No council agency makes Aucklanders angrier, says new mayor Wayne Brown, than Auckland Transport. True! So let's fix the traffic. How hard could it be?
Aucklanders are sick of congestion. Also sick of carnage on the roads: our rates of deaths and serious injuries are among the worst in the developed world.
Also, we want climate action. We're not so keen on climate action involving leaving the car at home, but we have repeatedly said that we do, somehow, want to lower our emissions.
Strangely, apart from "fixing it", Brown hasn't revealed any kind of plan for transport in Auckland. But he has provided some clues to his thinking.
Warning: If you think he's going to stop "the war on cars", you may not like everything you're about to read.
Brown wants traffic lights and buses sync'd up, so buses get priority through intersections. His favourite proposal on the campaign trail was to put transponders on buses to make it happen.
Good idea! But it can't work if buses get stuck behind cars. So it needs more dedicated bus lanes, which means removing car parks from arterials.
Brown's in favour of that, too. "It's crazy that just two or three parks on a main road can stop the buses moving smoothly," he said on the campaign trail.
Drivers may not love this: If the lights turn green for approaching buses, that will inevitably slow the cross traffic.
Brown's equivocal on congestion charging but keen on dynamic lanes, which he describes as lanes cleared of parking at morning and afternoon peak times, to allow the traffic to flow.
At this very moment, Auckland Transport may be trying to work out the best way to tell him about "clearways".
AT wants to make some of the clearways 24-hour bus lanes, but that won't happen under Brown. This isn't new, though: Goff wasn't happy about it either.
What about motorways? Dynamic lanes work well on the harbour bridge, but those moveable barriers would be damn tricky on the rest of the motorway network.
Dynamic charging could work, though. This is a form of congestion charging in which you pay to use the faster lanes in peak times.
"I'm not against cycleways," Brown said many times. "I'm against expensive cycleways." On his website, he favours cycleways created with paint and simple concrete barriers.
To be clear, this means cycleways like the ones on Nelson St and the top of Dominion Rd. Built on the road, taking space formerly used for parking or a lane of traffic.
I'm not making this up and on this I think he's right. And for the record, on those roads cycling is now safe and the cycleway has not made congestion worse.
The single biggest problem
It barely got talked about during the election, but we have a chronic shortage of bus drivers. It affects all road users.
Every bus passenger will be familiar with the C signs on the electronic boards at stops, that track which buses are arriving when.
C stands for "cancelled" and it's not uncommon for several buses to be cancelled in a row.
Some of the driver shortage is caused by illness. But with low unemployment, many have opted for other jobs. Bus drivers aren't well-enough paid, they have to work split shifts and they get abused by angry members of the public.
This is not just a problem for bus passengers. Because it makes the buses unreliable, it forces people back into their cars. It makes congestion worse.
Anyone "fixing" transport should have this at the top of their agenda. We need hundreds more bus drivers and we will make no progress on most other transport problems until we have them.
Don't waste money
No mayor determined to cut costs is going to waste money ripping out judder bars, cycleways, raised "tables" at intersections and pedestrian crossings or any other traffic calming measures.
If it's already there, one assumes, it's staying. Especially if it works.
When AT announced its latest tranche of slower speeds, National's transport spokesperson Simeon Brown (no relation!) said a "one size fits all" approach is wrong, the wishes of the community were being ignored and the slower speeds would make congestion worse.
In fact, the slower speeds apply to 19 per cent of our roads, which demonstrably is not "one size fits all".
They focus on roads around schools and community centres and other roads known to be dangerous. Ask any school principal: there's a lot of community support for this.
As for congestion, if you're stuck in traffic it doesn't matter what the speed limit is.
In fact, lower speeds help with congestion. That's because a steady pace keeps traffic flowing, whereas speeding up leads to bottlenecks and traffic jams.
Wayne Brown's not a fool. He'll know that for safety and efficiency, lower speed limits in the right places have real value.
There are far too many potholes. But not because of AT incompetence. It's a problem all over the country, caused by a very wet winter, and slow to be fixed because of the still-sodden ground and the scale of the problem.
The climate action targeted rate
Brown isn't going to stop the climate action targeted rate. He supports it and has said the outgoing council was "brave" to introduce it.
He's a big fan of rail: for passengers and especially for freight. KiwiRail is already expanding the capacity of the Southern Line, for both purposes. If the mayor can speed that up, he'll make a welcome impact on congestion, emissions and safety.
He may also want to extend passenger services from Swanson to Kumeu and Helensville. That will require KiwiRail and Government agreement.
Fix the tracks
On the downside, KiwiRail has announced a major and potentially highly disruptive programme to repair Auckland railway tracks. To prevent this destroying the credibility of rail will take a massive effort.
Brown's not in favour of light rail from downtown to Māngere.
But he's in good company. Almost no one, outside of Cabinet, wants tunnelled light rail. It's too expensive and will create too many carbon emissions in the short-to-medium term.
But the passenger capacity of light rail makes it easily the best transit option when it doesn't cost too much to build. That is, when it runs on the surface. In time, we'll need light rail in the north, south, east and west of the city.
Brown seemed to suggest during the campaign that he didn't see the point in looking ahead 20 years. Be good to know he doesn't really think that.
Council control of Auckland Transport
The chair of the AT board has already resigned and Brown has called for her colleagues to follow.
The thing is, though, AT operates under council policy directives and letters of intent agreed with council.
The focus on congestion, lower emissions and safety is not because the agency has gone rogue. On the contrary, AT has moved more slowly than council expected on all three measures. In recent years it hasn't even spent its cycleway budget.
The new council will, presumably, produce new directives for AT. This will be an acid test for the political skills of the mayor, the councillors, the board and all the officials involved.
There'll be no clearer measure of what Brown really wants to do.
The big task
Will he, as AT is instructed to do now, want the agency to manage congestion, reduce emissions and make the roads safer?
If so, there is only one way to do it: make the alternatives to driving really attractive. Not to everyone, but to a lot of us.
No one says it's easy. But that's no reason for magical thinking: building more roads, speeding up the traffic and removing safety infrastructure will not make anything better.
That's the approach that created the mess we have now.