Flash mob for CBD rail loop

The Budget is fast approaching and so far the government has shown no sign that they will fund the CBD rail loop.

In fact, their latest Government Policy Statement on transport funding shows that over the next 10 years they’re planning to spend $7 on roads for every $1 they spend on sustainable transport options such as bus, rail, walking and cycling.

And a shockingly high proportion of that ($11 to $15 billion) will go into building new and even crazier Roads of National Significance.

Meanwhile, it’s just been announced that yet another Auckland public transport project (the Manukau Spur) has been delayed and won’t open till next year. Auckland trains and buses are packed to bursting. And another survey (PDF) has just come out which confirms that Aucklanders think their public transport sucks.

Well, ok, that might be over-stating it but the latest Quality of Life survey does show that Aucklanders have a significantly lower opinion of the quality of their public transport system than residents of any other major city in NZ.

What’s the government’s solution? To spend $2 billion on a highway from Puhoi to Wellsford that most Aucklanders only use 5 times a year.

Aucklanders are fed up with a government that won’t listen to them and so am I. I’m organizing a flash mob this weekend to promote the need for the government to stop pouring billions into crazy motorways and instead fund urgently needed public transport projects like the CBD rail loop.

I hope you can join me – it’s our last chance to promote the need for more funding for public transport before the budget.

Walking Train to Promote CBD rail loop

  • When: 11 am, Saturday the 14th of May
  • Where: meet at corner of K Road and Pitt Street, then follow the route of the loop down Queen Street to Aotea Square and then Britomart

19 Comments Posted

  1. Nothing has to be imported

    bjchip, the reality is that New Zealand would only have the two suburban rail networks, both of which would only need to undergo fleet renewal every thirty years or so, so there would be little point in having EMU construction facilities that might only get used every decade or so. Even the Australians struggle to be cost effective, and there are five suburban rail networks there, undergoing the same constant process.

  2. Sustainability is not just about energy use. Roads require tyres which wear out much faster than wheels on a train wear out running on steel rails. This applies whether the tyres are on cars, buses, taxis, bicycles, motor bikes or trucks, although the more weight, the faster the wear.

    Car accidents are also not sustainable. There are very few train accidents.


  3. Yes, but many people are advocating light rail for Auckland.
    And if we are going to maintain high frequencies for heavy rail our low population and dispersed employment means that the heavy rail will operate with only a few carriages and will have a similar limitation to capacity.
    That is what I found in my analysis of the Rail Airport heavy rail connection. Doomed.

    My main point is that if we want a sustainable city (whatever that may mean) then we must not let the transport tail wag the land use dog. Cities churn and are churning at an unprecedented rate. Of course we need public transport and it is our good fortune and good management that we have such an efficient taxi and shuttle bus fleet. We can certainly improve our efficiency of infrastructure use by building HOT lanes.
    It may take some time to adopt the new technologies in the wings but it takes a lot longer to signficantly change urban form – unless the Luftwaffe or earthquake clears the decks. And the Christchurch earthquake will make Christchurch more dispersed not less.

  4. Owen,

    You are thinking with an assumption that resources will always be available to power economic growth forever. There is a lot of evidence that the abundance we’ve known in the past is coming to an end. All government plans also assume unlimited resources. We have to alter than base position. The resources needed for road building is a waste, in this reality. Again, the government isn’t building roads for all of those uses you claim, it is building them for an assumed increase in motorised personal transport.

    And, by the way, air travel will be abandoned, firstly because it will become unaffordable and secondly because the resources needed to operate them won’t be there.

  5. Owen, don’t forget that the Portland MAX Rail system is a light rail system, and thus has a much lower capacity than a heavy rail system like what is proposed for Auckland.

    In saying that though, buses can perform really well in certain circumstances. I read somewhere that more passengers use South East Busway services in Brisbane than any of the suburban rail lines in Australia (of course it helps that most of those suburban rail lines are operated incompetently).

  6. The highest-throughput mass transit facility in America is a simple busway managed by the Port Authority of New York-New Jersey (PANYNJ). On weekdays between 6:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m., PANYNJ operates a 2.5 mi eastbound contra-flow Exclusive Bus Lane (XBL) along westbound Route 495 to Lincoln Tunnel from the New Jersey Turnpike. The XBL carries 1,700 buses and 62,000 passengers each morning, on average, saving about 15-20 minutes in travel time. This averages about 1 bus every 8 seconds for a 4-hour period, with roughly 37 seated passengers per bus.
    The highest-throughput location on the Portland MAX Rail system is at the Steel Bridge, where four light rail lines must cross. Currently there are 74 in-bound trains between 6-10 a.m., on weekdays, or one train every 3.24 minutes. Based on the theoretical maximum number of seats, we could expect roughly 10,404
    passengers at most.
    The Lincoln Tunnel XBL throughput is 5.9 times higher, and that’s not even the theoretical maximum, that’s the observed daily usage. The average weekday use of MAX crossing the Steel Bridge at the peak period is far lower than 10,404 because most trains are not full except for a brief, two-hour
    We have to compare the actual performance of different modes – not their theoretical performance. As for building trains in NZ as a benefit, that argument says we should abandon air travel because we have to import planes or build them here.

    Too many of the public transport debates are debased to trains vs commuter cars. Roads carry far more modes and trips that rail will ever carry because our cities are now dispersed and the 2010 US census shows they are dispersing more rapidly than before. Employment density determines the viability of mass public transport (see New York above). CBD’s provide a lower share of regional jobs every day. These dispersed cities need more shuttles, jitneys and other small flexible public transport modes, rather than high speed high (unused) capacity trains which can only serve a small minority of travellers in the modern city.

  7. Because Auckland is not a major city in relative terms (face it guys), and many of those trains grew with their already relatively large cities and were not having to be backfilled. Auckland made choices in the 40s 50s and 60s, rightly or wrongly. It will be hugely expensive to revisit that.

  8. Look outside the square people.. roads are OK if trucks & cars are the only options (buses too) but why not support giving the people another option. TRAINS.. TRAINS & MORE TRAINS !! like they have in most major cities around the world. Kia-ora

  9. Owen,

    I wasn’t aware that the Romans made their way down to New Zealand.

    However, what you’re writing about is, perhaps, efficiency and usefulness, not sustainability. BJ has dealt well with the former.

    Government investment in roads is about a misguided notion that personal transport will only increase. I realise that you share that blinkered notion but many here don’t.

    In terms of sustainability, I’m not sure either rail or roads is sustainable but if we really want a sustainable society then I think rail would probably be more in keeping with a sustainable society than the kinds of roads envisaged by governments and you.

  10. I cannot see why rail is more “sustainable” than roads.

    1. Rolling resistance/friction is minimal. Hysteresis of rubber tires and the resulting heating are indicative of lost energy.

    2. Power to a rail system can be electrical with CURRENT technology.

    3. Number of vehicles needed to be built to transport people is smaller (the vehicles are shared). This COULD be addressed by some innovative automotive technology and social adjustments. I can imagine things but it hasn’t happened.

    4. Predictable power profiles allow optimization for speed/distance.

    5. Aerodynamic drag is largely skin friction.

    6. Less space required for the right-of-way per passenger-kilometer.

    7. Fewer accidents, more reliable bad-weather operation.

    8. WE CAN BUILD AND FIX TRAINS HERE. Nothing has to be imported, shipped to NZ, in particular not thousands of used Japanese cars and foreign built buses.

    9. Less embodied energy in the form of rail and ties and roadbed compared to the concrete and asphalt creation? I am not SURE of this, but I think it is true.

    10. Even non-electrified rail CAN pull large loads burning nothing but wood. The use of such engines (larger than most trucks to start with) for trucks would be difficult, for cars, almost impossible.

    …and comparing transit modes at the end of a pronounced period of biased and bewildering policies that favor road traffic is not a correct way to evaluate them. You have to have the fncking taxi’s because there’s nothing like a real train/tram/monorail/godKnowsWhat system in the place. You have to have the fncking buses (which are packed too), for the same reason.

    You may disagree with some of MY reasons but the sustainability of rail vs what we are doing now with roads is pretty clear to me.


  11. I cannot see why rail is more “sustainable” than roads.
    The Romans built roads and we still use them. Rail lines have a short history and that history is full of closures because cities and settlements “churn” and rail is inflexible.
    Roads carry the following modes: walking, horseriding, cycles, motor cycles, cars, taxis, shuttle buses, buses, vans, trucks and soon a host of e-vehicles.
    Rail carries trains and trams and even those need their own tracks.
    Mike Lee said with great enthusiasm that Auckland rail was now carrying 6 million passengers a year – a great increase. Taxis alone carry 20 to 25 million a year – with no subsidies.
    Buses in Auckland carry up to 80 million.

    The late Manukau link was based on a cost of 40 million. Current costs are running at over 90 million – for 1.8 km. Heavy rail projects typically come in at about 1.4 times the “foot in the door” first estimate. (International research). The Manukau Bridge and the Newmarket Viaduct both came in ahead of time and underbudget.

    YOu can decide for yourself what is most “sustainable” and why the Government might be nervous about 1 billion dollar investments in rail – given that they are almost certain to come in at over 1.5 billion. To make matters worse the ridership figures for rail is always less that forecast. So revenues are lower and costs are higher.

    Where would you put your money?

  12. It is pretty hard to believe that the line between Auckland and Hamilton isn’t electrified, the Auckland rail lines themselves aren’t electrified, the train sets aren’t being built here in NZ in spite of the jobs that this would support and the government dislikes the folks in Paraparaumu so much that it will ram a 4 lane expressway through the center of the city…

  13. Meanwhile, it’s just been announced that yet another Auckland public transport project (the Manukau Spur) has been delayed and won’t open till next year.

    To be honest, that should be delayed until the EMUs arrive – there are no new train sets arriving until the EMUs (the extra carriages are to lengthen existing trains), and the number of trains required to maintain ten minute frequencies are equal to the number of train sets that we would have if everything were four or six car (Onehunga services excepted). Two car sets already get packed running Otahuhu to Auckland via Glen Innes, and adding the busy stations of Middlemore and Papatoetoe will just mean that passengers at Orakei, Meadowbank and possibly Glen Innes might not even be able to board.

    Of course, in the mean time, Western Line passengers get six car sets running at ridiculous hours (there was one service that had a six car set which departed either Swanson or Waitakere at a little before 6, then again around 8:30, neither of which would be considered to be peak hour).

  14. “I think that’s called a protest, not a flashmob.”

    That’s the difference between a progressive force that actually deals with where we are now and one that tries to re-fight the battles of the 1980s and 1990s being made clear.

  15. I hate the word “sustainable” being bandied about at random. Walking is sustainable but rail, bus and bike aren’t intrinsically sustainable, though any unsustainability may be able to be absorbed by a sustainable society. Please use the word in its proper context and maybe we’ll have a chance of giving it some credibility again.

    Other than that, good points.

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