Auckland's long-awaited network of completed motorways and efficient arterial roads is still to be completed. As a direct result of this, the region suffers from bad traffic congestion.
Transit New Zealand's 2007 travel survey showed Auckland's average congestion delay to be 50 seconds per km during the morning peak. That's more than 16 minutes for a 20 km trip - and at times the delay is much longer. While there has been significant recent investment in Auckland's public transport network, public transport is only used for around 8 percent of commuting trips.
Did you know?
Brisbane is of comparable size to Auckland, yet its congestion delay is 40 percent lower than Auckland.
Problems with Auckland's transport decisions
Bureaucracy is strangling Auckland transport. The region's excessive transport governance involves one regional council, four city councils, three district councils, a regional transport authority, and several central government transport agencies. As a result, the best interests of Auckland motorists are often not heard.
An estimated $124 million is spent each year in Auckland on road safety and injury prevention through enforcement, education and engineering initiatives. Despite these efforts, there were 61 deaths and 4,526 serious injuries in 2007. Road crashes cost the region an estimated $900 million in medical costs and lost productivity each year.
AA speaking up for motorists
Complete the Western Ring Route
Auckland's immediate transport focus must be to complete the Western Ring Route. This is a 48km motorway running north-south, providing an alternative to State Highway 1 and the Harbour Bridge. It bypasses Auckland city to the west and links Manukau, Waitakere, and North Shore cities. The route combines the Southwestern (SH20), Northwestern (SH16) and Upper Harbour (SH18) motorways. Much of it comprises new sections of motorway (including the Waterview Connection, and Mt Roskill and Manukau extensions), and is due to be completed by 2015.
The AA-commissioned report, Economic Benefits of Investing in New Zealand's Road Infrastructure (the Allen Report), calculated that the completed Western Ring Route will ease congestion, improve travel times and deliver benefits to New Zealand valued at around $840 million each year.
Improve the arterial road network
Auckland must complete and maintain its main arterial road network to encourage free-flowing traffic, and provide good connections with other important regional roads.
Better public transport
Many Auckland motorists would like the option of travelling around their city on public transport. They want a fast, frequent and reliable modern network of ferries, buses and trains. Significant additional investment is needed to improve Auckland's public transport infrastructure, to provide motorists with a choice, save them money, and reduce traffic congestion and improve travel times.
Immediate regional priorities are new trains on an electrified rail network; new buses, bus services and additional busways; new and upgraded ferry terminals, ferries and ferry services; and an integrated public transport ticketing system.
Overhaul the management of Auckland's transport infrastructure
The management of Auckland's transport infrastructure must be radically overhauled by the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance. One organisation should be responsible for all regional transport issues, including local roads, state highways and public transport. That one transport body should coordinate all policy decision making, stakeholder engagement, and infrastructure maintenance and development.
Expand the region's road safety focus
Auckland's road safety focus is too narrow, with the emphasis largely on speed, alcohol, intersections and seatbelts. This needs to be expanded to include driver distraction, fatigue and drug driving. Greater attention needs to be given to the region's road hierarchy - the best way to improve the safety of a road largely depends on what type of road it is, for example a motorway requires different action than a local residential street.
Improving the safety of Auckland's roads must extend beyond motorists to all road users, including pedestrians and cyclists.
Regional planning processes are currently biased in favour of environmental outcomes. The AA would like to see safety outcomes receiving greater consideration in decision-making. Safety should always come first.
What AA Members are saying
In a 2006 survey on Auckland transport issues:
- 76% of AA Members said the roading capacity poorly, badly, or terribly met the region's requirements.
- 79% of AA Members said the public transport service poorly, badly, or terribly met the region's requirements.
- 52% of AA Members said additional Auckland transport funding should be spent on a balance of roads and public transport.
- By a ratio of 3:1, AA Members opposed the Ministry of Transport's proposal to introduce road pricing in Auckland.