Book highlights last century of Auckland transport

How did Auckland get to be so congested? And who were the people who have influenced decisions, legislation, and funding?

Discover the history of Auckland’s transport from award-winning journalist and Bruce Jesson Critical Writing Award grant winner, Keith Mexsom through his new book Gas Pedal to Back-Pedal: The Second Century of Auckland Transport.

The book is a comprehensive account of the history of Auckland transport and the inner workings of central and local governments who have influenced Auckland’s present environment. It builds on the founding and development of Auckland’s transport system from 1940 to the present, describing how the motor vehicle evolved from a novelty and a nuisance of the 1920s to an indispensable utility that virtually replaced the city’s public transport services with chronic road congestion.

This is a story of countless, costly transport studies, reports, and accounts of why most of the advice generated was not acted upon. It is a tale of how the parochialism and fragmented vision of city leaders played into the hands of begrudging, purse-string-holding governments of the day.

“When I worked in Auckland for nearly 40 years I spent many hours driving bumper to bumper on city roads and motorways,” says Mexsom. “One day, I read an article about the traffic congestion experienced by Los Angeles which the author of the article blamed on the undue influence of what he called the ‘Road Gang’ and I wondered if I could identify members of the ‘Road Gang’ that could have influenced and profited from Auckland’s road-building programme.”