Traffic and congestion report reveals Auckland as slowest city

Auckland road users had to budget 45 per cent additional travel time in order to arrive on time 9 times out of 10 in the afternoon. PHOTO/Chris Skelton
Auckland road users had to budget 45 per cent additional travel time in order to arrive on time 9 times out of 10 in the afternoon. PHOTO/Chris Skelton

Auckland commuters can groan in agreement with a report that reveals the city has the worst travel times and reliability in Australia and New Zealand.

This is despite having the fastest road in the two countries combined.

Austroads Congestion and Reliability Review measured the levels of congestion and traffic across major cities in Australia and New Zealand and released their findings in a report.

The cities were categorised into groups of similar population size. Auckland was in group two alongside Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide.

Auckland is the slowest city for its size in Australasia. PHOTO/supplied
Auckland is the slowest city for its size in Australasia. PHOTO/supplied

In its group Auckland performed worst across "most measures". These included the highest travel time delay, morning and afternoon peak reliability.

Auckland came out worst in it's group with an average speed of 77.6km/hr. The other cities were between 82km/hr to 86km/hr. American cities of a comparative size went up to 104km/hr.

The slowest roads were St Lukes Rd, Wairau Rd and Lake Rd. While the fastest were the Northern Gateway Toll Rd (which topped the Australasian list with an average speed of 98.8km/hr), Upper Harbour Motorway and SH16.

Auckland had the highest travel time delay out of all the group 2 cities, including international towns Indianapolis, Ottawa, Las Vegas and Hamburg. It also had low reliability and road users had to budget 45 per cent additional travel time in order to arrive on time 9 times out of 10 in the afternoon.

The report explained that Auckland's harbours and waterways imposed constraints on the transport system. This meant the main transport links were confined to narrow corridors. Since the city is located on a peninsula and surrounded by water it has limited room for expansion.

Congestion was also influenced by a high number of commuter trips into the city centre for work, rather than to suburban or regional locations. Auckland has fewer public transport options, compared with other cities. Plentiful low-cost parking in Auckland encourages commuters to drive.

Wellington was listed as a group three city alongside Darwin, Hobart and Canberra. The capital also had limited space for urban or road expansion as it is located between a bay and mountains. But it had a higher average speed, 81.9km/hr and good morning and afternoon peak reliability.

The report had a range of interesting predictions that would influence congestion by 2025.

The list's first suggestion was "driver assist" technology becoming compulsory in urban areas. The authors of the report stated that this would increase safety with factors like automatic braking

"Cars without this will account for a disproportionate share of accidents.

"There will be a clear ethical case to mandate use in cars and trucks on arterial or all roads. The politics of this will be similar to seat belts and motorcycle helmets, but with a clearer set of disadvantaged stakeholders."

Freight transportation could also be automated by 2025 as the cost for professional drivers increases faster than the cost of technology. Automation will enable safer, faster journeys alongside reducing the cost of drivers.

Autonomous-only lanes will be the answer to increased road capacity. The report stated that currently, higher motorway speed limits do not increase capacity much, because people need to increase their vehicle spacing to be safe at higher speeds.

The report predicted that motorways will commission autonomous-only lanes that will safely allow much tighter vehicle spacing, and up to three times the vehicle capacity.

And a fleet of driverless taxis could be launched by Uber or Google. These will optimise routing, and operate in solo or ride sharing mode.

"All of these 'ideas' will improve economic productivity and may help to reduce congestion," the report stated.

"They increasingly take the decision-making elements of journey planning and execution away from the driver and towards separate or networked algorithms. This allows greater utilisation of the limited supply of road space, particularly if paired with public transport systems."

- NZ Herald

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