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Congestion driving Aucklanders to breaking point
Traffic congestion is causing many Aucklanders to look at moving house, changing jobs or even leaving the city altogether, according to a new survey of Auckland AA Members.
AA spokesman Barney Irvine says the survey results – which show that nearly half of those surveyed have seriously considered changing where they live or work to avoid congestion – highlight just how much anxiety is out there as Auckland’s infrastructure struggles to keep pace with growth.
“Auckland AA Members have seen congestion get steadily worse in recent years,” he says. “They’re worried that their quality of life is being eroded, and they don’t see anyone stepping up to address it.”
Mr Irvine says it’s no surprise that the nearly 1300 Auckland AA Members surveyed rate congestion as the number-one policy area for the next mayor of Auckland. Close to 75% consider it a very high or high priority for the incoming mayor – well above housing affordability.
What is needed from local and central government is a focused and sustained campaign against Auckland’s congestion, Mr Irvine says.
“The first step should be to establish congestion targets that Aucklanders can see and understand. The second should be to set up a new taskforce – a kind of congestion ‘hit squad’ – to help achieve them. Brisbane has a Congestion Reduction Unit, and we think we need something similar here.”
The taskforce would be responsible for monitoring and reporting on progress towards congestion targets, and planning and implementing smaller-scale congestion-busting projects. Incident response would be a key priority.
At the same time, the AA wants to see much more investment in park and ride stations.
“No other step could do more to break down barriers to public transport use,” Mr Irvine says. “It’s about making the system meet people’s needs – particularly the 80-85% who drive – not trying to make people change to meet the needs of the system.”
When it comes to dealing with congestion, Mr Irvine says it is important to be realistic about what can be achieved.
“We’re not calling for congestion to be eradicated – frankly, that’s impossible,” he says. “What we want to see is that transport decision-makers are doing everything reasonable to keep congestion at bay and minimise its impacts.”