Packing in pedestrians costing Auckland $186 million a year

Auckland's CBD is heaving, and not just with traffic. The sidewalks are packed and that's costing the economy $186 million a year.

Patrick Reynolds is with Greater Auckland, an independent group promoting public transport.

"Humans walking are the key economic force of city centres," he told Newshub.

"It's much more important to know how many people are here and how they're moving than it is to know how many vehicles are going around in circles. Because no-one enters a shop in a car."

A study done for Auckland Council backs him up. It found for the first time since the 1950s, there are more people commuting to the city centre by public transport, walking and cycling than driving.

Since removing the trams, cars have dominated - until now.

That's been driven by record numbers. Fifty-thousand people live, 120,000 work, 100,000 study and 20,000 visit the city.

That's fuelled the increase in pedestrians - there's a third more than five years ago.

On Queen St, there are twice as many.

"Space is tight in a city centre like this, people are changing behaviour," Heart of the City's Viv Beck told Newshub.

"Public transport is getting better and we're seeing fewer cars coming in."

The council does have major plans to make it more pedestrian friendly. Traffic lanes will go, replaced by cycle lanes and wide boulevards.

And it seems inevitable Queen St will be turned into a pedestrian mall with light rail running from downtown to Dominion Road and out to the airport.

Newshub was meant to speak to one of the Auckland councillors for this story but somewhat coincidentally, just before the interview, as he crossed the road, he was forced to dodge a car and ran into a tree splitting open his face.

He's okay, but it reinforces just how busy the CBD is.


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