Len Brown: My Transport Views


From Len Brown, Manukau Mayor and Auckland mayoral candidate:

“Transport – there’s no denying it’s at the forefront of every Aucklander’s mind.

Every school holidays, we rediscover what it’s like to live in a city that flows smoothly, as rush-hour trips that normally take 40 minutes or longer are over in 20 minutes.

And every local body politician vying for election is busy vowing that they will ensure Auckland has a public transport system that gives people options and avoids that congestion. But you have to ask– will they do what they say, or is it all talk?

One way to answer that question is to look at what they have achieved already. The answer, in Manukau, is: quite a lot.

Next year the first extension of Auckland’s rail network in almost 80 years will open – in Manukau.

The $50million 1.8km Manukau Rail Link and $10 million extra for bus stations will give new transport options to hundreds of thousands of Aucklanders.

Soon after opening, about 600,000 passenger journeys will be made through the train station each year – Britomart will be the only station in Auckland that is busier. And each year about 1.2 million passenger journeys will be made through the bus station.

That’s 1.8 million journeys that won’t be contributing to the 53 extra seconds a kilometre to your journey into work takes each morning (the time-cost of morning rush-hour congestion, estimated by the Auckland Regional Council).

The link was on the planning board in 2001 at the same time as the still unbuilt inner-city rail loop.  But unlike the rail loop, it’s about to become reality and make a real difference.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing – we had to overcome obstacles. For example, in 2008 the council was facing a 5.9% rate increase its businesses and residents could ill afford. Manukau City Council made tough calls to shave 1.1% off that rates increase and we are still on track to complete the project on time.

We decided to end the link at Davies Ave rather than continue it to the city centre carpark, saving $10m.

But the station is future-proofed for through-rail. And we encouraged development around that station – last year MIT announced a new campus linked to the new station, and students will begin classes there in 2012.

Meanwhile, Auckland is still waiting for its inner-city rail loop. Last year the Auckland Regional Transport Authority predicted if that rail loop was completed downtown Auckland would be accessible to 370,000 people by train trips of 30 minutes or less. That’s another 370,000 people who could get to work each morning without contributing to those long delays.

If we want to make a difference to Auckland’s traffic congestion we have to be determined to act and fundamentally change attitudes in favour of public transport through significantly increasing its capacity. The New Lynn rail station complex is an example of what can be achieved.

Here’s what I believe we have to do:

  • We need to get on with the inner-city rail loop – this could double the number of peak hour trains through Britomart to 40 an hour. It would also result in urban regeneration around the stations.
  • We need to build the airport link to cater for the growth in tourist numbers. It will also speed up trade links and make importing/exporting more efficient. We need to move forward with getting the route designation finished– it’s time to move.
  • We’ve almost completed work on integrated ticketing and electric trains opening up the network and making it more accessible.
  • We need to finish the motorway links – such as the Waterview connection and the North Harbour Highway – to make our roads clearer for commerce, and include bus lanes – such as that across the new Mangere Bridge
  • We need to get on with planning the second harbour crossing – especially for rail– and start to build on the dream of a rail spine from Orewa to Pukekohe

And we need to extend ferry and cycling options. We have one of the most beautiful harbours in the world, it should also be one of the most functional.

All the talk of priorities – with no effective action behind the words – will not solve our transport issues.

What will solve them is a determination to make building an efficient 21st-century urban transport system a priority. We’ve been too slow to push public transport options, even in Manukau, but now we’re refocusing our efforts on delivering better public transport. The new Auckland-Manukau Eastern Transport initiative contains several more public transport options.

I’ve spoken out against the proposed transport CCO, which I believe will make delivering this transport vision problematic. I won’t hesitate in promoting change should the model not work.

From the moment I announced my candidacy to become mayor of all Auckland I said that getting this city moving was one of my priorities. The Manukau Rail Link shows what happens when talk of priority is backed by action – I want to bring that action to all Auckland.

I’ll be talking a lot about transport throughout this campaign. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on what the new Auckland Council’s priorities should be.

Please visit my site The basis for this opinion piece appeared in recent editions of the SNL regional newspapers. I updated it for aktnz.co.nz




  1. Jeremy Harris says:

    Thanks for posting Mayor Brown, I like you and will be voting for you for the simple reason that I trust you more than Banks… Your post did contain a few mistakes though…

  2. rtc says:

    Nice post Len, I have to admit I didn’t at all agree with the cost-cutting on the Manukau spur, such that we end up with train station in a park next to a motorway, rather than integrated with the mall, but I digress. I like what you propose and hope if you win you do more than pay the lip service we currently get from Banks.

  3. Matt says:

    This was in the western leader last week, both candidates sound very similar, what are they going to do be different on. Also as pointed put the Manukau didn’t realy get the best outcome so not a great platform to stand on

  4. Cambennett says:

    I like what i hear. Especially about an airport rail link which Banks has been reluctant to commit to.

  5. rtc says:

    I think Len is very committed to PT, he’s made an effort to meet lobby groups such as the CBT and would I feel help push forward a lot of the projects.

  6. Matt L says:

    Cam - Banks has been saying quite a bit that we need an airport rail link.

    I want to hear a canditate call for a NW busway.

  7. Anthony says:

    Well Hi Len,

    Got my vote at this stage.


  8. Nick R says:

    Hmmm, I can’t believe Mr Brown is putting the $50 million Manukau extension on the same table as a $1.5 billion dollar underground rail tunnel with three new stations. Of course the Manukau link is going to be easier to get in place than the tunnel that costs 30 times as much. He neglected to metion that rapid transit to the airport and in the Botany corridor has been on the regional transport plan for over a decade, where is his action on that?

    In fact I don’t see any mention of any kind of rapid transit on the whole Pakauranga-Botany-Flatbush corridor… oh right, this is the guy that said there will never be rail through the Manukau suburbs as long as he is mayor.

  9. ingolfson says:

    What I’d need convincing on is not Len Brown’s program. What I’d need convincing on is his ability to push it through. He’d be facing a VERY hostile environment for PT investment, both nationally, and in his own Auckland Transport agency (the whole structure of the thing is set up with PT as an “also-ran” aspect).

    In short, while I agree with his policies, I need more convincing that they’d come through. Even people like “Robbie” failed in their PT plans. How is Len Brown proposing to succeed?

  10. Cambennett says:

    Cam – Banks has been saying quite a bit that we need an airport rail link. - really? i’d read he is not convinced it’s viable.

  11. Joshua says:

    Sorry Len but Banksy got my vote;

    Because he has done more, and as you say one way to compare is on what you guys have achieved, I’m sorry but short cutting the Manukau Spur line to save money is not a great achievement to me.

    Taking buses and trains is actually more pleasent reliable and easier in the Auckland Council Region than Manukau, I work in Manukau and the lack of bus lanes are really annoying. Newmarket Train Station, Grafton train station, central connector etc, that has been achieved while banksy has been there is the same as you claiming the Manukau Spur line and…oh sh*t thats all you mentioned.

    Sorry but that article has reinforced my previous decision based purely on transport. I just have more faith in Banks.

  12. Cambennett says:

    Joshua, Newmarket train station and Gratfton station were funded and planned by the ARC and central govt as part of project dart, they had bugger all to do with John Banks. I think you might find the central connector was actually planned under Hubbard or Fletcher and was supposed to be a light rail circuit. I wouldn’t get too excited about Banksy’s “achievements” in public transport.

  13. BA says:

    Umm…Public transport in Manukau? ROFL

    The new Manukau rail link will be located in the quietest area of town cough giant car park. It wont have trains coming in from the south. WOW so much for a new rail line.

    Thats pretty much ALL in Manukau in terms of Public transport. Nothing to write home about. It’s still a bland area full of car yards, car parks and big ugly boring malls.

    There was a lot of hype lately surrounding TOWN CENTRE MAKEOVERS…Was looking forward to the plans until I ROFL’d after realising all that was gonna happen was….umm wait for it…LICK OF PAINT.

  14. Matt L says:

    While Len Brown may be saying the right things, I don’t really think that he has the ability to deliver them. As for John Banks, I think he has the ability to push projects through, its just a case of are they the right projects. He is certainly sounding a lot better than he used to about these.

  15. BA says:

    Fully agree. Nothings changed in Manukau under his leadership.

  16. Simon says:

    I agreed at first about cutting the line short before the Mall but at least it`s going to be integrated with buses. My question if you could put it to Len, Jon, is why no southern turnout where the branch joins the NIMT? can you ask him whether he really thinks people are going to be happy coming from further south like Papakura and Manurewa and having to transfer at Puhinui or Papatoetoe?

    Most of John Banks` “achievements” were actually done by the ARC. I think the doubts over Len`s ability to actually deliver are valid but I`d still vote for him rather than Banks on two grounds. One, I still don`t trust Banks and more importantly, two, Len has Mike Lee as his deputy, and Mike Lee definitely does know how to deliver. Hopefully with Mike at his side, that would help Len to be able to deliver.

  17. ingolfson says:

    Yeah, Mike Lee as, say, transport head of committee (or head of Auckland Transport, if say, he gets unlucky and fails in his councillor bid) would be an interesting idea. Though that would mean Christine Rose can’t get the job, which would be a shame in itself.

    We will see what happens. At least we will be able to blame somebody if things go wrong (either ourselves for having voted X in, or Y for not having won even without our votes ;-) )

  18. Joshua says:

    Cambennett - exactly, what I’m saying is Brown Claiming the Manukau Rail Link is like Banksy claiming these projects!

  19. John Morgan says:

    As a former Aucklander who takes a keen interest in Auckland affairs, as all NZers must, I believe Len’s post conveys an excellent vision for Auckland’s transport future.

  20. Jeremy Harris says:

    @ ingolfson, I’m suprised you think Joyce and Hide will be having either Rose or Lee near AT… My question is where can I get what your smoking..? ;)

  21. ingolfson says:

    Jeremy, we are told that the future Council can appoint the directors, Hide says they can be fired, so… would HE deceive us?

    In fact, what I want to know is WHEN can the directors be fired? The bill had some weird language in it saying that of the board directors initially appointed soime would serve for 1 year, some for 2 years, some for up to 3 years before being replaced. If the original board would have been selected in some middle-of-the-road process, that would even have been fine, allowing some continuity as the winners of the 2010 local body elections replace them slowly according to their own preferences. Of course if it is a stacked body, all it means is that it will take so much longer to regain control of Auckland Transport BY Auckland.

  22. Jeremy Harris says:

    They can be fired from day 1 if Hide is to be believed…


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