I have been writing again: Thoughts on Auckland in 2038

Stuff looks at how Auckland might look in 20 years time

After Project Auckland last month and Simon Wilson’s six part series this month in the NZ Herald, Stuff wrote their series called Auckland 2038 or rather how Auckland might look in 2038.

The series can be seen here:

Auckland 2038: The Superdiverse City
Auckland 2038: Jobs, but not as we know them
Auckland 2038: We’re growing upwards
Auckland 2038: A new take on the traditional backyard

How Auckland might move: Auckland 2038: A city on the move but not at the wheel (as much)

In how Auckland might move about both Greater Auckland and myself were interviewed on our perspective with Auckland and its transport in 2038. While Greater Auckland and myself talk to one another you can see in the article we can still come to different conclusions on Auckland’s transport.

So let’s take a look:

Auckland 2038: A city on the move but not at the wheel (as much)

Dileepa Fonseka. 07:17, Jan 11 2019

Big, brash and bold, Auckland is a city in the fast lane. But how will it look in 20 years’ time? Stuff asked the experts to gaze into their crystal balls to predict the super city of 2038. In the fifth of our five-part series, we look at the ways we’ll get around.

More than half a century after Sir Dove-Myer Robinson thrust it on a sheepish Labour government, and later a horrified National Prime Minister Robert Muldoon, Robbie’s Rapid Rail is finally here.

By 2038 Aucklanders should be able to use the shiny new toys its local politicians have been dreaming about for decades. 

Aucklanders will see light rail trams cruising along Dominion Rd, noiseless and exhaust-free electric buses shuffling down busways, and people strolling out of several central city underground train stations and moving across streets in large numbers on foot or by bike.

And there might even be free-flowing road traffic.

But despite the flowering of Robinson’s vision, Aucklanders are still likely to have at least one car in their garage, according to transport advocate Ben Ross.

“The car will still be there because Aucklanders love their beaches and travelling south of the Bombay Hills on holiday.”

In the decades to come the car’s dominance of Auckland is likely to be challenged, not only by major public transport improvements but an ageing population and road pricing.

Greater Auckland Editor Matt Lowrie believes road pricing could replace revenue from fuel taxes as the light vehicle fleet becomes more electrified.

While Ross thinks an ageing population could mean fewer drivers. Modern-day Korea – which is ageing faster than any other developed country – is tearing motorways down as car usage declines.


While new transport systems like light rail will be in play by 2038, major improvements will also have been made to Auckland’s traditional public transport workhorse: the bus.

A regional fuel tax would have funded the last three stages of the Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative (AMETI) busway along with a host of new stations, improved interchanges, and a bus-rail interchange near the airport.

The bus fleet would have been almost completely upgraded to an electric fleet by that stage. 

Lowrie believes the public transport changes would have stacked up to make travel by train and bus “time competitive” with cars.

Aucklanders have already experienced what such a change in commute times can do to public transport patronage.

A huge increase in public transport use over the past few years has seen more people come into the CBD by public transport than by car for the first time since the 1950s, and a similar change could be on the cards across Auckland as a whole. 

Ross believes by 2038 Aucklanders “don’t have to use the car to go from Papakura to Manukau to do shopping, you don’t have to use the car to go down the road, [and] you don’t have to use the car to get to entertainment”.

Transport advocate Ben Ross says by 2038, Aucklanders won't be so reliant on their cars.
STUFF: Transport advocate Ben Ross says by 2038, Aucklanders won’t be so reliant on their cars.


Lowrie believes this could be a source of tension and increasing debate by 2038. 

At that stage the North Shore’s bus routes would be at capacity, he said. 

“One of the challenges with the light rail is not that it won’t do its job, but that it’ll do its job too well and everyone will want it.”

The planned Constellation Dr to Albany busway was being constructed today in a way that could accommodate light rail in the future, Lowrie said.

However, even with some parts of the North Shore light rail-ready, installing it would prove a costly and difficult upgrade, he said.

And by 2038 we could be living with the outcome of another public-transport centred debate involving the North Shore: a second Auckland harbour crossing. 

“Within 10 years’ time we’ll be having a debate about the harbour crossing, and it won’t be the debate we’re used to having.

“Previously it’s been a road crossing with a rail crossing tacked on. I think we’re going to see the conversation changed to being a rail crossing only and not building a road crossing at all.”

All of these changes envision a future where the $28 billion Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) happens on schedule.

But the history of Auckland is one littered with dreams delayed – just think of Robbie’s Rapid Rail. 

Ross sees one such possibility if central government did an about-turn on the regional fuel tax. 

If the fuel tax was repealed over the next few years, a funding gap in ATAP could set back the development of Auckland’s bus, cycle and pedestrian networks. 

And you can add “sci-fi”, as Lowrie refers to it, to the list of unknowns too: autonomous cars, car-sharing and electric cars. 


* Light Rail (City, South and the Northwest)
* City Rail Link
* AMETI Eastern Busway
* Downtown Ferry Terminal
* Airport to Botany rapid transit connection and interchange
* Pukekohe to Papakura heavy rail electrification
* Northern busway extension to Albany
* Two-lane Penlink toll road
* Mill Rd corridor improvements
* Puhoi-Warkworth motorway
* Papakura-Drury motorway widening
* Electric bus fleet across Auckland (by 2040).


Source and full article:
Auckland 2038: A city on the move but not at the wheel (as much)

What was not covered (by either Stuff or the Herald) was the tale of two Cites as the South (Southern Auckland) has reforged its unique identity against the rest of the wider City and how this impacts community and economy of Auckland’s largest and fastest growing sub region.

None-the-less looking at the above list there is a lot of projects about to get underway if they have not already done so. With that and subsequent urban development there is a lot to do in 2019 to make sure we stay on the correct track.

Project Auckland

My Project Auckland contribution from December last year:

Project Auckland Source: NZ Herald