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Your Views: How do we solve Auckland's transport mess?

In the latest move to ease Auckland's transport mess, the Auckland city council plans for aggrieved Aucklanders to dob in the red-light runners by calling 0800 Stop 4 Red (0800 786-747) with registration details, colour and make of the vehicle and date and location of the incident.

Columnist Brian Rudman adds: "That's if they can provide any of these details. I was just about wiped out by a large creamy speeding beast the other night, but couldn't read the number plate and had no idea of make or model. As New Zealand is the graveyard for the Japanese car fleet, who of us can know what any of them are?"

What do you think is the solution to Auckland's transport situation, especially getting better public transport?
Send us your views

>> Read Brian Rudman's view

Here is the latest selection of your views:

When I think of the traffic problems that plague Auckland and in fact the entire country I wonder who the idiots are/ were who designed and built the pathetically inadequate road system.

The population of Auckland has more than doubled since I have lived her and the motorway has not increased at all. We have a bunch of new traffic lights to limit people getting on the motorway, which just turns the entire downtown area into a big parking lot. The only solution worth mentioning at all is that the motorway be increased in lanes. Another bridge across the harbour or a tunnel needs to be built. Until someone with a brain actually sees that all the fancy new concrete has done nothing to help traffic and is willing to make the decision to actually build some additions to the motorway in the form of new lanes we will continue to wallow in the congestion our civil engineers have straddled us with. Lets face it, we as a country just spent what? $150million on Spaghetti junction and got absolutely nothing for our money! We need more lanes, period. More people means more cars and more cars need more room on the road, in the form of more lanes. Maybe the civic planners could go overseas and see how other countries have built wonderful motorways that actually help the population instead of hinder them. I mean for goodness sakes, we do not like riding the bus.

I was a bus driver in Auckland for twenty years. Things have not changed much from what I can gather of your transport systems. From what I have been reading Auckland seems to be still mired in bad decisions from the politicians and Govt. The main thing seems to be not to make decisions or else they will be voted out of office. Also the feeling of this is too expensive. It is really sad. It has always been so since the early 1900s. Where I live now, Perth WA we have a marvellous system of rail and bus you can buy 40 or 10 trip tickets(until April They are going over to electronic systems or cash fares. They do not muck around here. Though the new rail to Mandurah is behind schedule it should be up and running by July. Dont remember the cost.Over a Billion. Perth is a city that has just reached 1.5 million and the rail & bus system runs 700,000 passengers per day or week. I think that is correct.The rail system is all electric,safe and comfortable to travel on and a real pleasure to use. Perth people are very much like Nzers. They like their cars and use them also.But petrol prices here are far higher than NZ.I think there is a trend to using the trains more.

Bennett Jordan
It is quite easy and yes expensive but the government is saying we want to be carbon free, well if we tax the roads (a good idea) this will mean more people travel by bus so we need more. What we need is a subway a better rail network. Every major city in the world has one we need one. So it is easy to get from A to B, not have to catch 3 busses to get there that is why we have so many cars.

Ross Alexander
I am an ex-Auckland resident now living in Shenzhen China and I spend alot of time in Hong Kong. Anyone who has been to Hong Kong will know how efficient the Hong Kong system is. They have a truly integrated system that includes buses, trains, ferries and trams.The point is that this system is very user friendly and frequent(mtr trains run on Hong kong island every 2 minutes during rush hour!)Now I am not saying that Auckland should have the same as we as it simply does not have the population to support such a system. But we can at least adapt some of the better features which include: More trains and more lines. For example, the North Shore bus lane should be light rail with park and ride transport hubs at specific points and the same could be developed for the North western: Shopping centre developements should be planned at transport hubs where the stations are part of the shopping centre. This cuts down on the uneasy feelings experienced by one reader at Henderson where you just dont feel safe as in a busy transport centre there are always people around .Also its an opportunity for commuters to rest or have a meal at a restaurant .

Problem background in a different perspective: currently the number of people transported per metre to space used per person is too high. Because every one occupies one full car. Innovative resolution to improve this ratio significantly. 1: Try some sort of covered conveyer belt system along motorway especially around congested CBD so that people can get in and get out that runs in medium speed but faster than a car at the congested time. 2: Introduce a separate lane for 2 wheelers and also encourage people to use covered (for rain) 2 wheelers. A lot of populated countries people move in 2 wheelers.

Matt Perot
Build. A. Light. Rail. System. Now!

Will Wilson
I think it is time for us to think outside the square and change the paradigm. There are alternatives to buses and rail that should be considered in more depth here. One such alternative is Personal Rapid Transit. I think PRT is a solution whose time has come - it is Green, costs less than rail, is highly flexible and can grow organically. It has the potential to be an extremely effective solution particularly for the North Shore, as a lower cost complement to a second harbour crossing.In any case there is a dire need for Auckland to address traffic congestion and pollution in a truly effective way. I believe current solutions are limited and we need something more inspired. It is clear to me that existing solutions do not "cut it". Busways, while useful as a stopgap will only add traffic and pollution to existing channels unless there are the integrated frameworks to ensure increased ridership. Even then, growth rates particularly on the North Shore may require markedly increased ridership unless something is done about the Harbour Bridge.I support the establishment of PRT here. More on PRT New Zealand can be found here -

Changing the rules on bus operators will not make much of a difference when the buses are still stuck in the traffic. In fact most public money is going into rail even though most homes and jobs are not close to a rail station. For public transport, the North Shore Busway points the way with Bus Rapid Transit where buses get the same benefit as rail (their own corridor) but you only have to build the bus lanes through the congested bits, not the whole way. Auckland should follow Brisbane’s "more busways", not Perth’s "more railways" to get a better Public Transport System. Otherwise, most people still have to drive and so to carry more cars we need more roads. The answer is not more rules but more investment in roads (for both cars and buses).

If Aucklands public transport system was provided with the same level of funding as the motorway system, that would make a huge difference. The current public transport mess is a result of decades of under-investment and systemic bias towards road construction. The viability of roads and motorways as a transport solution is dependent upon cheap oil, which wont last forever. Anyone who has lived in a city with an effective public transport system (as can be found in most of Europe and Asia) surely knows that a fast and effective public transport network is more convenient and economic for the average citizen than owning a car or two or three, and can be safe, comfortable, and even relaxing. Aucklands problem is that such an effective public transport system isnt there. ARTAs plans regarding electrification and future expansion of the rail network, implementation of an integrated ticket system, and reconfiguration of bus routes and fare zones are a fine start, but they need to be given the funding to carry them out. The funding that Transit is so readily provided with to build more motorways should be diverted to public transport instead. Auckland already has an extensive motorway system. The roading lobbys claim that Auckland will derive huge economic benefit from "completion" of the motorway network, but not from development of public transport infrastructure, is highly dubious, if not complete nonsense, and should be examined and questioned by the media and the public rather than accepted as proven fact.

Josh Duthie
There is only one thing in Auckland that I really have a problem with. If I have to get across town quickly (say, to the hospital) during rush hour I cant. In my view, the most urgent need is for lanes on the motorway that are tolled in such a way as to always keep them open. If this means you have to pay $50 to get across town quickly for an emergency, that is far better than not being able to do so at all.

The public transport situation is overdone with reports and strategies its time to get stuck in and do something tangible about it. ARTA have plans to upgrade the rail but are completely stuck doing one job double tracking the western line. ARC chairman wants to reopen the Onehunga line that is a sensible and cheep solution whats the hold up. Barry Curtis has his nightmare about tunnelling under Panmure the cost would install a rail loop between Manukau and Panmure via Flat Bush and Botany there by alleviating the Panmure problem. Mr McShane wants a highway from Orewa to Auckland airport for his use where as a rail link loop between Onehunga to Manukau City via the airport would solve the bottleneck problem without the road need. And of course we must have the budget money reallocated to buy the new reliable rolling stock and install the electrification.

Meg Peek
Surely there is only one solution that will make a significant difference and that has to be an extensive and efficient train service. Take some notes from all the other efficiently operating big cities in the world - they all have good rail services.

Allan King
In my view, Auckland had the best transport system when we had a network of trams, those beautiful red trams moved hundreds of thousands of people. They were cheap to run, if you missed one there would be another along in a few minutes. One could travel from the old railways station to the bottom of queen street for one penny. Of course I could see why they were stopped, to force the people into their cars, thus giving the oil cartels and Government all that extra cash. I have also come to the conclusion that the Government do not want people out of their cars, the reason is that they and the oil cartel will loose money. No matter how much the public tell the Government what they need and want it will never happen. When has the Government ever listened to the people? They are a rule unto themselves. The government consists of a gang of men and women exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office.

A Evans
Use technology. GPS everyones private vehicle and send a bill for all distance travelled. Short trips that could be walked charge extra. Hospital and Doctors. no charge. Long/med distance flat fee. Peak hour - peak hour fee. User pays. Soon people will get the message and look seriously at alternative forms of transport. 24/7 this can be introduced by licensing fee with GPS being part of this. No tolls, no staff, can be applied very quickly - China could deliver within months! Money collected going to travel services within the area. Powers that be have a moral responsibility in supporting trains, buses and any other form of transport. Having worked in distribution, any one looking at the economic history can see there is no fortune to be made in this sector. Hence little investment! Create a demand and a incentive and Auckland will have a very efficient traffic solution. Otherwise do what I did; live in Wellington and walk to work! Reduces stress, keeps one fit and have more time with friends and family.

Garth of Greymouth
Bulldoze the city and start again.

Jon Taylor
I was recently in New Zealand and found the roads, congestion and public transport terrible. As a country that prides itself as a ‘green little island’, New Zealands reliance on the cars is comparable to Los Angles. What’s the alternative, a bus ride? Serious and immediate measures must begin to provide more train-lines and water ferries (especially in the Auckland area) to allow everyone an alternative to using a vehicle. Otherwise your transport nightmares will only continue.

Andrew Charles
It always bemuses me that media in Auckland, and to a greater extent, New Zealand, are so critical about any potential improvement of city or country. When an opportunity presents itself for roads to be upgraded, public transport systems to be reviewed, or sporting facilities to be built, we seem set on creating such a public furore so as to discourage any action actually being taken. Then as soon as the storm has quietened, the very next week, the same media bemoans our slipping quality of life, our terrible traffic, our lack of public transport infrastructure, or our miniature (by world standards) sporting facilities.
Would our time and efforts not better be spent in encouraging investment, encouraging efforts to build a city and country which stacks up to international standards. I currently reside in Sydney, and believe me, this is not a city without its problems. However, local and state governments are prepared to make tough decisions and get things done. Theyre not always the best decision, but they are the government elect, and they should live and die by their own policies.
This whole debate over the spending of public money on an international smells somewhat similar to all other public money expenditure discussions in the media. Who really cares? Does it matter if he had one free day or a free night? He was there on business, building closer ties with another city and hopefully drummin up some more business. With regards to "Business class" fares. Most companies have a policy with which any flight over 6 or 8 hours should be by business class. I see no reason for why public Servants should not receive the same treatment.

Andrew Atkin
Solving Aucklands transport problem is dead easy. You just congestion-charge the main roads (that means tolling only enough so as to control congestion). This will make buses vary efficient, and transport in Auckland alround efficient - vast energy savings can be achieved as well (and that all comes back to the consumer in lower prices for goods). You can then close down the comparatively slow, impractical, energy-inefficient, expensive and rediculously limited rail system. With congestion-charging you also get some economic clarity into the picture which better directs roading investment. We should also privatise the buses and other public transport systems and hand the subsidies that these systems otherwise require directly onto the consumer. This would do wonders to force transport public monoplies to perform, and invest in more energy-efficient buses and mini-vans etc. Remember that the money from tolls does not just disappear - it can be used to cut back on your rates bill. Worried about energy-efficiency? Employ an eco-tax on fuel so people can be left alone to make their own eco-initiative. There is no reason to provide a bias for public transport here, because cars can be very efficient too.

Leslie Renfrew
Here is a thought; there are a number of trained and experienced international consultants who design transport systems. Maybe we could ask one of them over to tea and see what they think. Or we could send a delegation with photographs to visit them at great expense. Then we could do an Auckland and enact the advice of some reality star or MP, like Loos or Mallard. It is a cheerful thought that one day people simply wont be able to get to the non-existent rugby stadium and rugby will die a slow, painful (of course) death. Maybe there is a strategy after all; its just sports insurance related rather than transit.

I agree with Elizabeth Evans. The Government has no real commitment towards fixing Aucklands transport problems. Make buses and trains frequent and cheap. Put the tolls back on the Harbour Bridge. Enforce car-less days during rush hour. Get tough!

We need an integrated ticketing system now. Yesterday would have been better. Buses are going to continue to suffer the same traffic induced delays as cars without a separate road system so more trains and double tracking are no brainers - and how about some newish locomotives and rolling stock to go with it. Then of course there is the North Shore busway that should have been a railway and needs a twin running up the western side of the Shore. But nothing will change while it is still cheaper to put a weeks worth of petrol in the car that to hop on a bus or train.

What is so hard about changing the train service to electric? By it, install it, its simple. Stop complaining about time and money and do it. Cut prices. For someone who enjoys the thought of public transport it disappoints me that it is cheaper to use the car for something that is a few stages on the ferry and bus. Why does it take so long to change the buses to electric? There are one or two in downtown Auckland that I know of. All buses should be electric. It enhances the image of the transport drawing more people to take clean, economical transport. An alternative route from the shore. Monorail, electric magnetic rail, running along the motorway, the bridge etc. these clean multi-layered systems of transport enhance the dynamic of it and encourage support. A modern look makes people proud to use it. Sydney has the raised monorail in the CBD. It is exciting and modern. Nobody wants to ride in old, rejected, dirty modes of transportation. The conditions of Stagecoach and Birkenhead buses can be appalling and embarrassing at times but then again sometimes its great. There needs to be greater control, fairer prices and a strong look to the future. Think 50 years or more in the future, not just 10 or 20, because when it comes down to it we will probably be having this conversation again in the coming decades.

Elizabeth Evans
Anyone who takes the trouble to glance into an Auckland bus during the rush hour can see ample evidence to show that the government and the Auckland Regional Council have no real commitment to fixing the transport problems. The bus I travelled on this morning (the 7.45 on the 955 route from Glenfield)had seating for 40 passengers as well as 7 poles distributed randomly at the aisle end of some seats. As well as the seated passengers, the bus took on a further 17 people who were required to stand. Some lucky ones managed to grip a pole, the rest gripped the back of seats or crammed into the door-wells. It is clear that anyone with an alternative option would not choose to travel by public transport for the following reasons:
1. Travel by bus is dangerous. For people travelling on all other methods of transport on public roads the use of a seatbelt is mandatory. Not only are no seatbelts provided on buses, but the number of handholds available for standing passengers is completely inadequate. Standing may be easier for younger and fitter passengers who enjoy the challenge of balancing themselves against the sudden jerking of the bus as it stops or starts, but in today’s culture competition for seats is fierce; no longer do the younger (concession-paying) passengers offer their seats to older and unsteadier fellow-travellers, but determinedly avoid eye-contact as they immerse themselves in the electronic world of their ipods.
2. Travel by bus is unhealthy. Try travelling on a bus on a winter evening and you will inevitably become the victim of cold germs dispersed by your fellow-travellers into the fogged-up air of the bus.
I suggest that if a serious attempt is to be made to fix the transport woes of Auckland city, public transport must be made more attractive to the commuter.
1. At least 50 per cent more buses should be on the roads at peak travelling times. Even if there were no standing passengers, the 40 persons seated on a bus are potentially saving the roads up to 40 cars. Further drivers may have more incentive to travel by bus if their bus journey were at a level of safety and comfort comparable to car travel.
2. Buses should be scheduled more frequently - say, every 10-15 minutes on all routes - to make bus travel more convenient; it would then be more attractive. These 2 simple measures would go a long way towards solving the transport woes of Auckland city.

Lucy Hawcroft
In your article, "Jackboots not needed for public transport" it seems as if the journalist has somewhat missed the point of what the government’s new legislation to give the regional council more power over Auckland’s buses and trains is intended to do. He seems to think that the point of the new legislation is solely to make sure that buses and trains run on time. However, as I understand it, the main focus of the new legislation is to ensure that an integrated ticketing system (that is, a ticketing system in which Aucklanders can pay for one monthly or weekly pass which they can use to travel on all of Auckland’s different bus and train companies) is brought into place quickly. This will make it much, much cheaper and more convenient to live in Auckland without owning a car.
The other aim of the new legislation is to ensure that bus and train timetables are run in co-operation rather than competitively. The writer of the article (who seems to never or seldom have actually used Aucklands public transport system) doesn’t seem to understand that one of the most frustrating things about Aucklands bus and train timetables is that they just dont match up. So, for example, you might catch one bus to Glen Innes hoping to catch the train onwards to your destination. But, unfortunately, on arrival in Glen Innes you find that your bus (which only runs every half hour) is scheduled to arrive in Glen Innes 5 minutes after the train (which only runs every hour) goes into town.
What do you do in this situation? Well, that particular day you swear and cuss and kick the platform and then you wait for 55 minutes to get into town. The day afterwards you go out and buy a car. The poorness of our public transport systems is one of the key reason why transport generates more than 40 per cent of NZ’s CO2 emissions. The government has obviously realized that if we want to have any hope of reducing our climate change causing emissions we need to improve our public transport system. Rather than griping that they are trying to make our public transport system "less competitive" (because that worked SO well in the 1990s) we should congratulate them for trying to make Auckland’s public transport system cheaper and easier to use.

F Colah
Well there are various ways to solve the problem, but the most important is whether our politicians have the will and attitude to do that?. If they have no attitude than what ever ideas or suggestions put forward will be ignored and they will only come up with excuses. The public transport in Auckland is one of the most expensive and poor compared to other OECD Countries. We seriously need to look into increasing and expanding rail service and network, also we should explore ways to improve and increase the ferry services. A classic example of how ferry services can be cheaper and faster way to commute is the one they have in Hongkong and Dubai.

The greatest problem is the Governments all stick, no carrot approach. If you want to stop traffic congestion you have got to offer people a viable alternative to the one car, one driver status quo. No matter how much you beat up motorists telling them they should ride the buses (for example) it is of no use if there are no damn buses to ride or they end up costing you more. I have recently returned from living and travelling around Europe for the last four years. Although I have noticed there seem to be more buses and bus routes around, they are prohibitively expensive. For my partner and I to both bus to our places of work it would actually cost us a fair bit more than it does for me to drop her off at work and drive myself. If that is the case for most people, why should they bother with the bus at all? All over Europe and the states they have these funny little things called trains for people to ride. Here there is only one north south route (with, as I am told, a really lovely station we’re still paying for). If you live in Papatoetoe and work in the city that’s great... from anywhere else to anywhere else and you’re stuffed. So a subway (and surface) rail system which works out cheaper to ride than run a car plus businesses encouraged (financially) to allow flexible working hours and provide home based working schemes = less cars on the road (particularly at peak times) less pollution, & less loss of revenue to businesses. Who is going to pay for it? Us now or us later really. Even if you’re a down country greenie reading this from your hut in Hokatika and you reckon you shouldnt have to pony up the dough for a better transport system for Auckland, that is fine. Just remember when you go to pick up your wheatgrass and lentils that the reason they cost so damn much is that the truck that brought them to you from Aucklands ports was stuck for hours burning fuel while trying to edge its way through peak hour at spaghetti junction. Love us or hate us (I do both and see no conflict in doing so) Aucklands traffic problems affect everyone.

I decided to return to NZ for a visit after a few years abroad and wow what a shock it was to see how bad the public transport system is still shocking as when I was last here, and the motorway is confusing, I got the shock of my life when my brother took me for a ride and at the top of the motorway (airport) I saw this big looking hole and asked my poor brother what the heck was that after he explained that the only thing going thru my mind is why would you spend money on a huge circle (which it is) when you could use the money to improve the Public Transport that I see still runs when they want too and is so expensive, come on Auckland get with the times and improve on the things that need improving.

Jon Reeves (Ellerslie)
I have to totally agree with Brian Rudmans comments. Do we really need the additional motorway bridge for the World Cup in 2011? No.
It is more pressing to have the rail network upgraded, as this would serve more Aucklanders and World Cup visitors than an expensive add-on bridge. Put the money immediately into upgrading Auckland rail, with electrification now. Then we can impress the world in 2011. I doubt an extra couple of lanes on a secondary motorway will impress overseas guests!

Tim Saunders
I would encourage people to use bicycles. I commute into town daily by bicycle from Avondale. In rush hour, it is just as quick as driving, and faster than the bus or the train. It is free, and gives me the many benefits of keeping fit. Most drivers - although I admit there are many exceptions - are considerate of cyclists. The Council can encourage greater bike use (and bus use) by incorporating more bus lanes in dual-lane roads such as New North Road and Great North Road which at present are not marked in a way that encourages sensible motoring.

Mark Maffey
I believe that Auckland urgently needs to deal with infrastructure issues around Public Transport. There is a need to develop transport hubs along the line with what has been achieved at Constellation Drive. Both Henderson and New Lynn have the potential to develop park and ride facilities. Double tracking of lines and automation of points to enable increased rail services is critical, as is extending the Western line out to Helensville. A classic case of the failings of the current transport system is my endeavor to get home from the one day cricket on Sunday 18 February. I left Eden Park at 6.00pm, for the 6.12 train. It arrived at 6.15pm only went as far as New Lynn, Why? I Then had to catch a bus to Henderson via Glen Eden, the trip took half an hour. I then had to wait at Henderson (not a safe place to wait), for 45 minutes for a bus to Westgate. I arrived at Westgate to find no taxis were available to get me to my home in Riverhead. I took 10 Minutes to do some shopping, ordered a taxi which took 45 minutes to arrive. I got home at 9.10pm. 3 Hours after I left the cricket. I had to use 4 transport providers for what is a trip of 20k's go figure! Roll on 2011 I can not see too many overseas travellers being amused by our lack of infrastructure and train & bus services.

Colin Foster
Here is a few of my ideas on how to fix the motorways in Auckland. 1. Stop listening to people south of the Bombays, they do not know the answer, jeez they dont even know what a real traffic jam is. 2. Stop spending petrol taxes raised in Auckland everywhere but in Auckland. 3. Try having a free bus day, once a month. Do not tell us when, just surprises us. Then when it catches on, once a week. The extra fares of all the extra people catching the trains or bus will pay for the free day. The buses are already paid for out of my ARC rates anyway. 4. Hurry up and just build the train tracks out to the Airport and catchup with the rest of the world. 5. If anyone from Transit NZ, ever again, says that "without road tolls, they just can not build all the road Auckland needs", then they should be fired for incompetence. The volume of traffic in Auckland at peak times is so bad that the side roads are already full. Tolls would just make their life easier, so they do not have to tell the Government to buck their ideas up and spend some of the budget surplus in Auckland. 6. Hurry up and build the bridge from Weymouth to Glenbrook, moving all the Pukekohe / Waiuku traffic through Papakura and Drury is just dumb. 7. Carpool and I mean real carpooling. Where the fast lane at rush hour (8 to 9 and 5 to 6) is just for cars with 4 or more people. One person and your in the slow lane. Lose your licence for six months and have to catch the train to work. and finally 8. Glide time it great, learn about it, try it, use it.

Well, we simply need to admit that our government is councils are just too narrow minded and lack the willingness to learn from abroad. We have cities all around the world with much higher population but public transport there an ease, and much cheaper, for example Singapore. Our government spend billions on road but at this rate of increase no road upgrades can ever meet up with the future traffic demand. To say that fund is insufficient is just a cover up. The fact is that our leaders simply lack the know how! What are they trying to prove? That we are a top city with the highest fare for public transport? Hope not! Let us face the fact, we have merely 1 million in Auckland, and public transport is at hand a problem to us. Is this really the capacity of our government? They simply need to be humbled and learn from others!

Rose Garratt
I find it sad that during national Bike Wise Week (Feb 24 - March 4) the assault on a group of cyclists by a person driving a white van only warrants a mention in the Sideswipe column. Its also interesting to read on the Bike Wise website they promote biking as "a valid, fun

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