Access to experts, data, and research and being able to discuss the information with a diverse group of Aucklanders were the highlights for participants at a two-day citizens’ transport forum.
Tau Matenga was one of nearly 100 Aucklanders who took part in deliberative forum across two weekends in September to help shape the region’s future transport needs.
Koi Tū is collaborating with Auckland Council and Auckland Transport to see what Aucklanders have to say about the future of transport, given the current pressures on the system.
Mr Matenga said the engagement was better than traditional consultation as there was a diverse group of people, from all walks of life who were provided with data, research, and access to experts.
“It helped the forum to be as informed as we could be and that helped us to make better decisions. The process has made me feel more sympathy for Auckland transport. Transport is a big problem and affects everyone in Auckland,” he said.
Koi Tū deputy director Anne Bardsley says the core question for the forum was: “What changes are needed to ensure that everyone can get around efficiently, affordably, safely and sustainably, well into the future?”
She says the current transport system is not meeting the needs of our growing population and economy and is failing to respond to the challenges of climate change.
“The problems are complex. Changes in the transport system will impact current and future generations of Aucklanders. To make the right decisions, it is important to understand what people want for the future, and what they think is a fair approach to achieve those goals.”
Dr Bardsley says deliberative engagement, such as citizens’ assemblies and deliberative forums that follow the principles of deliberative democracy, are gaining popularity internationally as ways to make public engagement and decision making more inclusive, informed and constructive.
The forum ensured that Auckland’s citizens were demographically represented through a sortition process to match current census data. Participants were surveyed before and after the forum to see how their attitudes had changed.
Forum participant Anna Jackson enjoyed hearing about the overseas examples and how other countries have dealt with changes to their transport systems.
“It’s been really interesting to hear from other citizens. The process made me think beyond my own experience and consider the impact of transport on others.”
Dr Bardsley says Koi Tū is preparing an interim report for Auckland Council and plans to launch a second phase of the project, an online conversation using the Pol.is tool, to engage a broader public audience on this important topic.
The project is part of a wider research programme Complex Conversations. https://www.complexconversations.nz/auckland-transport-forum/