Generation Zero gives Len Brown’s big new motorway an A grade


It’s difficult to take Generation Zero seriously when it gives Auckland’s incumbent Mayor Len Brown an A rating around issues of public transport and climate change.

Last year public transport patronage in Auckland dropped by more than 3% after falling the previous year as well.

That’s a poor record for the environment. When people get out of buses and trains and go back to cars we have the worst of all worlds with greater congestion on our roads, more greenhouse gas emissions, higher productivity losses and increased demand for more roads.

Auckland Transport is battling to improve efficiency and reliability of public transport services but the public transport system, with nine separate private contracts for bus services, is fragmented, incoherent and difficult to manage.

We don’t need more of this unreliable, high-priced service run by profit-hungry private bus contractors.

The answer is to bring the system together in a single coherent whole and provide free buses and trains at less than half the cost of the big new roading projects which we won’t need in the foreseeable future. Unfortunately none of this is on Len Brown’s agenda. Our “smile and wave” mayor will not confront the free-market failure in provision of Auckland public transport.

Free public transport will dramatically reverse the current decline in public transport use and give Auckland less congestion, big savings for businesses (an increase in productivity of $1.25 billion each year) and families (the savings on petrol and transport fares) and the start of a truly liveable city.

The losers from our policy will be the big oil companies and car manufacturers but we don’t need to lose any sleep over that…

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To make matters worse Len Brown is a strong supporter of the government’s proposed new multi-billion dollar roading projects for Auckland which will increase car dependency, increase greenhouse gas emissions and even after they are built we will have worse traffic congestion than now.

The mayor tells us we will have to pay an additional $400 million per year for the next 30 years to pay for these roads. He suggests congestion charges, road tolls, extra fuel taxes, network charges, higher rates and higher public transport fares. None of us need any of these options which disproportionately affect families on low incomes.

Perhaps worst of all the Mayor and Generation Zero have remained silent on the council’s plans for a big new 1.5 billion project which includes a proposed motorway to bulldoze through hundreds of homes of low-income families in Mangere and Otahuhu while tunnelling under Kings College to save the school’s cricket pitch from the tarseal addicts.

We might have hoped Generation Zero would stand with the local community to stop this outrage against the community and the environment instead of offering Len an ingratiating A grade.

Auckland doesn’t need these new roads. No city has ever tarsealed its way out of traffic congestion.

The greenest policy Auckland could adopt would be free public transport. It’s sad to see young New Zealanders not supporting this.


  1. That’s because it’s a group of young Labour hopefuls. Look at the rest of the candidates ratings and the mission statement – you were lucky to get B’s.

    And if Auckland wants to know why Public transport figures have dropped = The ticket price – and they going to put it up again. Watch the numbers slump even more.

    With people having little to no wiggle room in budgets – a car seems a better option with late or no show buses and trains. You can’t justify having to wait 45 min for a bus when you could have just took the car.

    All the so called improvements have done bugger all – the average lateness of buses is still 10 min and longer. The economics don’t add up when the service is substandard and the time tables are 10 to 15 years old.

    Now central government make the threat to cut funding – how about we cut the private company who can’t provided a decent public transport system. And strip them of their bonuses.

    • I know most of Gen Zero founding and current members. None of them are members of Young Labour.

      (Hardly Mr Credibility yourself, Mr Minto…)

      • Hi David, You have questioned John Minto’s credibility. I have read and re-read John Minto’s post. And could find nowhere, where John Minto even suggests, that “Gen Zero founding and current members”, “are members of Young Labour” as you imply.

        Apart from this. John Minto’s credibility and track record on issues of principle over many years speaks for itself. Your personal attack on John Minto’s credibility is unwarranted, I think you owe him an apology.

        I will be generous and suggest that you may have been mistaking the comment by Adam White as being from John Minto.

        But until I see your apology. I think we can all assume that it is you who are lacking in credibility.

  2. Every ward in Auckland needs its own link bus system. Why is it that only the CBD have this? And they want a rail loop on top of that? Give me a break. This whole system of buses going from the suburbs to town and back is out-dated and needs to go. Give the wards their own link system and maybe school kids could use those same routes to travel to school. The traffic congestion during rush hour in AK is getting ridiculous.

    And as for Len Brown…he is the weakest link. Good bye.

    • luckily AT is doing some good work in between their road building and AT HOP and fares stuff ups.
      The Regional Public Transport Plan does exactly what you suggest, and provides a big increase in suburban services by ensuring rail and bus are co-ordinated much better. South Auckland is up first and will be rolled out in a year or so once local submissions have been taken into account.

    • You may have missed the point that the major benefits of the CRL are not within the CBD or for those who travel to the CBD. It turns our busiest station from a dead end into a through station which has benefits for the entire network. It will enable higher frequencies for ALL stations and lines on a network which is currently running at capacity.

    • James I think you misunderstand the nature and purpose of the CRL. Firstly, the L in CRL is for Link, not Loop.

      And the bus system you say needs to go – well, it’s going and will be gone by the end of 2016. This isn’t a mayoral candidate’s promise – it’s actually happening with planning well underway and the first part of the new system going live in the South late next year.

      Part of the Auckland Rail Electrification project is a complete reorganisation of the bus system into almost exactly what you are asking for – local links. See Luke Chirstensen’s link in his comment for the details.

      Buses are being reorganised into spines that connect locally as well as to the local rail (and busway) nodes – so the rail lines and busways become the main regional arteries, no longer being duplicated by far-travelling buses.

      • Thanks for the heads up on that, Andrew.

        Being a regular user of public transport in the west I for one am looking forward to the changes. It’s hard when you have to wait 45mins to an hour for a bus or train to take you 2 stages to the next suburb.

  3. Will Generation Zero support the working class community of Mangere, and condemn Len Brown’s plan to bulldoze dozens of working people’s homes but protect the rich private school of Kings by digging a gold plated tunnel at public expense under their cricket ground?

    Will Generation Zero continue to support a Mayor will oversee filling in more of Auckland’s harbour for environmentally damaging wharf reclamation?

    Where do Generation Zero stand on filling in and dredging the harbour?

    A project that even the wharfies union have expressed reservations about on environmental grounds, (even though it gives them more jobs).

    Talking of the wharfies, here is a Mayor who openly scabbed on them, admitting that he had the authority to act and could have, but chose not to become involved.

    It may be fun to travel on a train in your underwear for a laugh. But where do Generation Zero stand in opposing the new open cast coal mine on the southern border of Auckland at Mangatangi?

    Will Generation Zero become a serious movement opposed to climate change, or not?

    I think that GZ need to meet to re-evaluate some of their current positions and decide where they want to be going in future.

    • I don’t get you Lance ‘motorways weren’t even part of the criteria in Auckland’

      One of the questions was on a ‘congestion free network’ surely this has partly to do with motorways?

      Brown will be bulldozed in to anything central government must have including frankly selling of council owned assets if that is what it takes, yes I know off topic.

    • Lance Cash – “Unlike what the title says, Generation Zero did not give Len Brown ‘big new motorway’ an A grade. Motorways weren’t even part of the criteria in Auckland.

      And like Luke says, highly unlikely that GenZero is supporting these motorways when they’ve consistently opposed the RoNs.”

      – Doesn’t that indicate a pretty glaring flaw in your methodology, allowing you to give Brown an A grade because you didn’t ask him about the one most important and obvious issue on which you ought to mark him down?

  4. “which includes a proposed motorway to bulldoze through hundreds of homes of low-income families in Mangere and Otahuhu” Such a plan sounds like a neighbourhood IMPROVEMENT sceme! lol

  5. Come on, what is this whole generation X, Y, Z, Zero and all other crap about? Stop putting people, young and old, into bloody drawers. Yes there are generational differences, but there are also ethnic, cultural and socio economic differences.

    Why can we not base comments and reports on facts, on details, and discuss this as mature people, no matter how young or old?

    Division is an agenda the right wing plotters have always promoted, so dividing people serves nobody, gets nowhere, and it is stupid that we even bring it into this otherwise mostly good forum.

    I want to see ALL together, ALL talk and discuss with each other, the ideas and preferences of ALL presented, and that votes are based on rational, logical, sensible information and opinion making. Shut out the divisive stuff, try to talk with each other, try to reach out to each other, do not exclude, label, stigmatise and all this shit, please.

    Apart from all this, John Minto has a very valid point when criticising the direction in public transport, and how it is simply failing abysmally again. As a regular bus user, I was furious tonight, waiting over 40 minutes for a bus home, at around 07 pm in inner Auckland, and NO bus turned up, where there should have been one every 15 minutes. So I had to choose an alternative and very inconvenient route.

    This is common place, so who will get out of cars and catch public transport, just for some fancy talk about this and that. Get real, invest in what matters and is needed, discourage car traffic, but first build the infrastructure. That inner city link will swallow heaps, but as Minto suggests, we can solve a lot with much less total investment and get there faster, if only voters and council see this, and if only he would get the votes.

    I will vote for John, not Len, and that is for rational ideas! Make public transport free, or at least very affordable, discourage driving into the city in private cars, go even further, make the city a social, interactive place, where we have walking streets, markets, concerts and more, so people will “LIVE” there, not just exist in boxes in towers, to pay rent, rates, utilities, watch stupid TV, or sit in front of a computer screen all day and night.

    In the suburbs I can also imagine community gardens and many social activities around that and other things that should be encouraged. Get out of cars, do not sit at home, encourage people to live and meet, to interact and work together for once. That will make Auckland the most liveable place, not over expensive America’s Cup and racing events, not over commercialised sports events. Get a life and get real, vote a real man and team, vote John!

    For Len, really, he is trying to please all, the motorists, the public transport users, the ratepayers and so forth. That will never lead to real solutions, I am afraid.

  6. It occurred to me the other day that public transport has significant benefits for those who choose drive their private car. When people choose to take a bus or train, there are less cars on the road, speeding up traffic, and reducing the likelihood of accidents. Charging people to use public transport forces them to subsidize these benefits. So what that means is that broke beneficiaries riding the bus are subsidizing rich people driving their cars. This is scandalous!

    Free public transport is one of the most achievable and immediate things we can do to reduce city residents carbon emissions and oil dependency. Aaron Hawkins, let’s campaign for this in Ōtepoti too!

  7. […] Now Generation Zero may want to give Len Brown an A+ via a slanted process that removes any of Len’s motorway negatives, but that seems more aimed at supporting Generation Zero’s aims than Auckland’s. Yes their congestion free plans are part of the solution, but if the end product is to have clear roads so the middle classes can race their hybrid-Lexus to Shadow Puppet Theatre and back again without missing a show on the Arts Channel, then it does not do a damn thing to confront the reality of climate change. […]

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