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Speaker: It's called "planning" for a reason

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  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Joshua Arbury,

    if you look at the statistics you'll find that Auckland's population density is around 2200 people per square kilometre

    What counts as "Auckland" in those tables? Because the population is listed at a smidgen over 1.1 mil versus the figure of 1.4 mil that is bandied around most often about the Super City. Could it be that the figure is calculated leaving out lower density outer areas that account for the balance?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Joshua Arbury,

    The 1.1m is the contiguous urban area (rather than the "Auckland region"). It's also slightly out of date.

    Measuring population density is always a bit of a "dark art". Where does a city actually end, should we count parks & other open spaces? Should we count lakes and rivers? How about industrial areas?

    The figures will always be a bit fuzzy, but what's important to note is that generally Auckland's population density is not nearly as low as it's often made out to be. Auckland is most certainly higher density than Brisbane & Perth: two cities with extremely popular rail systems that continue to be expanded.

    Auckland • Since May 2009 • 236 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Angus Robertson,

    Angus, ignoring the digs at real estate values, there're economic benefits to large numbers of people in a small area. Auckland's CBD has an enormous per-employee GDP contribution bonus, making it the highest-value employment location in the country. Decentralisation destroys that value-add.

    Also, the tunnel isn't just about bringing people into the CBD it's also about building a proper rail network that can move many more people right across the region. It'll open up cross-town services on the east-west axis, and shorten travel times for people coming from the west into the city.
    Like it or not, the CBD is not going away. No matter how much you hate the idea of the tunnel, and the concept of the CBD, you're in a minority and also looking to a future that's dozens of years away if it ever even eventuates. For the foreseeable future, the CBD will remain the region's economic heart and will also remain the heart of tertiary education. University of Auckland has some significant building renewal and expansion projects under way, which means they're not planning on stopping course delivery out of City Campus for a good few years yet.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    1.185 is nearly 1.2 ( is 1.2 to one decimal place), not "a smidgin over 1.1".
    And what Josh said. Population of former Auckland, Manukau, Waitakere, North Shore cities, plus the immediately-adjacent populated bits of Papakura, Franklin and Rodney. The 1.4 is right to the borders, which has lots of empty bits in the middle.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    Just a comment on urban density, terraced, housing, and parking. I've been living in Santa Monica (car-less) for the last 4 weeks, and been really surprised at the urban density here, but that there is still room for pools, gardens, and barbequing. What really f***s LA, and its liveability, is that the these nice strips of high density dwellings are fronted by a very wide street (and every third street is 4-6 lanes), and in between every street is a secondary street encumbered with acres of car parking, garages and skips. If they could only halve the amount of spaces devoted to parking and roading, they'd discover they didn't really need all the extra cars, car parks, and road lanes, and it would be fricking idyllic.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Islander,

    Exactly - a sensible approach would be to have had the underemployed workers (assuming there are such people) in rural branches handle work from urban centres as well. Which they could do as effectively as if they were in an office block in Wellington.

    But no, sack one lot of people and hire others - no saving, just disrupted lives.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Just a question for you rail geeks. I had heard that NZ rail networks used a narrow gauge that meant trains were limited in speed and also means that "standard trains and carriages used elsewhere do not work on NZ rails.

    Even if that isn't true a decent rail network would require a lot of money. It would also be of tremendous benefit to everyone in Auckland, more benefit than more busses. The only issue is getting the money. How about we all agree to pay money into a pool that can be used to create a decent rail network and if necessary replace narrow gauge with wide gauge. We could agree to pay each according to their means. I'd suggest calling it a TAX or RATES or LEVY or some such word that means we pay money to get something. I'd be happy to pay I can't see why most folks wouldn't be keen to pay for something that valuable.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Auckland is most certainly higher density than Brisbane & Perth: two cities with extremely popular rail systems that continue to be expanded.

    Also two cities on flat land.

    I agree with Mark.Rickerby that binary thinking on this is crazy. It's OK to "just say" that, without fingering anyone specifically (which only contributes to a binary war). Of course we need multiple options. Practically, the car itself is still the first choice of most commuters.

    I think one of our biggest difficulties is in the integration of the transport modes. If ticketing was integrated, then buses and trains would be complementary.

    For instance, a main reason in my household not to commute to the city via train was because the train station is 2 kilometers away. I actually feel blessed to live so close to one. But the parking at the station is hopeless, and only getting worse. The main problem isn't finding a park, it's theft and vandalism.

    We could catch the bus to the train, but would have to pay for two tickets. Both of these issues impact on train usage. So in the end, my wife would catch the bus to the CBD, even though it went right past the local station on the way there. Or she would catch the train, if I would drop her off there (I'm a telecommuter), or more likely (because they just weren't reliable enough a few years back), we'd do that at the other end of the day, I'd pick her up from the station.

    I also like what Richard is thinking, regarding low-rise in the inner suburbs. I don't have a problem with more high-rise in the CBD itself, though, both of those choices would have appealed to me as a younger man, although neither of them currently appeals as much as not-so-inner, actual sub-urbanity. Where the hell am I going to park the boat in a terrace-house suburb?

    As for 'burbs themselves, they don't need encouragement. They'll always appeal to a sector, probably families, and people who work out there. The way to get people out of the 'burbs isn't to make the 'burbs stink, it's to make the inner-suburbs and the CBD more attractive.

    Currently, the biggest detractor from those areas is actually price. The virtual absence of low-rise means that living in inner-suburbs means extremely high cost-occupancy ratios.

    I'm not sure what the best kind of low-rise is, though. Terraced housing seems like an anachronism - better would surely be the apartment complex?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    It's a bit more nuanced than that. Railways overseas built to a similar gauge to New Zealand's routinely carry very large loads (South Africa, parts of Australia) and/or achieve high speeds (Japan, although not the Shinkansen which is standard gauge).

    However, the use of narrow gauge in New Zealand has enabled lines to be built with tight curves and small clearances to fit into our interesting geography with the least earthworks, which is what limits the speed of our trains in the end - the North Island Main Trunk being a case in point. The same goes for using overseas rolling stock - the overall size is more limiting than the track gauge. So trying to change the track gauge of our entire network would be pretty futile - but the expensive bit, realigning routes, building new tunnels and bridges etc., would be of benefit on heavily-trafficked lines regardless of gauge.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Yes, we have a narrow-gauge railway. It means that we have to replace at a minimum the full wheel sets of anything we import. It's a hassle, but it's not the end of the world. We also have railway manufacturing plants in Lower Hutt and Dunedin just in case there's a sudden rush of blood to the head of our overlords and they decide that building stuff in NZ might be good for the economy.

    On funding, amazingly enough there was a fuel TAX (see what I did there?) for the Auckland region that was going to fund public transport projects. New electric trains, f'rinstance. Or maybe a rail tunnel under the CBD.
    But National couldn't be having with Auckland getting power to raise its own money, because that might give the region cohesion and purpose and diminish the death-grip of Wellington's ability to meddle in Auckland's affairs. So pretty much the first thing Steven Joyce did after getting his warrant as Minister of Trucks was abolish the fuel tax, and now Auckland's left begging for money to build infrastructure that'll benefit the entire national economy.

    Of course, funding is "no challenge" for wasteful motorways to nowhere, such as Puford, possibly because B'linglish is in denial about the effect of rising fuel prices on personal road-based transport.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    May I just take a moment to bitch about the absolutely mental traffic management in central AK last night?

    Three on-ramps in a row were closed (NW-->N, Wellington st., and Fanshawe st.) leaving a backlog of traffic from Curran st. (the only active northern on-ramp), back to Victoria Park.

    Now, what sluts me off is that each closure had merely generic "Road Closed" signage, and detour indication which sent everyone in a bottleneck towards the aforementioned College Hill route. (Ironically, my initial inclination would have been to avoid Curran since that's the on-ramp that's been closed a lot recently).

    A simple sign that the motorway was closed from Fanshawe to the bridge, and I wouldn't have even gotten on at St. Lukes - rather, I'd have simply gone through Grey Lynn, saving 40 minutes.

    One could also ask, if you're going to orchestrate such an inconvenience, why do it on the last Thursday night before Christmas?

    In short, the whole experience felt like there was almost zero consideration for optimising traffic flow and avoiding confusing drivers.

    Or maybe it really was well thought out, and I missed it.

    Slightly off topic, I guess, but driving around Auckland recently has made me feel that we're far from even making the best of what we have, congestion-wise.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to James Butler,

    And successive owners have under-invested in maintenance of NIMT, to the point that a journey that used to take roughly 11 hours by rail or road now takes 9 hours by road and 11-12 hours by rail. Roading's been treated very, very well, rail has not. A lot of that under-investment goes back to the flogging-off of NZR way back when and the consequent financial rape of its assets, and recovering from that will take many years; if it happens at all, given Joyce's proclivities.

    What's more concerning is that branch lines are being closed because they're under-used due to their shit condition, which takes away the option of rail delivery of freight right at the moment where road freight is going to start getting incessantly more expensive.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Oh exactly. The other great irony is that the last big capital rail investment in NZ, the NIMT electrification in the mid-80's, coincided exactly with the deregulation of the transport industry which left the railways without the monopoly-enforced customers with which the electrification was meant to cope; so the central section of the line has run for the last 20+ years at a fraction of its (freight) capacity.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    Matthew,

    The richest people in any country are generally the most productive* (per capita). And you point out that they work in the CBD. I forsee antipathy in gifting rich people $2 billion plus in anything (including this train set). Mine is not a minority view.

    If these rich people were to pay for the tunnel themselves through ticket prices and/or a congestion charge there would be a lot less resentment (afterall since they are "very productive people" they can obviously afford it). Instead the rich ask the rest of Auckland (or indeed the rest of NZ) to pay, through fuel taxes or road user charges or general funds.


    * unless you count the last 3 years in which the bankers, insurance professionals, et al have managed to become epically unproductive.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis,

    strangely, no labour seats among them. very very strange indeed

    Not really. National won just about every rural electorate, as this map shows.

    What's more concerning is that branch lines are being closed because they're under-used due to their shit condition, which takes away the option of rail delivery of freight right at the moment where road freight is going to start getting incessantly more expensive.

    Plus the fact that road freight pays only 56% of the cost it imposes on the roading system (wear & tear), whereas rail pays 82%. It's hardly a level playing field, and the consequences are predictable.

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 528 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Angus Robertson,

    Wilfully ignoring my points won’t make their truthiness go away, Angus.

    If the whole country benefits, why should only the users pay? IBM’s survey published a couple of days ago put the drag on Auckland’s economy from congestion at 2-4% of regional GDP, which comes to billions of dollars a year. Given that we’re continually told that Auckland’s not pulling its weight (which is bullshit, given that Auckland’s contribution to the national economy is in line with its size compared to cities overseas), things which reduce congestion are good. The tunnel makes rail more useful, which reduces congestion, which benefits the regional economy and thus the national economy.

    Arguing from the position that this is entirely about “wealthy” CBD workers is ignorant, unhelpful, and makes you look like a dick. There are many, many people who work in the CBD who aren’t wealthy, and there are many, many more people who need to travel to the CBD who aren’t workers. Plus, of course, the low-income people living outside the CBD who will travel through it by rail instead of by car to get between employment and residence west and east if the cross-town rail opportunities that the tunnel will present are utilised.

    If Puford will benefit Northland so much, why don’t they just pay for it all themselves? And why does the rest of the country suck on Auckland’s road tax tit instead of paying for their own transport infrastructure? You know, since we’re playing the “If it benefits you, you should pay for it directly” game.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Mikaere Curtis,

    In the same way that the public transport funding debate is framed in terms that imply roads miraculously cost nothing to use. We never see anti-PT crusaders fessing up to the enormous, invisible subsidies that we fork out to road users by not having congestion charging.
    One of the most infuriating posters on J.Arbury's blog is a pseudo-libertarian who's not quite fully grasped libertarian principles. What he does have a grasp on, though, is that not having congestion charges is a way to let car drivers pretend their choice to drive on congested roads is free of cost to society. The whole "If you're stuck in traffic, it's not the traffic that's the problem, you are the problem" idea.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    training wheels
    re rail and road - same kind of foresight...
    Remember when Joyce allowed those big new Road Train Trucks to be introduced to NZ, and then it transpires many bridges and other infrastructure might not cope with their weight.
    Today I read , that the new Train engines, to be bought from China, may be too heavy for the rail network and have driver visibility issues - way to go planners!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7887 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    From that article...

    RMTU general secretary Wayne Butson told NZPA there were concerns about the locomotives because "they look bloody heavy".

    and:

    KiwiRail's mechanical general manager Lloyd Major said the locos had been weighed and were 105 tonnes, which was lighter than the electric locos (EFs) that currently run between Hamilton and Palmerston North (108 tonnes) and similar to the existing DX fleet.

    I think the real issue is this:

    If the locomotives had been built in New Zealand they would not have had any issues, he [Butson] said.

    Without wanting to get too deep into this debate, I'm touched by Butson's faith in local industry to magically produce highly sophisticated, specialist equipment without "any issues", when entire new mainline locos haven't been built here for decades.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    new mainline locos haven’t been built here for decades.

    I got to help photograph the Addington Rail workshops when they were decommissioned and then demolished – sadly they destroyed the workers hall as well – I have never been in a lovelier hall, all wood and warm feelings… I also got the stencil sets and a great collection of Health and safety posters from the 1930s thru to the 70s. Man, photo-offset and modern typograhy has a lot to answer for, all the posters from the mid ’60s on looked like they’d been done by a committee and had zero impact – all the great 2 or 3 colour silkscreens and rotogravure posters from earlier were brilliant – one look and the idea is bedded in your brain effortlessly… sigh

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7887 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Mikaere Curtis,

    Not really. National won just about every rural electorate, as this map shows.

    So not really cronyism at all, but rather the red-blue state divide, NZ-style.

    Plus the fact that road freight pays only 56% of the cost it imposes on the roading system (wear & tear), whereas rail pays 82%. It's hardly a level playing field, and the consequences are predictable.

    And the trucking lobby managed to astroturf its way out of doing so.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5416 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    The rural electorates are only that safe for National because a lot of potential Labour voters are on the Maori roll. That's one reason why National is keen to suck up to Tariana's lot, despite the misgivings of their racist core voters - if the Maori seats went, a lot of National MPs would lose their electorates.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    I got to help photograph the Addington Rail workshops when they were decommissioned and then demolished

    Are your photos online anywhere?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    And the trucking lobby managed to astroturf its way out of doing so.

    Incredibly, with the support of all the user-pays polly tubbies in the House. Act couldn't get on board the "Evil Labour are out to screw truckies" wagon fast enough. It was quite the exercise in cognitive dissonance.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Glenn Pearce, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Are they Railways Studios posters ? If so, they are seriously collectable these days.

    http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/culture/rail-tourism/railways-studios

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 499 posts Report Reply

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