New Motorway Lane

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Appearing in the letters section today of the NZ Herald:

In opening a fourth motorway lane between Newmarket and Greenlane, the New Zealand Transport Agency claims benefits of over a million dollars week to the Auckland economy, brought about by peak hour journey time savings of up to five minutes.

It is difficult to understand how this claimed economic benefit is calculated. No commuter using this section of motorway at peak times is likely to arrive at work any earlier or leave work any later – workers travel on their own time, not their employers. For a while they may enjoy an extra five minutes in bed or an extra bowl of cornflakes, but this is unlikely to add up to a million a week for Auckland’s economy.

Courier and freight companies that utilise this section of road more frequently at peak times may enjoy some cost savings, but these would hardly add up to $1m a week either.

The NZTA’s reasoning appears seriously flawed, which is a concern given the billions currently being allocated by central Government to motorway projects, while petrol prices soar to record levels.

On the otherhand, if NZTA want to use this type of economic evaluation, then the CBD rail tunnel must be worth tens of millions a week, since a single railway line can carry 10x more than a single motorway lane in an hour at peak. The CBD rail tunnel will also save more than 5 minutes at peak for Western Line passengers, who can also be productive on their mobile phones at the same time, checking emails and texts.

An odd NZ Herald article

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There is a rather strange article in the New Zealand Herald today, entitled “Aucklanders stick with cars as best way to travel”. I’m not quite sure how most popular equates to “best”, but that’s not really the issue here. The article is based around a media release by Statistics NZ on the ways in which people get to and from work:

A new analysis of commuting patterns, published yesterday by Statistics NZ, shows that the proportion taking the car to work in the Auckland region rose from 78.4 per cent in 1996 to 78.6 per cent in 2001 and 78.8 per cent in the last Census, in 2006.

Public transport’s share rose in the same period from 6.1 per cent to 6.3 per cent and then 6.4 per cent.

There were slight reductions in the numbers riding bikes and motorbikes, and the number walking to work fell and then rose slightly to end the decade slightly below where they started.

Auckland’s public transport share was puny compared with 13.4 per cent in Wellington, although still slightly better than Christchurch’s 4 per cent.

Well, so what do we really have here? Some three year old statistics that someone at Stats NZ has randomly decided to release to the media gets thrown in as  something new. Of course, this kind of data is pretty depressing from the perspective of a public transport advocate, although it’s not really surprising as Auckland’s public transport rennaisance has been particularly significant in the three years since 2006. Read the rest of this entry »

Herald Editorial on Bridge Anniversary


The Herald points out that the obvious way to mark the 50 year anniversary of the Harbour Bridge is to let people walk across it.  I agree.  After all they let people run across it for the Auckland Marathon, so what is the big deal?

But they scorn the efforts of the GetAcross campaign.

The “Getacross Campaign” is planning to mark the anniversary with an unauthorised march and cycle crossing of the bridge on Sunday, May 24. It believes that a big turnout will help its case for walking and cycle ways to be added to the bridge’s flanks. It would prove nothing of the kind.

And John Roughan must have written it:

The organisers say they will not be celebrating the bridge’s presence as they see it as a barrier to reducing Aucklanders’ reliance on cars. Buses, of course, have been using the bridge for as long as cars.The amenity cannot be blamed for the fact that most people plainly prefer the convenience and independence of personal transport.

Actually most people don’t have any choice but to use their car.  The protest march is about promoting choice – the freedom to walk or bike around Auckland should be a basic right.  Get on your boots!  See you there, Sunday 24th May, 9:00am at Pt Erin.

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