Key Points:

A Treasury-led officials group is urging ministers and Auckland political leaders to employ aggressive "push" tactics to get people out of cars and on to buses, trains and ferries.

It says comparisons with overseas cities show that existing investment plans and public transport "pull" factors such as better reliability and seamless fares will at best only keep pace with Auckland's population growth, and will not ease congestion.

This forum debate has now closed. Here is a selection of your views on the topic.

This makes me laugh. Force people out of their cars onto what? You've got nothing!

Just to comment on what was written by Camille, believe me after you have lived here for awhile the transport system is something that is left to be desired,as for the easy access around the CBD, that maybe, but you should trying catch a bus to the outer subarbs like south auckland, west auckland etc, the buses are never on time and when they are it's usually an inconvience to the driver to be there when he or she is supposed to be, there is no proper real stations in South Auckland other then the Otahuhu Depot and believe you me that is one place I don't want to get off at when it is past 8pm. Mangere has no lighting or visible bus stops and even during the day it can feel unsafe, I am not saying it's the worst but, I have lived in Auckland for a long time and even I refuse to catch the bus especially at night, Auckland Public Transport is horrible and uncomfortable and as for the Treasury, like everyone has said make it worth my time.

Pushing people out of their cars to 'ease congestion' for the sake of it is not a sensible thing to do. Congestion is a 'push factor', and what is more, it is a self-balancing factor - the more congestion, the less people use private transport, and vice versa. Additional financially punitive measures will just make public roads exclusively for the rich, and will actually encourage people with money to use the roads. Roads are a public resource and should be 'to each according to their needs' instead of according to how much money they have. There are three key problems plaguing Auckland at the moment:
1) Transport problems and congested roads. 2) Urban sprawl pushing the boundaries of the city outwards. 3) Housing prices rising, and home ownership falling. Why not set policies that tend to consolidate the city onto less land, such as encouraging inner city housing (if you can walk to work, you don't need to drive) and subdivisioning, improving public transport from the city fringe into the city. Setting policies to encourage business districts outside of the CBD with clusters of high density housing around them will also help. However, the city council has taken actions which are quite hostile to the inner city housing market, such as increasing levies (after all, once the apartments are built, they will bring in large numbers of rate-paying owners).

I worked in Public Transport sector for over 5 years. Because of my starting/finish times I had to use my car. I had no other option at 4am, or 2am. To improve Public Transport, you need to provide an incentive. More secure parking facilities at Ferry terminals, train stations. Make sure that it is cheaper, or at least in line with the cost of driving.

When I lived in Auckland (a couple of years ago), It was just about impossible to get on a bus from my local bus stop in Ellerslie in the morning. All the buses were full and would not stop. I usually had to wait for 3 or 4 buses before one would even stop. It is not just the safety and reliabilty of public transport that needs to increase, it is also the capacity.

What I don't understand, is if central and local government want us to stop using cars, why is it that I am forced to provide a carpark for every 10 sq m of office space, whether there is someone occupying that office space or not? Seems a bit at odds.

I love the idea of using public transport in principle, but the reality is that it's too expensive, too unreliable and too miserably dirty and uncomfortable.

Isaac Broome
Aucklanders will not part with their cars until there is a decent world class rail system in Auckland. Trains can move more people, more quickly than any other mode of transport, and use less land space and are less polluting. Diesel buses are too noisy and polluting and are too infrequent and get caught up in all the other traffic congestion on the roads. The Auckland rail system needs to be electrified now and it needs to be expanded to cover all parts of Auckland. New services need to be started to Kumeu, Helensville, Onehunga, Hamilton, and new lines need to be built starting from Avondale running south alongside the State Highway 20 western ring route motorway corridor to Onehunga, the Airport, into Manukau City, then out to Botany, Pakuranga and connecting up again at Panmure. Underground lines need to be built from Britomart under the central city to Mt Eden and under the harbour to the North Shore. Intercity passenger trains need to be started again to link Auckland with other main centres such as Hamilton, Rotorua, Tauranga/ Mt Maunganui. All stations need to be modern and safe, and have good shelter, lighting and information, and be user friendly by being located in places where people want to go, eg next to town centres. Only when all this is in place will Aucklanders then have a choice to give up their cars. One only has to look to the UK where the public transport is good that you don't need a car to get around.

Alan Wilkinson
Fire 80 per cent of our bureaucrats, give our money back to us and let private enterprise run competing toll roads on all major routes.

I live in Birkenhead, (by Verrans corner) From getting on the bus to sitting at my desk in Albert St is only about 25 minutes, love it. $38 bucks a week and the ride to and from work is a good time to clear my head. I love my cars but Id much rather be driven then fight the peak hour traffic.

A congestion charge for inner city drivers would be a good start, as long as all the money from this went into building a decent public transport system, especially for the innercity. It was a shame that back in the sixties, when Auckland wasn't that crowded, the local councils didn't have a vision to set up a decent railway system before Auckland's population exploded. I honestly think an instant answer to Auckland's public transport problem will stay in the "too hard" basket.

I am 25 and have only recently got my first car. I have never used it on my own and mainly use it to go shopping or out with my partner. To get to various jobs around the city (i'm temping) I use buses and my own sweet legs! I have recently moved from Wellington to Auckland and expected the transport here to be unusable because of what i'd heard about it. It's fine. Sure, the drivers can be rude and unprofessional, but as a temp worker at various places around the corporate sector, let me assure you rudeness is not limited to the transportation industry. People can make all the excuses they want for not having to give up the bubble of comfort and private luxury that is a car - I for one won't believe any of it. As I walk to work and watch car after car pass me with one solitary passenger glaring out the window (only to pass them again and again as they wait at traffic lights) I wonder how much happier those surly looking people might be if they had to car pool and get to know some neighbours, or appreciate some early morning beauty as they walked for an hour... or... share a bus packed with humanity in all its unglamourous splendour... It's character building stuff. Embrace it.

If you want people to use "public" transport make it cheap! make it safe! and make it reliable! I do not use "public" transport because the stations and vehicles do not make me feel safe. The terminals where I am forced to disembark are far from my work and home, walking to and from stops in the dark makes me a target. Park and ride services do little but make my car a target for vandals and thieves. Cramped dirty buses and surly and rude drivers don't make my patronage worth while. Having to leave home 3/4 of hour earlier to get to work on time is annoying and makes for an extremely long day, then having to collect my car and then traverse back along the route to attend to shopping which I cannot take on train or bus. Buses that can run 25 minutes late from appointed schedule. Doesn't make a good impression for career aspirations always being late because of "public" transport delays. Also make the "public" transport be available when it is needed and make it available on weekends and late nights. At the moment I work Sundays and an forced to use my car because the bus route I need does not operate on the weekend. Treasury if you want me out of my car, make it worth my while.

Fantastic idea, then instead of only taken an hour or so by driving directly on the congested motorway, I can spend an hour waiting for overcrowded, unreliable public transport. An idea from someone who has obviously forgotten to take their reality tablets.

Grant Diggle
This is yet another move towards taking away our freedom of movement Auckland doesnt have a public transport system worthy of the name. It doesnt have the population mass in a confined space to provide a public transport system.International experience shows that even with massive multi billion dollar subsidies unless you have a critical mass you cant have a system.For 30 years Aucklanders have suffered from incomptent governance. Too many spending too much on too little.We need to get rid of the 90 plus councillors and most of the 5000 plus bureaucrats that waste our taxes and rates A city of one million doesnt need these costs. It needs a small co ordinated body of governance professionals taking advice from equally small groups of proven expertise.

Chris white
People should be actively encouraged to use public transport, or walk or cycle if possible. As a non-car user I walk where possible particularly short distances to the supermarket and bus back if I have to. Too many people are too lazy to walk even a relatively short distance. With all the concern about green house gases - why isn't something more positive being done to get people out of cars. Living in Auckland I have seen motorways crammed with cars at peck times with just one person in them. Think of the pollution this is causing - all coming into the city. Why is the Government so slow to do anything? A better public transport system, I feel, is the answer. Also with all the concern about obesity, surely getting people out of cars would help that problem too.

What I would like to know is, if the same people that are pushing for this to happen have actually taken a ride on the public transport in Auckland recently???? Because if you have then you will know what a joke that is, delayed trains, over crowded buses, and the list goes on. Before you start barking order's, how about you ummmm I don't know......fix the problem first??? Sounds like a good idea to me, but hey what would I know right???

Andrew Atkin
I won't abandon my car and neither will the vast majority of Aucklanders. If you want huge public transport demand then you need to spend 200 billion dollars tearing up about 90 per cent of Auckland's established houses and infrastructure, and relocate it all into a public transport-friendly format. I'm afraid Auckland is a car-based city. By the way, road-tolling and better public transport go together hand in hand. Main roads protected from congestion make buses fast, very efficient and on time. There is no "chicken before egg" issue here. The answer is to congestion-charge the main roads (spend 20 million educating the public if you must), and letting the city expand geographically so that the fringes can absorb most new transport demand. High-density cities have worse congestion than low-density cities - fact.

Nick R
Borrow half a billion dollars to upgrade the existing rail network and begin extending it to all corners of the city. Create many more bus routes and extend ferry services to provide a decent public transport network available to all people at any time. The start with the tolls, road pricing or parking charges once their is a viable option to driving, using the revenue gained to service the initial debt and to fund further improvements to the public transport and roading networks. If you are going to force drivers out of their cars, you need something to push them on to!

What a pile of rubbish. Current bus fares - $4.20 for a 3 stage fare - Thats $8.40 day. Combine that with working in Penrose, and then I have to pay fares to get from the CBD to Penrose. Why on earth should I pay in the region of $20 each day to work?> Driving, with the cost of car insurance, etc, works out at being cheaper. Having to carry 2-3 public transport passes, each one with different expiry dates etc, and different forms of payment. not good.Add to that the major problems that Auckland public transport is having currently, with delays, trains not turning up etc.And remember, all you do is hurt the people on lower incomes.

Auckland needs to start helping itself with its traffic problems and staying in its cars is not the way to go. If Treasury wants to get people out of cars then it should give more funding to other forms of transport such as buses and trains so these can be made for effective and efficient to use!

Di Goodwin
The buses, trains and ferries have to comfortable, reliable, regular and cost effective before the public will use them. I am back from living in Melbourne and was impressed with their public transport system and also a lot of main roads in and out of Melbourne have tolls. If you want good services you, Auckland, should be prepared to pay for them, even if that means tolls.

You have to be joking. The "services" provided currently in the city can't function efficiently...what on earth would happen if Aucklanders to the request to heart and wanted to use public transport from the greater metro areas? I currently pay the ARC a rate because I'm apparently in a metropolitan zone. And there is nothing available to me that will get me to work in 45 minutes as efficiently or as cost effectively as my car.

Catherine Garraway
I have tried to use public transport and have to say I find it very frustrating and not worth the effort. The costs seem to increase all the time, bus drivers are rude and incompetent (one chatted merrily on her mobilephone while driving down the road), and the trains in the morning from West Auckland are packed with not enough standing room let alone seats and are often late. If the system was more robust and a lot more affordable it would be a lot better.

Maybe the Treasury officials should spend some time in Auckland attempting to move around each day both by car and public transport, then submit a report! Whilst Auckland continues to be governed by a variety of councils not sharing common goals there will always be a transport problem.
The bus priority lanes and the park and ride depots built on the North Shore are a clear example of beaurocratic bungling and lack of planning and lack of desire to plan. This was always a poorly thought out transport solution which was designed to fail---no direct bus links from most areas, insufficient parking places and insufficient places in the city to direct the buses to without creating massive problems of bus parking! And all of this compounded by a Bridge without public transport facilities! Talk about idiots running the show here in New Zealand!!

Frank Rizzo
I took public transport (buses) for 7 years to work when I worked in the city and Newmarket and I found it affordable and easy to use but am now working in Penrose. I took public transport for 2 months to Penrose but at best I could only manage 45 minutes and on average it took 1 hour. This for a 9k journey that by car now takes me 18 minutes in the morning and 25 minutes going home. People should not be forced to take a journey that will take them over twice as long as by car. Integrated ticketing with buses/ferries/trains would help greatly as well. It is not financially viable to have monthly bus passes as well as train passes compared to driving a car.Having said all this there's probably quite a few people that have easy access to good public transport but don't use it. e.g. just about anyone travelling to the city for work especially if they are located centrally. Most of these people have no decent excuse, they've never tried public transport and there's a stigma to doing so.

Charles Benoit
I really don't see where is the problem. Last Friday I took a ride with my wife from Orakei to the City. At 7:55 it was as empty on the roads as in a city of ghosts. Today, Monday I drove from Orakei to Silverdale at 9:20 in less than 30minutes. Compare this to Paris or London. I am originally from Paris and know very well what congestion means. The big talks about charging motorists in Auckland are no other than generating revenue. Take a Camera and observe the traffic. There is no congestion in Auckland full stop.

Steve Sutcliffe
Plow up a lane of each 3 / 4 lane motorway (or the median strip) and stick on a train track for each direction. Include the Harbor Bridge. A modern rail system can transport ten times the peak flow of people than a lane on a motorway. People will flock to the trains due to the money saved and the service offered. Those who persist with cars will enjoy faster trips with fewer lanes because of the fewer cars on them. The cars will park at new car parks constructed near motorway on ramps or at areas served by buses. Buses terminate at rail stations. Construct the rail stations above the tracks and over the motorway at strategic locations along the motorway. The chaos of closing lanes of motorway will force Aucklanders onto the Trains and Buses. See this video "Auckland City Of Cars", and wake up Aucklands and NZ's politicians.

Colin England
Yep - needs to be done. How to do it? First of all the public transport system needs to brought up to scratch. This can only be done by the councils buying back all the bus companies and improving the fleet, increasing the number of buses and trains etc. Yes, it most likely will run at a loss but it's costing the councils anyway so that won't change (ever notice how Stagecoach said, after buying the business for $250m, it would be making a profit after 5 years and the ACC subsidy is $50m per year? and no, the subsidy won't be removed). Then charges need to be put on driving on the motorways and main arterial routes. Once it becomes cheaper and just as reliable and fast to take public transport to work instead of the car then people will happily take the bus/train. Once the congestion starts to reduce the centre lanes of the motorways need to be dug up and have electric light rail installed. This will again improve the public transport and, as trains are more efficient than buses, cost the councils less and be more environmentally friendly.

Sounds great get the public transport system up to date and reliable and I will use it. I live on a main Road in Henderson, there is a Bus Depot less than a Km down the road but I am not on the bus route, there is a bus stop at the end of the drive but no buses use it as it is not a a bus route but all the buses drive past it to start the route, go figure.

Gendi Dwight
Then give us clean, safe and reliable public transport. School buses that were safe from bullying, went reasonably direct (save the long trips!) and over crowding would be a good start - perhaps even seat belts! I would use public transport if it existed, but it doesn't for where I need to go daily. And last time I used it I felt very unsafe.

Kevin Ford
As someone who sits in the endless stream of cars each morning along highway 1 heading towards the As someone who sits in the endless stream of cars each morning along highway 1 heading towards the Airport and back again, I would welcome an alternative as this must be one of the only large cities left in the world with no direct route to the airport by bus or train, therefore what option do I have other than to use a car, in fact it takes longer to travel the 40K in a city with 1.5 million people than it does to cover the same distance in cities such as New Delhi with a population of 15 million which is similar in that also does not have a direct trains and buses.
Simply why should I have to pay more when there is no alternative? And why do councils allow further development without getting these developers to contribute to building the roads required to accommodate the extra flow.
Other options are to look at road variable speed control as on the M25 in the UK, ensuring drivers stay in lane and cutting out the bottle necks by providing wider roads or additional lanes to allow traffic to flow easier, most of the hold ups are at the same spots where on ramps do not allow easy flow, this must be the case as once you are past the ramps there is no blockage? Simple answer is for whoever, controls road funding and transport to put their hands in their pockets and payout for some changes, then come back and ask for some assistance as I am already paying in my rates for transport that is non existent.

I'll use public transport once it is reliable, quick, frequent, clean, safe and cost effective. None down and six to go..

John Robb
With public transport in the chaos it's in at the moment? No way!

Kim Hutcheson
Just implement tolls, and use the funds to improve the rail network. It works here in Sydney - with over 4.2 Million people, it is easier to drive around in than Auckland. The drivers are more courteous as well. Kiwis want all the advantages of free flowing traffic but just don't want to pay for it.

Melanie Peet
I would love to be able to use public transport to go the 5 kms from home to my office, but there is no direct bus, even thought I work 2 mins walk form the Constellation Station. It would take me almost an hour on the bus and I can walk it less than that!

I would love to use public transport. I've lived in London, Milan and Sydney over the last 9 years and they had it sorted! But over here there is nothing that gets me from Botany to the City by 06:50am when I start work. I can drive my car there in 20 minutes, costing $7 / day, or ride a bus for 50+ minutes at $12 / day... and arrive to work 20 minutes late. If they want to charge tolls they should only do this at times when there are alternatives to people using cars.

Does this mean all city councilors; Government officials and their stooges will be taking public transport to work as well? Guess we'll be saving lots of rates/tax spent on getting them official cars, fuel expenses and parking etc. But then, when do they ever lead by example?. More likely any parking levy, congestion charges or whatever they introduce to make driving in expensive will be paid out of our pocket as part of their 'remuneration package'.

Con the Commuter
The quality of a city commuter service can be judged by what happens at its heart...London has the Tube, we have the Link. Their one works, ours is a bad joke. The cost of the Link has more than tripled since inception, the buses are a worn out disgrace that haven't been upgraded since Day One, and at rush hour (hahahaha) they come along in pairs, the sardine can full to the eyeballs that calls at every stop, followed seconds later by its empty twin, that also stops at the now deserted bus stop,then tags along after its overloaded companion, once again empty. Then the fun starts, as the "every 10 minutes" service conflicts with the electronic sign that proclaims that the next Link will be there in 25 minutes, if you are lucky. Service? We are being served, but only in the veterinary sense.

Public transport to work? To do that I need to take three buses there and three back taking who knows how much longer.

Forcing people out of cars and onto public transport is a pipe dream until such time as that public transport runs 24/7, on time and reliably. The fact of the matter is that the powers that be in this country couldn't organise a piss up in a pub even if they tried when it comes to putting together a good public transport system. Having had the good fortune to travel I have been to cities where they do have a good system and the ones that really stood out in my mind were in Moscow and Kiev. When it comes to moving large numbers of people cheaply, quickly and efficiently from one end of the city to other and from there into the suburbs they have it down to a 'T'. Compared to those cities the authorities that are meant to organise public transport here are shown up for the incompetent lot that they are.

Ashley Hooper
I live in London and just to answer Martin, obviously few London *motorists* are in favour of the congestion charge, except of course the very well off who can comfortably afford it and now enjoy less congestion on the roads. However, I think Martin is jumping the gun in assuming that we would implement an identical system here - there are many other possibilities.And incidentally, fewer than 50 per cent of London households even own a car. Although I do agree that Ken Livingstone is (like any politician) somewhat reluctant to acknowledge problems, there have been many positives such as cycling increasing by one third within the zone. Also, the buses are able to move much more freely with the reduced congestion. This article summarises some of the changes the charge has brought about:

I'm sure people in Auckland would happily abandon their cars if parliamentarians led by example and did the same. At the same time the public transport system ... buses, trains etc in the Auckland area, would have to improve by at least 100 per cent if they are to be utilized to the maximum.

Carl Forster
Sorry no way can public transport meet the requirements of a busy executive or salesperson. We need the ability to be in differing area's at certain times and public transport would never be able to meet those deadlines.And as for taxies these would be too expensive and would add $$ to the cost of doing business.

Confused Kiwi
I have a question - Why forcing people out of car before we have other choices? The government has to establish a healthy public transportation before forcing people out of car - otherwise tell me how I'm gonna get to work, which is about 20km away? Simply forcing people out of car - perhaps by introducing road charges might work in a short run, but this price is going to be passed onto the domestic products too - e.g. supermarket goods, living cost - which in turn raise inflation. I thought Dr Cullen was trying really hard to tighten inflation in NZ. So, what does the government have in mind when they try to make policies that are contridicting?

If Central and regional govts want me to stop using my car and start using public transport they need to firstly provide a public transport system that works and is efficient and cost effective other wise I will continue to use my car. The reason many dont use the public transport system in Auckland is because it is pathetic and unreliable.Improve the level of public transport offered to tax and ratepayers then maybe people will start to use public transport.Its quite simple really.

I'm sick of hearing about Aucklanders whinging about their traffic problems but they all still want to drive their cars to work. To achieve this everyone else in the country pays extra fuel tax to build more roads in Auckland. Whats more Aucklanders have been enjoying some of the best fuel prices in the country!

Would these Treasury People care to use the western rail for month in winter. May I be so bold to "force" them to use the train staying in Henderson suburb for a trail month traveling to Auckland City. The constant delays, cancellations etc.what will these treasury people think then? In my opinion they should try it themselves before coming up with "stupid" suggestions.In other words come off your 'high horses' even an iron one at that. Get it right-try it.

Yes - And bring back an engine size related tax to get all those Auckland soccer mums out of their pointless SUVs!

I once enquired about a bus from Howick to Mission Bay. It was going to take over 1 hour 15 mins, require 3 seperate busses, walking from one end of Panmure to the other, and again at Glen Innes, and cost over $7 each way. So I took the car, 20 mins and maybe $1.50 each way. Good luck forcing me into a bus!

Ray Eyre
What a load of bunk. Obviously Treasury is totally out of touch with reality. The treasury should get on with its own business, the running of the countries finances, not the running of the individuals life. Is the treasury also trying to become control freaks or is it just another branch of the Communistic Government under the guise of the Red Party. I live in Whangarei where there is nothing that could be called a bus service. I start work at 8.30 am, finish at 6.30pm and work in the south east of the city, My wife starts at 8.30 am, finishes at 3pm and works in the west of the city. Without using our 2 cars we would not be working and would be reliant on a benefit. Taking a bus anywhere in Whangarei is not an option due to the fact that the service is so poor and that buses run such stupid routes. For me to use a bus I would need to leave home at 6.30am to get into the city and walk at least 3 kilometers to my work place. My wife would need to leave home at about 7.30am and walk at least 2 kilometers to her place of work. When is the government and it cronies going to get real, with their aspirations and desires of total control?

I am all for public transport, but until its improved alot its not worth the trouble.1) trains are never on time 2) ferries are expensive 3) buses (well West Auckland ones) are never on time, expensive, Drivers rude and buses old, and they have to sit on the motorway with the cars until they get past Lincoln Rd for the bus lanes which start and stop all the way into town, it takes about the same amount of time sitting in my car, and its more comfortable so where is the incentive to leave it at home. Make the motorways better/faster for buses, bring the prices down on all public transport and give everyone a really good reason for wanting to use them.

They're kidding. I stopped taking the bus to work this year after a number of incidents where I felt that it was too dangerous. Red light running, speeding, late buses, rude bus drivers, plus a number of other issues made it an unfavourable option. If they want people to take public transport then they need to sort out the barriers and make people want to take public transport, rather than to force them out of cars.

Martin Read
As a Londoner who's just arrived in Auckland, I've seen this all before. We were 'forced out of cars' by the $21-a-day London Congestion Charge. All this did was allow central London to be driven by those that were more well off or those who had to because their business was located there. This caused a massive downturn in business for those located inside the zone and lots of congestion in the surrounding suburbs. What about people who work shifts ? What about the low paid who are important to Auckland, the teachers, nurses, the people who clean the streets ? Are the buses going to run 24hrs ? I doubt it. I don't know a single person who likes the London charge. I know lots of people (e.g. my entire extended family) who have never visited London since it started, as a direct result. Go on the internet, check the figures The Mayor of London is brilliant at spouting the positives, but systematically fails to address the negatives. It even got to the point in cross examination, when asked about i