Documents reveal Councillors' frustration over Auckland Transport's 'often ineffectual or non-delivery' of cycleway infrastructure

A number of councillors blamed 'internal culture and siloed thinking' at AT for a lack of progress.
A number of councillors blamed 'internal culture and siloed thinking' at AT for a lack of progress. Photo credit: Getty Images

Auckland Transport (AT) is defending itself against complaints by a number of Auckland Councillors over its "slow and often ineffectual or non-delivery" of cycleway infrastructure.

A number of public documents and emails shared on the Greater Auckland website appear to show infighting between the council and AT, with Councillors criticising the transport organisation's "internal culture and siloed thinking".

The correspondence came to light in the agenda of an upcoming Waitematā Local Board meeting, Greater Auckland reports.

In a report from earlier this year - attached to the agenda as an appendix - Councillors Josephine Bartley, Pippa Coom, Chris Darby and Richard Hills expressed concern over AT's delivery of the city's cycleway programme and other 'healthy street' projects.

The Councillors called for a "fundamental reset of cycling policy within Auckland Transport", saying they had "raised the issue of non-delivery of cycling projects within Auckland Transport for some time at several meetings, workshops as well as email correspondence with senior staff".

"The answers we have received have been unsatisfactory and have not matched the experience we have had talking with communities, as well as our previous experience as local board members championing local projects."

The document, from March this year, goes on to list a number of "excuses" given by Auckland Transport around its lack of progress on creating the infrastructure in question, with the councillors saying "our belief [is] that these excuses are not relevant or have been overplayed".

They went on to say they "believe issues with non-delivery relate more to issues of internal culture & siloed thinking that predominates", rather than the excuses identified.

Mayor Phil Goff also weighed into the issue, writing an email in March to AT's chair Adrienne Young-Cooper about the councillors' concerns.

"Auckland Transport's explanations on this matter to date have not been fully satisfactory," Goff wrote. 

"It appears that cycling projects suffer unnecessary complications in delivery, have become more expensive than necessary and even once delivered, regularly suffered from a range of design shortcomings.

"I am not convinced cycling has sufficient support with the Auckland Transport structure, which appears to be required to ensure projects can move through the design, consultation & delivery processes at the appropriate pace, while noting the need to respond to particular community concerns."

Also included as an appendix was a reply to Goff from Young-Cooper, sent in June.

She defended AT's approach, saying effective delivery of cycle infrastructure is a "significant task" requiring community consultation that often results in "heated and difficult conversations".

She said progress is being made on building a network of safe cycling facilities, however acknowledged there were "several changes we can make to the way we work to respond to your concerns."

"AT is undertaking a full review of the Auckland strategic cycling network," Young-Cooper wrote.

"We expect this review to re-test the strategic network strategy assumptions (such as the types of trips that contribute to mode shift) and objectives; to review our standards and their application, to review evidence of providing small amount of high quality infrastructure against the provision of a more extensive network of lower (but safe) quality infrastructure; and to re-test the contribution that cycling makes to first and last mile journeys from transport hubs."

She also proposed establishing a "new single point of leadership within AT, to oversee cycling outcomes."

In her July Report to the Waitematā Local Board, Councillor Coom said there were "positive suggestions within AT's response", particularly the proposal to appoint a single point of leadership.

When asked for comment on the councillors' complaints and the organisation's handling of cycleway infrastructure, Auckland Transport referred Newshub to Young-Cooper's reply to Goff.