For transport adicts:
The IPENZ Transportation Group, Auckland / Northland Branch (“The Branch”) represents the
Auckland / Northland-area professionals who are engaged in traffic and transportation engineering or planning and are associated with IPENZ, the Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand. The membership of the Branch / Group is open to engineers, scientists and any other persons professionally engaged in traffic and transportation engineering in New Zealand.
Our submission concentrates on a number of themes that we see in the draft RLTS. As such, our submission sets out the importance of these themes and what the Branch requests be modified:
· Public Transport / Active Mode Focus
The Branch supports the focus of the RLTS to invest more into public transport, especially into rapid and quality transit networks. We also consider that the proposed increases in funding and mode share for active modes are headed in the right direction. Auckland has been shown to be one of the most car-centric cities of the world in terms of transport policy and investment in the last half century, as shown by various research bodies, patronage figures and other indicators such as car ownership rates. To a degree, this is understandable due to Auckland’s spread-out settlement patterns. To a much higher degree, it is however based on policy and conscious funding decisions. Therefore, to achieve a greater balance, more transport integration and transport choice, planning and funding will have to take active steps to overcome the status quo. Further, Auckland is also running out of options. It is a truism worldwide that large cities have significant public transport systems. Auckland is increasing in both population and density, and is thus becoming both more suitable and more in need of greater public transport. Opponents of such measures point to the reduced flexibility of such modes of transport compared to those of private motor vehicles, ignoring the fact that the downsides of congestion already severely limit car flexibility, and will do so even more in the future if the status quo is retained. Also, attempting to counteract such congestion issues becomes increasingly costly, as transport space runs out or can only be provided by extensive (and highly expensive) engineering or land acquisition Therefore, public transport is more than just a “good to have” element, but is becoming a bare necessity if Auckland wants to continue productive growth.
· Regional Direction vs. National Constraints
One of the underlying themes of the draft RLTS is that while it generally aligns with a the local and national-level government strategies in its focus on integrated, public transport and active mode-focused transport planning and investment, it finds itself constrained by recent changes to the national-level GPS funding priorities. In short, the RLTS envisages a different direction for transport investment, and intends less money to be invested in roads and more money to be provided to other modes. In this, as set out in the document, it conflicts with the GPS, and may create funding gaps. We consider that as a regional document, it is acceptable for the RLTS to set a different agenda. Auckland’s transport philosophies, but also its transport issues and investment priorities, are different from those at a national level. The Branch accepts that this may result in future funding issues, where Auckland will have to either source different funding options or lobby politically for changes in the GPS allocations. We do not consider this inappropriate, especially in light of the long term view of the RLTS. Auckland should back its own strategic direction towards a more integrated transport system that supports all modes, and, in the constraints of a growing urban area, will produce more economic benefits than a road-centric approach.
· New Funding Sources
As noted above, we consider it appropriate for the RLTS to advocate spending priorities different from those of the GPS. However, we also encourage local government to investigate new funding sources for transport projects to drive the transformation to a more integrated transport system.
o In specific circumstances, especially where significant one-off funding is
required for specific large-scale projects (such as bridges or new transport
systems), private investment may be an appropriate way of sourcing extra
funding. It should however be ensured that financial risks and profits are shared
appropriately, and government does not simply provide financial guarantees.
o Private development contributions should also be considered to a greater degree
as a source of transport funding, as developers are among the most direct
recipients of financial gains from improved transport links. Contribution levels
should find a balance that does not discourage development while providing the
funding for quality transport infrastructure supporting the development.
o As discussed further in the specific comments on the objectives of Section 2, the
undisputed health benefits of walking and cycling may also offer the potential
for health funding to become transport funding and vice versa, creating greater
flexibility for transport project investment.
o Depending on existing or future legislation, transport funding may also become
available from “green” or emission trading sources. As noted earlier, the Branch also considers that funding shares for modes we consider as currently under-funded will increase again (as the success of existing public and active mode transport schemes - and the need for more provision - become widely accepted).
· Push & Pull Factors
The Branch notes that the preferred strategic option for Auckland’s future transport
systems dispenses with many of the “push” factors considered in Option 1. We consider
that these should not be discounted. Especially hidden subsidies like free parking (provided by the ratepayer via Councils, or by employers – and often mandated by District Plans setting minimum parking provisions) should be further investigated, with a view towards reducing the effect that these factors have in skewing transport towards the private car. This is especially
important because the costs of providing parking (such as construction costs and land
“used up”) are generally not included in comparisons between cars and other modes.
The Branch also accepts that road pricing is a very sensitive matter politically, but notes
that it has been shown to be one of the most effective methods to induce travel
behaviour change when “pull” factors are only of limited use. We consider that
hypothecation of all such revenues towards public transport projects would go some way
of making this more politically feasible, and that this option should therefore not be
fully discounted in the long term.
In summary, the Branch considers that the RLTS has correctly identified the major themes and
needs of transport in Auckland for the coming decades, and supports the direction of the RLTS.
The overall (approximate) 50/50 split between motor vehicle mode investment and investment in other modes is also supported as a step in the right direction.
Specific Comments, Section 2
Objective 1: Assisting Economic Development
We consider that the RLTS too quickly discounts the economic effects of public transport
investments (and solely notes that “movement of people” is considered in Objective 3).
The Branch considers that apart from pure transport and social benefits, there are also
significant economic benefits to be found in public transport. In the correct circumstances,
such as congested city environments where further road expansion is cost-inefficiently
expensive, an intensification of transport – moving more people in fewer vehicles – has
indirect but very clear economic benefits.
These include reduced economic dependency on imported fossil fuels (which contribute
heavily to trade imbalances), reduced congestion (especially compared achieving
comparable congestion reductions via costly new roads in built-up areas) and reducing the
need for valuable space being taken up by parking.
As such, we consider that the RLTS should emphasise (and research) the economic benefits
of public transport more strongly. We consider that under the right circumstances, public
transport aligns well with the national government’s current focus on economic efficiency.
Objective 2: Assisting Safety and Personal Security
We consider that the use of safety targets should be expanded to also include and
assessment of safety targets per transport mode trips / per transport mode km travelled. A
target of reducing to a certain number of fatalities or injuries alone ignores both potential
mode share change and population growth.
Objective 3: Improving Access and Mobility
Ensuring corridor and major roading upgrade projects always (from the outset on) include
assessment as to how public transport and active modes can be improved should be a major
goal. This would help ensure truly integrated transport planning.
Regarding improvements in the walking and cycling targets of Objective 3, we consider that
these are directly linked to Objective 2. In fact, the relatively modest walking and cycling
targets of this objective might be achievable by a concentrated focus on improving the
safety of these perfectly “natural” modes alone – walking and cycling need little promotion
if they are safe, and as often shown in studies of best practice (including by NZTA), a safe
design usually is also one that provides good amenity.
Objective 4: Protecting and Promoting Public Health
As with Objective 3, we consider that improvements in the walking and cycling targets of
Objective 4 are directly linked to Objective 2. The health benefits of walking and cycling are backed by significant and conclusive research, and translate directly into economic benefits (see Objective 1) by reducing sickness rates and increasing life expectancy. While not obviously the remit of a transport body, we consider it important that these benefits are publicised, and that transport authorities work more closely with health bodies.
Objective 5: Ensuring Environmental Sustainability
Sustainability of public transport is most easily achieved by high patronage rates. Therefore,
we consider that sustainability should concentrate on making public transport effective and
highly used – even if sustainability then is only a “secondary” effect compared to the more
obviously sustainability-related aspects like fuel-efficient public transport vehicles.
We also consider that by reducing overall consumption of fossil fuels in the transport
network (whether by more efficient vehicles or by more intensively used public transport),
economic benefits are gained, as per Objective 1. These should be offset against the costs of
ensuring this sustainability.
We also note that the most sustainable modes are the active modes, walking and cycling.
Objective 6: Integrate Transport and Land Use
We consider this objective is both supportive of, and supported by the provision of effective
public transport. In this regard, we consider that apart from providing better service
frequencies, public uptake is increased most effectively by improving the ease of use of
public transport in general, and by reducing and improving transfer between modes (having
to transfer between modes or services is one of the main barriers to increased patronage).
In this regard, we strongly support projects like integrated ticketing, inter-modal initiatives
like park-and-ride, or “bikes on buses” / “bikes on ferries”, and also encourage projects or
service realignments that provide improved feeder systems to RTN or QTN transport links.
Interchange stations, both “feature” and “everyday” examples, should also be a focus.
In regards to integration of land uses, we also note that active modes have significantly
reduced barrier effects, and thus ensure greater connectivity, where other transport projects
may cause localised dis-integration while trying to support the intensification of land uses as
per the Regional Growth Strategy.
Objective 7: Achieving Economic Efficiency
In regards to achieving projected benefit/cost ratios, the Branch considers it problematic that
many transport projects do not compete against each other, but only within their specific
funding bands of the GPS. While this may in some instances protect worthwhile projects
that do not produce as many directly quantifiable benefits in a BCR calculation as others,
this compartmentalisation also allows for projects with high BCR's to lose out on funding
while marginal projects (often with very significant price tags) go forward instead.
This is made worse by the fact that transport funding for Auckland projects is (and likely
will remain) fragmented between local funding, national-level land transport subsidies and
motorway projects, and separate rail funding. This structure reduces the ability of transport
planners to fairly assess the truly worthy projects region-wide.
In regards to active mode projects, we note that the economic benefits may (under current
accounting rules) not appear to be as high as those of other projects. However, especially if
included from the start of the planning process, the cost for good walking and cycling
provision are also minimal.
We also consider that fuel savings should be included in the economic assessment of active
modes. Like time travel savings, they do not accrue to the transport authority, but to the
individual user, and therefore are in the same way a measurable (and much more easily cost-quantifiable) benefit in the “benefit/cost” equation.
Specific Comments, Section 4
Section 4.7.1: Role of walking
The Branch, as set out earlier, considers that one of the best methods of promoting this
natural and inexpensive form of transport is to improve safety, which is also closely linked
to amenity (i.e. safe walking is usually pleasant walking at the same time).
The Branch considers that the proposed target of 15.3% of all regional trips to be made by
both walking and cycling in 2040 is not high enough. Further, by setting a target only for
2040 (rather than adding interim targets), it becomes too easily possible to let the required
initiative lapse politically.
We also consider that the level of detail provided for this mode is low, and specific projects
for walking in the RLTS have not been set out to any degree. Schemes or projects should be
proposed to activate the suppressed demand, rather than expecting this to occur on its own.
Section 4.7.2: Role of cycling
As with walking, improving safety and safety perceptions are considered some of the
primary keys to achieving more cycling.
The Branch considers that there should be a separate target for cycling mode share. The
combination of the cycling mode share with the walking mode share (which share some but
not all the same requirements) ensures that this mode is much more likely to remain an
afterthought in transport planning. We also consider that the level of detail provided for this mode is low, and specific projects for cycling in the RLTS have not been set out to any significant degree. As above, schemes or projects should be proposed to activate the suppressed demand.
Section 4.7.3: Role of public transport
As noted in our comments regarding the objectives of the RLTS, we consider that service
frequency and ease of use/transfer as the major requirements for improved patronage. A
further important element is of course the comparative efficiency for the user in terms of
travel time and travel cost compared to motor vehicle alternatives.
We consider that public transport is less suitable for some of the more dispersed
communities on Auckland’s fringes. Providing services here is likely to be a trade-off that
could create high subsidies, undermining the case for public transport where it works well.
The Branch therefore discourages public transport services that are too inefficient to
succeed, as being worse than no local public transport at all – for example, the provision of
services that travel only a small number of times daily could often be considered a waste of
scarce transport resources, including being contrary to environmental sustainability (though
this has to be weighed against minimum provisions for people who have no other option).
This also means that trial services for new routes should not be slimmed-down versions of
“real” provision, but need to give realistic and useful travel options. We consider that
services like the Helensville train trial have failed not only because an insufficient customer
base but also because of a lack of useful service frequencies.
Section 4.7.4: Role of private vehicles
As the most flexible way of transport for middle and long distances, the motor vehicle will
and should remain a mainstay of Auckland transport. The Branch however encourages
RLTS initiatives which ensure that the private vehicle is just one of many transport options,
contrary to the current situation, where it is perceived by many as the only realistic choice.
This will, among other results, make it easier for couples and families to dispense with
multiple cars, and retain only one vehicle shared between them.
Section 4.7.4: Role of freight
The Branch considers it important that freight traffic is improved, both in efficiency and
sustainability. It is however acknowledged that the classic “non-sustainable” freight traffic
(i.e. truck traffic) uses roads due to their inherent flexibility and (for the road user) great
cost-efficiency, and that this limits the ability to easily reduce this freight mode share.
This translates to the need to improve the flexibility and efficiency of alternative freight
modes, or of alternative freight routes, to reduce the transport, societal and environmental
effects of transport.
An indirect result of the combined roles is that a reduced emphasis on private vehicle use in
our transport system (especially on fixed routes, such as those of commuters) will increase
the ability of commercial motor vehicles to utilise a less congested existing road network.
Specific Comments, Section 5
The Branch would like to comment on the “Activities of Regional Significance”:
· Rail Electrification – We consider this project to be of great importance to Auckland,
due to its likelihood of creating a massive initial rail patronage gain (the well documented
“Sparks effect”) and due to it providing Auckland with the ability to jumpstart the next steps in improving the Auckland commuter rail system (since we consider that the success of this scheme will strengthen the case for better public transport in the years to come). It will also increase reliability of services, and reduce dependence on fossil fuels in the public transport system.
· Integrated ticketing – While less spectacular than the rail electrification, integrated
ticketing has been shown worldwide to release suppressed public transport demand by
increased ease of use, while at the same time providing valuable transport data and
synergies. The Branch strongly supports this project, and encourages transport
authorities to ensure that, despite the manoeuvring of individual transport companies,
the system become a success by ensuring and requiring full interoperability.
· CBD Rail link – The Branch considers that this project should be embarked on after
electrification of the rail network, to leverage the patronage and political capital that is
likely to be gained by successful electrification, and to ensure that the rail network can
accommodate the further increases expected and required.
· Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing / North Shore Rail – The Branch considers
that this project represents an important long-term step in improving resilience of the
Auckland transport network, and improving the connectivity for modes other than motor
vehicles. Due to the fact that motor vehicle volumes on the existing Auckland Harbour
Bridge have actually decreased in the last years, we however consider that the rail
provisions of any such (likely multi-tunnel) project be proceeded with first.
North Shore Rail should be an integral part of any such added Waitemata Crossing.
· Western Ring Route – The Branch supports the completion of the Western Ring Route,
as long as environmental mitigation for this motorway project is to a good quality level.
This especially relates to any barrier effects where the project is not underground.
Also, both the costs and the benefits of associated projects (such as bus lanes on Great
North Road, or cycle paths on the general motorway alignment) should be included in
this as parts of a corridor project, to ensure it benefits all modes.
· Avondale / Southdown Rail – The Branch supports the eventual provision of this rail
link to reduce freight movements on the main commuter lines of Auckland. However,
we understand that commuter services here are also projected to see high demand,
especially if connected to an airport link.
· Airport Rail Loop – as one of the major employment and travel centres of Auckland,
the airport is a natural destination for an extension of the rail network. It also offers the
chance to improve the efficiency of terminus lines like the Onehunga Branch or the
Manukau spur, by providing combined commuter / airport services.
· Improved SH20A/B – We do not consider this project to be of immediate significance.
While improving road access to the air port has important economic aspects, this project
should be delayed until airport rail access is provided.
· Panmure, Botany and Manukau City Centre RTN/QTN – We consider this project
to be of great importance for one of the parts of Auckland with the highest motor vehicle
mode share, and which is badly served by public transport.
We also consider it important that the route be protected for at least light rail, even if
this is not included in the initial phase, and also encourage investigation as to whether
the proposed route could be brought even further north towards the substantial
residential areas in the general vicinity of Howick.
· Manukau Rail Link – The Branch supports this project, but notes that as a short spur
line into a limited catchment, the success will likely be limited initially. Connecting it
with the Panmure, Botany and Manukau City Centre RTN/QTN would help release
efficiencies not available as a stand-alone link.
· AMETI – The Branch generally supports the improvements proposed as part of this
project scheme. We especially support improvements for public transport and active
modes, which are very marginal in the affected areas.
· Henderson, Westgate and Albany Bus RTN/QTN – The branch considers that this
link will become more important in the coming decades, as commuter travel between the
current Waitakere and North Shore cities increases.
· Northern Busway extension to Orewa – The Branch generally approves of the busway
use and extension, and notes that greater park-and-ride provisions and improved feeder
services should also be considered.
While the Branch is in general agreement with the proposed investment, we note that several of the proposed projects of especially high significance are only intended to be realised at the end of the RLTS timeframe, i.e. taking more than 20 years (such as the Airport loop and the Avondale Southdown rail link, only to be realised by 2040). Even considering the limitations of funding, some of these timeframes are considered an issue, seeing that the constraints these projects are to overcome already exist today.
In summary, the Branch considers most of the identified projects as being of great relevance,
though we have identified a number of projects of immediate significance, especially relating to improving rail patronage and ease of use of public transport (integrated ticketing). However, we consider that many of the proposed timeframes are excessively long. Further, we consider that the RLTS process should investigate whether the proposed works planned
for State Highway 16 by NZTA, which include some future-proofing for bus shoulder lanes, should be more extensive, with a view towards a long term concept of a “North-western Busway”. This would complement the RTN link provided by the Western [Rail] Line, which does not serve the communities along SH 16 further west than Pt Chevalier well, as it is located too far south.
The Branch supports the intentions of the draft RLTS. This especially extends to proposed
investment in public transport and active modes, and supports the RLTS intention to try and
achieve these aims despite different funding priorities on the national level.
The Branch asks transport authorities to further consider “push” factors towards travel behaviour change, like reducing free parking paid for by the general public, and asks for more work to be done in specifying how the walking and cycling mode share is to be increased as intended. The Branch also generally supports the proposed projects of regional significance identified in the RLTS, and especially recommends integrated ticketing and several of the proposed rail projects for prioritised realisation. However, some timeframes are considered excessively long, and better provision for future bus priority link on the North-western Motorway should be included.
The submission was prepared and presented by Pravin Dayaram and Max Robitzsch to the hearings sub-committee of the Auckland Regional Land Transport Committee.