For a Better Brisbane

Monday Movie: Auckland, City of Cars 2

“But the density is too low.” This excuse has often been featured in arguments against improved public transport, including arguments against light rail. In this clip, the urban density of Auckland is higher than that of Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Vancouver and Montreal.

Perth rates a special mention. Dr Peter Newman describes leading a community campaign to reopen the shut down Fremantle railway. Since then Perth has quietly engaged in a rail revolution based around a transport network where buses collect passengers in the suburbs and then interchange them with trains for the trip to the CBD.

And what happened to Perth’s old diesel trains? Well, they were sold off to none other than Auckland! Your correspondent caught one at Britomart station, and was shocked to find that tickets were being sold on board inside the train, manually by conductors! The Auckland Regional Transport Authority in 2005 reported train patronage was 7.5 million passenger journeys per year, while more recent figures given by an Auckland public transport blog gives (rising) patronage at 8.4 million passenger journeys per year.¬† This figure could be easily carried by Brisbane’s BUZ bus network.

If that wasn’t enough, all sorts of woeful explanations such as the “shape” of the city have been advanced as to why Auckland has little prospect for rail. Dr Paul Mees explains how public transport should be done in a well run system.


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September 5, 2010 at 11:20 am

2 Responses

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  1. Auckland did have a very good tram system and public transport usage comparable with that of Toronto in the 1950’s (290 trips per person per year or so in the movie).

    The high frequency Link bus going around is a step in the right direction.
    It would be interesting to see what the original plans in the 1950’s were for the public transport side of things.


    September 6, 2010 at 2:48 pm

  2. Having resided and transport planned in Auckland I wouldn’t deride the “shape” argument so quickly, there is a grain of truth to this one. Due to the harbors, the (now defunct) Auckland city council area is nearly an island connected only by relatively thin bottlenecks of land at New Lynn and Otahuhu. These strips already contain one or the other of Auckland’s rail lines. Every other way into Auckland involves bridges/viaducts. Add to this that Auckland is famously hilly and you see that the city “shape” is a serious factor in any planning/engineering scheme. The real problem with the “shape” argument is it applies equally to road or PT projects. Building a new harbor tunnel involves facing the same engineering problems (more or less) whether it channels rail, bus-way or normal traffic. So “shape” will affect the economic viability of a corridor from a use/don’t use sense, but the economics of PT vs Car probably remains the same.


    September 6, 2010 at 11:07 am

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