Auckland CBD rail loop business case stacks up

The long awaited Business Case for the CBD Rail Link was finally released on Wednesday this week, and it makes a compelling case for central government investment in the project.

Just through traditional analysis of transport benefits, which usually underestimate the long term benefits of public transport projects, the economic case does stack up.

But the greatest benefits are really the wider economic benefits to the Auckland CBD, which will flow on to the country as a whole.  Greater accessibility to the CBD, without additional need for parking or congestion (which is created when tens of thousands of people try to drive into the city), will enable significant agglomeration benefits.  That means more people living and working in the CBD, higher property values, and more economic productivity.

The case for central government investment in the project is particularly strong when we contrast it with the Roads of National Party Significance (RoNS).  More than half the $11 billion allocated to these motorways, $6.1 billion, will be spent on three projects that have very poor business cases. For an excellent analysis of the dodgy dealing behind their economic analysis, see Rod Oram’s excellent column last Sunday.

It’s entirely incomprehensible to me how Treasury can back Joyce’s pet motorway projects when their implausible wider economic benefits (that is benefits that might actually flow on to the country) are at best three times less than those generated by the CBD rail loop. At worst, as the Auckland Transport officers seem to recognise, the Puhoi to Wellsford and Waikato Expressway projects will worsen congestion in Auckland because more people will live out of the city and commute in.

Do we want this from Albany to Wellsford?

It’s pretty obvious that a car based transport system will never give us the same level of mobility in and around cities that rail, walking and cycling can. Why? Because cars take up so much space, so they always lead to more congestion. Don’t even get me started on the space needed to park

This isn’t about ideology. If the Government actually wants to up NZ’s economic game, they should be investing our transport dollars in the projects that will get us the greatest bang for our buck. When it comes to reducing bottlenecks, four lanes from Wellsford and Hamilton to Auckland just isn’t going to do anything for the million people trying to get around the city. As we can see in the example of Los Angeles, more motorways have attracted new  development to the fringe of the urban area, which has led to it being the most congested city in the United States, with some of the most extreme commute times.

Auckland’s population is forcast to increase by the size of the Wellington region over the next few decades. The infrastructure we provide now will shape how that happens. We have a choice, and a huge opportunity, to do things differently. The video below shows how redevelopment of existing low density areas with lots of underused car parks can transform our neighbourhoods.

Tell the Government to fast-track the CBD Rail Loop to kick of the transformation of our largest city! Sign our petition and pass it on.

27 thoughts on “Auckland CBD rail loop business case stacks up

  1. Do we want this from Albany to Wellsford?

    You wouldn’t be able to have that north of Orewa because of the prevailing terrain – at that point, the terrain becomes far too rugged to accommodate suburban development. Of course there is nothing preventing suburban development from occurring where there is a railway line – we saw that in Sydney’s western suburbs in the 1950s, the Central Coast of New South Wales from the 1960s, the Hutt Valley in the 1950s and 1960s, and so on.

    As we can see in the example of Los Angeles, more motorways have attracted new development to the fringe of the urban area

    Not quite, if you read up your history books, the new development to the fringe of the urban area mostly occurred during the era of the Pacific Electric and Los Angeles Railway (tram) systems – the tram system was a loss leader for suburban development. Since then, metropolitan Los Angeles has densified to the point that it is the densest city in the United States (even denser than metropolitan New York).

    When it comes to reducing bottlenecks, four lanes from Wellsford and Hamilton to Auckland just isn’t going to do anything for the million people trying to get around the city.

    And it is not meant to do anything for the million people trying to get around the city. It is meant for the trucks and vehicles wanting to get to and from Northland, as well as those trucks and vehicles wanting to get between Auckland and Hamilton.

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  2. Johnston, the car-dependent development patterns in LA were driven as much by single use zoning, minimum parking requirements and general traffic engineering standards as they were by the freeways — but the sprawling strip mall and residential neighbourhoods came long after trams were bought up and dismantled by Firestone and GM. Tramways and suburban rail didn’t lead to car dependency, which is what most people mean by sprawl.

    On your last point: given that trucks and commercial vehilces make up less than 5% of the VKT in the Auckland region, and an even lower percentage of peak hour trips, spending money getting commuters off the highways is the most cost effective way of freeing up the bottlenecks for freight.

    In other words, if the Govt spends 6 billion+ on expanding state highway capacity and doing f-all for public transport and urban amenity, freight will pay for the infrastructure plus the added congestion disproportionately through RUC because they travel longer distances and RUC and FED have nothing to do with time of use.

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  3. Johnston, the car-dependent development patterns in LA were driven as much by single use zoning, minimum parking requirements and general traffic engineering standards as they were by the freeways — but the sprawling strip mall and residential neighbourhoods came long after trams were bought up and dismantled by Firestone and GM.

    Julie, if you compare the map of the Pacific Electric Railway shown on Wikipedia, which dates from 1920, and the urban area of Los Angeles today, as can be seen on Google Maps, there is a disturbing similarity – basically, where the urban area of Los Angeles ends is roughly the same area as the termini of all the old Pacific Electric routes with a few minor differences.

    Tramways and suburban rail didn’t lead to car dependency, which is what most people mean by sprawl.

    Julie, sprawl has a very specific definition, and nowhere does it mention anything about cars. Taking a look at Answers.com for instance, they refer to urban sprawl as the unplanned, uncontrolled spreading of urban development into areas adjoining the edge of a city. There is nothing there about it being car oriented, and if you really are looking at vehicular oriented evelopment, then call it vehicular oriented development. Add the word suburban if you wish.

    The sprawl of Los Angeles started with the Pacific Electric and Los Angeles railways, and that sprawl ground to a halt in later decades as the city started hitting the mountains (as alluded to earlier). We now see a metropolitan area that is the densest metropolitan area in the United States.

    On your last point: given that trucks and commercial vehilces make up less than 5% of the VKT in the Auckland region, and an even lower percentage of peak hour trips, spending money getting commuters off the highways is the most cost effective way of freeing up the bottlenecks for freight.

    Julie, whilst the CBD Loop will help in suburban Auckland, I don’t see how it will result in a reduction in traffic levels on either State Highway 1 north of Puhoi or State Highway 1 south of Huntly. The problem is that both those roads are approaching an AADT of 20,000, and of course we start to see problems with single lane roads – if you have a truck stuck in front of you, along with dozens of standard vehicles, then it is going to slow things down considerably.

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  4. I’m not sure why you keep emphasising how “densely” developed LA is. It all depends on how you measure pop density — but I think this paper explains pretty clearly why LA isn’t actually denser than New York. The LA met area is covered in tarmac and concrete, and lots of empty car parks and big box shops and very large houses. Not much open space, because 30-40% of the land area is reserved for moving or stationary cars. That keeps the people density much lower than Manhattan.

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  5. I personally don’t think sprawl is the result of too little planning! I actually think it is too much very misguided planning and traffic engineering that led to car slums. Also — did you look at Wikipedia definition of urban sprawl? I hadn’t until now, but it turns out that car dependency features very high on the list of characteristics typical of sprawl, and is right there in the first sentence.

    Urban sprawl, also known as suburban sprawl, is a multifaceted concept, which includes the spreading outwards of a city and its suburbs to its outskirts to low-density and auto-dependent development on rural land, high segregation of uses (e.g. stores and residential), and various design features that encourage car dependency.[1] As a result, some critics argue that sprawl has certain disadvantages, including:

    * High car dependence.
    * Inadequate facilities e.g.: cultural, emergency, health, etc.
    * Higher per-person infrastructure costs.
    * Inefficient street layouts.
    * Low diversity of housing and business types.
    * Higher per-capita use of energy, land, and water.
    * Perceived low aesthetic value.

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  6. I’m not sure why you keep emphasising how “densely” developed LA is. It all depends on how you measure pop density — but I think this paper explains pretty clearly why LA isn’t actually denser than New York. The LA met area is covered in tarmac and concrete, and lots of empty car parks and big box shops and very large houses. Not much open space, because 30-40% of the land area is reserved for moving or stationary cars. That keeps the people density much lower than Manhattan.

    Julie, that paper actually makes a point that I have made in the past – Los Angeles has a lot of spread out density which doesn’t make it all that good for public transport, whilst New York has concentrated density (Manhattan Island for one), which makes it a lot better for public transport.

    Of course, you would agree that New York is much more than the City of New York, and that Los Angeles is much more than the City of Los Angeles. Like Auckland is much more than the former City of Auckland, or Brisbane is much more than the City of Brisbane, and so on.

    I personally don’t think sprawl is the result of too little planning! I actually think it is too much very misguided planning and traffic engineering that led to car slums. Also — did you look at Wikipedia definition of urban sprawl? I hadn’t until now, but it turns out that car dependency features very high on the list of characteristics typical of sprawl, and is right there in the first sentence.

    I did, but that stuck out compared with the other definitions of sprawl that could be found on The Free Dictionary, Answers.com as well as Numbers USA.

    In terms of planning resulting in the negative side effects of sprawl, I doubt that was the case – people had already started shifting on masse toward their cars almost as soon as peace was declared in 1945. Indeed, most American tram systems reached their peak in the early 1920s and I would argue that it was only the combination of the Great Depression and the Second World War that they did not go under sooner.

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  7. Johnston — final point about SH1. I didn’t say the CBD Rail Loop would reduce congestion on SH1, I said that if we go ahead and spend BILLIONS running a 4 lane motorway from Hamilton to Whangarei, it will make congestion worse in Auckland and it won’t do much to help freight for this reason.

    There will always be some level of congestion at peak hour, unless you institute time of use charges. There is not enough demand on these roads to justify the billions it will cost to put in new motorways, and if we put them in it’s not even going to solve the problem. If congestion is a problem, put on some time of use tolls and invest in alternatives — i.e. rail freight or passenger trains.

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  8. In terms of planning resulting in the negative side effects of sprawl, I doubt that was the case – people had already started shifting on masse toward their cars almost as soon as peace was declared in 1945.

    You doubt very much, do you? Have you actually studied this? Because I have for years and I can tell you categorically that planning has EVERYTHING to do with the level of car dependent sprawl we see. Now, to be fair, planning was practiced by people in the 1940s-50s who were thinking cars were the future etc. But if it weren’t for minimum parking requirements imposing the cost of parking on every new building, zoning forcing land uses to be separate, and traffic engineers bowling over established walkable neighbourhoods for motorways through the heart of cities, the level of car ownership and use would be lower, because it’s so bloody expensive. The problem is that the planners and engineers just assumed the cars had to be catered for, at any cost… and that assumption became a self fulfilling prophecy.

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  9. Julie, if you think that Puhoi to Wellsford is expensive, then improving the North Auckland Line so that it is time competitive with the existing State Highway will blow things out of the water – you would need to realign the entire route through to Auckland’s North Shore, and then engage in some significant straightening work of the rest of the North Auckland Line that you would want to use.

    Also, the concern with rural roads isn’t so much peak hour congestion as in congestion at other times, and I am not just referring to long weekends. I have personally travelled on the road south of Warkworth and it took nearly an hour to get from Warkworth through to Orewa because we were in a convoy of cars stuck behind a truck – and this was on a Sunday afternoon in November!

    Furthermore, whilst induced demand theory might apply in an urban setting, I don’t see congestion on State Highway One north of Albany, nor do I see congestion on the Waikato Expressway. I am pretty sure that a similar situation exists for rural dual carriageway roads in Australia and in other parts of the world. Remember that going from a two lane road to a four lane road more than doubles capacity as the traffic flow is not forced to go at the speed of the slowest car (or truck).

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  10. You doubt very much, do you? Have you actually studied this? Because I have for years and I can tell you categorically that planning has EVERYTHING to do with the level of car dependent sprawl we see.

    Julie, I have an active interest in these topics and while planning might have played its part in the situation we have today, we didn’t even see strong agitation for improved roads until the late 1920s/early 1930s, let alone planning for an automobile focussed future. Taking the United States for instance, tram patronage peaked in 1923 and overall peacetime public transport patronage peaked in 1926. How could that decline be explained away by planning alone?

    But if it weren’t for minimum parking requirements imposing the cost of parking on every new building, zoning forcing land uses to be separate, and traffic engineers bowling over established walkable neighbourhoods for motorways through the heart of cities, the level of car ownership and use would be lower, because it’s so bloody expensive.

    Julie, I would agree that the level of car ownership would be lower under those circumstances, but it would not be as low as it was in the interwar period. As I said, in the United States, peacetime public transport patronage peaked in 1926; in New Zealand and Australia, the impact would have been a little later (and unfortunately, the New Zealand dataset does not predate 1926, with the Australian dataset being sketchy in places). I am pretty sure that your planning controls would not have come into place until after the Second World War.

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  11. I’m not necessarily arguing that rail is the best freight option north of Auckland. I’m just saying, we have to weigh up the costs of improving journey times and speeds. You seem to assume that because a road is approaching capacity or people have to travel below 100kph, we should upgrade it at any cost. That’s the mistake the traffic engineers and planners have made for over 60 years now. Is it really worth a few billion so people driving on a Sunday afternoon can go at 100kph instead of 60? How much are you personally willing to pay? If we provide the extra capacity thereby making it cheaper and easier to transport stuff from x to y, or live at a cheaper beach house and commute to Akl, people will surely do it. But that doesn’t mean the project cost was truly justified.

    Wait, is there congestion or is there not congestion on the rural parts of SH1? First you said there was, now you say there’s not. The only thing worse than induced demand is induced development, which then leads to much higher demand. And I doubt the topography would be a serious barrier to residential sprawl north of Orewa and south of Bombay (maybe less demand south because there’s no beaches) — there’s challenging topography in Whangaparoa yet it’s crowded with houses and some strip development…

    In the Business Case statement for 4-laning Puhoi to Wellsford, it states that the aim of this RoNS is to improve access to Auckland and reduce bottlenecks. I’m saying it’s not the most cost effective way to do that.

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  12. I’m not necessarily arguing that rail is the best freight option north of Auckland. I’m just saying, we have to weigh up the costs of improving journey times and speeds. You seem to assume that because a road is approaching capacity or people have to travel below 100kph, we should upgrade it at any cost. That’s the mistake the traffic engineers and planners have made for over 60 years now. Is it really worth a few billion so people driving on a Sunday afternoon can go at 100kph instead of 60? How much are you personally willing to pay?

    Julie, if you want to get people and goods to and from Northland in the quickest way possible, then of course a road where you are forced to travel at 60km/h or 80km/h because of a truck in front of you is not a good thing. In a rural setting, if a road is approaching capacity (especially a two lane road), then it needs to be upgraded. Once we hit urban settings or four lane roads, then it is a different situation. In my own personal situation, I happily paid $2 for the toll road the other day because it was a smoother and faster route, and I would personally be happy to pay between $5 and $10 for the route to Warkworth and a little more to Wellsford.

    If we provide the extra capacity thereby making it cheaper and easier to transport stuff from x to y, or live at a cheaper beach house and commute to Akl, people will surely do it. But that doesn’t mean the project cost was truly justified.

    If it becomes cheaper and easier to transport stuff from Whangarei to Auckland, then Whangarei benefits as industry can locate themselves there in much the same way as industry has located themselves in Hamilton and Tauranga. That benefits the overall Northland economy, which do not forget, is one of the worst performing in New Zealand. In terms of the cheaper beach house, the word cheaper makes it all the more obvious – part of the reason why people are driven to places like this is because they can no longer afford to own their own homes in Auckland itself, in part because of all the planning regulations that are being advocated by the New Urbanists, et. al.

    Wait, is there congestion or is there not congestion on the rural parts of SH1? First you said there was, now you say there’s not.

    Julie, to clarify, the parts of State Highway One that are dual carriageway are not congested, the parts of State Highway One that are single carriageway are congested.

    The only thing worse than induced demand is induced development, which then leads to much higher demand. And I doubt the topography would be a serious barrier to residential sprawl north of Orewa and south of Bombay (maybe less demand south because there’s no beaches) — there’s challenging topography in Whangaparoa yet it’s crowded with houses and some strip development…

    If you look at the terrain layer of Google Maps, you can see that there is a massive difference between the Whangaparaoa Peninsula and the area north of Orewa – the only place where development could be viable is in the Kaipara Flats – Warkworth – Matakana area.

    South of Bombay, the situation is much much different terrain wise; don’t forget that much of that part of the Waikato is flat.

    In the Business Case statement for 4-laning Puhoi to Wellsford, it states that the aim of this RoNS is to improve access to Auckland and reduce bottlenecks. I’m saying it’s not the most cost effective way to do that.

    Yes, you would much rather have people stuck travelling at 60km/h to 80km/h because there is a truck stuck in front of them. Given enough time, that route would grind to a halt.

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  13. Johnston, you still don’t address the issue. Is upgrading the road worth it? You just say it NEEDS to be upgraded because we have to get freight as fast as possible between Northland and Auckland. But there is point when the cost of increasing capacity and speed outweighs the economic development benefits. That point has probably been reached.

    The NZTA just said a few weeks ago that Puhoi to Warkworth would take 5 to 7 minutes off journeys to Auckland. Do we really think that adding up 5 to 7 minutes of thousands of individual trips will result in transformational economic benefits to Northland? (The whole project will be in the Auckland region, by the way).

    Yes, you would much rather have people stuck travelling at 60km/h to 80km/h because there is a truck stuck in front of them. Given enough time, that route would grind to a halt.

    Either people won’t make those trips because it’s not worth it to them to be stuck in traffic, or they will find alternatives, or they’ll be willing to pay a toll (which would be well over $2 or $5… in France you can pay up to $100NZD to travel 200km on the autoroute) that would fully fund the project. But the studies I have seen around these projects do not suggest there is that willingness to pay, which means it’s not worth it to the market. But if the Govt does a cross subsidy with fuel taxes and RUC and throws it all into a few motorway projects that no one has to pay for directly, of course people will use it. That’s not a productivity gain on the national scale though… it’s a transfer.

    The affordable housing situation is very complex … but don’t blame the new urbanists. First of all a capital gains tax on investment property is order. But I think one of the main reasons walkable neighbourhoods in the city are expensive is because there isn’t enough supply to meet the demand. People want to live there, so the price goes up. A survey in the states found the market share for that type of development was 30%, but the supply was only 2%. That’s in a large part due to planning regulations that make it hard to supply. Regulations like minimum parking requirements and traffic engineering standards have led to 30%+ of the land in our urban areas being reserved for vehicles, this imposes a huge cost on urban development that flows through into high prices for productive land.

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  14. The NZTA just said a few weeks ago that Puhoi to Warkworth would take 5 to 7 minutes off journeys to Auckland. Do we really think that adding up 5 to 7 minutes of thousands of individual trips will result in transformational economic benefits to Northland? (The whole project will be in the Auckland region, by the way).

    Based on what parameter? Was that five to seven minute saving based on the existing route being clear? If you look at it in those times where you are stuck behind a truck, then the time saving will be even higher. Of course, the greatest time saving will be at holiday times, but that isn’t the reason for my support of Puhoi to Warkworth (note, I don’t see much point in Warkworth to Wellsford yet).

    I am aware that the entire project will be in the Auckland region, but it will provide stronger links between Auckland and Northland in a way that the current State Highway fails to do.

    Either people won’t make those trips because it’s not worth it to them to be stuck in traffic, or they will find alternatives, or they’ll be willing to pay a toll (which would be well over $2 or $5… in France you can pay up to $100NZD to travel 200km on the autoroute) that would fully fund the project. But the studies I have seen around these projects do not suggest there is that willingness to pay, which means it’s not worth it to the market. But if the Govt does a cross subsidy with fuel taxes and RUC and throws it all into a few motorway projects that no one has to pay for directly, of course people will use it. That’s not a productivity gain on the national scale though… it’s a transfer.

    If people do not make the trips, then the Northland economy will suffer as people will not be enticed to go there (I would note that when passenger trains to Northland existed, it took five hours to get from Auckland to Northland, so that isn’t exactly a viable alternative). Given how poor Northland is, we need as much incentive as possible to get business and people to go there.

    The affordable housing situation is very complex … but don’t blame the new urbanists. First of all a capital gains tax on investment property is order. But I think one of the main reasons walkable neighbourhoods in the city are expensive is because there isn’t enough supply to meet the demand.

    The US has a Capital Gains Tax and so does Australia, and yet their housing prices went nuts, so I don’t think that a Capital Gains Tax will fix the problem. Furthermore, the issue is not about walkable neighbourhoods being expensive, it is about all housing being expensive – to service a mortgage on the median house price, you need a household income in the low six figures, and that is much higher than the present median household income.

    People want to live there, so the price goes up. A survey in the states found the market share for that type of development was 30%, but the supply was only 2%. That’s in a large part due to planning regulations that make it hard to supply. Regulations like minimum parking requirements and traffic engineering standards have led to 30%+ of the land in our urban areas being reserved for vehicles, this imposes a huge cost on urban development that flows through into high prices for productive land.

    Again, the problem isn’t walkable neighbourhoods, the problem is that all neighbourhoods are expensive. There is no suburb in Auckland with a median house price of less than $200,000 and there are few suburbs in Auckland that have a median house price of less than $300,000.

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  15. Brian Rudman in the New Zealand Herald is thrilled that the new Auckland Council is speaking with one voice and
    has “emerged fully grown with a mind of its own.” He consequently argues that Transport Minister Stephen Joyce should give in to their demands and allow these city leaders to shape Auckland’s future.

    On the basis of the international evidence, the Minister should stand fast.

    We must only wish Auckland’s new growth had delivered a decent dose of maturity.

    Instead, it has emerged with the stature of a brash teenager and with a mind full of mush.

    Mike Lee has declared that building an underground railway to unclog the roads of the largest business district should deliver a new level of economic benefits.

    The problem is that there is simply no example of a case where retrofitting urban rail into a New World city has unclogged the roads, or even measurably reduced congestion.

    He went on to say “This is the CBD of New Zealand Inc, not out in the boondocks” presumably making a negative comparison with the proposed Northland Highway which he and his colleagues like to refer to disparagingly as “the holiday highway”, which simply indicates they have seldom used it.

    The fact is the “Holiday Highway” is well placed to promote extensive development of industrial and commercial employment centres in the North of Auckland. Dairy Flats is well placed to become Auckland’s Silicon Valley. And the Northern Highway is well placed to play the role of Highway 101 linking Silicon Valley to San Francisco and Highways 880 and 680 in linking Silicon Valley to Berkeley and Livermore. Silicon Valley is the heart of innovation in California. In the sixties it was farmland but is now is home to more people than the city of San Francisco.

    All the US centres of innovation are in cities which have promoted growth on the fringe. No CBD is the home to manufacturing. Most CBDs provide business employment for “ticket clippers”, service workers and government employees. (However, they are increasingly the centre of cultural events and where people celebrate their diversity, and where creative folk meet and interact.)

    Auckland Councillor Wayne Walker claimed the economic benefits (of the inner city rail tunnel) were based on taking cars off congested roads, whereas the new highway would bring more traffic to Auckland. Wayne Walker’s mind is stuck in the mono-nucleic Manhattan model of large cities. Most successful New World cities are multi-nucleic with dispersed centres of employment and residential neighbourhoods. As demographic geography Phil McDermott says “Auckland should develop as a “polycentric connected city” in which residential areas and employment centres are dispersed rather than jammed into the centre. Auckland’s agglomeration (densification) has not delivered gains over the last decades – indeed the affect of increased agglomeration (density) has been negative.

    Urban Affairs expert Brian Rudman disagrees. (NZ Herald Nov 26th pA6) He says Auckland needs increased agglomeration at the centre to ensure an effective density of highly productive industries, busily exchanging staff and ideas as they merrily prosper away.”

    He declares “the more businesses you can pack into the CBD the faster national living standards will rise.”

    No they won’t. You can only fit so many more brothels and fast food outlets into Auckland CBD. The CBD is hopelessly unattractive for any start-up venture unless it is a new finance company or a software development service centre.

    Auckland needs its own Silicon Valley and it won’t pop up in Fort Street.

    Auckland is already far too dense for its roading network, and the transaction inefficiencies are dragging down the economy of the central area.

    Maybe Mr Rudman could identify a new productive industry in central Auckland. In other New World cities these activities take place on the peri-urban periphery were land can be cheap – unless supply is strangled by Metropolitan Urban Limits and other planning constraints. There is little or no congestion and the next Apple Computing company can get started in a Totalspan shed with a rented motor-home providing quality office space.

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  16. gee owen..a good argument for rail up the north shore..eh..?

    i thought you were anti-public transport..?

    ..and there you go..making the case…

    ..eh..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  17. Since stuffing up by building Britomart as a dead-end rail siding, it has always been the case that FIXING that problem was going to be expensive.

    Having the loop route makes a big difference to capacity and scheduling.

    ciao
    BJ

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  18. Since stuffing up by building Britomart as a dead-end rail siding, it has always been the case that FIXING that problem was going to be expensive.

    It was more building it as a dead-end rail siding with only two approach tracks. Dead-end rail sidings can work if they have more approach tracks (Adelaide has six if memory serves), and if it had been built with both the Quay Street corridor and the Beach Road corridor, then we would have been fine for at least thirty years. Had the light rail system been built, then four approach tracks would have been sufficient for an indefinite period.

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  19. How does providing the roading network and the residential and industrial areas to create a NZ Silicon Valley around Dairy Flats or somewhere have anything to do with rail in Northland?

    The Green obsession with rail means that every issue is reduced to a single track.

    RE: New York density. My density figures are calculated on the standard international basis of the population of the urban area. Manhattan is a highly concentrated area of employment within the New York urban area which of course extends across the rivers and into Albany and Newark etc. So New York has a density pattern of a large area of very low density suburbs with a high concentration of residences and employment on Manhattan. On the other hand Los Angeles has few concentrations of employment (none like Manhattan) and its density is spread evenly over a very large urban area.
    The most successful cities in North america at the moment are smaller regional centres (rather like Auckland) and with some concentration in the CBD but with most residential suburbs and employment on the perphery.
    Places like Raleigh, Atlanta, Dalles Fort Worth.
    See The Rise of the Efficient City by my friend and colleague Joel Kotkin at the New Geography web site.

    http://www.newgeography.com/

    And I am sure many of you will relate to the latest essay about “Love and the CIty”.
    Read the two together and consider what kind of city is most likely to deliver Larry Beasley’s Ideal.

    Finally, John-ston our narrow surface streets (cf the boulevards of Melboure or Minneapolis) are simply not wide enough for a light rail network. That is why the tram tracks were torn up in the first place. Hilly cities tend to have narrow surface streets – remember Auckland’s main streets were built with barrows and shovels.

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  20. That is why the tram tracks were torn up in the first place.

    Owen, you would find that our tram tracks were torn up because the trams that were travelling on them were old and worn. 40% of our total tram fleet were made up of the M Class of 1908-23, with the remainder being split evenly between the pre-1908 trams and the post-1923 trams. The only Australian cities that had modern trams at the time were Melbourne (mostly because they didn’t even get electric trams to any significant extent until the 1920s) and Brisbane (they had engaged in a massive fleet renewal in the 1930s), and both would have kept them. The only reason why Brisbane’s trams went in the end was because of the Paddington Depot fire of 1962 which destroyed a fifth of the fleet.

    I would note that Wellington, with even narrower streets, kept their trams until 1964.

    Hilly cities tend to have narrow surface streets – remember Auckland’s main streets were built with barrows and shovels.

    Our surface streets aren’t all that narrow compared with the rest of Australasia; all the streets were designed to a one chain width, which turns out to be enough for two tram tracks, two vehicular lanes and parking. The only difference was in the developments of the 1920s and 1930s when roads started getting wider – in Melbourne and Brisbane, these were accompanied with tram network extensions. In Auckland, it wasn’t.

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  21. Owen McShane (1,084) Says:
    November 29th, 2010 at 4:09 pm
    The great debate has truly begun.
    Some Auckland councillors and commentators like Rudman seem determined that Auckland Council should fail and follow the fate of Montreal, and what seems about to happen in Toronto.

    Montreal de amalgamated only two years after its birth.
    Toronto seems about to follow suit.
    In both the tensions between central city and the surrounding suburbs proved unmanageable.
    The Toronto story is here:

    http://www.newgeography.com/content/001890-toronto-election-highlights-failure-amalgamation.

    It does not help when a councillor describes Wellsford and Warkworth as “the boondocks”.

    Also I have challenged the rail enthusiasts to provide just one example of a New World City where retro fitted rail has created the transformation claimed by the consultants.
    I got this response from one of my colleagues in the US who edits TOLLROADs mag which focuses on congestion and cures that work. Notice the specificity – retro fitted New World cities.

    “You are absolutely right Mr McShane:

    The American experience is conclusive: retrofitting urban rail into American cities has NOT unclogged any highway, anywhere, at any time in the last 40 years. Washington DC and San Francisco both have extensive networks of modern urban rail, and worse highway congestion than ever. MIami FL, Atlanta GA, Portland OR, Baltimore MD and Dallas TX have installed urban rail along major highway corridors. In not a single case can it be demonstrated that highway congestion has been relieved.

    The reason is simple: for the vast majority of trips urban rail can never compete with the speed and convenience of road vehicles’ door-to-door service. People and their belongings have to get to a station at one end of the trip and from a station at the other end of the trip. And regardless of the top speeds the trains can attain everyone in that train has to stop and start every time a passenger has to be gotten on or off the train. So almost regardless of the taxpayer money poured into urban rail it will never attract more than a tiny percentage of people from their cars. And how could it help the service and delivery people who constitute a considerable percentage of traffic flow.

    There is often a valid case for alternatives to the private car – carpooling, van, bus – and sometimes special lanes and other facilities are justified. But note: all these are highway based.

    Highway congestion can and should be tackled – with proper pricing of road space according to its scarcity, and by responding to measures of high value with selective additions to capacity where prospective road use fees will pay for them.

    The recent elections in the US have seen the defeat of a whole slew of elected officials advocating rail. Several governors have come to power campaigning against the folly of rail – most notably New Jersey’s Chris Christie who is something of a national hero for cancellation of the New Jersey Transit project for another rail tunnel boondoggle to New York City. If urban rail had been successful how could this have happened?

    Peter Samuel
    editor TOLLROADSnews

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  22. Owen, the problem is that people have treated transport as an either or situation, where it really needs to be both. There has been a limited investment in transport networks globally, and if you really want to solve congestion, then there needs to be further investment.

    Of course, one of the reasons also that rail hasn’t been as successful as hoped in some instances is because of certain operational attitudes. We have those who want stations to service every little area – I note Perth’s Mandurah Line has only got ten stations along its 72 kilometres, and given that it only takes 50 minutes to get from one end to the other, that gives an average speed of 90km/h.

    Also, I think that Auckland’s amalgamation was more necessary than Montreal or Quebec, largely because we don’t have that secondary layer of government here that the Canadians, the Australians and the Americans have. While it is fine for smaller centres, it is a problem for a centre such as Auckland.

    Highway congestion can and should be tackled – with proper pricing of road space according to its scarcity, and by responding to measures of high value with selective additions to capacity where prospective road use fees will pay for them.

    Finally, why should someone pay for a road that has already been paid for through fuel taxes?

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  23. There are two different issues. Taxes pay for the construction.
    But pricing of roads can have a major effect on congestion.
    The most successful and efficient means of road pricing is HOT lanes.

    Congestion pricing is not a means of paying for the road – it is a means of using it most efficiently.

    I do not follow your argument about levels of government at all. And we are seeing the urban peri-urban split emerging here much more rapidly than it did in either Montreal of Toronto. Read the Toronto essay and look at the total divide between the election results in central Toronto and the outer “wards”.

    The best way to reduce congestion is to allow the trip generators to “churn” in response to demand. The low congestion cities allow both employment and residential areas around the periphery and encourage cross down and outward commuting, rather than insisting (or assuming) that everyone heads towards the centre on every trip. Commuter trips are now the minority of trips in modern cities. And why are taxis and shuttles never counted as public transport providers. Shuttle are increasing more rapidly than other public transport modes but are never figured in. How will a rail link to the airport compete with the excellent service provided by all the hotel shuttles?

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  24. A comment elsewhere suggests that because Samuel writes a mag called TOLLROAD NEWS he is biased.
    It is a specialist research based magazine dedicated to examining all the road pricing systems in the US and elsewhere.
    The US has made massive investments in HOV lanes, and HOT lanes and PPPS and so on and they generate a multitude of studies.
    You could say it was biased but you could equally say a magazine devoted to improving the efficiency of Dairy farms was biased against sheep.

    I know Peter Samuel and his presentations at international conferences have always been cool and analytical.

    He has written an excellent summary of the Stockholm experiment and I think you will look hard to find any other sane commentary on this well managed programme which set up a trial period and then held a referendum as to whether it should continue. I think you will agree it is hardly the work of a biased fanatic or whatever.
    Go to:
    http://www.tollroadsnews.com/node/120

    Peter Samual quotes these impressive numbers:

    Trial background

    “The congestion toll trial ran Jan 3 to July 31 2006. Traffic as measured by volume of vehicles entering or leaving the central area cordon 0630-1830 weekdays fell by 22%. On a 24 hour basis the drop was 19% or 100k entries and exits (passes).

    Congestion was also substantially reduced on approach roads, remained about the same on belt routes, and increased on expressways on the edges of the central area expressways – 5% on the the north south E5 Essingeleden motorway and 19% on the east-west underground Sodra Lanken (Southern Link).

    Reduction in private cars was 30%, trucks 10%.

    Queueing times on the inner city approaches were reduced by a third in the morning peak and by half in the afternoon peak.”

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  25. I do not follow your argument about levels of government at all. And we are seeing the urban peri-urban split emerging here much more rapidly than it did in either Montreal of Toronto. Read the Toronto essay and look at the total divide between the election results in central Toronto and the outer “wards”.

    Owen, let us consider one of the cities that Auckland is competing with, and for the sake of simplicity, I will choose Brisbane. Brisbane is a nice example because population wise, it isn’t much larger than Auckland and the state of Queensland has about the same number of people as New Zealand.

    Brisbane has benefitted hugely from having the Queensland State Government pour billions into infrastructure investment in it since the days of Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen (the 1970s). This is helped by the fact that there aren’t any real competing needs for infrastructure, as the other cities in Queensland (Cairns and Townsville) are much smaller than Brisbane and would be similar in size to Hamilton or Tauranga.

    On the other hand, if Auckland wanted any infrastructure, it had to go cap in hand to central government in order to get it. Of course, that had to be balanced with the needs of other parts of the country, and as a result, Auckland has been short changed in some respects. With the new Auckland Council, we get a body that is similar in some respects to the State Governments in Australia – it is easier for Auckland to get the infrastructure it wants than when it was made up of a disparate group of local bodies.

    I do agree though that the Auckland Council did stretch too far into rural areas, and I would have preferred the northern end of Rodney to have been merged with Kaipara District and placed under Northland.

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