Posted by Peter Woodcock on Oct 17, 2017

Dr Lester Levy could have addressed the club on any topic from his wide range of experiences (including Chairmanship of three District Health Boards) but chose to focus on his insights as Chairman of Auckland Transport.

The question posed was, “Is traffic congestion in Auckland inevitable?” The answer was NO but is it likely? YES. Reasons given included the huge current and projected population growth of the city, with or without new migration, caused by greater life expectancy, returning Kiwis, and the burgeoning numbers of international students seeking education here.

Add to this the mind-set that every person is entitled to own a car, use it when they want, take it anywhere and park right at their destination and bingo – congestion!  Dr. Levy likened this to the Second Amendment in the USA – if we had a constitution, this would be ours! The totally unacceptable delays in getting things done both in the past and now, partly because of complex funding issues between local bodies and government, environmental and resource management issues and the lack of clear pathways to the future for contractors to plan their programmes – all contribute to the grid-lock which is not just on the roads. The pace of decision making was referred to as being ‘glacial’.

Possible solutions, many being worked on right now, include encouraging more car-pooling, providing more park and ride facilities, introducing Uber-type services (like mini bus routes) in suburban areas to link in with public transport hubs, central city congestion fees, electrification and extension of train services, but above all, changing the mind-set of all Aucklanders (not just car owners) as to how to become responsible commuters.

All present paid rapt attention to this most illuminating address, leaving with a sense of gratitude that a man of such integrity, knowledge and energy is so strategically placed to make a difference to our city.