 1.4 million trips per year, annual patronage would hit 20 million trips around 2019/20. We expect patronage growth to continue at a similar rate as for the year to June 2014 until around 2017/18, as the full electric train fleet comes into service and the new bus network is rolled out. After 2017/18, we expect the rate of patronage growth to slow and at this stage do not anticipate it is likely that the threshold of 20 million trips well before 2020 will be met.

Since that time patronage growth has continued strongly and is now up 18% on the same time last year. If it continues on at this rate we could hit 20 million trips in 2017/18 – although 2018/19 is more realistic.

City Rail Link delayed?

The CRL is going to be delayed after Audit NZ’s review of the council’s draft Long Term Plan.

Mayor proposes amendment to CRL timing in draft LTP

Following discussions with Audit NZ, the Mayor is proposing an amendment in Council’s draft Long-term Plan 2015-2025 on the timing for construction of Auckland’s number one transport priority – the City Rail Link (CRL).

In its draft budget, Council has the CRL project commencing in 2015/16, based on an assumption government’s funding contribution for the project would also start next year, five years earlier than government has so far indicated.

On Tuesday 9 December, council will consider changing the assumption of timing of the government contribution to 2018/19. This will mean enablement works of $280 million will still take place in the first three years of the plan, but construction will not start until 2018/19. This will also delay the completion date to 2023.

Mayor Len Brown says:

“We have a track record of success with central government when it comes to the CRL – we have moved them from a position of total opposition to one of commitment for funding half the project from the year 2020,” says Mayor Len Brown.

“Yes, we still have to work with government on final timing, but I’m confident we can come to an agreement and get on and get this job done.

“I understand why Audit NZ feel that we need to take a more conservative approach to our financial projections and I am proposing that we develop the LTP based on a later timing of government contribution.”

Public consultation on the draft LTP begins January 23 next year. The final plan is due for adoption June 30, 2015.

At first glance this seems like a big blow to the project however looking at the detail it’s not quite as bad as it seems.

The enabling works – the cut and cover tunnel from Britomart to Wyndham St – are unaffected and will still go ahead next year. For the main works, which relate to the remainder of the project, as the NZTA briefing to incoming minister highlighted, there’s still a huge amount of design, land acquisition, finalisation of consents to go before the project could start – let alone the issue of convincing government to pay for its share earlier than they’d previously indicated. It’s been suggested to me that even if the government can’t to the party for a 2015/16 start that the amount of work still to do would have meant the main works were likely to have a 2017/18 start anyway.

Currently the CRL’s funding in the draft LTP really starts to ramp up from 2015/16 and is fully completed by 2021/22 (the negative amount after that is presumably income from the sale of excess land):


I don’t know the extent to which this will change – as the ‘enabling works’ will still proceed as will design and land acquisition for the main project. Presumably the main impact might be on the 16/17 and 17/18 budgets which will allocate a lot less to CRL now.

It’s important to remember though, as we explained last month ahead of the November LTP meeting that discussed CRL, is that this won’t free up funding for other projects as CRL does not have an impact on rates until the early 2020s – meaning that deferring its cost can’t be used for other projects that would have a rates impact sooner.

I do wonder whether the government might take another look at CRL now, as it seems Council has shifted its position on timing to midway between its preferred 2016 start date and government’s 2018 preferred date. Especially given rail patronage is currently tracking to hit the government’s target of 20 million trips in 2018.

Auckland Transport November Board Meeting

Every month I comb through the reports to the AT board looking at what the organisation is up to (that they’ll say in public). I’ve already covered the separate reports on additional bus priority and the New Network for the Hibiscus Coast so this post covers the rest of the reports for the meeting held yesterday. As such this post is a combination of a lot of little items

Once again all of the most interesting papers appear to be in the closed session which means we only have the agenda items to go off. The items being discussed are:

Items for Approval/Decision

  • Budget Realignment
  • Development Proposals
  • CRL Update
  • Parnell Station Update
  • Wynyard Quarter Roading
  • PT Security & Fare Evasion
  • Ferry Downtown Access
  • Ferry Services Strategy
  • Off Street Parking

Items for Noting

  • Deep Dive – Wharves
  • Heavy Rail Strategy Update
  • Customer First Strategy

Most seem fairly self-explanatory however two items draw a bit more attention for me. They are the vaguely titled Development Proposals – what are AT thinking of developing? – and the Heavy Rail Strategy update. The latter is interesting as it’s the first time I’ve seen AT refer to heavy rail as opposed to just rail and comes just after the herald suggested AT were looking at light rail to the airport.

On to the board report and there are number of brief updates on a range of projects. Many we’ve talked about separately or there hasn’t been much change in the report from last month but the ones that stand out are:

Onewa Rd – AT say they are going to be creating an additional westbound general traffic lane after the intersection with Lake Rd. It’s not clear why they are creating a general traffic lane and not a bus or transit lane seeing as westbound bus priority has been needed (and promised) on the road for a long time.

Electric Trains – As of the time of writing the report there were 31 of the 57 on order now in the country with 28 given provisional acceptance. From December four trains a month start arriving which means they should all be in the country by the middle of the year. They also say they have successfully tested modified software to control traction on the EMUs fixing issues from the overhead feed which was presumably the issue behind the problems earlier in the year.  The report also talks about six car EMUs being in operation from mid-November however I suspect that’s been held off till the new timetable.

City Rail Link – There are a number of comments related to the recent briefings to the incoming minister about the CRL however perhaps most significantly they say:

The City Rail Link has recently been subject to an intense period of public scrutiny due to the Council’s deliberations on the Long Term Plan (LTP). Extensive media coverage on the project led to a significant amount of feedback, including positive endorsement of the CRL by a variety of proponents. This was a timely reminder of the need to continue to “tell the story” of the CRL and its benefits, especially across the entire region. For example rail-users (and potential new rail users) will see their journey times substantially reduced as well as a much more frequent service. More effort will go into promoting these and other benefits of the CRL story from now on, particularly in the lead-up to the beginning of the enabling works in the second half of 2015

AT telling the story of the projects benefits across the region has been something we’ve talked about numerous times. It will be interesting to see what they come up with this time.

Northcote Cycle Route – AT say that as a result of the consultation they are making changes to what they initially proposed, particularly in Queen St. I suspect this will mean AT are watering down the proposal to retain more car parking

Newmarket Crossing (aka Sarawia St) – was approved last month after an in dependant review looked at the options again. I’m sure some of the Cowie St residents will continue to fight the proposal though.

Pukekohe Bus Rail Interchange – AT say they have $1.5m in funding for this financial year to upgrade the station which I’m sure is something that will get the locals will be pleased about. AT will also be moving the facilities to refill diesel trains from Papakura to Pukekohe

Puhinui Station – The station will be getting an upgrade to the standard Auckland design to improve customer experience. It is expected to be finished by June 2015.

Grafton Bridge – From early next year AT will be allowing taxi’s to use Grafton Bridge as part of a one year trial. While they say they will review the impacts in 3 months. Overall this seems like it could be quite a bad outcome for those on bikes but we’ll have to wait and see.

Integrated Fares – The AT board signed off the business case for integrated fares last month although we’re still waiting to hear just what that will entail. What we do know from the report to the board is that integrated fares won’t go live till the end of next year. This is due to AT needing to re-program much of the system to handle proper integrated fares. As for HOP as it is now, once again the board report¹ says that the percentage of trips on the PT network using HOP has remained the same as last month, AT say they think the ” Get onboard with Jerome” campaign will improve results over the coming months.

HOP ticketing usage October 2014


How CRL transforms travel in the west

It was a relief last week to see the majority of councillors vote against delaying the City Rail Link project, as part of developing the draft Long Term Plan. Add that to Transport Minister Simon Bridges comments to Newstalk ZB yesterday saying the government accepts the need for and agrees it is sensible timing for the ‘enabling works’ to take place while the Downtown Shopping Centre works are going on. The enabling works is the cut and cover tunnel from Britomart to Wyndham St.

As such it now seems certain that the enabling works part of the project will commence either late next year or early 2016, with the timing of the rest of the project a matter for negotiation between the council and the government. With rail patronage booming, it seems like there’s certainly good reason for that negotiation to continue over the coming months before the final Long Term Plan is signed off in June next year.

For years now we have been annoyed by Auckland Transport’s inability to clearly explain some of the key benefits of the CRL project. Much of the talk has always been in terms of generalisations rather than specifics, often with far too much of a city centre focus and often just very confusing. Their best effort has been the CRL video they produced but requires people to actually watch it to get information which doesn’t support people being able to get a better understanding by glancing at an image. It would probably really help if they copied the messages in the videos across to other formats.

There are many hundreds of posts on this blog over the past five years about the CRL and its benefits for Auckland, so for this particular post I want to focus on one specific impact of the project – how it provides significantly faster travel times for people travelling to the city from locations along the Western Line. Here’s how Auckland Transport currently advertise the time savings.


The current trip into town from the Western Line is a fairly tortuous affair, due to the turnaround at Newmarket as part of the diversion around the city to enter from the eastern side and the relatively slow speeds along the line as a whole. For those travelling to the midtown area – where the largest chunk of employment is located, along with the two major universities, the trip is effectively even longer – with a 10 minute hike from Britomart. All added together, even trips from fairly close in on the Western Line to the midtown area by train take a long time and unsurprisingly the “inner west” stations do not rank particularly high in terms of use.

Taking the intersection of Queen St and Wellesley St as a somewhat arbitrary location in “midtown”, we can start working out what difference the CRL makes to travel times – with a few key assumptions:

  • Google maps says the walk to Britomart is about 10 minutes
  • With CRL in place, it will take approximately 6 minutes to travel between Mt Eden Station and Aotea Station (Britomart to Mt Eden is listed as 9 minutes above, about 3 minutes per station).
  • At the moment it takes 16 minutes for a train to travel between Mt Eden and Britomart.
  • Finally, let’s assume 2 minutes to exit (or enter) any underground station – Britomart or Aotea
  • This hasn’t taken into account the time spent waiting for a train which would boost the savings from the CRL even further due to the higher frequencies it allows.

Using the above assumptions we can map the western line in terms of how long it takes people to get to midtown from the particular section of the rail network – using rough 10 minute increments before and after the CRL. Thanks to Niko from Generation Zero for the fantastic graphic:


As you can see the differences are huge. The removal of the 11 minute walk up from Britomart plus it taking only 6 minutes (rather than 16) to travel between Mt Eden and town on the train means a whopping 21 minute reduction to trips times from western line stations to the very heart of Auckland. That means every location out to Glen Eden is now within a half hour train trip from midtown, whereas at the moment if you were travelling to midtown from Mt Eden via train it’d nearly take you half an hour.

A comparison between travel times to midtown at the moment, compared to a conservative estimate of post-CRL travel times is shown below. You’ll notice the New Lynn time doesn’t match up with what AT are suggesting which may be related to time savings from electric trains however we’re yet to see if any savings will actually eventuate. Even so, as you can see these are truly massive time savings, bringing many suburbs in the west far much ‘closer in’, in terms of their actual accessibility.


We’ll try to do a few more of these “travel examples” over the coming while, to really show in a concrete way what the benefits of CRL are. Southern Line to K Road station is next I think however we’ll also do some non CBD journey ones

CRL the key to a unified city

Our good friend and director of Generation Zero, Sudhvir Singh wrote a fantastic op-ed for the Herald the other day on the City Rail Link. It was intended to be printed on Wednesday when councillors voted on whether to delay the project – which thankfully they didn’t – however the Herald ended up running it on Friday. I’ve included a few images from AT’s CRL page.

As Auckland councillors have been voting on a budget for our city, they must be commended for their continued support for the City Rail Link (CRL), a game-changing piece of infrastructure that will reduce traffic, revitalise suburban town centres and unlock Auckland’s potential.

A 3km rail tunnel connecting Britomart with the rail network at Mt Eden, the CRL will link the three disparate limbs of Auckland’s rail network into a coherent whole. It will serve motorists just as well as rail commuters, and benefit the suburbs just as much as the city centre.

Auckland already has a 100km rail network. While rail usage is growing at over 15 per cent year on year, as long as the network finishes in a dead end at Britomart, Aucklanders will only ever be offered services on an infrequent timetable.

The CRL will change all this: by breaking the bottleneck at Britomart, Aucklanders will have access to trains running at five-minute frequencies.


Any new rail lines such as the proposed airport and North Shore lines are not possible without the CRL. This is therefore the foundational project that Auckland needs to develop a true “metro” public transport system, like those seen in all the world’s most liveable cities. It’s at the core of the Congestion-Free Network, a plan laid out by Generation Zero and Transport Blog to address Auckland’s lack of public transport and show how major improvements are easily affordable within the current budget.

Investment in the CRL will not mean that Auckland motorists’ concerns are neglected. Quite the opposite: international transport system research shows that widening roads is not the cure for traffic congestion. By encouraging more people to drive and failing to provide transport choice, heavy investment in roads only adds to traffic problems. Investment in rail takes large numbers of people off the road and reduces carbon pollution.

What is more, the CRL will not see suburban development sacrificed in favour of city centre development. The best way to spur renewed investment and development in our suburban centres is to give people access to frequent, quality public transport and watch the private investment that follows. Britomart’s transformation since the opening of the rail station is an example of this – the CRL will be the impetus for similar town centre upgrades across Auckland.

In the short term, residents of West Auckland will arguably benefit the most from the CRL. Travel times by train from the west will be halved, in effect bringing this entire side of Auckland closer to the city. This represents an unrivalled opportunity for the west to prosper, particularly if a mix of affordable housing choices is offered near existing stations.

Let’s also stick to the facts when it comes to funding: the CRL is not one of the factors putting pressure on the council’s budget and leading to calls for motorway tolls and rate rises. Despite the alarmism promoted by its detractors, funding of the CRL will not influence rates in the city until it’s open.

As a piece of capital investment, it is funded by a combination of development contributions and debt. This is separate from the spending that our rates fund. Those who suggest that today’s funding for libraries and community services is to be sacrificed for tomorrow’s funding of the CRL are peddling falsehoods.

The Government has not had the foresight to plan a single piece of public transport infrastructure in the country’s biggest city during its six years in office. Instead, it has a myopic obsession with roading that sees it spend Auckland’s share of national transport funding exclusively on motorways. The council’s response needs to be to balance the transport budget with investment in public transport.

Auckland needs its rail link. Now is the time for the council to show leadership and not delay its completion.

Good work Sudhvir

We’re working with Generation Zero to try and come up with some more creative ways to highlight the need and the benefits of the CRL. We have already have one of these done which we will look to launch soon. If you also have a good idea on how we can help better explain the project then let us know.

CRL passes another hurdle

Yesterday the council started debating and voting on what will go out for consultation as part of the Long Term Plan. There were two big interrelated issues people were watching closely, what level rates would be set at and whether or not councillors would vote to delay the City Rail Link. These weren’t the only items on the agenda but they certainly took up a lot of time, most of the day in fact with the meeting continuing tomorrow to discuss the rest of the agenda.

By the end of it all the councillors voted 16-7 to increase rates in the next two years by 3.5%, up from the original 2.5% increase (the subsequent eight years were already set for a 3.5% increase). For transport voting on whether to delay the City Rail Link also thankfully fell short, again with a 16-7 result which is notable as on Monday Bernard Orsman was reporting that nine 9 councillors were going to vote to delay the project. The councillors that changed their minds were Ross Clow and Calum Penrose leaving those supporting a delay being Cameron Brewer, Linda Cooper, Denise Krum, Dick Quax, Sharon Stewart, John Watson and George Wood.

I wasn’t at the meeting but was following it Twitter and so I thought I would just highlight some of the interesting tweets from those that were there as there is clearly tension on the issue between many councillors.

The council say even the CRL wasn’t ring-fenced it would still be number one on the priority list due to how much positive impact it has.

On Capacity issues

It sounds like Council CEO Stephen Town did a good job in stepping the councillors through the information

On CRL Operations

Even from before today Chris Darby and Penny Hulse seem to be the best councillors we have and Chris once again show they actually understand many of the issues.

The last comment clearly upset George Wood

Dick Quax not wanting to be left out later added this gem

Perhaps Dick forgot that cars are a 19th century tech too.

There’s still a lot of work to go before the CRL gets started but at least it’s cleared another hurdle

20 by 2017?

14 - Sep AK Patronage table

Latest figures from AT: September 2014

In March this year I wrote a post called 20 by 2020 assessing the Prime Minister’s challenge for rail ridership in Auckland to do be heading to 20 million passengers pa by what I understood to be 2020 to justify a partial investment in the CRL by the report .From a PwC Patronage Report  I have found what he said:

“We will consider an earlier start date if it becomes clear that Auckland’s CBD employment and rail patronage growth hit thresholds faster than current rates of growth suggest. 

Which is a fairly ambiguous sentence. Here’s how the kind folks at the MoT interpret that:

“MoT interprets the rail patronage target as meaning that “patronage will reach 20 million trips a year around 2018″

PwC then tabulate this as follows:

PwC CRL targets summary


So 13.5% average growth is all that is needed to meet the MoT’s pretty sharp 2018 interpretation of this barrier. And it looks like we’re on the way more for the 2017 rate. Here’s what I wrote in March:

So where are we at now? Ridership at the end of June 2013 was almost exactly 10 mil: Less than a year later and it is now 11 mil. 3 months to go and already 10% growth. To reach 20 mil by 2020 a rate of 10.4% is sufficient.

Oh how things change. Just six months further on and we’ve already hit 12 million. Rail ridership is running at around 16% – 21% pa [As is the Northern Express- Rapid Transit Investment works]. If this can be sustained over the next few years things will become rather awkward for those relying on this particular hurdle to delay the government’s commitment to Auckland. The magic of compounding growth means that this kind of rate leads to a rough doubling of the figure in just four years. From 10 million in 2013 to 20 million in 2017 or thereabouts.

Is that growth likely to continue, on grounds other than mere extrapolation? Well here’s what I wrote back in March. Events since have not made a fool of me yet:

OK, I can hear the cynics out there saying that you can’t just extrapolate ridership growth from one year out indefinitely and that is indeed true, almost as absurd as assuming traffic growth will leap upwards from a flat line; well almost. So we must ask are there good reasons to believe that ridership growth will continue at this rate? Well no, but there are three good reasons to be confident that it will in fact accelerate from this year even more strongly;

1. The vastly more attractive, higher capacity, and able to be more frequently run New Trains

2. The new integrated ticketing and fares system

3. The New Bus Network that is focussed on coordinating with the Rail Network to help speed and improve many journeys, from new transfer stations like the recently completed Panmure, New Lynn, and coming Mangere and Otahuhu.

Interestingly 18% has been the average growth rate ever since the Council built Britomart Station back in 2003. It’s probably then a number those well paid and highly numerate apparatchiks at the MoT can reliably hang their hats on. From the previous post:
We should also remember that rail ridership has grown by some 400% since the opening of Britomart [annualised: 18% pa, so this has been a consistent grower since even simple improvements were added to what was a completely under invested in system. Build it and they will indeed come.

It is also worth noting that no motorway network shows or is required to show anything like a 10% demand growth in order to get even 50% funding from government. In fact the government had to invent an abstract and novel category of road -The Road of National Significance- in order to get around the low traffic demands all over the nation and overcome their often appallingly low business cases. For example traffic demand in and around Wellington is going backwards, actually falling, but NZTA can’t stop drawing lines down every fault-line for new motorways there. How about 10% demand growth hurdles for investment all transport systems?

And because every post needs plenty of images and because this never gets old, here’s the Perth story, the one we are most clearly going to emulate, in fact are emulating, here in Auckland once we can get the tarmac out the eyes of those who control our money:




Auckland Transport’s 30 Year Project List

As part of the discussion on Alternative Transport Funding, which was launched yesterday, the Council also released a copy of Auckland Transport’s entire 30 year transport programme which includes the cost of projects and seemingly ranked according to some combination of criteria. The programme unfortunately does not include state highway projects, which makes it difficult to fully assess the merits of the overall transport packages outlined in yesterday’s announcements. However, it’s certainly clear what Auckland Transport projects can and cannot be afforded over the next 30 years under the two scenarios.

The document doesn’t explain the list in any detail, but it seems as though there are a number of projects on the first page which have some form of existing commitment or are ongoing requirements and therefore are not really considered “discretionary”. These are shown below:

committed-projectsThe ‘committed’ projects include those that appear to have contracts in place (electric trains, Albany Highway, a few things around Westgate), renewing existing assets and the City Rail Link. I actually wonder if it would be helpful for CRL to be ranked against all the other projects – rather than be included in this “other” list – as almost certainly it would rank either right at the top or very near it.

Anyway, moving on to the top of the list the projects listed below are those that are in both the Basic Network and the Auckland Plan Network – as well as some fairly broad brush allocation of funding to support sprawl in some of the areas identified by the Unitary Plan:


It’s a pretty short list for the 30 year transport programme, as well as being strangely focused on the first decade. The other key thing to notice here is the yellow boxes, which appear to be wrapped up programmes of projects (e.g. walking and cycling) where the amount of funding allocated to the programme varies quite significantly, depending on whether it’s the Auckland Plan Transport Network or the Basic Transport Network.

Even taking a fairly harsh look at the list above, there doesn’t seem to be too many projects that don’t make sense doing at all over the next 30 years. For me the three most glaring ones that need to be questioned are:

  • The Reeves Rd flyover at $141 million
  • The widening of the almost $200 million and soon to be opened Te Horeta Rd for another $74 million
  • Mill Road at $472 million which is something that we’ve highlighted could be looked at for a cheaper option, especially seeing as the government are now widening the southern motorway.

The rest of the projects are those which form part of the Auckland Plan Transport Network only. Essentially, these are the additional projects from Auckland Transport which the additional funding is being asked to pay for:


While there are a few really dumb projects on the list above (Mt Albert Park & Ride, what the heck?) there’s also a lot of pretty good stuff that is missing out under the Basic Transport Network. Furthermore, while there is some, it seems at first glance that there isn’t a huge amount of really expensive dumb stuff in the programme list of Auckland Transport’s projects. That contrasts with the package of state highway projects highlighted yesterday which doesn’t appear to have been questioned at all.

Over the next few days I’ll be starting to look into the detail at the overall balance of the packages, as well as assessing the extent to which they are similar to what we proposed in the Congestion Free Network.

Competition Winners

Attentive readers will recall the little competition we ran some weeks back, well Labour Day has given us the chance to sort through the entries and make some choices.

This exercise has shown that the City Rail Link is a difficult project to summarise and it is hard to feel that we’ve quite cracked it yet, but here goes…

While I for one did particularly like Stu’s CRL: Centre Right Legacy but as there is no sign of this actually happening I think we have to discount that one.

For originality we felt we had to include Mike F‘s: Auckland’s wormhole – a shortcut in time

On the important need to reach out to drivers about the project we also chose:

Greg N‘s CRL – Auckland’s Traffic Decongestant


Spartan‘s witty acronym CRL – Congestion ReLief

And finally there’s Nick‘s City Rail Link: Building Auckland’s Regional Metro which he expanded on more fully in a comment on a post earlier today. This is as good a summary of how to better communicate the value of the project as I’ve seen:

They should make a clean cut from the tarnished CRL ‘brand’ and start calling it what it actually is, something like ‘Regional Auckland Metro Rail” (or a snappier alternative). Don’t sell it as a two billion dollar CBD tunnel with two stations, sell it as a two billion dollar metro system with four lines and 40 stations serving 3/4 of metropolitan Auckland, with trains running every five or ten minutes to every station between Swanson, Onehunga, Manukau and Papakura.

Did NZTA sell the Waterview connection as the means to drive from Owairaka to Waterview? Of course not, they spend far more time talking about completing the motorway system, creating an efficient network and delivering a western bypass from Manukau to Albany.

AT seem so intent on hiding all the benefits and potential from the public, so risk averse as to shoot themselves in the foot. Sell the damned thing FFS! get the public excited, have them banging on the beehive door saying hurry up and get on with it. In my experience the only people against the CRL are those that have a mistaken understanding of what it does, or rather doesn’t, do. Those that do understand can clearly see it is the most efficient spend of transport funds possible in the city. That is squarely ATs fault in terms of marketing.

Give it a new name, them stick signs and billboards out next to main roads and motorways showing the travel time and frequency to various places. Put one by SH1 in Manurewa with the travel time to Silvia Park and Aotea, one near Orakei with the time to Eden Park, one in Mt Albert with the time to Henderson and Aotea, one in Howick village with the combined bus and train time to the city centre etc. Hell stick one up in every neighborhood within ten minutes of a rail station.

…and give it a new brand, a regional, metro branding.

Thanks again to Madman Entertainment for the DVDs.

So congratulations Mike, Greg, Spartan, and Nick and stand by for an email from me requesting a physical address so I can send out the DVDs

No correspondence will be entered into etc….