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A Bright $0B Plan to Fix Auckland’s Gridlock

A Bright $0B Plan to Fix Auckland’s Gridlock

By Paul Minett

AUCKLAND ~ 21 September 2016.


Left to Right: Rod Oram (MC), John Palino, David Hay, Chloe Swarbrick, Mark Thomas, Penny Bright, Phil Goff, Vic Crone.

Seven of the eighteen candidates for mayor in this month’s Auckland local body elections attended the Conferenz Auckland Transport Infrastructure Forum on Tuesday this week for the opportunity to share their plans for Auckland’s transport with the assembled experts.

The incomparable business journalist Rod Oram was MC and he gave the candidates 5 minutes each to explain their plans before asking a few pointed questions.

With Auckland’s transportation being such an important issue, voters might be particularly interested to hear the candidates’ unscripted answers to the penultimate questions: “At the end of your first term as mayor, will traffic congestion be better, the same, or worse?”, and “By show of hands, what about at the end of your second term?”.

After each candidate answered the first question, Rod asked the expert audience if they thought the answer was credible or not.

Here is a link to a full video (10:34) as they explain how the traffic will be better, the same, or worse at the end of their FIRST term as mayor. Spoiler alert: there is some laughter.

Here is a link to a full video (1:35 mins) a show of hands, if the traffic will be better, the same, or worse at the end of a SECOND term as mayor.

This is clearly a group who are enjoying being on the campaign trail together. They are ultra-polite to each other, and there is surprisingly little disagreement.

Here is a summary of what they said, in the order they appear on the video:

CandidateCongestion end 1st termAudienceCongestion end 2nd termComment
David HayWorseAgreeWorse3 years is not enough time
John PalinoBetterDisagreeBetterWestern Motorway Impact
Phil GoffWorseAgreeWorseAt least 3 terms needed because of 7 year lead time
Mark ThomasWorseAgreeStatus quoBetter than with Phil
Chloe SwarbrickWorseAgreeBetterCongestion free network delivers in 2nd term
Penny BrightBetterMixedBetterCarpooling and public support
Vic CroneLess WorseAgreeBetterRemote working, carpooling, more park & ride

And in a little more detail:

• David Hay expects congestion to be ‘the same or worse’, but when pushed he says worse at the end of both a first term, and still worse at the end of a second. He thinks three years is too little time to make a difference.

• John Palino expects a big reduction when the Western Motorway opens up in January/February 2017, and overall expects it to be better at the end of both a first and a second term.

• Reported front runner Phil Goff is confident that congestion will be worse at the end of both a first and a second term, but not as bad as it might have been without the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) projects. He says it will probably be three mayoral terms before it improves, because any major infrastructure project has a seven-year lead time.

• Mark Thomas says: “let’s be positive and aspirational but realistic, it will be impossible for it to be better in three years. It will be worse. But even worse if Phil (Goff) is mayor because it will take him longer to get to grips with Council, and he doesn’t have the commercial relationships that are so essential for us to fund it”. Thomas says it will be better by the end of his second term.

• Chloe Swarbrick clearly wants to say it will be better, but settles on worse for the end of a first term, but better by the end of a second one.

• Penny Bright wants folks to look on the bright side. Saying: “activists get things done”, she suggests that “right now, if we get more people carpooling, to get more people in a fewer number of cars, that would help stop the congestion.” Having a PhD in ‘fuss-making’, she says as mayor she would say “listen, if you are sick of congestion here is what you can do: here’s an app, on your phone, you are going from A to B, I want you to see if you can get another couple of people in your car. I mean, where is the campaign? Where are the TV ads, the PUSH to try and stop congestion, making do with what we’ve got and encouraging people to do carpooling, etcetera? There will be less congestion because I will make sure that happens.”

• Vic Crone says it is unfortunately going to get worse, but just how bad can be mitigated if corporates buy in to more remote working, if (surprised that she agrees with Penny Bright) people carpool more, and if more park-and-ride spaces are built to get more people on public transport. Overall she sees a small increase during a first term, and rolling back during a second.

At the end, Rod Oram thanked the candidates and admits that it was a deeply unscientific process.

Here are the five minute statements by each of the candidates:
David Hay (6:03)
John Palino (5:51)
Chloe Swarbrick (4:16)
Mark Thomas (6:22)
Penny Bright (5:38)
Phil Goff (6:05)
Vic Crone (4:45)

Rod’s other questions of the candidates, and their answers:

1. About the Auckland Transport Alignment Project: as mayor, would you basically embrace that for the next couple of years, or would you be pushing for some big changes, and if so, what? Link to answers. (11:26)

2. The Auckland Unitary Plan allows for a lot of growth, say housing, across the city, and to some extent it has a focus on the transport network. As mayor, how would you attempt to get a greater concentration of growth around those transport nodes? Link to answers. (7:50)

3. What social equity issues do you see in transport in Auckland, and how, as mayor, would you address those? Link to answers. (9:45)

4. Only one of the seven of you mentioned climate change. Would anybody like to comment on why they didn’t mention climate change. Link to answers. (8:30)


Declaration of interest: Paul Minett is an advocate for more carpooling and other demand management measures and thinks the potential game changer represented by the autonomous car should be causing planners and politicians to: 1) slow down infrastructure spend; 2) create the environment for the best possible outcomes with autonomous cars; and 3) maximise demand management measures in the meantime. He thinks that these measures will help to avoid significant stranded assets in ten years’ time while getting Auckland moving in the meantime. See https://www.facebook.com/Get-Auckland-Moving-562068677179070/.

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