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Fixing the traffic in a successful city

Fixing Auckland's transportThe Council’s consultation on the 10 year budget (Long Term Plan) has been a catalyst for a wide-ranging conversation about our city’s transport priorities and investment.  “Fixing Transport” is highlighted as one of the 4 key issues facing Auckland.

The Mayor has led the way in asking Aucklanders to consider the choices.  Do we accept a basic transport network which costs less, or do we invest more to get the advanced transport programme set out in the 30-year vision for our region known as the Auckland Plan. The Auckland Plan transport network includes the new roads, rail, ferries, busways and cycleways our city desperately needs. (From Council’s consultation material)

I was on the panel for the Auckland Conversation event  Fixing Auckland’s Transport – the 10 year budget  (as a local board member and member of the Urban Cycling Investment panel) to discuss the transport options. 

The MC Fran O’Sullivan asked panelists to consider a few points that we wished to get across. Here are mine in a bit more detail than discussed on the night . I’ve also referenced the quotes that I referred to.

What do we really mean by “Fixing” Auckland’s transport.

  •  Brent Toderian (Vancouver’s former Chief Planner and an Auckland Conversations presenter ) says “you can’t fix traffic in a successful city – you have to change it”.
  •  “fixing” is unlikely to result in “getting the traffic moving” for all trips ie there will always be congestion at peak for single occupancy private vehicles.  
  •  in order to fix transport we need to re-think mobility and provide transport choice  (As Florian Lennert presented at the the Velo city conference last year – the future of transport is “multi-modal sustainable mobility” ). If people are provided safe, effective transport choices it will create more space on the road for the vehicles that need to be there which benefits everyone. 

Efficient & smart investment

  •  The presentation of 2 stark choices has been great for forcing the debate about much needed transport investment (and I applaud the Mayor for leading that debate) but I think we have been provided with a Hobson’s choice on the 2 plans.  All the benefits for active transport/PT are locked up in the Advanced transport programme (that also included low value roading projects)
  • Either alternative funding option is going to take at least 2 years to implement so we have to get the “basic” plan right in the meantime to meet Local Board priorities.  Can’t have a basic plan that doesn’t provide for “basic” community needs. Eg There is no cycling investment in the first 3 years of the basic plan – this is unacceptable ( feedback so far shows strongest support for AT to focus more on cycling)
  • Also if cycling investment not included in the final transport programme Auckland cannot leverage off the Urban Cycling Investment Fund established last year by the Govt- there is $90m available over the next 3 years with up to 50% ear marked for Auckland if a local contribution is available
  • There is huge demand for transport choices to include cycling and there has never been a better time to invest in cycling but the current AT investment proposal in draft RLTP means Auckland is going to miss out on the funds available

The investment model

  • I agree we need funding for transport investment other than from rates but we are letting the Government off the hook. The Government needs to bring forward their contribution on the CRL and fund PT investment in the same way as state highways – this would be a game changer for the transport budget and the level of alternative funding required
  • I accept that there is a transport investment funding gap that can not be met out of rates. I support that gap being met from fuel tax as the most preferred option. From a local board perspective motorway tolling is not desirable because of the administration cost, impact on low income households and the negative impact on local roads.

Efficient & smart investment

  • Even if we agree on alternative funding I think we have been provided with a Hobson’s choice on the 2 plans.  All the benefits for active transport/PT are locked up in the alternative funding plan
  • Either alternative funding option is going to take at least 2 years to implement so we have to get the “basic” plan right in the meantime.  Can’t have a basic plan that doesn’t provide for “basic” community needs. Eg There is no cycling investment in the first 3 years of the basic plan – this is unacceptable ( feedback so far shows strongest support for AT to focus more on cycling)
  • Also if cycling investment not included in the basic plan Auckland cannot leverage off the Urban Cycling Investment Fund established last year by the Govt- there is $90m available this financial year with up to 50% ear marked for Auckland if a local contribution is available
  • Key point – there is huge demand for transport choices to include cycling and there has never been a better time to invest in cycling but the current AT investment proposal in draft RLTP means Auckland is going to miss out on the funds available

In my concluding comments I mentioned that the Waitemata Local Board has committed to being a UNICEF accredited child- friendly area. At the heart of the initiative is controlling speed and creating an environment where kids are invited to sit, play and walk.  I quoted Rodney Tolley who said at a recent Child Friendly Waitemata workshop that “a walking city is a paradise for kids” 

I think we often forget who we are building a city for and our focus should be on making the city a great place for children (so far we have let traffic engineers design it to the detriment of everyone). 

More on the transport discussion

Transport Blog – Is PT, Walking and Cycling Advocacy “Leftist” 

Submit for an essential budget 

Council’s online submission form 

Open letter to a car addicted city – Brent Toderian’s letter to Perth (but equally relevant to Auckland)

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