Auckland's traffic gridlock is the second-worst in Australasia, better only than Sydney, according to a new report.

The latest traffic index from GPS maker TomTom showed Sydneysiders were the only drivers dealing with worse traffic congestion, measured as the difference in travel time when traffic is free flowing compared to peak rush-hour travel.

Auckland was ranked 112-most congested in the world, a big improvement on 2017 when it was 77th-worst. But it was still worse than Melbourne and Brisbane in 2018 despite those cities being far bigger by population.

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The TomTom data showed peak morning traffic in Auckland could add an extra 18 minutes to a trip that would normally take half an hour. In the evening peak it was an extra 22 minutes.


Traffic was most congested on Tuesday mornings and Thursday evenings, on average.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff, who commutes to the CBD from south Auckland, said he would love to fix traffic congestion but with Auckland growing by 40,000 people a year, "you have to run fast just to stand still".

Goff pointed out Auckland also had the third-fastest increase in public transport use in the world. Last week public transport trips hit 100 million over a 12-month period, a record only exceeded back in the days of heavy tram use.

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That meant Aucklanders were keen to get out of their cars, Goff said, and he wanted to provide as many public transport options as possible.

"In New York or London you would never travel by car across those cities. That will increasingly be the mindset of New Zealanders."

The Waterview Tunnel, which links SH20 and SH1 in Auckland, has improved traffic flow since it opened in 2017. Photo / Nick Reed.
The Waterview Tunnel, which links SH20 and SH1 in Auckland, has improved traffic flow since it opened in 2017. Photo / Nick Reed.

The TomTom report wasn't all bad news for drivers. It showed the Supercity's congestion rate actually dropped by 2 per cent in 2018, following on from an AA report which showed it had eased slightly in 2017.

That fall was largely attributable to the Waterview Tunnel freeing up motorways, AA principal adviser Barney Irvine said at the time.


The Waterview Tunnel was approved in 2007 but didn't open till 2017, and a similar time lag would be seen with projects such as the City Rail Link, light rail and the Skypath, Goff said. The CRL is due to open in 2024.

Auckland Council voted in its latest 10-year budget to add an extra $28 billion to fixing transport infrastructure, "so there are plans in place to tackle the problem. But we're coping at the moment with decades of underinvestment - so there's a time lag," he said.

"That applies to light rail, to the City Rail Link, to Mill Rd ... we can't do things faster than the construction industry can cope with."