John Banks Transport Vision


Mayor John Banks is calling for rail and more rail, including the CBD tunnel and a Britomart to the airport link.

Here are his latest thoughts on Auckland’s transport in a guest post:

“If there is one reason why we need to get this supercity right it is to get transport working properly.
It’s an issue that impacts on all of us and in the past we have struggled. But now we have an opportunity to get it sorted.

We need to get our motorway network completed- urgently. This city is second only to Los Angeles in terms of the number of cars per capital and it is also the second most spread- out city.
Six out of 10 North Shore residents travel outside their area every day in a week. Efficient public transport is critical. The successful Northern Busway is a great model we must replicate throughout greater Auckland.

Recently, I met a young woman from Henderson who drivers every day to study in Manukau. It would cost her almost $20 to catch two buses and a train using three different tickets. It’s cheaper and faster to drive. That’s not good enough.
We need an integrated ticketing system allowing one smart card for us on buses , ferries, trains and even council carparks.
But one transport network that isn’t congested, even at peak hours, is the harbour. We need to improve ferry services and facilities. Locals in Half Moon Bay say a couple of extra sailings would increase their choices significantly. Why not?

I support the electrification of our trains and an inner-city loop from Britomart to Mt Eden. It would make the CBD accessible to 370,000 people by trips of 30 minutes or less.

I have a vision of a quick rail link with a one-stop terminal in the heart of the city from to the airport, with check-in services like those in London.

I’d like to see rail included in any proposal for a future harbour crossing too, plus access for pedestrians and cyclists, most likely across the existing bridge.

I visited the Manukau harbour crossing project recently. It is on budget and ahead of time. It’s a fantastic example of how we can get things done quickly when we all work together.

More and more people are choosing to walk or cycle, so we must accommodate your needs too. Walkers and cyclists have a right to feel safe. We need a network of cycleways, while measures like red-light cameras, walking school buses and school speed zones will help look after pedestrians -especially children.

Greater Auckland is a wonderful place to live, work, play and raise families. the new council mist deliver safe and efficient transport choices that enable us all to enjoy our great city.”




  1. Matt L says:

    John, you have been saying much of this recently which is good to see, you have also actually been doing stuff that is beneficial to public transport like the central connector, far more than what Len Brown has done

    There are some good statements here but also some that concern. What motorway projects do you think still need completing (with the exception of what is in progress or the government has announced). What will you do to ensure we get a CBD tunnel and Airport loop as well as the other things you have talked about like integrated ticketing. What are your views on having a busway along the northwestern motorway or a rail line out east through Howick/Botany

  2. Andrew says:

    In terms of the Auckland motorway, I’d like to see a need a definition of what “completed” means.

    It seems “completed” previously meant the Western Ring Route, but now it seems to have changed so that “completed” also includes a link between Mangere Bridge/Onehunga and SH1 at Penrose. And the Holiday Highway. The goalposts for “completion of the Auckland motorway network” seem to shift a lot. When will it end?

    I also look forward to the day when some of the people making transport decisions attempt to regularly use all Auckland’s transport modes themselves.

    I’d also like to point out that the young woman you met in Henderson doesn’t understand her ticket options - with today’s available options, a full day multi-operator integrated “Discovery” day pass is $14, and its monthly equivalent is $225 - for a typical month with 20 Monday-Friday workdays in it, that’s $11.25 per workday, not the $20 she claims, and it can be used for any trip any time.

    Those passes are good for the trains, North Shore ferries, and all bus operators except the Airbus.

  3. jarbury says:

    Second most spread out city according to who? I’ll really laugh if Los Angeles is supposedly the most spread out city in the world - when in fact it is the US city with the HIGHEST density.

    Auckland’s density is well above Brisbane and Perth’s, and close to that of Sydney and Melbourne’s. It’s a poorly informed myth that we’re an unusually low density sprawled city.

  4. rtc says:

    I am happy that Banks is on the PT bandwagen, but please don’t state the need for things that are happening. Integrated ticketing is happening, so too is electrification - don’t tout these as thing you will have any role in achieving - they will happen regardless of whether John Banks gets in or not. However, pushing for the CBD tunnel, rail to the short and the airport, further busways and cycleways are areas where a bit more than rhetoric are needed.

  5. Jeremy Harris says:

    Congrats Jon C at attracting a sitting Mayor to do a guest post, this blog goes from strength to strength…
    Mayor Banks, thank you for taking your time to share your thoughts with us. I agree wholeheartedly and will be holding you to these words if you are elected.
    - Firstly, can we please dispel the myth that Auckland is unusually low density once and for all, a recent OECD report stated that of the 50 cities in the US, Canada, Australia and NZ over 1 million people, Auckland has the 8th HIGHEST density.
    - Why has your opinion of public transport changed so markedly since you tried to stop Britomart and complete the Estern Motorway..?


  6. John Dalley says:

    John Banks supporting private transport and rail. Pull the other one.
    The man speaks with forked tongue, after all it’s election time.

  7. rtc says:

    What new PT initiatives has Banks got through this term? His first term consisted of attempting to cancel Britomart and push through the Eastern Highway. This term also consisted of cancelling the planned light rail plans and replacing some of them with the central connector. His second term has consisted of attempting to cancel the Central Connector, which was planned and funded during Hubbarbs term, and only going through with it because NZTA and ARTA funded the bulk of the costs. What else, I seem to recall Auckland City Council refusing to support cycle access across the bridge. Furthermore, it was Banks’ first council that happily accepted the Birch reported which stated that walking and cycling should be discouraged because they didn’t pay petrol tax. Give me break, Banks is a savvy politician and he knows how to sell himself as something he isn’t to get votes. I for one don’t buy it. Six years in office and I’ve yet to see him pushing through any major PT initatives.

  8. Sarah says:

    @jarbury Show some respect. You are talking to the Mayor of Auckland, and he is going to be a wonderful mayor of the new city.
    You said somewhere you work for a government department.
    I shudder how you must talk to your Minister.

  9. CamBennett says:

    @Sarah, what is up with you? Do you work for the National Party or Citizens and Ratepayers? All of your posts are the same they just seem to be berating people for critisising politicians of a ceratin political leaning.

    There is absolutley nothing wrong with what Jarbury posted he simply challenged some of Jone Banks’s assertations. Which he has every right to do. There is nothing disrespectful about that, that’s how things are done in a free and democratic society. The Mayor has every right to respond to that himself, i find it curious you get so offended on other people’s behalf.

  10. Jon C says:

    Let’s not get distracted and please keep the debate to the important issue of the future of Auckland transport’s needs.

  11. Hello all, here are a few clarifying points that might be useful for commenters here.

    1. The above article is a repost with permission from “The Banksie Bulletin”, a column John Banks has in the suburban papers every month or so.

    2. I saw nothing in Josh Arbury’s post that was offensive. He made an interesting point. Of course, density will depend on what you set as the boundaries. Are you talking LA County, or just the City of Los Angeles, which is one of the seven parts of the Greater Los Angeles (similar to how Auckland City is, for a few more months, only one of seven authorities in Auckland region. I think Banksie was referring to geographic spread or sprawl, rather than density.

    3. It is inaccurate to say John Banks and C&R tried to cancel the Central Connector. I know, because I was there when the list of _ALL_ projects were put up as ways in which rates could be saved by dialling back on capital spend. There was no real desire to cut back by removing a project which we deemed to be of significant value to improving PT in Auckland. It was on the list of projects for consideration for deferral and/or cancellation, because all projects were on the list. It became clear early on in the council term that this was a keeper.

    4. Public transport is actually the domain of the regional council, so most major initiatives on PT will come from them. City Councils are limited to things like creating bus lanes, cycleways, park and ride stations and similar. Mayors are presently limited to advocacy, which Banks has been successful in doing such as promoting projects like the CBD Rail loop. This will change in a few short months when a single council means one Mayor will have the ability to not just advocate but finance transport initiatives.

    5. Jeremy Harris has asked “Why does Banks support PT when he backed an Eastern Corridor in his first term?”.

    I’m happy to answer that. In the first instance, John is a democrat. He made the ETC an election issue in 2004 to help relieve traffic congestion, and he lost. The voters said they didn’t want a motorway and they wanted a greater focus on PT. John accepts that, and promised he would drop all plans for a motorway and focus on PT instead. Hence why he came back and has gained back the support of many of those who would have been affected by a road across Hobson Bay and through Purewa Creek and Kohimarama. Why would he push for a project that lost at the ballot box?

    The politics of the ETC are fascinating for me, as I was heavily involved in the 2004 campaign in Hobson Ward where I lost my community board role when C&R backed a road across Hobson Bay, and instrumental in C&R’s comeback in 2007 when we promised not to build such a road, resulting in a clean sweep to C&R and my election as councillor.

    In the end, the ETC was just a project as a part of a wider policy. Elections occur, policies get changed with elections. But there seems to be an agreement amongst the left and right that PT needs more work, which is why its not a heavily charged issue like it was 6 years ago.

    Remember also, that the ETC had some ambitious PT improvements too, some of which have continued in the form of AMETI. Auckland City continues to procure properties to build this project, though I note Manukau have not.

    Aaron Bhatnagar
    C&R Councillor for Hobson Ward,
    Campaign Strategist for John Banks

  12. jarbury says:

    Aaron, the statistics I have are from what one would consider to be the contiguous urban area of Los Angeles - ie. it includes all the sprawl.

    LA has higher than expected densities because its general water shortages (say compared to eastern USA cities) mean that section sizes are generally quite small. Certainly Los Angeles is probably one of the geographically biggest cities in the world (I think the urban area which NYC is the centre of is the biggest geographically) so perhaps by that definition it could be considered one of the most sprawled, but in terms of densities LA is quite high (because its population is so huge).

    I respect John Banks for his changed attitude on public transport and I think he should be congratulated rather than berated for his changed attitude. After all, I think every PT advocate in Auckland has the dream that Steven Joyce may some day have the same epiphany as John Banks had when it comes to PT.

  13. ingolfson says:

    Well, I like most of the things in Banks editorial - except the “need” to “complete” our motorways, stated front and center. That may be a need in some sense, but there’s much more crucial needs, like building the CBD tunnel.

    It may not be John Banks decision or ability to decide between the two (because both are or would be paid for to a very large degree by Crown funding), but surely if we could have only one, the choice would be clear.

    I’d also ask for more comitttment - i.e. “dollars on the ground”, so to speak. Auckland City’s Council’s public transport / walking and cycling track record under the reelected John Banks has been mixed. The only real game-changer they brought in was shared space. Bravo for that.

    Beyond that, a very mixed record on supporting alternative modes, which can only partly be excused by the global financial crisis - alternative modes still seem to get the chop first.

  14. Ross says:


    Is this Mr Banks who a decade or two ago was CAR CAR CAR??? This is scary! What will he espouse next?

    The word is chameleon - and a very flakey one at that!

  15. jarbury says:

    What does “completing the motorway network” really entail? The proposed Dominion Road motorway of the 1960s? The proposed Pakuranga motorway? The proposed Henderson motorway? The good old Eastern Highway?

    Or basically just “Waterview Connection and we’re done”?

    I like the idea that the Waterview Connection is the last motorway built within the Auckland urban area.

  16. joust says:

    Interesting stuff. Thanks Mayor Banks and Cr. Bhatnagar. I’d echo the other commenters asking for a bit more detail on some of those plans at some stage.

    Will there be debates for the super-mayor candidates? Though I suppose the 2 already-announced candidates agree with each other in broad strokes on transport matters.

  17. sj says:

    If those motorways on the 1960s plan jarbury linked were metro lines, that would make a pretty decent network.

  18. Jeremy Harris says:

    Hello Aaron thanks for posting, the little dig at Len Brown made me laugh, I haven’t seen a post for a while from you that didn’t have one.
    I was hoping for a little more than, “he’s changed because he lost last time” but I’ll take it. I’m glad to see C & R has come around to a certain extent on PT, I would note that Auckland has a long history of electing pro-PT councillors and voting out those that aren’t, it really indicates how undemocratic our transport planning and funding mechanisms are.
    Cheers again

  19. Anthony says:

    My 2 cents.

    Excellent Jon C. Your website is really making people chat. Also nice to see Jarbury commenting.

    In my mind there has been a lot of people like Cam, Jon and Jarbury on the grass roots putting documents together, getting petitions and helping with Auckland transport needs.

    I thing we have made 1 step forward….

    Therefore I hope to see Len Brown elected at this stage.

  20. max says:

    “Is this Mr Banks who a decade or two ago was CAR CAR CAR??? This is scary! What will he espouse next?

    The word is chameleon – and a very flakey one at that!”

    Ross, would you rather have a politican unwilling to change, unwilling to learn?

    As I have said, I still feel that Banks needs to show that he’s doing more than saying the right thing - but I have no problem with him changing his mind on something important like PT.

    After all, that is exactly what PT advocates are trying to achive - convince politicians and the public that there’s a lot of sense, socially and economically, in a good PT system.

  21. Jeremy Harris says:

    Absolutely Max, I applaud Mayor Banks for what he says but I will reserve judgement until after the election (if he wins) and see the push continue…
    The reality is the Mayor will have no control over the rail network (except stations and even then only if they can get AT to listen to them) and if the PTMA reforms go through, little control over the bus routes (again if AT will listen to them)…
    Mr Joyce and Infratil will have close to total control over the Auckland PT network…

  22. Nick R says:

    I’d just like to remind people here that Mr Banks is a politician. The cornerstone of that role is to facilitate the will of the people who elected him as their representative and advocate.
    I may not agree with all of his past or present policies, but it is a testament to him as a politician that he can see public opinion is now very much in favour of public transport. One can only hope that Mr Banks can see the logic and need behind such a shift in transport policy also, and that his vision on the road to Damascus isn’t just a vote chasing charade. However, as long as his actions match his words it doesn’t really matter if he personally believes in what the people want.

    I’d just like to add that the Mayor is a politician and businessman, he isn’t a transport planner, nor is he an expert in the density of urban environments. Jarbury however is a planner with an in-depth knowledge of urban issues, and he is perfectly within his rights to question the mayor’s sources and offer an alternative -possibly better informed- view.

    On the density issue I would like to say that my own graduate research indicates that the talk of Auckland being second-most spread out is indeed inaccurate, but more importantly it is irrelevant. If we cast aside the arbitrary borders of city or regional limits and look at the actual developed area of cities, Auckland happens to have the second highest density of any major city in Australasia (after Sydney) and it also covers the third smallest extent (only Hobart and Canberra are smaller of the Australian capitals). The unique combination of harbours, ithsmus and mountains in Auckland have served to keep it relatively dense and contained, compared most similar cities in Australia or North America.
    But as I have said this is all irrelevant, because that same research has indicated that there is no significant link between urban density and any common measure of public transport usage across Australasian or American cities. The ‘common wisdom’ on the topic isn’t supported by the data. Rather the critical factor that determines how people travel is quite simply transport policy. In Auckland’s case people overwhelmingly drive everywhere because we have spent the last six or so decades providing almost exclusively for private transport at the expense of every alternative.

    If Mr Banks or any of the other candidates are reading this, I would hope they take on one thing. It is not the shape or size or nature of our city that creates transport networks, it is politicians and government departments that create transport networks. We decide the nature of transport and the city grows around it, it doesn’t work the other way around.

  23. Jeremy Harris says:

    Nick R are you in fact Paul Mees is disguise..? Because he could have written that post…
    If Mayor Banks actually reads this: If elected, I hope you fire the AT board as your first act as Mayor, as Hide has said you are able to do and appoint Professor Mees as the Chairman…

  24. Joshua says:

    Nick R - perfectly said.

    I personally would like someone who will learn, and change their ideals to what the people want, and Banksy has shown that he is willing to do that in terms of transport policies. That’s a strong position that if something is important he will listen and take note.

    Also when compared to other mayor’s in the Auckland Region, he has shown that he is more in tune with making Actions towards PT improvement, which gives me more confidence he will walk the talk as to say.

    With the finishing Auckland Motorway Network I am asuming he’s just talking about the completion of SH20, Waterview, which is an important part of our transport infrastructure, but I would agree that we need a clarification of this as this should be the last new section of Motorway built in Auckland for a very long time.

  25. Nick R says:

    No I’m not Paul Mees, but you could certainly call me a follower of his theories. The research I refered to above was part of the assessment for Dr Mees’ transport planning paper that I took last year as part of my Planning Masters.
    He makes everyone who takes his paper research the link between density and mode share, to underline the lack of any evidence supporting the concept. As far as I know nobody has been able to find any defensible link between density and mode share in the American-Australasian context.
    The only way to ‘prove’ such a link is to pick and choose only those cities (and the boundary definition) that support the hypothesis, while excluding the bulk of cities that don’t from the analysis.

    Anyone interested in this topic should read his new text “Transport for Suburbia”, particularly the chapter “Density is not destiny”. He points out that the original argument that Auckland is too spread out for anything but roads comes from the old Master Transportion Plan, which cites a figure from a book by Australian researcher Dr Fooks called “X Ray the City”. However if you go to Fooks’ original text the figure is used as an example of how using arbitrary regional boundaries is misleading and erroneous! If you actually go back to the original table in the Fooks book it shows, for example, Vienna with a lower (arbirary) population density than Auckland, a figure conveniently left out of the Master Transportation Plan.

    But again, even if you use the best definitions there is still no significant link between density and transport mode. It is simply public opinion and political will that determine the nature of our transport system.

  26. joust says:

    Its an unfortunate widely held view with many Aucklanders that we live in a giant sparsely populated region, too vast and misshapen to be effectively served by transit.

  27. max says:

    Nick R - I could see the argument that Auckland may not be all that dispersed in density terms as people say.

    BUT I fail to see how there cannot be a link by density regarding the cost of PT. Now if you are talking COMPARATIVE costs, maybe you are right (i.e. sparsely populated regions spend a lot more on getting a road network, just as they spend more on a PT network).

    However, I ain’t convinced yet that less bums on seats =! less bus/train efficieny. The reverse argument (more dense settlement = better PT sustainability) is so easily understandable, and also one of the mainstays of sustainability planning. If you argue that there’s no link between density and PT viability, you argue that these settlement patterns have no effect either - whether you provide for PT or for cars then becomes a choice unrelated to density.

  28. Jeremy Harris says:

    @max, in the book Nick R referred to the professor goes into very detailed look at how the stats used to come up with the “PT needs density” argument was formed and how error filled it was… The basic argument is PT use falls the further away you get from the CBD (for a number of reasons) no matter what the density is (this is shown to be true in planned cities, such as Canberra, with it’s almost uniform density) because most cities have declining densities as you get further away from the centre the two have become confused…
    The central argument is infrastructure and density play their part in ensuring ease of providing good PT but the transport policy is the most important factor…

  29. jarbury says:

    I think it’s also important to look at how one measures density. If you had an urban area with pretty uniform section sizes across the whole thing, compared to another city with huge concentrations around transit nodes but lower density elsewhere - they could have the same density overall. But of course one would be more PT friendly than the other.

    Mees doesn’t argue that urban form is irrelevant, but what he does say is that we need to stop using density as an excuse to ignore doing public transport right. Vancouver is a good example of how a city’s urban form (but not necessarily its overall density) has been adapted to work in synergy with its transportation system.

    Unfortunately here in Auckland we have a transport policy that generally works in the opposite direction to our planning goals.

  30. max says:

    I can see the “lets not use it as an argument to write off PT” argument.

    But having more people living in the 400-800m area around a PT route still is more potential punters on seats - with the same amount of buses or trains. That means same amount of operating costs, but better pro-person returns in fare money and also less subsidies per person - improving the effectiveness twice over.

    For me, that is density impacting how well PT will do financially. So far, you’re really not convincing me.

  31. Jeremy Harris says:

    He makes the point again in the book that more density is obviously desirable but is a minor factor when compared to the others, he also points out that the majority of housing stock we will be living in in 2050 already exists so we better find ways to provide high quality PT to “sprawling” suburbs or find another planet… Examples of places that have done just that are then given… It’s a great read…

  32. Carl says:

    John has a problem, doing and saying are two different things.

    they wasted all the money on the water front bs for sketches, and drawings, to amount to nothing.

    as elvis would say, a little less conversation a little more action please!

  33. [...] Auckland was the “second most spread out city in the world” (after Los Angeles) in a Guest Post on Aucklandtrains. He used this “fact” to justify why Auckland needs to “compete its motorway [...]


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