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Getting smart about transport

Published: 11 July 2017

With congestion on Auckland’s roads becoming more of a challenge and more expensive as our city grows – costing $250 million to $1250 million a year – we need to get smarter about transport, says Auckland Council’s Chief Economist, David Norman.

In the latest Insights paper, which provides regular commentary on economic issues, David takes a look at some of the approaches for dealing with congestion, advocating for a multi-pronged approach that includes public transport, traffic demand management and flexibility from employers.

Building more and bigger roads

“International studies show the more roads you build, the greater the incentive for people to drive on them, so simply building more and bigger roads is not an efficient way to address congestion," David says in the Insights paper.

“Roads alone don’t move enough people in large enough numbers to relieve congestion and Auckland’s geography and land constraints make it difficult and costly to keep adding road capacity.“

More public transport needed

“More public transport is at the core of any long-term sustainable solution to congestion," David says.

“Public transport uptake in Auckland is growing strongly because people respond to services that are faster, more reliable and more frequent by using those more often."

“The more Aucklanders support public transport use, the more financially viable it becomes and the more of it we will be able to deliver in future."

Make better use of existing road capacity

“More T3 and rapid bus lanes on roads and increasing parking charges in the city centre are some ways to encourage people out of cars and into trains and buses."

“Business can also play their part by implementing initiatives to make work times more flexible and to locate business in different areas, opening up more employment opportunities closer to where people live and reducing travel distances to and from work."

“But a direct way to incentivise more efficient use of our roads and relieve congestion is some form of smarter transport pricing, especially at peak times, when congestion’s worse."

“Auckland Council and central government have recently announced a feasibility study to evaluate smarter pricing options for Auckland."

“Such schemes encourage people to change their travel behaviours by using the roads at non-peak times and switching to public transport, while those who continue to use the roads pay for the benefit of less congested roads.”

The full paper

Read the full Insights paper (PDF)