in Auckland could be boosted by at least $1.3 billion per annum if use of the
roading network could be optimised.
An NZIER report
commissioned by the EMA, Auckland International Airport Ltd, Infrastructure NZ,
Ports of Auckland Ltd and the National Road Carriers Association took a
detailed look at the social and economic costs of congestion to Auckland’s
lifestyle and economy.
The report found that
if Auckland’s road network could operate at its designed capacity during week
days it would benefit the Auckland economy by nearly $3.5 million per day. Sick
days cost the New Zealand economy $1.5 billion per annum - fixing Auckland’s
congestion illness would be like finding a cure for the common cold and
immunising the entire country against the flu.
organisations are united in the view that there is a pressing case for
decongestion measures to be introduced in Auckland now, not in the 6-10 year
time frame currently being contemplated by both central and local government.
All agreed the size of
the productivity prize and liveability gains for Auckland and the scale of the
problem demanded action.
NZIER took a
sophisticated model that can break down the impact per business sector and
applied Auckland Transport’s latest 2016 traffic flow information to the
problem that is increasingly strangling Auckland and its economy.
“What business is
telling us and what we’re seeing in the numbers is that congestion has worsened
exponentially in the past three to five years,” says Kim Campbell, CEO, EMA.
“Our EMA members who
took part in focus groups put the productivity loss in the 20-30% bracket so
what the above figures show is the average productivity loss across the entire
population of Auckland.”
Some of the highlighted
Hiring 20% more staff to carry out the same volume of work
Trucking firms making fewer runs over fixed routes over longer time frames to
deliver less volume of product with a near 30% productivity loss
Service firms establishing depots around the city, at significant costs, to
meet service promises i.e. one-hour replacements or deliveries
Trucking firms refusing to deliver to some parts of the city described as black
holes for their vehicles
Infrastructure NZ CEO Stephen Selwood, the actual productivity gains may be
“We know this estimate
is conservative. The model only measures congestion on five of seven days and
of course, business is a seven-day a week operation. It also only values
leisure trips at less than half the value of work time, a value I’m sure many
Aucklanders would agree undershoots the cost.
“I’m also very
concerned that the Auckland Transport Alignment Plan (ATAP) only sets its
sights on not making congestion worse in the next 30 years and its 10-year
time-frame for introducing congestion charging is just too far away.”
Ports of Auckland CEO
Tony Gibson stressed the report showed a need for a multifaceted approach to
reducing congestion to boost productivity.
“Congestion is making
life worse for all of us, so we need to act now. There is no one answer to the
problem, we need to attack congestion with everything we’ve got: investment in
road, rail, public transport, technology, demand management and so on. We also
need to be much smarter and think further ahead in how we plan transport for
National Road Carriers
Association CEO David Aitken also highlighted lifestyle issues caused by
congestion as a fundamental difficulty for recruiting in the freight sector.
“The Road Freight
sector has seen increasing congestion for some years. The fact that
travel times have increased 47% in just three years and is only going to get
worse if we don’t do something is a clear sign we need to be thinking about
solutions and taking actions now. Productivity has declined in an already
“Five years ago a truck
driver could make a living on about 50 hours per week, but now with congestion
that’s up to 70 hours a week and people do actually want to spend time with
family rather than sitting in Auckland traffic. At a time when it’s hard
to get drivers, we are losing them as they don’t want to be sitting in
congestion all day.”
While all of the CEOs
acknowledge that better progress is being made than has been the case in the
past, authorities need to demonstrate a much greater sense of urgency.
experiences worse congestion than cities up to five times its size is an
indictment on poor planning and inadequacy of investment which goes back
decades. Neither Auckland nor New Zealand can afford to let the problem get any
worse. We must act now to realize the social and economic opportunities that
decongesting Auckland presents.
For further information and comment contact Stephen
Selwood on 021 791 209