Historic New Zealand light vehicle traffic forecasts vs actual growth (Source: MoT)

Historic New Zealand light vehicle traffic forecasts vs actual growth (Source: MoT)

In trying to justify the Government’s $12 billion “Roads of National Significance” motorway-building programme, which included a Basin Reserve flyover, the New Zealand Transport Agency makes great play of a projected increase in Vehicle Kilometres Travelled (VKT). The growth in VKT, they say, can only be dealt with by building more motorways.

It’s been known for a long time that the second part of this argument is false: there is plentiful evidence from all around the world, and from New Zealand, that building new roading capacity only induces more traffic, thus leading to bigger motorways, thus leading to more traffic…

But, at the Board of Inquiry into the Basin Reserve flyover proposal, NZTA’s claims of growth in VKT was also challenged. Submitters pointed to recent New Zealand research that shows young people, especially in cities, are turning off driving.

Now research by the Ministry of Transport shows that Vehicle Kilometres Travelled in New Zealand has not grown since 2007. You can view this on the Ministry’s own site and also read a detailed analysis by Auckland’s Transport Blog.

Which raises two very basic questions:

1)    Why is NZTA continuing to claim that traffic demand will rise?
2)    Why is the Government continuing to ignore its own research?

You might think – you might very well think – that this is because the Government has bet $12 billion of public money on continuing to ignore the evidence. But I couldn’t possibly comment.