Budget Calculator – How Would You Set the Long Term Plan

Missing Crucial Element


Auckland Council as part of the Long Term Plan Consultation have released a budget calculator as an educational tool in setting a Long Term Plan (Budget). I have played around with it and will show the general result further down. But first the presser:

Aucklanders invited to calculate own city budget 

Auckland Council has today launched an online budget calculator that gives Aucklanders a go at setting their own 10-year budget for the region.

The interactive tool allows users to save money or spend money depending on what they see as a priority for the city. The choices they make affect levels of household rates and council debt – making them rise or fall. 

Matthew Walker, General Manager Financial Planning, says the calculator is an educational tool designed to give Aucklanders a greater understanding of council’s budget.

“The budget calculator is all about giving Aucklanders a chance to sit in the driver’s seat and experiment with the budget. It demonstrates how and where council spends money as well as the trade-offs you make when you decide to spend less or more,” he says.

The budget calculator, which is set at the proposed levels of spending in council’s 10-year budget, looks at five spending areas of Auckland Council including transport, parks, community & lifestyle, economy tourism events and culture, Auckland development, and environment & regulatory.

On finishing, the budget calculator produces three graphs that show the impact of each user’s spend on debt, assets and rates across the 10-year period.

Public consultation on council’s 10-year budget runs until 16 March 2015. There are a number of ways to feedback including an online feedback form found at shapeauckland.co.nz, a hard copy form (found in council libraries, service centres and local board offices), using social media and at the ‘have your say’ events. 

Auckland Council is also hosting a live online chat today (Thursday 5 March from 7pm – 9pm) that will cover the key issues included in the 10-year budget. Those who wish to take part can post comments and feedback in advance now at www.shapeauckland.co.nz/livechat  or join the discussion on the night.

Feedback from the live chat will count as feedback for the 10-year budget consultation.


Further Information

The link for the budget calculator is www.shapeauckland.co.nz/budgetcalculator

The budget calculator is intended solely for educational purposes. The calculator does not include all areas of council spending and numbers are approximate.



I noticed the calculator did not include Governance and Support which has attracted a lot of attention from Long Term Plan submitters. Probably because if the type of attention Governance and Support (staffing falls into this) (see: 6,000 SUBMIT TO THE LONG TERM PLAN THUS FAR where over 85% of submitters want cuts to Governance and Support).


So without further ado below is what Council’s budget is and what my budget is in comparison.

First the Council Budget:
Auckland Council Budget (Providing the Baseline)

Auckland Council Budget
(Providing the Baseline)


And this is my Budget
My Budget and relative comparisons to Council's budget

My Budget and relative comparisons to Council’s budget

First of all I was made aware that Governance and Support was to be a budget line. However, after the Beta Tests keeping showing just about everyone reducing that line as far as they go Council decided to remove it.

Rather poor form of Council to remove the Governance and Support budget line (Staff numbers) if it is attracting such support. If it was included I would have dropped that particular line in terms of staffing costs from $720m as of current to around $500m. That would have further reduced the spend by an extra $200m/year over the ten-year period or some $2b opex wiped off the $56.81b budget over that same period. Hmm that means dropping the LTP spend by some 4.13% over the ten-year period (this includes the 0.62% I could save already without the Governance and Support line).

That kind of drop if realised would put less pressure on the rate intake needed and probably trigger a $1000 average saving (using the Council rate average) rather than the $559 saving I manage to pull (which includes the Motorway User Charge).


So if I were Council I would put Governance and Support back in there and see what happens. If it comes back with an absolute majority wanting cuts then well respect that from the citizens and start cutting that line rather than arse cover as current.


Budget Breakdown

What the pictures above do not show is the breakdown done to get my final answer. In brief I did the following:

  • Increased public transport expenditure
  • Dropped Cycleway and roads expenditure at varying levels (cycleway investment Central Government can pick up more on to counter-balance)
  • Increased Maintenance expenditure
Parks and Leisure Facilities
  • Increased expenditure for new facilities as Auckland is under a boom
  • Increase park maintenance again reflecting the boom
  • Increase CAPEX for new libraries and community facilities again reflecting the boom
  • Events and community services spending was dropped one level
Events and Tourism
  • Business and Tourism had its spending cut from $614m to $123m
  • Regional Facilities had a slight increase in expenditure
Auckland Development

Now this one is bound to cause controversy for sure after what I did to this budget line

  • City Centre investment I dropped from $129m to $23m. The targeted rate the City Centre has can be extended in its catchment to capture more City Centre residents and businesses. At the same time that rate can increase while more leverage off public private partnerships needs to happen to fund City Centre developments
  • Waterfront or rather Waterfront Auckland I slashed its budget to absolute zero! If it wants money to invest in Wynyard Quarter it can go leverage more off private sector partnerships . At the same time the City Centre targeted rate can be extended to cover Wynyard Quarter as well
  • In contrast I lifted the Town Centre budget (includes the Metropolitan Centres) from $187m to $384m the maximum limit it allowed. This would boost needed investment in our run down and struggling Town and Metropolitan Centres. It would also allow the Metropolitan Centre Master Plans to be drawn up and executed as fast as possible
Environmental and Regulatory
  • Stormwater expenditure I increased to $1b to allow us to get ahead for once in adequate storm water infrastructure development. This has benefits further down the line such as less upgrades while we boom being needed as well less overflows in storm events

I “ticked” the Motorway User Charge option in the transport budget line. This does take pressure of the rating base for transport investment for sure. However, my support on the toll is conditional for it to be used a demand management tool once the public transport system is up to full scratch prior!

Also not included as an alternative revenue source is Development Auckland being a more proactive developer and landlord (see: THE REACTION TO MY PRESENTATION TO THE AUCKLAND DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE [UPDATED WITH FIGURES AND LINKS] )


Finally while I did have a slight increase in capital expenditure I have offset that in lower operational expenditure (would have been lower if Governance and Support was in there). This results in lower rates increases than what Council has proposed while a slight increase in overall debt levels. Again my alternative (linked above) would have either lowered the increase in debt or even lower debt levels overall over the ten-year period. While I did also to manage save the average rate intake by some $559 I did have the motorway toll in there so there is a counter-balance in effect.

So what do you think and what did you get with the calculator?


Minister of Business, Innovation and Employment Steven Joyce and Mayor Len Brown joined the throng of unemployed young people from across Auckland who attended JobFest15 to find work.
Source: Auckland Council

A Reminder: Sydney and Auckland Are Different to Other Australasian Cities

Remember your Industrial Complexes, and Cities that run two official and/or technical City Centres


I saw this from Generation Zero’s Sudhvir Singh before the Auckland Conversation piece earlier this week:


The graph was a series of graphs that came from Melbourne’s The Age piece on urban planning. Some extracts from the article:

Melbourne’s planning disaster: jobs boom in CBD while affordable housing grows ever outwards in suburbs

March 2, 2015  City Editor, The Age 
Is Melbourne broken?

There’s a growing divide in the world’s most-liveable city, City Limits co-author Paul Donegan tells 3AW Breakfast.

  • Alice Osborne loves Point Cook, where she lives with her two young children and husband Jason.

Alice and Jason Osborne in Point Cook, where they live with their children William, 7, and Lucy,

She works a day or two a week at the local primary school, helping teach textiles.

But before the arrival of the couple’s second child Lucy, Ms Osborne had a highly skilled specialist role in pre-natal research, working for the Victorian health department.

The failure to properly plan Australia’s cities – a failure by local, state and federal governments – forced Osborne to make a difficult choice: a great job or her family.

She chose her family.

The Osbornes are typical of millions of Australian caught on the far side of a new urban divide: between those who live near the centre of our cities and those who live near the outer fringes.

On Monday, the Grattan Institute releases City Limits: Why Australia’s Cities are Broken and How We Can Fix Them.

The book details how cities like Melbourne have evolved over the last decade. Jobs have concentrated in city centres.

Meanwhile affordable housing, particularly for families, has boomed on the city fringes.

The trend has locked in the car as the only viable mode of getting to many jobs for Melburnians. Even then, though, extreme gridlock in suburbs like the Osborne’s means driving to work is often not an option.


Source and full article: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/melbournes-planning-disaster-jobs-boom-in-cbd-while-affordable-housing-grows-ever-outwards-in-suburbs-20150302-13oksj.html


Unfortunately the article and its graphs contain two deep flaws:

  1. Did they measure accessibility to the industrial complexes of Melbourne?
  2. Did they measure the accessibility to both Sydney CBD and Parramatta CBD, both technical and official CBDs recognised by the New South Wales Planning Ministry?

Because if the study and subsequent article did not measure those two points above then the said article is pretty much useless to make a comparison to.



In the case of City Centres or Central Business Districts, Sydney like Auckland officially operates two city centres. For Sydney it is its main City Centre, and Parramatta CBD which is up for intense development under the New South Wales Sydney Plan. For Auckland we have the main City Centre, and the smaller Manukau City Centre in South Auckland.

Now while Auckland Council planners and the Auckland Plan are behind in comparison to Sydney in doing proper planning for the respective second City Centres, the Parramatta CBD is designed to compliment (not compete) Sydney CBD while serving a very large catchment in West Sydney itself. The purpose of this is two fold:

  1. Balance the employment load
  2. Mitigate against excessive long distance commuting from the west to Sydney Central

Thus on the second point I would like to see the travel patterns for greater Sydney to the same detail as what a Ministry of Transport commissioned report into Auckland commuting illustrated last year (link further down).

See: http://www.strategy.planning.nsw.gov.au/sydney/


As for Auckland that Ministry of Transport report showed three things which would rebut The Age article as well as the Auckland Plan (which would think we had the same problem as Melbourne):

  1. Yes the City Centre draws a lot of commuting traffic
  2. South Auckland commutes within itself mainly
  3. The industrial complexes in the South attracted as many commuters as the main City Centre would if not more

For more on commuting trends in Auckland especially in South Auckland check these two earlier posts:



This slideshow requires JavaScript.



In the end like Sydney Auckland has multiple large employment centres both commercial and industrial. This would “skewer” commuting analysis and interpretation seen in The Age article. And yes I can see why City Centres would be the primary focus on commuting analysis as well. Industry is not entirely sexy nor places one would want to send a tourist on a day trip. But industrial complexes are often very large employers with large commuting trends to and from them that impact on the rest of the transport network. This must be remembered when undertaking both planning and job accessibility study exercises. South Auckland alone illustrates that.


Now this piece from Bob Dey would essentially debunk Sudhvir’s assertion as well as why we should not be comparing ourselves to Melbourne for employment accessibility analysis. For that matter Auckland Council should read Bob’s piece as well.

From the Property Report:

Economic report for council an exhortation to relax land use rules

A line in Wednesday’s agenda for the monthly meeting of Auckland Council’s regional strategy & policy committee refers to an information item, technical publications from the council’s research & evaluation unit produced over the last 8 months, but you will find the latest publication only by chance.The research unit highlights 2 reports, Auckland’s housing market: spatial trends in dwelling prices and affordability for first home buyers, published last September, and the 2014 State of Auckland report cards.

The one that’s missing, with a publication date of 13 February, is Moving on up: Relaxing land use restrictions can lift Auckland city, a discussion paper prepared at NZIER (the Institute of Economic Research) by Dr Kirdan Lees and quality assured by the institute’s principal economist, Shamubeel Eaqub.

It’s an exhortation to build beyond a number of the limits imposed by councillors when they finalised the proposed unitary plan for consultation last September. But, like a report by Motu Research which Building, Housing & Environment Minister Nick Smith hailed in January, it’s a low-rent attempt at swaying people with what can not be called research.

The Motu paper’s authors said it was the view of developers and therefore lacked balance, and they were true to their word. It was unbalanced. The NZIER paper has a headline which isn’t substantiated anywhere in the report’s 25 pages.

According to the executive summary, “We use a simple, calibrated, monocentric spatial model (the Alonso‐Muth‐Mills model) that does not account for the benefits of land use regulations such as improvements in amenity values associated with the city. We estimate that the collective suite of land use regulations, that apply to height, density & other land uses, currently costs families about $933 every year. Removing these rules reduces travel times and lowers the cost of housing.”

This is perhaps the most explanatory sentence in NZIER’s discussion paper for Auckland Council:  “Even polycentric models would give but we need to be clear – we are approximating a rich reality – that includes polycentric centres of activity – with a simple model.”

You could describe that as congested nonsense. I’ve picked on a sentence which is missing at least one word and, with 3 dashes, gives options on how to connect the pieces.


Geography & topography certainly make Auckland an unusual city, one that doesn’t easily fit the model best applied to landscapes that stretch forever, as around Australian cities and much of the US. As far as I can see from this attempt, the best advice would have been to abandon that model and try some other gauge.

One that might have been much easier to use, and would have produced more useable results, would have been to take a selection of suburbs – fringe, middling & distant. For example, Remuera, Epsom, Mt Eden, Mt Roskill, Herne Bay, New Lynn, Massey, Takapuna, Glenfield, Browns Bay, the Hibiscus Coast, Warkworth, Papakura, Hingaia, Pukekohe.


Auckland has at least 50 centres with retail activity of some substance, a number of commercial districts and several large industrial suburbs. Commuters travel in all directions, but research could show a range of common standard commutes. Owners of businesses in those retail centres, and their staffs, are likely to live locally, while many industrial workers will have much longer commutes.


On the local & regional government fronts, one of the major exercises of the last 15 years has been to plan, and plan, at exceedingly large cost to all the contributors to intended development. Among the outcomes, there’s a patchwork of catchment & structure plans, but now central government wants things to move faster. Was that a decade-plus of unnecessary caution on behalf of the receiving environment, or will the next decade be one where caution is thrown to the wind and the next generation is left to fix yet another mess?

One of the sub-headings in the NZIER study is this: “Many factors lift house prices but land use regulations matter”. Writing from a one-dimensional perspective of immediate financial cost, the NZIER researchers figured that the many rules & regulations for construction increase the price of a house.


As the Motu research paper did, the NZIER research counts rules to ensure the building trades meet minimum standards as a cost, with no benefit taken into account.

The NZIER study paper refers to other constraints, too, such as maximum building heights affecting floor:area ratios. It says policies such as this that restrict land use “increase amenity in highly localised areas of the city but increase the cost of land through the rest of the city. As activity relocates elsewhere, demand to access the amenity in those areas increases, while restricting supply means people have to live further away. That pushes up the cost of development, not just in the local community but right across the city, as demand for housing shifts to other locations across the city.”

Both pieces of “research” amount to empty quote marks without the balancing input on the value of rules: If the rules kept developers from creating slums, those rules had more enduring value which should be taken into account.


Full post and source: http://www.propbd.co.nz/economic-report-council-exhortation-relax-land-use-rules/


Just a quick note: We have a building code to ensure buildings are to minimum quality standards. Coupled with basic development controls via the Unitary Plan we should be avoiding slum or leaky building saga type situations. What we do have to watch though is development controls becoming overly anal and restrictive as they are in some places. When that happens then prohibitive costs start being implied on both housing supplier and the eventual demander – the consumer.


The Auckland Plan comes up for its three-yearly review where the Council has its first opportunity to alter the Auckland Plan substantially in order to adapt to the natural evolution of  Auckland. After looking back at the last three years as well as looking forward to the next three I think I can safely conclude what should happen with the Auckland Plan after its review.

That is the simplest and most cost-effective thing to do is actually chuck it. Yes I mean chuck the Auckland Plan and start over from scratch. It wont effect the Unitary Plan but it will influence the Long Term Plan slightly so no need to worry there about those two plans needing a re-write.

Re-do the Auckland Plan based around the actual New Transport Network that starts being rolled out starting with South Auckland next year. Why? You will find development will follow what is essentially a hub and spoke model stemming out of the New Transport Network, especially if people want to move around efficiently.

How so? Something I will cover tomorrow :-)



6,000 Submit To the Long Term Plan Thus Far

Two Weeks to go


From Auckland Council:

Submissions top 6,000 with two weeks to go

With two weeks to go, more than 6000 Aucklanders have now provided feedback on Auckland Council’s 10-year budget and the city’s transport issues are top of the agenda.

Submissions so far show that 54 per cent of respondents are in favour of the Auckland Plan programme, with 26 per cent supporting basic transport programme. On funding options, 34 per cent prefer a motorway charge versus 29 per cent favouring a rates increase and fuel tax.

More than 650 people attended the Auckland Conversations event which focused on the transport funding proposals, and more than 7000 people have viewed a short video that outlines the transport options included in the 10-year budget.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown says he is delighted so many people are getting involved, but that with two weeks to go before the consultation period ends, he encourages as many people as possible to have their say.

“We need to make some critical decisions for Auckland’s future that will not only have a significant impact on us now, but on the next generations of Aucklanders.

“So it couldn’t be more important that you stand up and make your voice heard. I urge everyone to make sure their views are represented before the consultation closes in two weeks.”

There are a number of ways to feedback including an online feedback form found at shapeauckland.co.nz, a hard copy form (found in council libraries, service centres and local board offices), using social media and at the ‘have your say’ events.

There are over 30 ‘have your say’ events taking place across the region. The events replace traditional hearings and give people the opportunity to give verbal feedback on regional and local issues.

Decision makers, such as councillors and local board members, will be at the events to listen to the views of community members, with note takers recording the feedback given. To view ‘have your say’ event times and venues visit www.shapeauckland.co.nz/10yearbudget or phone 09 301 0101.

The consultation closes on March 16, 2015.



Breakdown of the LTP Feedback So Far


Remember when it comes to transport to ask Auckland Council for the and to fun the Essential Transport Budget (AND HERE IT IS: #FIXOURCITY)


Papakura and thus the Southern Line's first passenger carrying electric train 3 car set now at Papakura Station ready to go

Rail Passenger Trips Hit 13 Million

Growth continues at double figure percentages


The Mayor made the announcement at the Auckland Conversations event earlier this week which drew a piss weak response from the audience. A real shame considering we just grew another million rail passenger tips in five months.

First from the Mayoral Office then Auckland Transport

Record 13 million trips on Auckland’s trains in past year

Aucklanders have taken more than 13 million trips across the Auckland rail network in the past year, hitting the latest patronage milestone just five months after passing the 12 million trip mark.


Mayor Len Brown says the latest milestone confirms once again that Aucklanders are crying out for better transport choices and that they are taking to the new electric trains in their droves.


Auckland Council’s target was 15 million rail trips annually by 2017, but the Mayor says the 13 million milestone suggests we could reach that target by the end of this year and if we continue the current rate of growth in rail patronage, we will pass the Government’s 20 million trip target in 2017/18.


“Since the rollout of electric trains started less than a year ago, the number of people getting out of their cars and jumping on the train is soaring, and that will continue to increase with the Southern Line roll-out complete by the end of this month and the Western Line roll-out completing the transition to electric trains by the middle of the year.


“Every day, Aucklanders tell me they want better public transport. This latest milestone confirms what we have always said – if we can build it, they will get out of their cars and use it. The issue is now that by the middle of this year, Britomart will have reached capacity and the simple fact is no more trains will be able to fit in.”


Auckland has suffered chronic under-investment in its transport infrastructure for decades. Improving transport is the Auckland Council’s number one investment priority as it drafts its next 10-year budget over the coming months – the Long-term Plan (LTP) 2015-2025. At the top of the list is the $2.4 billion City Rail Link, which will double rail patronage and which the council will begin building early next year.


“At a time when more and more people are choosing to travel by rail, we need to start construction in 2016 if this city is to cope with its rapidly growing population,” says Len Brown. “Aucklanders are behind this, the business and investment community are behind this, we just need to get on and get it done.”


The public have until 4pm on Monday 16 March to have their say on the transport system they want and how they would like to pay for it as part of the public consultation of Auckland Council’s 10-year budget. Aucklanders can give feedback via social media, the shapeauckland.co.nz website, filling in the consultation forms sent to Auckland letter boxes or attending Have Your Say events being held around Auckland.




Auckland Rail Patronage Milestones 

  • 1993: 1.123 million trips annually
  • July 2003: Britomart opens
  • March 2004: 3 million trips
  • September 2005: 4 million
  • June 2006: 5 million
  • November 2007: 6 million
  • August 2008: 7 million
  • December 2009: 8 million
  • November 2010: 9 million
  • July 2011: 10 million
  • March 2014: 11 million
  • April 2014: Electric train rollout begins
  • October 2014: 12 million
  • March 2015: 13 million
  • Mid-2015: Electric Train roll out complete
  • 2016: 15 million (projected)
  • 2018: 20 million (projected)



Auckland train numbers hit the lucky 13 million

04/03/2015 10:53 a.m.

The numbers using trains in Auckland has reached another record. On Monday the annual total for passenger trips passed 13 million for the first time, a 19% cent annual growth to the end of February.

Auckland’s trains are now carrying 10,000 more customers on a normal weekday than this time last year.

Auckland Transport’s Group Manager Public Transport Mark Lambert says, “We reached 11 million annual trips in March last year and here we are a year later adding another two million.”

Each weekday in February, on average 51,500 customers used Auckland’s trains including 12,500 during the morning peak (7am to 9am).

Mr Lambert says “Significant growth has been recorded on both the Onehunga and Eastern Lines which now run only electric trains.” The numbers are up 50% for Eastern Line stations (Orakei to Sylvia Park) and Onehunga/Te Papapa.

This week some longer six-car trains have been rolled out on the Eastern Line to help with passenger numbers. There will be more longer trains in the next few weeks.

“We are aiming to have electric trains on most services by the middle of this year and that means extra capacity as well as improved comfort and reliability.”

Mr Lambert says stations which have had major investment are also recording big patronage growth. Passenger numbers have doubled at Panmure in the past year and there’s been a 24% increase at New Lynn.

“The stand-out performer is Manukau station where numbers are up 176% for the year. That ties in with the completion of the MIT campus and an increase in the number of services before Christmas.”

The numbers using the trains on the weekend has also increased significantly. Mr Lambert says this can be put down to more services and the fact that there has been fewer weekend closures.

Overall total public transport boardings have increased by more than 9% for the twelve months to the end of February, an additional 6.6 million boardings taking the annual total to 77 million.


Source: https://at.govt.nz/about-us/news-events/auckland-train-numbers-hit-the-lucky-13-million/


Excellent news indeed

That said the Manukau and Southern Lines will be truly tested in two weekends time with the large Pasifika Festival moved to Hayman Park – Manukau City Centre. I just hope Auckland Transport have a good transport event management program in place with Pasifika more accessible via bus and road than its original Western Springs home.


And away she goes on her maiden trip from Papakura to Britomart on the Southern Line.

And Here It Is: #FixOurCity

So what is this alternative to the Mayor’s Auckland Plan Transport Network


It was introduced at the Auckland Conversations event on Monday and given in brief yesterday here. Today and below is the full report from Generation Zero on their #fixourcity Essential Transport Budget:

From Generation Zero



The Essential transport Budget – An Alternative to the Mayor’s Auckland Plan Transport Network


I support #FixOurCity and the Essential Transport Budget and will be both taking this with me to the Papakura Local Board Long Term Plan ‘Have Your Say Session’ as well as my final written feedback to the LTP itself.

It is a more balanced and affordable budget than the Mayor’s gold-plated and excessive Auckland Plan Transport Network. Like the Congestion Free Network (that the Essential Transport Budget feeds into) the outcomes compared to the APTN give actual benefits (compared to congestion getting worse under the APTN) for $280m/year less than the APTN itself.

So why would you not support the Essential Transport Budget. It even seems Grey Power support the #fixourcity campaign.



Some Corrections to a Very Wrong Piece of Commentary on the Unitary Plan and City Rail Link

Should it have made the Herald?


The “commentary” piece that landed in the Herald and so linked below also landed in my email box early this morning as well. It is not often I hit the Gmail “Report Spam” button on such emails but today was a day I did hit it.


Because you have works of Non Fiction, Works of Commentary, Works of Fiction, and then there is just utter spam. And what Bryan Leyland wrote on the Unitary Plan and the City Rail Link despite both’s flaws and possible shortcomings falls into the utter spam department. I am surprised the Herald actually published it unchecked and unbalanced but it did and did itself no favours.

I have been mulling whether to publish a counter to what Leyland wrote and decided to do so.


So I am going to break down Leyland’s piece section by section with counter points


From the NZ Herald

Bryan Leyland: Council must get up to speed with future transport needs


The railway tunnel will serve only a very small fraction of Auckland’s population and at a huge cost. Mayor Len Brown is determined to commit Auckland to building a hugely expensive railway tunnel even though no comprehensive independent and objective economic analysis has been made on the merits of the tunnel and whether or not letting the city spread and developing satellite centres would be better.

Auckland Council has neglected its obligation to investigate and evaluate all options. Given the enormous amount of expenditure involved, this amounts to a serious dereliction of duty.


That myth around the City Rail Link serving a very small fraction of the population has been busted more than once and will be continuously be busted again.

Here is some actual information on the City Rail Link:

City Rail Link – an Index by Transport Blog

City Rail Link – The Information from Auckland Transport

Benefits of the City Rail Link – More information from Auckland Transport


As for studying all alternatives the City Centre Future Access Study (CCFAS) covered what Leyland said wasnt done to the point a CCFAS MK2 is either under way or about to get under way. More on CCFAS MK1 can be seen in these two posts from Transport Blog

What was wrong with the modelling done for the CCFAS

The MoT and the CCFAS

So Leyland might want to read up on CCFAS and CCFAS MK2 rather soon.


Overseas research on 44 urban rail systems revealed that the average cost overrun was 45 per cent and the number of passengers was half the predicted number. Have the economics of the Auckland tunnel been tested against 45 per cent higher costs and half the passengers? If not, why not?


Rather than make such a sweeping statement Leyland would have been wise to link those rail projects that have had such blow outs.

My Rail Fallacy posts cover the implications of such blow outs and can be seen through clicking the links below:





Now that last one illustrates what Auckland Transport might or would have done to avoid the Fallacy. The inflated costs and all reasonable considerations have been added into the final cost of the City Rail Link. This minimises The Rail Fallacy and consequential costs against the ratepayer. Thus Auckland Transport has done its homework in benefit of us.


The council planners seem to be totally unaware of the imminent revolution in personal transport that will be brought about by self-guided cars, modern taxi systems, ride sharing and buses. By the time the tunnel is in operation self-guided cars that will allow twice the traffic density on roads and reduce accidents by 50 per cent or more will be available. Not long after it will be possible to call up a driverless taxi or minibus by cellphone to take you where you want to go. For those who think that this is the stuff of dreams, it is now possible to buy a car that, in a traffic jam, will follow the car ahead and every major car manufacturer is developing self-guided cars.

These technological advances, combined with telecommuting (working from home and using the internet to communicate) and smartphone-assisted car pooling will have a huge effect on commuting and the shape of future cities. The council should take its head out of the sand and get up to speed with this revolution.


Auto-cars and tele-commuting. Stuff touted since the 1960’s and never eventuated or if so not to the potential to what the than visionaries had envisioned. Google and Yahoo are two of the big digital companies of the world that recently shunned tele-commuting and brought everyone back in-house to the office on the grounds of productivity and efficiency. It most cases (and if done properly) the office space in a city centre or even metropolitan centres and industrial complexes benefit from the mass agglomeration given by such spaces through shared resource and knowledge all in close proximity. Put it this way humans by natural order are social creatures and work better often in social rather than individual environments. This is why tele-commuting will never reach such potential.


The Unitary Plan is based on a blind belief that it is wrong to let the city spread and intensification is the only option. This is simply not true. There are large areas of low-value agricultural land to the north, west and south of Auckland and much of it is already allocated for “lifestyle blocks” that contribute nothing to the agricultural economy. So the council argument that the city must not spread because it would deprive us of valuable agricultural land is nonsense.

The Unitary Plan concentrates development in the central isthmus, which is already crowded and includes the volcanic area. The council has ignored the lesson from Christchurch that you should not keep all your assets in one place.


If Leyland had bothered to even read the opening remarks to the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan he would know that the PAUP allows between 60-70% of all development in existing urban areas known as Brownfield Areas with the remaining balance in the Greenfield areas (rural or virgin land).

If Leyland had also read the Interim guidance from the Unitary Plan Panel on Rural Urban Boundary he would have also noticed that Council is not getting it easy with the Rural Urban Boundary (a line that separates urban Auckland from rural Auckland) from the Panel either.

The link above takes you to that interim guidance with respected commentator Bob Dey giving his own thoughts here: Unitary plan panel at odds with council on boundary

Some extracts from Bob Dey’s piece:

Unitary plan panel at odds with council on boundary

The independent panel hearing submissions on the Auckland unitary plan has told submitters the council’s proposed provisions for the new rural:urban boundary “may be overly stringent” and that a more flexible boundary would be better.The panel also said in interim guidance it issued on Monday: “A rural:urban boundary is the most appropriate method to achieve the objective of a quality compact urban city when compared to the principal alternatives of the operative metropolitan urban limit & no boundary.”


The panel said the basis for establishing or changing the rural:urban boundary should be determined by criteria in the regional policy statement “which include at least the following” – a feasible developable area, infrastructure able to provided efficiently (including on a timely basis) & resiliently, and an appropriate timeframe for development.

The panel produced another caveat on the council view of restricting growth, essentially adopting an anti-compact stance while basing the guidance on the council’s compact city strategy: “There do not appear to be any plan methods which would achieve any objective or policy which seeks to allocate growth within & outside the current metropolitan area, other than using future urban zones as a restriction on growth.

“The panel is not satisfied that such restrictions would promote either the overall growth objective or the purpose of the Resource Management Act. The use of the words ‘greenfield’ & ‘brownfield’ in this context is accordingly not supported.”

In the interim guidance on rural subdivision, the panel said the unitary plan should provide for rural lifestyle subdivision “to a greater extent”: “It may be discouraged or constrained, but should not be effectively prevented. There should be no requirement to use existing rural sites rather than create new ones.”


Source and full blog post: http://www.propbd.co.nz/unitary-plan-panel-odds-council-boundary/


So the RUB needs to be more flexible and the Future Urban Zone is a flawed device into guiding future Greenfield development.


The Unitary Plan concentrates development in the central isthmus, which is already crowded and includes the volcanic area. The council has ignored the lesson from Christchurch that you should not keep all your assets in one place.

Most of the isthmus has well-established high-density suburbs with good houses, trees, gardens and lawns that are environmentally friendly and support large populations of birds and bees. The Unitary Plan will demolish these suburbs and substitute blocks of flats that will increase demand for parking, roads, schools, power, water supply, drainage and the like. There will be serious environmental and social impacts. Expanding infrastructure in an established suburb is far more expensive and environmentally damaging than building new low-cost houses on greenfield developments.


Apart from the Christchurch bit that section from Leyland is pure utter bollocks and should have never made it into the Herald unchecked. For starters thanks to NIMBYism on both sides of the political debate the Unitary Plan does not concentrate development on the Isthmus it actually forces development out into the fringes against the freer market and against the wishes of people interacting in that freer market.

The only place taking a real increase in development is the City Centre itself rather than the rest of the Isthmus. Using the term high density is disingenuous at best and down right false at worst. The only high density areas on the Isthmus are those that contain high rises (9 storeys or more) and that again is mainly the City Centre and parts of Newmarket.

High Density development in the Unitary Plan is also only allowed in the City Centre Zone, nine of the ten Metropolitan Centres, and Pakuranga Town Centre (the Heavy Industry Zone allows for higher density industrial development compared to the Light Industry Zone). The rest of Auckland either has low or medium density development depending on the incoming zones.

The Unitary Plan will not demolish the existing Isthmus suburbs as we are not China nor the former Soviet Union on some State Building exercise. What the Unitary Plan allows in conjunction with the Auckland Design Manual is for the Isthmus to naturally evolve to the demands of the people via the freer market.. Meaning if they want a three storey terraced housing complex in a Terrace Housing and Apartment Zone that allows six storeys then that three storey development can be built. If there is demand for that six storeys then the six can be built instead.

The point being is that the zones are enablers and when applied properly allow the people to choose the housing typology needed for a given area.


As for the myth around Brownfield being more expensive to provide infrastructure; that was refuted in the recent Cost of Growth Study that went to Auckland Council. In short that study concluded independently (from Council) that neither Greenfield nor Brownfield had any advantage or disadvantage over the other in terms of infrastructure costs. How so?

I outline it here (backed up with extra commentary and the report itself): COST OF RESIDENTIAL SERVICING REPORT BEFORE COMMITTEE – UPDATED


The council’s objective is to ration land and artificially inflate land values so as to force people to demolish good houses and force them to build apartment buildings to spread the rates burden. Auckland houses and the land they stand on now cost seven times the average income. In many prosperous and liveable cities overseas, the cost is only three times the average income. Virtually all of the low-cost cities have flexible urban boundaries and town planners whose objective is to help people live how and where they want. The objective of the council planners seems to be to dictate where and how people should live.


Leyland has contradicted himself for reasons I have pointed out earlier in this post.


The Unitary Plan will make personal transport unaffordable for low-income people and this will make it extremely difficult for them to take their families to the beach or parks or out into the bush.


Who says low-income people want personal transport. If the public transport figures and feed back to the Long Term Plan is anything to go by people want more invested on public and active transport and less on “roads.” Heck even Grey Power are saying less on roads:Grey Power joins fight against major road projects



Auckland can pour vast amounts of money into city centre development in the hope of getting enough passengers to justify a railway tunnel, or it can allow the city to spread and develop satellite centres so that people can live in affordable houses and work in the same area.

Before any action is taken on the Unitary Plan and the tunnel, ratepayers should demand that an independent and objective study is done on the social, environmental and economic benefits of allowing the city to spread, compared with intensification. Nothing is more important.


If you used actual facts rather than conjecture Bryan, and that both the Unitary Plan and City Rail Link were that deeply flawed then yes another independent review of both would be needed. But both the Unitary Plan and the CRL are not deeply flawed. They both have some shortcomings but they are being worked through very methodically. The Unitary Plan Panel has not being giving Council and easy ride and on a few occasions have savaged the Council for less than ideal evidence and methodologies for their claims with the Unitary Plan. The Regional Policy Statement Interim Guidance has been a very clear example of that. I also expect the Port of Auckland rules issue to be another example too other the next few months.


So should have the Herald published Leyland’s spam (not even worth putting into the Fiction Section of a Library)? Yes it should have as it does trigger an automatic rebuttal on the true facts. True facts that need to be put out into the public to the point drilled into them. That said I hope the Herald has contacted Deputy Mayor, Auckland Development Chair thus overseer of the Unitary Plan – Penny Hulse for a reply to refute Leyland’s conjecture and put the solid actual information out there……


Source of Herald material: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11410504


Britomart station drawing
Source: Auckland Council

Latest Long Term Plan Feedback Numbers

Pattern becoming visible


The latest Long Term Plan feedback figures have come through and a pattern is beginning to emerge around the topics.

The numbers so far:


While there is little movement across questions one, two and four (apart from which transport modes should be invested in) some clear trends are beginning to emerge:

  • Males still out ranking females 2:1 in giving feed back
  • Those of European ethnicity make up 80% of all feedback so far (down from 82% last week)
  • 16% of all feedback is from under 35’s while 46% are over 55
  • Increasing numbers want budget cuts to Governance and Support. Arguably this is a reaction wanting cuts to the Council staff budget
  • Support for more rail investment has increased compared to last week
  • Public and Active Transport modes still attract most support for more investment although support or non-support for more in roads remains steady
  • The $385 Uniform Annual General Charge level still attracts 48% support while the $900 level faces diminishing support
  • Still a majority reject the proposed rates increase
  •  And 49% still support tolling of some form but with 15% saying no to either Tolls or Taxes/Rates


The Have Your Say events are in full swing which generate plenty of discussion as is. With the Auckland Conversations on transport and transport investment last night it is yet to be seen whether it will influence the feedback for the rest of the period.


Britomart station drawing
Source: Auckland Council

Introducing: #FixOurCity

An Alternative to Auckland’s Transport Choices and Funding Those Choices


At the Auckland Conversations event last night that covered transport and its place in the Long Term Plan this came out from Generation Zero’s Sudhvir Singh:


Well introducing with their launch today the Generation Zero the “Fix Our City” campaign with the ‘Essential Transport Budget.’

From Generation Zero:

Launch of Essential Transport Budget

Youth organisation, Generation Zero, is today launching its report – Fix Our City: An analysis of the Transport Budget in the 2015 – 2025 Long Term Plan – that proposes that Auckland Council focuses on a transport budget that prioritises the essential public transport, walking and cycling projects in the Auckland Plan Network.

The Essential Transport Budget (ETB) lays out which projects in the Auckland Plan Network are required to deliver on Auckland’s goal of becoming the world’s most liveable city and outlines the non-essential projects that should be delayed. Spokesperson Dr Sudhvir Singh explains; “by prioritising only the essential transport projects in the Auckland Plan budget we will be able to save over $220 million a year over the next 10 years.”

Dr Singh; “Both proposed transport budgets in the Long Term Plan – the Basic Plan Network and the Auckland Plan Network – fail to address the issues facing Auckland. The Basic Plan Network doesn’t deliver the level of investment required to keep up with growth, and in the Auckland Plan Network there is still a large number of low value roading projects, designed in a vain effort to ‘solve’ traffic congestion. If just widening roads was the answer to our congestion woes, we would have solved Auckland’s problems years ago.”

The Essential Transport Budget proposes spending $7.7 billion over next 10 years, which is $2.5 billion cheaper than Auckland Council’s Auckland Plan Network ($10.3 billion). This reduces the $300 million a year The Council is attempting to raise through alternative funding to $80 million a year.

At the core of the ETB is a commitment to prioritise public transport and cycling projects, and delay non-essential roading projects such as widening Mill Road. Dr Singh; “This will reduce the burden on ratepayers and ensure we build a ‘turn up and go’ congestion-free public transport network, which is an essential component to Auckland becoming the world’s most liveable city.”

Over the first 3 years of the ETB, walking and cycling would receive $114 million and public transport improvements would receive $621.1 million. The budget saves just over $400 million in the first 3 years by reducing expensive non-essential road improvements.

To fund the additional $80 million a year needed through alternative funding over the next 10 years, the report highlights the ease of a Regional Fuel Tax of 7 cents per litre starting in 2016 as the easiest way to raise funds, while investigating a congestion charge in the 2020s that deals adequately with issues of equity. The report also explains possible revenue raising options in the short term, including the Government contributing by delaying some non-essential motorway projects, and the possible sale of Council assets such as the downtown car parking buildings.

Dr Singh; “With only $80 million a year of additional funding required, we can be more creative in our discussions around alternative funding. Every alternative funding mechanism has its issues, and our report highlights the implications of the different options.”


About Generation Zero

Young New Zealanders working to cut carbon pollution through smarter transport, liveable cities & independence from fossil fuels.


About Fix Our City

The Report; Fix Our City; An analysis of the Transport Budget in the 2014-2024 Long Term Plan, an alternative proposal of essential projects and with possible revenue streams, was written and edited by executive members of Generation Zero. More at fixourcity.co.nz



A screen-grab of the front page

Commentary on their budget version will happen once it is released.

Until then – there is an alternative out there!


February ’15 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking

Ben Ross - Talking Auckland:

Another good month for Talking Auckland with the blog breaking into the Top 30.

My main goal is to get both visitors and Page Views sustained over 10,000 for each month by the end of 2015.

And with that I give my thanks to readers and commenters alike with without you Talking Auckland would not be possible.

This month sees the Long Term Plan feedback rounds close on March 16 with the Council then to deliberate before the final thus operative Budget commences in July.

This month also marks March Madness with the Universities back and the transport systems to get their full work out. Today while the rail system coped State Highway 16 certainly didn’t.

Expect more transport related commentary as we work our way through March Madness.

The Unitary Plan debate heats up again with the Panel releasing Interim Recommendations around the Rural Urban Boundary that marks the line between Urban and Rural Auckland.

Also with the Unitary Plan I have my first two notifications on my submission I gave to the UP. While my hearings are not until later this year I will be gathering the evidence I need to support my claims and ideas to my submission.

All in all this is month three of what will be a busy but interesting 2015

Originally posted on Open Parachute:


Image credit: Dear Kitty. Some blog

There are now over 300 blogs on the list, although I am weeding out those which are no longer active or have removed public access to sitemeters. (Let me know if I weed out yours by mistake, or get your stats wrong).

Every month I get queries from people wanting their own blog included. I encourage and am happy to respond to queries but have prepared a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) people can check out. Have a look at NZ Blog Rankings FAQ. This is particularly helpful to those wondering how to set up sitemeters.

Please note, the system is automatic and relies on blogs having sitemeters which allow public access to the stats.

Here are the rankings of New Zealand blogs with publicly available statistics for February 2015. Ranking is by visit numbers. I have listed the blogs in the table below, together with…

View original 1,626 more words

Spatial Priorities 2

I Talk Cost of Growth

The Report Was Inclusive and Now Buried by Council


Tonight I am back on the All About Auckland Show talking about that Cost of Growth Study Auckland Council seems to have buried rather quietly.

The Promo for tonight’s show

Cost of Growth Inconclusive

The long-awaited Cost of Growth study finally surfaced a couple of weeks ago but seems to have sunk without trace.

The report was inconclusive about the relative costs of green field developments vs brown field, which is why the study has been quietly buried.

I discuss the report with local body commentator Ben Ross

Tonight on SkyTV Channel 83 FACETV

Monday’s at 9pm – repeats Tuesday’s 12.30pm



The Cost of Growth Study I have previously commented on and can be seen here (including the report itself): COST OF RESIDENTIAL SERVICING REPORT BEFORE COMMITTEE – UPDATED

Just a note that Bob Dey has given commentary on a report out about land use rules and economics as well. You can see that here: Economic report for council an exhortation to relax land use rules



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,251 other followers