AA’s Unreal Reality Check


My AA membership renewal arrived this weekend - the same time as the AA put out a very silly statement meant to cast fear amongst Auckland motorists.

In the release headed… Only rich will soon ne able to afford to drive in Auckland, the AA’s Auckland transport spokesperson. cries that Auckland’s motorists are being targeted by the Council to pay for its transport vision.

And remind me, why not?

What he is talking about is the terrible shocking possibility motorists might pay for Auckland to get better public transport.

I love the way he refers to this as a “reality check.”

His statement says:

“Although the AA is supportive of improving Auckland’s public transport system, it is time for a reality check on what is both practical and achievable.”

“At the moment approximately 80% of travel in Auckland is by car. Even with public transport improvements, in 30 years time about 68% of all travel in Auckland will still be by car. The Council’s spatial plan is putting Auckland’s economy and communities at risk, and it means only the rich will be able to afford to drive in the future.”

“Auckland motorists have already paid for their roads through petrol tax and road user charges. Auckland motorists already subsidise the cost of a train trip by around 60 per cent and the cost of a bus trip by approximately 50 per cent. Now the Council wants Auckland motorists to pay the billions of dollars it will cost for train, bus and ferry improvements.”

“Auckland motorists do not have an endless supply of money. They are hurting from near record high fuel costs and they already contribute more than their fair share to the cost of Auckland transport.”

It gives us an insight for the sort of mud that will be thrown should Auckland Council manage to actually get some public transport improvements happening.

Why should Auck motorists pay for silly public transport?

He claims the Council “seems to have conveniently forgotten its transport vision could equally be funded through debt and investment bonds.”

What nonsense. That’s not the message the Mayor has been saying in acknowledging he has to look at other financial sources as the Government will not come through with the money needed.

I can already hear certain anti-public transport people around town grabbing the statement and joining in the chorus.

It’s easy to mount a counter argument but it’s a waste of time. The moment you mention public transport, these gas-guzzling road advocates throw their hands up and cry “that’s insane.” They don’t understand why anyone would not drive.

Let’s hope the Auckland Council has the fortitude to introduce a congestion charge and give the AA the fingers.





  1. Patrick R says:

    Those editorials are why I failed to renew some years ago… wish i had cut up my card and sent it back with a letter. Dimwits. A better rail network is the only hope they have for improved driving experience in AK…..

  2. Matt L says:

    Of course he fails to mention that the roads are subsidised as well, in the next financial year the council is planning to spend over $300m on new roading improvements alone compared to less than $30m on PT projects. Of course in the operating expenditure there is a bit more money going to roads but a similar level is budgeted for road maintenance.

  3. Jon Reeves says:

    Because of this idiot running the AA I am not reknewing my subscription to them.

    They (the AA) has they never asked me or any AA members I know of whether we want more public transport. Lambourne takes the arrogance to assume he represents members, he and they do not.

    I want the AA to help out in a car breakdown, I do not want them to be an arrogant roading lobby mouth piece for the Government.

    AA - No Way!

  4. Steve says:

    I was thinking today about the AA when their monthly mag arrived. It occurred to me they would be a powerful voice arguing in favour of cars over everything. Sorry to hear they can’t see the big picture. High car use in Auckland is due to poor public transport and haphazard growth strategies. To then use these failures as justification for allowing them to continue to fail is simply bizarre and wrong.

  5. jarbury says:

    The AA need to be reminded that every rail trip on the Auckland network generates $17 in road user benefits. By my calculations road users get back $4.40 for every dollar they spend subsidising PT:


  6. LucyJH says:

    I ended up in a discussion group with Simon Lambourne about infrastructure the other day. It was very difficult because I couldn’t think of anything nice to say. So I opted up saying nothign at all almost.

  7. Mike F says:



    “The AA need to be reminded that every rail trip on the Auckland network generates $17 in road user benefits.”

    Peak I believe is defined as 7-9am and 4-6pm so not all trips have this $17 benefit.

  8. Patrick R says:

    Mike that would be a more meaningful issue if they ran a more reasonable schedule of off peak services. I know they do some but it is a system that shows little interest in growing the weekend or night market… Yes you’re right- but what a figure!

  9. Matt says:

    I too gave up my automobile membership years ago, (it was South Australia’s RAA) because I didn’t like the stupid car-centered politics they played. And with statements like that I’m not going to be signing up to the AA anytime soon.

  10. peter says:

    The AA magazine arrived the other day.It must be the most tedious publication in New Zealand.It promotes a bygone era that it insists will last forwever. It consists of 100 pages and takes 1 -2 minutes to read, and then into the paper recycle bin where it belongs.

  11. Patrick R says:

    AA is just an insurance company that makes its profit from car ownership levels- completely daft that they should get any traction without being held to account out of self interest….

  12. Luke says:

    as an unhappy member here is the message I have sent - interesting to see if I hear anything

    I am writing too inform you of my dissatisfaction regarding AA’s hysterical press release and media campaign regarding investment in Public Transport in Auckland. Saying only the rich will be able to drive in Auckland is totally ridiculous, and simply does not fit in with plans announced by Len Brown. Auckland had no public transport investment for 50 years prior to a decade ago, and since then motorway funding has still well outstripped public transport funding. Once Waterview is built there are no more motorway corridors left so not sure what roading projects are going to miss out.
    Having extra travel options available to Aucklander will help all people, include those who will continue to drive for various reasons.

  13. Jon Reeves says:

    And my email to their “contact us” page on aa.co.nz….

    As an AA member I am disgusted with your recent press release against investment in Auckland’s public transport infrastructure.

    For an organisation such as yours to make such outragous statements that motoring will “only be for the rich” shows the lack of any credibility.

    Have you ever surveyed your “members” to ask what we want in Auckland? Not as long as I nor my friends or even parents can remember. So before you make unwise and uncredible statements on behalf of your members, ask us first.

    Why cannot the AA be like the Swiss TCS and while being pro-motoring also fully supports rail and public transport expenditure? By providing transport alternatives the rest of the motoring public can then move on roads faster, benefiting all.

    The AA will not be getting a renewal out of me this year unless I see a sudden dose of unbiased public press statements supporting Len Browns very credible transport plans. At least, unlike the Govt, he has a vision for a better moving Auckland. Perhaps AA can join that vision?

  14. Russell says:

    re Council roading budgets:
    around 50% of this is from the NZTA which comes via fuels taxes, etc. The other 50% of the hundreds of millions that Council pays comes directly from property rates, not road user charges or fuel taxes.
    This is a direct subsidy to car computers and commercial road users from those of us who are rate payers who own cars who commute via PT, cycling or other alternatives.
    Step one: ensure that all roading costs do come from fuel taxes and none comes from general property rating.
    Yes, the costs of commercial deliveries will go up and that will be priced into all goods and services sold. This is good as consumers will pay more fully for their decisions re buying locally or local goods.


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