Evidence from the 1950s US highway building programme suggests that better roading infrastructure within a city makes it more attractive to migrants, but that most new development takes place in sprawling suburbs. These suburbs are less suited to public transport, so road construction raises automobile use, lowers the use of trains and buses, and makes additional investment in public transport less profitable.
Auckland’s post-1950 history is consistent with the US experience: the highway building programme was followed by large scale suburban development, and the collapse of public transport. Given this history, efforts to reinvigorate public transport will be difficult, and have to be done in conjunction with careful urban planning.
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