Frustrated commuters are calling for a change in retail working hours after a motorway crash caused gridlock across Auckland.
Inner-city Auckland traffic was brought to a virtual standstill last night after a motorway crash caused so much gridlock the Automobile Association described it as the worst it had seen.
For more than two hours after the accident, traffic on almost all of the city's arterial routes was gridlocked, with buses backed up in city streets and motorists reporting speeds of less than 10km/h.
Commuters say several easy options are available to help speed up Auckland's traffic woes, from placing giant screens around accident sites to bringing in a "minimum" speed on the motorway.
Several commuters suggested that traffic could be relieved by a change in retail trading hours.
"Relieve traffic by mandating that retail shops must stay open till 7pm.
That way, school traffic is at 3pm, office/manufacturing workers traffic from 4-5pm and retail traffic after 7pm. In addition, office/manufacture workers may stop to shop versus everybody getting on the roads at 5pm," wrote Darin Grentz.
Another reader compared retail hours to Los Angeles, where most shops operate from 10am to 7pm.
"This means staff are on the road at different times and some people stay in shopping centres in the 5pm to 6.30pm peak period. This also frees up weekend congestion. No capital outlay required."
Others pointed to slow drivers as major contributors. At least three people who wrote in suggested a "minimum" speed for motorists.
"Like in many countries, different lanes in motorways/highways have minimum speed limits. This helps the flowing. I've encountered many times cars going at 80, 90 km/h on the right lane when the maximum speed was 100km/h. This creates queues behind those "slow" cars," wrote Agustin Saint-Germes.
Peter Le Grice said trucks and commercial vehicles shouldn't be allowed to travel between 7.30 and 9am, a system he said had been successful in many Asian countries.
"All of their deliveries should be done at night when the roads are less busy, saving us from slow and noisy, heavy trucks in the mornings."
He also put forward the idea that trucks shouldn't be permitted to travel in the fast lanes on motorways unless they have to pass.
"How often have you been stuck behind a slow moving truck in the fast lane?"
Marcia Hogg said she and her husband wanted screens placed around accident sites.
"When (my husband) got home last night we had a chat about how if the police put up a big block out fence/screen around the whole accident, that might be a way to reduce rubberneckers."
Vanessa Blackwell agreed, arguing that putting up screens might not entirely stop the rubberneckers "but it may help".
Another reader, "Steve", said: "I would like to suggest that for minimal cost and effort, they could put a temporary screen (2-3m high plastic sheeting) around the accident scene and this would reduce the rubberneckers and the other accidents that sometimes happen after this type of gridlock."
Leighann Lawrence thought much of the CBD's traffic congestion could be attributed to having two universities in the centre of town.
"Obviously, Auckland University and AUT aren't going to move - but there needs to be some strategic design measures put in place to combat the onslaught of the students heading to the CBD - be it designated public transport for students only," he said.
A train stop at a central point for students - like Albert Park - would also help with congestion, he said.
Lissy Patterson suggested large digital monitors with traffic updates placed near motorway on-ramps to help inform motorists.
"Transit NZ has cameras on all parts of CBD motorway systems where they can update online, but why not do it in real time on location and develop an App for iPhone users too?"
Michael Ash said he was amazed that so many people travelled alone in large six-seater cars. Travelling in the mornings, he sees 95 per cent of cars only have one person in them.
"Why don't we introduce a toll on cars on motorways with one person in it, say $5, and then give that money to the bus companies to reduce the prices of using buses in rush hours?" he asked.
Ash also suggested that parents should stop dropping kids to school.
"Make them catch the bus or walk like we all used to, it's much better for them."
Avid cyclist Carl Foreman agreed that the number of cars on the road with one person in them was a problem.
"Why not make more of the left lanes on multi-lane roads cycle/bus/car pool lanes? That way if you have passengers in your car, you are making an effort to reduce the amount of cars on the road, and you should be able to use a bus lane."
Lastly, Heather Wright thinks we should hire two consultants from the California
Department of Transportation for a year to come and do an analysis of Auckland's road system.
Some useful direction on how to re-engineer the system would be worth the money, she said.
However, another reader thought California might have been partly responsible for the problem.
"The reason our current traffic system is the way it is, is due to the California Bureau of Transport advising the Auckland City Council of the time (1960's) that "the car is what people want, they don't to use public transport". We had our opportunity and we missed
it," he said.
And others believe we need to take things to the extreme .
"Somebody in council with some guts should stand and say: as from tomorrow, no private cars within a 3km radius of the CBD, a $500 fine if caught... This can be done very easily," said Rex Siebert.
"Bus lanes and clearways are just that, make them 24 / 7, if parked in there, an instant tow away by the first tow truck to pass by. Extend all bus lanes clearways in on all main roads, and certainly extend the clear way in Hobson street to the full length of the street."