Transport and other infrastructure

"Rapid rail has resulted in tremendous development and increases in prosperity and social amenity values."
— Sir Dove-Myer Robinson on rapid transit systems in the United States, 1968.

Auckland’s transport infrastructure system includes 7000 kilometres of roads and footpaths. It is supplemented by train, ferry and bus services and a more limited cycleway and walkway system. An increasing population means growing numbers of cars on the road and more transport trips. Apart from transport a full range of other infrastructure services is supplied to households and for other land uses.

Traffic congestion, delays in the adequate provision of infrastructure, and lack of reliability of public transport influence Auckland’s reputation as a world class city. Transport has been of critical concern to Aucklanders for some time in terms of patterns of use, road congestion and public transport difficulties.
Major infrastructure development over the decade such as motorway extensions, bus lanes, railway development and cycle-ways pathways has improved the system. But new transport and other infrastructure requirements continue to emerge and old ones continue to grow.

Infrastructure investment remains well below the level required to catch up on previous decades of under-investment. Although transport is a central issue for Aucklanders its administration is primarily the responsibility of the CCO, Auckland Transport, together with central government agencies, NZ Transport Agency and Ministry of Transport, with relatively limited oversight from Auckland Council, through its Transport Committee. Electricity is dispersed through an array of companies and the international airport is governed by Auckland Airport. Broadband and its roll-out are provided by private companies with regulatory responsibilities lying with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

"I would rather live in a city where an hour stuck in the traffic every day is forgotten."
— Letter to the editor, NZ Herald, June 2013.


Public transport and cycling are up after a long period of declining relative usage offsetting a long-term trend towards increased car usage.84Traffic congestion and travel costs are reportedly static.

According to census data the overall trend over several decades has been one of relative steady decline in use of public transport which only attracted 6.9 percent of travel to work trips in 2006.85 However, annual total public transport trips have increased over recent years, as well as cycling and walking trips to the Central Business District and in general. Between 2000 and 2010 walking
trips increased from 12 to 19 percent, although they decreased to 16 percent in 2012. Cycling involves a similar volume of trips and pattern of increase. Ferry traffic has increased although it remains small in volume.86

"The Government is signalling an intention to fling more than $10 billion at Auckland Transport over the next decade….. what cycle advocates want is for cycleways and a seamless integration of cycling into public transport networks to be part of that planning."
— Letter to the editor, NZ Herald, July 2013.

The perception that public transport is good for most or all trips to work or study is improving but not consistently.

In 2012, 64 percent rated private transport good for most or all of their trips to work or study, compared with 29 percent who rated public transport as a good option, down from 33 percent in 2010 but well up from 24 percent in 2008.87 Despite continuing widespread concern with traffic congestion, in fact time lost to congestion per km travelled (seconds) remained steady at 30 seconds from 2011 to 2012.88 Although a demand on roads has increased, this has been offset by improvements in the roading system.

"Improvements in facilities on buses have been a great help to many people, but when will all buses provide facilities for pushchairs, mobile walkers, and wheelchairs?"
— Letter to the editor, NZ Herald, July 2013.

Perceptions of affordability and feelings about satisfactory access and the condition of public transport are high in Auckland.

Nearly half of Aucklanders consider public transport affordable, echoing a New Zealand-wide pattern. Aucklanders are significantly more satisfied, 60 percent, with their access to Public Transport than other New Zealanders. Satisfaction with access to and the condition of public transport are also both high, although nearly a third considered these questions not applicable, mainly because of non-availability of service in their area.89

Interruptions to public transport, the number of planned and unplanned interruptions, continue to plague the rail system, although some of these are ‘teething problems’ as the system and services expand.

Free-flowing traffic is central to Auckland’s operation. Auckland Transport is a CCO with responsibilities for the facilitation of road and public transport in Auckland. Central government agencies are also involved in the provision of roading infrastructure but the overall coordination is provided by Auckland Council.

"The grandiose designs for a world-class Super City need to go back to basics, starting with a weatherproof bus shelter at Manukau."
— Letter to the editor, NZ Herald, June 2013.


Both international and domestic air passenger numbers are up over the last year.

At March 2013 international passenger volumes, excluding transit passengers, at Auckland Airport was up eight percent over the previous year.90 Airport traffic is an indirect measure of the level of economic activity. Auckland Council retains approximately 22 percent of shares in Auckland Airport, yielding a continuing revenue stream, but has limited involvement in its operations.


The proportion of Auckland households with access to broadband and super-broadband is increasing.

In 2011 nearly 90 percent of Aucklanders who have internet connection at home access it through broadband as opposed to about 80 percent of non-Aucklanders.91 Good internet service is important in allowing Auckland households and businesses to connect. Although this is not a direct responsibility of
Auckland Council, it has a unit aimed at facilitating internet use in Auckland.


Despite serious interruptions to Auckland's electricity supply a decade ago, no further major difficulties have occurred more recently.

Continuous supply of electricity is essential to a city’s functioning. The fragility through a lack of sufficient redundancy of supply to Auckland is aggravated by the tight geographical convergence of power-lines from the generation areas in the South. Serious supply interruptions over the last decade demonstrate the vulnerability of Auckland. Transpower has responsibility for delivering power to Auckland and Auckland Council has a minor facilitating role. The imperative of a stable electricity supply for business and households, though, make electricity a critical risk factor for Auckland’s economic prosperity.

"The planet is already overpopulated. For Auckland to design for more than a million new people in the next 30 years is like an ostrich with its head in the sand."
— Letter to the editor, NZ Herald, July 2013.

84. Office of the Mayor. (2012). The Annual Auckland scorecard. Auckland: Auckland Council.
85. Statistics New Zealand, Population Census. See also Auckland Council, Transport Perceptions Survey, and Statistics New Zealand. (2012). New Zealand household travel survey. Retrieved from
86. Annual trips increased from 65 million in 2011 to 71 million in 2012—an increase of 8 percent. Cycling and walking trips into the CBD per day also increased slightly (by 2 percent). According to the General Social Survey Auckland public transport usage mirrors that of rest of New Zealand (which is surprising given the limited Public Transport services in much of New Zealand). In 2012, Aucklanders spent 12.6 percent of their household income on transport costs, unchanged from the previous year. In 2006, commuters in the four cities of Auckland travelled the furthest of New Zealand urban regions with a median distance of 6km which had barely increased from 1996 (Statistics New Zealand. (n.d.). Distance travelled by commuters. Retrieved from
87. Statistics New Zealand, New Zealand household travel survey.
88. Office of the Mayor (2012) (see endnote 84) using data from Auckland Transport.
89. ACNielsen (2013a) (see endnote 7) and Statistics New Zealand, General Social Survey.
90. The Auckland Airport March 2013 “Monthly traffic update” comments that “This growth was driven by strong performances on Australian routes (visitor arrivals from Australia up 13.0 percent) and assisted by the Easter holidays falling partially in March in 2013 (compared to wholly in April in 2012”). At March 2013 domestic passenger volumes had increased 10 percent over the past year and aircraft movements had also increased significantly at Auckland Airport. Report retrieved from
91. World Internet Project New Zealand Survey 2011. Retrieved from

Auckland Motorway map.