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Auckland Council The Auckland Plan

Transport and Access explained

Conceptual graphic of Auckland transport options including buses, cars, cycling, ferries, trains along with Auckland landmarks.


Why transport and access is important

To lead successful and enjoyable lives, it is vital that people can easily, safely and sustainably reach the things that matter most to them, such as work, school, friends, recreation and healthcare.

To achieve this we need efficient ways for people, goods and services to move within and across Auckland, throughout New Zealand and across the world.

For Auckland to be a truly accessible city we also need to make sure that people of all ages and abilities, including people with reduced mobility levels, can go about their daily lives and get from one place to another easily, affordably and safely.

This means tailoring the way infrastructure and services are provided so they meet the wide range of Aucklanders' needs.

Find out more by visiting the Universal Design website and the Office for Disability issues website.


Transport and access in the past

Our transport system is key to making Auckland more accessible, and for us all to benefit from growth. While great improvements have been made over the past 20 years, historic under-investment, combined with rapid population growth, means we still face big challenges.

Past decisions shaped Auckland into a relatively low-density city where private vehicles were the only viable option for almost all trips.

Auckland's continued population growth and a concentration of job growth in a few key locations have put this car-focused transport system under significant strain. Congestion has led to delays and highly variable travel times that adds cost and undermines our quality of life. Reducing the impact of congestion on people’s lives is a key component of improving accessibility. However, there is now widespread recognition that we cannot simply build our way out of congestion. This means making progress requires a combination of:

  • additional investment
  • rebalancing effort to other forms of mobility that can avoid congestion
  • focusing on changing our travel behaviour.

A big increase in transport investment over the last two decades has mostly completed the motorway network and started to develop a quality public transport system. That makes it possible for people to avoid congestion when they travel by bus, train or ferry. Auckland’s rapid transit network barely existed a decade ago, but investment in the rail network and construction of the Northern Busway mean this network now carries over 26 million passengers a year, with use continuing to grow strongly.

Over the last few years there has also been increased investment in cycle ways. Read about how we're making Auckland more cycle friendly.

In some areas there have been improvements for pedestrians as well, such as the Te Ara Mua Future Streets project in Māngere, ranging from how traffic is managed, to better paving, lighting and safety.

However, the legacy of past decisions is still felt today. Many projects that were first planned decades ago, such as the City Rail Link, are only now being built. This makes it difficult to address today's problems, let alone prepare ourselves for future growth. Read more on the City Rail Link website.

As a consequence, people living in large parts of Auckland still don't have many choices in the way they travel. Major chokepoints and bottlenecks also remain on many main roads.


How we can improve transport and access

An integrated strategy

Improving transport and access in Auckland requires an integrated approach and is a partnership between Auckland Council and central government. In 2016The Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) was established to develop a long-term strategic approach to address Auckland's transport challenges.

This work emphasised the need to focus on:

  • getting much more out of existing infrastructure
  • maximising new opportunities to influence travel demand
  • ensuring investment is targeted to the greatest challenges

Auckland Transport Alignment Project Strategic Approach

Since the establishment of ATAP in 2016 there have been three updates in 2017, 2018 and 2021. For more information visit the Auckland Transport Alignment Project website.

Increased funding

In 2021 ATAP was updated and confirms a major increase to transport funding in Auckland and enables a $31 billion ten-year transport programme. This programme will make major improvements to Transport and Access, and help to support Auckland’s growth.

ATAP also identifies key priorities for further investment and signals the need for ongoing funding and financing work, including exploring new funding tools. This recognises that traditional funding sources such as rates, fuel excise duty and road-user charges are not enough to fully meet the needs of such a fast growing area.

Alongside this ongoing investigation into increasing transport funding, we also need to ensure:

  • funding is prioritised by need rather than transport mode
  • the cost of projects is allocated fairly and consistently between central government, Auckland Council and the private sector.

Adapting to an uncertain future

We can predict some changes to the transport system, but the further into the future we look, the more unknowns there are.

What we can confidently expect is that physical travel will be very different. The things we travel in or on may be very different than now, and the networks or infrastructure that support these ways of travelling may also be very different.

This change may be gradual, but is highly likely. The plans we make and the transport infrastructure we build must be as adaptable to the future as possible. Read more about Transport and Access in Auckland, 2050.


How we track progress

We will track progress against a set of measures.

The measures for this outcome are:

  • access to jobs
  • delays from congestion
  • use of public transport, walking and cycling
  • household transport costs
  • transport-related deaths and injuries.

How we can implement the plan

Aucklanders have a shared responsibility for implementing the plan.


Related information