An illustration featuring a collage of various transportation modes and dollar signs. A hand is positioned in the center, holding a bicycle, a train, and a boat, each accompanied by green dollar signs. The background is a textured pattern of green and beige, resembling currency notes.

PartnersJune 5, 2024

How to help Auckland’s $63bn bid for better transport get over the line

An illustration featuring a collage of various transportation modes and dollar signs. A hand is positioned in the center, holding a bicycle, a train, and a boat, each accompanied by green dollar signs. The background is a textured pattern of green and beige, resembling currency notes.

The Regional Land Transport Plan will determine how Aucklanders move (or don’t) for the next 10 years. Here’s how to have your say on where the money gets spent (or doesn’t).

It’s a Friday afternoon. You reach your bus station, check your phone and realise your bus isn’t coming. You’ll need to wait for the next one. It’s the second one this week to be cancelled. Once you’re finally home, you get ready to pick up the kids. Reversing, you expertly swerve around the local pothole – it’s taking longer than normal to get it fixed. Is it getting bigger? Is it a sinkhole? On the road, traffic is building up already. You hate sitting in traffic, but feel like you don’t have a choice. The kids say they’d happily bike to school, but the cycleway here isn’t safe. 

Sound familiar? It’s no secret that Auckland’s ageing transport infrastructure is struggling to sustainably cope with the region’s growth – but it desperately needs to catch up. By 2034, there will be another 220,000 Aucklanders in the city. Aucklanders who also need to walk, cycle, bus, train, ferry or drive on our transport network.

If left unaddressed, the pressure on our transport systems will only increase. Cracks are already beginning to show – literally, as there’s a backlog of repair and maintenance work. Not all cycling and walking infrastructure is safe or fit for purpose; public transport can be patchy and unreliable; and driving can be frustrating with congestion and the cost of living. Additionally, in 2018, an urban road safety survey showed Auckland has one of the highest rates of walking, cycling and motorcycling fatalities in the world.

A congested city street in Auckland filled with cars, buses, and trucks during peak traffic. The scene includes multiple traffic lights and urban infrastructure, with a variety of vehicles navigating the busy road. The image is bordered by a teal background with illustrations of dollar bills in the corners, emphasizing the financial aspect of transportation issues.
A particularly bad morning for Auckland commuters (Photo: Getty Images; additional design: The Spinoff)

With smart, careful planning of upgrades and improvements to the infrastructure and public services, we can improve the safety and efficiency of our transport system. If you’ve ever thought “they should fix that” while using Auckland’s transport network – now’s your chance to have a say.

What is the Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP)? 

In a nutshell, it’s the Auckland region’s “bid” for better transport. Better transport that would be paid for with national funding from fuel taxes. 

The plan proposes projects that could make getting around our largest city easier, faster, safer, more affordable and enjoyable.

Sounds ideal. What is actually in the plan?

The draft RLTP is out now. It outlines a 10-year plan and $63 billion investment into Auckland’s transport network.

The projects within the plan focus on establishing quicker, more reliable public transport, reducing traffic, reducing emissions, improving road safety and more.

Where the heck would Auckland get $63 billion?

The first $22bn will come from Auckland Council, the Crown and third party sources. To deliver the full plan though, a further $41bn is needed from the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF).

That’s a tonne of money. Are we going to get it? 

Probably not. Or at least not all of it. Not all projects within the RLTP will be funded. Choices need to be made around which projects deserve priority. 

How will those choices be made?

A few projects are mandatory: maintaining roads and railways, funding existing public transport services and completing existing projects like the Eastern Busway and City Rail Link. 

To determine where discretionary funds go, Auckland Transport needs community input. “What Aucklanders tell us is vital towards ensuring that we are aligning what we do with the lived experiences and expectations of our communities,” Dean Kimpton, CEO of Auckland Transport, explains.

Kimpton adds that a more efficient transport network is the “promise to the people of Auckland”. He envisions that in a decade, someone in Auckland will have the option of driving, catching public transport, walking or cycling to their destination in a timely manner. Only then, he says, will we get the best value out of our transport network.

“[As an Aucklander] I want to know that I can get to where I want to go, that I’ve got a choice in getting there, and that I’ll get there safely.”

Your opinion could help decide what the future of Auckland transport looks like.

What can I pick, what’s on offer?

The draft RLTP addresses roads, public transport, walking, cycling and traffic management infrastructure.

Within each domain, specific projects can be prioritised. Which roads most urgently need upgrading? Should we continue to decarbonise public transport? Which areas would most benefit from better connected walking and cycling routes? How can we better connect the public transport network? How can we improve road safety? Is there another aspect of our transport network we should be investing in?

An Auckland Transport bus and bus card also called a Hop Card are surrounded by clocks and money signs on top of a green and red bacground.
There’s still time to weigh in on what transport projects deserve priority (Design: Tina Tiller)

What impacts could the RLTP have?

Fewer potholes. Faster bus routes. Fewer fatalities. 

Hamish Bunn, general manager transport system strategy & policy at Auckland Transport, explains that if funding is secured, Aucklanders can expect to have better experiences moving around the city. 

“Continued improvements in the public transport network, City Rail Link operating more high frequency services, more bus priority lanes, the Eastern Busway completed, ideally the Northwestern Rapid Transit Project would be well underway, public transport boardings will increase, we will have reduced death and serious injuries on our roads than we would have otherwise, and our public transport fleet will be lower emissions.”

What might happen without this investment?

If Auckland’s transport networks aren’t properly managed and future-focused, Aucklanders and the industries that rely on our transport networks will suffer the consequences. 

“Aucklanders will have a worse travel experience. Everybody will take longer to get places. increased congestion… road surfaces will get crappier and they’ll cost more to maintain,” says Bunn. 

We may be unprepared for the impacts of climate change – severe weather events continue to impact the state of our roads, like the highway network disrupted by Cyclone Gabrielle. Transport also accounts for a significant amount of our greenhouse gas emissions. Transport policy is a crucial way to minimise New Zealand’s carbon footprint and meet our climate obligations. 

Auckland’s transport network and its connections to other regions impacts the productivity and economy of the super-city and our neighbours. We rely on this network for shipping and freight, ways to get to and from work, study, play. It connects our communities. 

OK, how can I help get this $63bn bid across the line?

By having a say. The draft RLTP is out now and open for public feedback. You can do both on this AT website. Public consultation on the draft RLTP ends on Monday 17 June.