Back To the Future


The Government has ruled out any new investment in Auckland transport such as the CBD link for at least 10 years.
Why does every step of progress for Auckland have to turn into a battle? I thought the new local government re-organisation was going to see Auckland given the chance to move ahead to be a great city people want to visit and live in.

The Auckland Spatial Plan to guide the future development and growth of the unified Auckland over the next 20-30 years kicks off with a mayoral summit on March 23 - but the government has this week revealed its hand in how it sees Auckland’s development.

And it proves again that every time Auckland takes a step forward, we get pushed back several more places, this time back to a car-centric Auckland that created the motorway adreneline rush in the 60s.

The government papers state in black and white: The scale of (the present projects), combined with the Government’s current fiscal position and other demands for capital investment, “means that little discretionary transport funding will be available for any other major new Auckland capital infrastructure projects over the next 10 years.”

It mentions growing bus transport because buses use roads but there is barely any mention at all of rail being part of future development in Auckland.

Wind back the clock to Auckland of old

The background Cabinet papers suggest the role of public transport is being over-played in a vehicle-dominated city and that “this will need to be taken into account when making assumptions about the extent to which public transport will be city shaping.”
It suggests public transport forecast by RLTS modelling would account for only 13% of peak period travel by 2041.
And as for the wish list of projects we talk a lot abut here - background modelling for the RLTS also shows that rail to the North Shore and an Airport rail loop combined could be expected to provide an additional 11,280 public transport passengers per day in 2041. This is only 0.2 per cent of the 6.4 million daily trips forecast for the Auckland transport system in 2041.
CBD link? Well don’t waste too much time and money there.
“While it is important to ensure there is sufficient investment in the CBD as Auckland’s commercial and cultural centre, as the CBD currently provides just 14 per cent of Auckland’s employment and a small proportion of its population, it will also be important to make sure there is appropriate focus on other parts of Auckland.”
Despite some falloff with petrol prices since 2007, it believes Auckland is still all about cars and catering for them.

NZTA modelling suggests that current major capital investment in completing the core Auckland motorway network will reduce congestion on this network until at least 2021 and improve accessibility within Auckland and between Auckland, Waikato and Northland. Modelling also suggests investment in upgrading and electrifying the passenger rail network will also enable rail patronage growth to continue.
This is the list of current projects -and all we will get for the next 10 years.

Remember these papers reflect the present government’s thinking about transport - done before any Christchurch tremors. The quake aftermath will just be used to seal the fate of projects like the CBD link.
The government sees the economic drive in Auckland being based on good flowing roads especially to help freight.

“While good progress is being made in addressing historical deficits on parts of the network (e.g. State highways and metro rail), pressure is building elsewhere. This issue is particularly acute on the arterial road network where investment levels have been modest. A greater emphasis on improving the carrying capacity of the network is needed (e.g. high occupancy vehicle lanes) to get the maximum benefit rather than simply reallocating road space between modes (e.g. bus lanes).
“The performance of the motorway and arterial network is critical to effective freight distribution. Freight movements should have priority on key freight corridors. These measures are warranted to maximise business’ access to labour, freight and markets within the region, between regions and internationally.
“If Auckland is to realise its economic potential, businesses need to have priority at locations within the transport network that offer the best access to markets. Consideration should be given to ways of giving priority to business use over residential use in these locations.
improved bus transport as Auckland’s dominant public transport mode; and to maintain access to the most accessible business locations on the network. Measures to improve patronage levels on public transport services would also need to be ongoing.”

But the government is hung up on bus as being the favoured public transport.

“Network wide improvements seem likely to centre on ongoing, but more modest, improvements to the capacity of State highways and increased investment in the arterial network in partnership with the Council. This investment in the arterial network would need to be undertaken to: decrease congestion; provide for improved bus transport as Auckland’s dominant public transport mode; and to maintain access to the most accessible business locations on the network. Measures to improve patronage levels on public transport services would also need to be ongoing.

And while it acknowledges that there will be discussion about the CBD rail loop it gives no warmth to the idea.

“At a project level, there will be a role for the Government to contribute to the funding of transport projects required to deliver the spatial plan. However, before investing in any form of project, the Government and the NZTA will need evidence that a project will effectively and efficiently deliver on national transport objectives. Projects that depend on land use change would need to demonstrate that the necessary zoning changes have been secured and development is set to proceed.”

It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry.

Wade through all the papers and you will be lucky to find any suggestion of more government funding for Auckland, besides any for just transport.




  1. Nick R says:

    “as the CBD currently provides just 14 per cent of Auckland’s employment and a small proportion of its population,”

    This is simply retarted ignorance. Firstly it assumes that the CBD tunnel only benefits the CBD, but naturally it is the core of a rail system that stretches from Papakura to Swanson and all points in between.
    Secondly, the 14% figure is bullshit. This is the proportion of employment within the central motorway junction ‘border’. So this assumes that no one in Newton, Grafton, Newmarket or Parnell would benefit from the project, and that nobody would cross the K Rd bridge to get to K Rd station.
    If we take a wider view of the CBD from Ponsonby Rd to Parnell Rd and Back to Newton, we find it actually contains about 30% of the regions jobs.

  2. GJA says:

    The 30% would have been higher if we already had a better PT system. It is due to the PT failure that we need to drive all over the place. When will the politicians realise that just because something is in place today, that it is the only option.

  3. Decanker says:

    Really, now with Auckland’s PT revolution all but dashed, there’s little reason for me, and probably many like me, to remain in this city.

    It is increasingly unlivable, I battle against its infrastructure and failed planning daily, its direction is not being driven by the needs of the people, it is being driven by whatever is the next large business deal to sign.

    No longer is it a place to consider settling down in and enjoying a decent quality of life. Plans to build a nice wee low footprint home over Waitaks way will now be ill-considered if a strong rail network isn’t developed.

    I’m fed up with these smug old business men turned politicians sitting there helping out their business mates for short term gains. They don’t give a sh*t about society and the next generation. And with happy-go-lucky Key fronting it all people are being hoodwinked into thinking the Govt is down to earth, getting on with it, in touch with the needs of the people.

    Had a gutsful.


  4. Matt says:

    So the National Party is going to screw Auckland for the next 10 years.

    Len Brown should stop calling them aspirational projects, and start calling them necessary projects, because that’s what the CBD loop and Airport Rail really are.

    If the Labour Party don’t politicise this outstandingly daft decision and win the next election by winning every seat in Auckland, then they don’t deserve to win.

  5. sj says:

    Can the Auckland Council create a spatial plan which forbids some of the wasteful motorway construction (e.g. the holiday highway)? I think it’s time Auckland called Wellington’s bluff on this issue.

  6. GJA says:

    Matt, I do not think that Labour, in its current format, has the back bone to challenge the National Party.

    Len should start with the planning of these projects and come up with a model where Auckland Council will partly own part of the new building / land / infrastructure, so that we can get a return on the assets. We should sell some of our shares in Akl Airport, so that we can get these lines built.

  7. Nick R says:

    I agree Decanker,
    I was contemplating moving back home to Auckland later this year. I’ve got some money together to buy a home, finished upskilling with a masters and plenty of work experience and ready to go back into buisiness for myself.

    But reading these sorts of reports lately I just can’t see any future in it. Why would I swap from Melbourne to live in a failed version of Joyce’s 1950s vision of autopia… with no relief in sight until around the time I’m retired.

    So I’m going to continue contributing my savings, investment and skills to the Australian economy instead. So much for their ‘economic’ policies. I wonder just how many people are in the same situation as you and I?

    If the government is so concerned with closing the income gaps with Australia then maybe they should look to what the successful Australian cities do.

  8. joust says:

    That’s true and exactly why we need a much stronger PT network across the city including to the airport and North Shore, not just a whole lot of disparate rail ferry and bus lines emptying out in the CBD.

  9. joust says:

    ^^(should have started with quote “important to make sure there is appropriate focus on other parts of Auckland”).

  10. Andrew says:

    Yet again, this Government demonstrates that it has no understanding of cause and <effect when it comes to transport planning.

    Auckland is car-dominated because that’s what the forced removal of trams and the 1960s Master Transportation Plan set out to do.

    Car numbers don’t just increase regardless. It’s happened because all the other options were taken away. Return those other options and car growth will reduce or even reverse.

  11. DT says:

    Nick R asks how many people will think about leaving or not returning to Auckland - according to a recent survey around 40% of Aucklanders consider that improved public transport is the number one priority for the supercity so I guess there will now be a large number of people weighing up their options.

  12. Chris R says:

    This is exactly what Rodney had in mind when he pushed through the Super City legislation.

    What we now need is to secede!

  13. John Dalley says:

    I expect it is going to be incumbent on the Auckland Council is to essentially attack the government and put them under pressure to stop being dick heads and give Auckland the ability to think outside the box in terms of funding.
    It never ceased to amaze me that a right wing, free enterprise party would cancel the regional fuel tax in the first place and then shove there heads up there arse’s in allowing Auckland to progress.
    Aucklanders need to be aware that this National Governments survival depends on Auckland.

  14. Commuter says:

    i concur absolutely with Decanker and Nick R. The three year residential bonding requirement of my Top Achiever Doctoral Scholarship expires on 1 August and, if the government’s current attitude on the future development of Auckland prevails, I’m out of here like a shot. Auckland is characterised by a great location and a potentially pleasant environment but also woeful PT, a retarded reliance on the motor vehicle and historically deficient planning regimes, all cooked up by provincial businessmen avid in the pursuit of self-interested profit. Not really somewhere you’d want to live in particularly if the future is more of the same.

  15. Andrew Stevenson says:

    @ John Dalley: I kind-of thought that too - a party with the general view of “small government is best - no nanny state for us!” should have championed the idea of allowing TLAs to decide for themselves the tax rate to be pumped into transport.

    And - which is even stranger - they could have let another elected body (the ARC, or now the AC) take the heat for it.

    Now they have given Labour a ready-made election-plank in Auckland.

    Many people don’t realise that National spent a tad more (GDP percentage-wise) from 1990 to 1999 than Labour did from 1999 to 2008. The two major parties are closer together than most people think…

  16. mark says:

    Guys, don’t forget that National isn’t elected for the next 10 years. In fact, there’s a chance to show them the door this year, and another 3 years down the line.

  17. Andrew says:

    Maybe this needs to be a repeated call:

    “National, why are you chaining us to our cars, making it so hard for us to be able get out of them?”

  18. Back To the Future - Auckland - AKT…

    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

  19. Decanker says:

    Andrew says:
    “National, why are you chaining us to our cars, making it so hard for us to be able get out of them?”

    It’s because of the freeeeedom! That’s what they’ll tell you, apparently nothing will ever compare to the freedom of the private automobile, etc, etc.

    And warning, the kiwiblog fanbase response to rising oil prices is mostly, “good, less poor people on the roads”

  20. Nick R says:

    That always cracks me up. Apparently allowing people to chose their mode of travel from more than one viable option is anti-freedom.

    But having only one single mode of transport that everyone must use, well that’s liberty and freedom right there!

  21. Decanker says:

    Exactly Commuter, it is a potential South Pacific wonder of a city. Hey, it looks great in pictures!

    But this mentality of sprawl and sprawl and build more roads to match… how far away do they think the next generations, the 1st home buyers, are willing to live and still drive to work? The model is broken, people don’t have the incomes or desire to continue this way.

    Central Government seemingly fails to appreciate that Auckland is competing against all the other well functioning cities in the world. And NZ doesn’t have exclusive rights on clean and green, in fact it’s going backwards while others go forwards.

    Now I’m sorta going off topic…

  22. Decanker says:

    Yeah, interestingly I feel most free when I get the ferry to Bayswater, or catch the bus from Glenfield, or the train to Sylvia Park, or cycle through Ponsonby to work — no traffic jams, no finding a park, no paying for parking, no watching the price of petrol, can have an extra drink.

    Having my bike stolen this week was a cruel reminder of how wound up I get driving to work.

  23. Patrick R says:

    I’m sure that this is the last harrah of auto-insanity but still every year that goes by AK is lossing time to change, it’s going to be that much harder to do…. shit it’s depressing, and all we can do is rant to each other…. lose quality people to offshore and slide depressingly down the scale of livibilty and affordability.

    Auckland City must firmly reject this crazy and twisted view…. what is the political risk for Brown? None that I can see. Champion of the local against bully National Government.

  24. The Trickster says:

    “And warning, the kiwiblog fanbase response to rising oil prices is mostly, “good, less poor people on the roads””

    Along with bitching that they should lower the tax on petrol.

    Question: How do they then propose to pay for all their ‘vital’ roading improvements, especially seeing as they’re nowhere near paying their way now.

  25. Nick R says:

    Decanker, I had an experience with this just the other day trying to organise dinner with friends who refuse to move except in their car. It went something like this:

    Me: “Let’s meet around six and have a couple of drinks before dinner”
    Them: “What, are you crazy? The traffic will still be mental, better make it seven”
    Me: “Er ok, make it drinks at seven then.”
    Them: “Oh, but I can’t drink, you know, no drink driving”
    Me: “Right then… let’s skip drinks. Shall we try that new Mexican place in the village? I’ll ride over and meet you”
    Them: “Nah man, there is never anywhere to park. We can’t go there”
    Me: “ok, how about the other Mexican place in town? I’ll catch a tram”
    Them: “What?! Nah it costs way to much to park there, and it takes ages to drive in. Plus I’m sick of paying freeway tolls… and I’m almost out of gas.”
    Me: “So why don’t you catch a train for once. It’ll take about fifteen minutes from your place, you don’t have to worry about parking and you can have a few drinks too”.
    Them: “What, you mean leave my car and take a train with those losers? Why the hell would I want to do that? I know, let’s just order in”.
    Me: *slaps forehead*.

    That’s freedom alright.

  26. Andrew says:

    Personally, I would like the freedom to only need to pay for and maintain ONE car for our household. We’re almost but not quite there yet.

  27. Andrew says:

    @Nick, did you point out that your friend was including you in his “losers” comment?

    … and that by not being able to get to all the places that you can quite easily, he’s kinda losing himself?

    oh, to have the travel freedom you have in Melbourne.

  28. Nick R says:

    Andrew, yes I point that out basically every time we have that sort of conversation… which happens every time we try to get together or do anything.

    It’s quite sad but her day to day life is basically restrained to the home, work, suburban supermarkets and local shopping mall foodcourts. Anything more interesting than that is too hard to park, too much traffic, too expensive on tolls etc.

    She says she doesn’t like going to the city or any of the inner suburbs because its all too stressful, but I wonder how much of that just comes from the traffic and parking issues. Sure there are actually people out in the street but I find it a lot better than some cul de sac.

    I think she excludes me from the losers on the train because she can remember when I used to live in Auckland and driver everywhere ‘like a normal person’. Like my preference for public transport most of the time is some sort of silly phase I’ll get over.

  29. Kurt says:

    This proves two things:

    1. This National government bereft of any sort of vision for the future.

    2. They are also blind to the present when it comes to the stinking traffic jams we Aucklander’s have put up with in ever worsening amounts for over 30 years. Strangely National came to same conclusion in the 90′s and look where it got us.

    Motorways were only ever one part of the solution but not a be all end all so please stop wasting money on them!

  30. Decanker says:

    Hah, great retelling Nick, infuriating tho.

    That thinking of PT being for poor people and losers is perpetuated by the likes of Michael Laws every time the subject comes up. And it’s just bizarre, if not ignorant, thinking anyway — the millions of daily commuters in Tokyo, NYC, London, Paris, and just about any other real city are poor losers?

    Using PT and walking and cycling to get around in real cities is what transport freedom is all about.

  31. Nick R says:

    In Melbourne there is a direct correlation between PT use for journeys to work and areas of high household wealth. Basically poor people can’t afford to live in the inner and middle suburbs and there is minimal PT out on the fringe.
    I don’t know if this is chicken or egg, but people who live in rich neighbourhoods use more public transport. This outcome looks pretty bleak for the working class battlers in regards to rising petrol costs: the fringe is almost stuck with driving and if gas keeps going up so will the desirability and price of housing with good access to PT.

  32. Mike F says:

    If as many of you believe kicking National out will solve Auckland’s PT issues then planning on how to get rid of National really needs to start now.
    I believe there is no way that National will lose unless NZ first gets a seat. If NZ first gets a seat Labour governs the coalition - simple.
    National voters will still vote ACT in Epsom to try and retain National so what can Labour voters do ?

  33. Wai says:

    Maybe Len can put huge taxes on cars parked in the central city. That will hurt those luddites in parliament and their friends.We could always have a protest and all deep thnking Aucklanders could lie down on the motorways.Easy to organise these days judging by the excitements in the Middle East.
    Christchurch will recover quicker if there is a strong Auckland with a fast rail transport system accessible to all. Go rail.

  34. Andu says:

    Why can’t auckland pay for CBD Tunnel etc? Obviously I’d prefer Govt contributed, but if they won’t why can’t auckland council just say “fine, we’ll do it ourselves and find our own way.” ?

  35. Matt L says:

    Andu - We could but it will also benefit the rest of the country by allowing more development and job in the CBD (which tend to be higher paying jobs as well). That means more taxes for the government to then spend on the rest of the country and less money they need to spend on further upgrading roads.

  36. Ian M says:

    Whilst we continue to rant here amoungst ourselves, I think we need to start making the general (naive?) public fully aware of the true attitude of the goverment towards public transport here in Auckland. It is election year and I think the time has come for us all to organise something to show our defiance. To be honest it warrents a march down Queen St.

  37. Jon Reeves in Switzerland says:

    Auckland Council should triple carpark fees throughout the entire city. Have no free parking in any town centres from Pukekohe to Orewa, then stop any new private car parks being built.

    This would simply start pricing cars out and make PT more attractive, best thing is the Govt cannot stop that.

    However, for a manufactured car centric city it may be the death of the current Councilors.

  38. Neil says:

    Well, ,unfortunately I have to agree with others here…this National led car madness has caused an in creasing amount of frustration for us. You just can’t drive anywhere during the weekends, PT is so woeful that it is too much drama to use, unless you want to waste a day. So, my wife and I have made the decision to return to her homeland (USA) and live in Portland with its excellent amenities. Its sad to say that Auckland has become a joke of a city. A city that has so much potential, but is stymied by the short sighted cronyism of politicians. Good luck Auckland, see you in the future…maybe.

  39. Matt L says:

    The Herald has a story today with similar stories of car freedom. The common theme is we can’t do what we used to / can’t go out anymore etc. They also talk to a bus driver who says there aren’t enough buses and they have to leave people at stops so even if someone doesn’t want to drive they don’t have a valid alternative.

  40. Patrick R says:

    But Matt they also have fantasy articles about imaginary oil being found in NZ to save us all so we can all live like Texans or Saudis…. with no facts at all. Just there to calm the casual reader into Business as usual….

  41. James B says:

    The last couple of days I have had buses go past me, too full. It wouldn’t be too bad if the timetabled buses (every 5-10 minutes) would turn up. But they don’t leaving you to wait 20 minutes or more. It took me 40 minutes to get to work yesterday, if I include waiting, walking and travelling time, and that is only from the city end of Dominion Road. Other times it only takes 15 minutes. It’s too unpredictable.

  42. John Dalley says:

    James, there is an story in the NZ Herald this morning saying exactly that. Not enough buses and it will be interesting to see what sort of rise in public transport use will show up in the next lot of numbers.

  43. Cam says:

    Just got back from a work trip in Melbourne and have read this. Have to agree with many of you who have expressed a desire to leave. The National party appears to want to turn Auckland into a massive gridlocked retirement village for the baby boomers. It seriously makes me want to leave.

    I’d like to say i’m surprised by this but i’m not we have a government of small towners who have no concept of public transport and have never wanted to back it. This will drive more and more people elsewhere. So much for wanting to maximise Auckland’s economic potential.

  44. Patrick R says:

    In this morning’s paper our enlightened Minister of Finance says: ‘the government would ‘probably not’ look at how New Zealand could best protect its economy from ongoing high oil prices.’ Now that’s leadership…..

    Well this stupid document would have to be ripped up first, and they would have have to re-think all their lazy assumptions so better to stick your heads in the sand. Events are clearly proving too much for this bunch of dim provincial inadequates.

    Policy vacuum here for Labour you’d think… what are they saying? Anyone?

  45. richard says:

    Central Government should pull it’s head in and get on with national issues, not interfering in local body issues which are the responsibility of local bodies even if they are as big as Auckland now is.

    Local politicians are elected to act for ratepayers and citizens. Members of parliament consist of elected members and mates off the list who are not elected. They certainly should not interfere in matters of town planning once the law is enacted

    This country is still suffering from the quarter acre syndrome of the 1930′s which was fine when Auckland was a small town and few motorcars and plenty of trams but mass car addiction and urban sprawl has consequently developed a MESS. Auckland Council are right to try and turn this round, the area of Auckland is large enough to populate about 3-4 million comfortably.

    Its a shame that other cities like Tauranga are not taking note of Auckland and are spewing houses over arable land as fast as it can be surveyed. We need as much productive land as we can to feed the world!!

    Our standard house should not be a sprawling bungalow but a two story house using half the land per unit , apartments and high density near railways and ferries. The government’s ideas of using buses for the bulk of public transport is not followed anywhere else, buses go to railway stations or mass transit. We seem to always want to be the opposite to everybody else!

  46. Mike F says:

    “the area of Auckland is large enough to populate about 3-4 million comfortably.”

    The problem with this is Auckland’s population is way out of wack with the rest of the New Zealand as it too many eggs in one basket.
    If Auckland was to suffer say a major volcanic event NZ would probably go bankrup.
    Volcanic activity could last months through to years.
    We really need to stimulate growth in other centres such as Hamilton and Whangerei which are close enough yet far enough away. Obviously suitable transport links between cities is paramount for growth.

  47. Patrick R says:

    I have to say I shudder every time i go to Tauranga…. what an unplanned nightmare… the worst of Auckland’s disease and heading for a nasty time as the car gets less and less affordable….

    The need for an upper North Island passenger Rail service is getting more and more evident. AK-Hamilton Tauranga.

  48. Flippi says:

    “So the National Party is going to screw Auckland for the next 10 years.

    Len Brown should stop calling them aspirational projects, and start calling them necessary projects, because that’s what the CBD loop and Airport Rail really are.

    If the Labour Party don’t politicise this outstandingly daft decision and win the next election by winning every seat in Auckland, then they don’t deserve to win.”. - Matt

    i agree completely, if I was Phil Goff I would work out a plan to fund Auckland’s link tunnel and use it (and a rebuild of Christchurch public transport) as vital parts of their manifesto.

  49. richard says:

    Mike, I totally agree with what you say, letting Auckland get any bigger in population at all should be a second consideration to spreading it around a bit.

    My Son lives in Germany and outside Berlin the cities are generally about Auckland’s population but a similar area to the North Shore or probably less than a fifth the area of the old Ak cities. High speed trains are therefore extremely efficient and frequent.

    There are no conditions on where new immigrants live so they all come off the plane and stay in Auckland. When my family immigrated here in the 1950′s you were allocated to a part of the country. My Father was in the Navy so we stayed in Auckland on the North Shore in Takapuna Borough as it was.

    This problem is evident when looking at my eight neighbours they include a block of shops, three NZ born families, one Philipino, two Indian and a Japanese family. Twenty years ago you might have European, Maori or Pacific Island only. By contrast when you go to say Wellington or Dunedin etc. you hardly see a non white face.

    Our immigration policies need looking at to spread the load and there should be inducements to live in other centres which must be built in a non sprawling manner, with efficient connecting public transport.

  50. KLK says:


    Would you feel the same way if you arrived today and were “allocated” to Invercargill?

    Its pretty easy to agree with allocation when you are dropped a stones throw from the biggest CBD in the country and alongside beaches, with a favourable climate to boot.

    And hardly any non-white faces in Wellington. When did you last go?

  51. Luke says:

    hardly see a non-white face at Dunedin!!! lol.
    Maybe around the university you might see a variety of ethnicites, but the rest of Dunedin is very white.

    Maybe you would be happier in Devonport where you see lots of white faces, but they have english accents, whats the difference?

  52. joust says:

    picking on various locations and comparing their diversity based on a glance at people’s skin-colour isn’t scientific or helpful - (try rather than speculating). Its also completely beside the point of the original post reporting what the Government has planned for Auckland.

  53. Jon C says:

    @Joust Thank you. Skin colour is getting way off topic.


Leave a Comment


XHTML: You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>