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“The Big Issue”: councils & transport

Written By: - Date published: 10:57 am, August 5th, 2013 - 15 comments
Categories: activism, assets, auckland supercity, Conservation, cycleway, greens, infrastructure, labour, local body elections, local government, public transport, sustainability - Tags: ,

Last Wednesday, Campbell Live began a promised series of programmes over the coming month, each based around one Big Issue that impact on all new Zealanders.  On Wednesday night, CL’s 3 segments focused on different angles of the issue of public versus private transport, and Auckland compared with “the regions”. Questions about funding and the struggles between local councils and the NZ government were a key theme running through all segments.

The first segment, Auckland’s ignored problem, laid out the long legacy of transport problems in Auckland.  It frames the segment referring to the perception around the regions, that the more money Auckland gets, the less money available for other parts of the country.

The video graphically shows how, for about a decade Auckland’s transport problems have been ignored, and it regularly “grinds to a halt”.

CL Traffic on Harbour Bridge July 2013

CL refers to the legacy of Auckland’s decades of focus on roads: a transport network, which, as with the rail system, was originally built for freight and is since being significantly re-purposed for transportation of passengers.

Trams have become a distant memory, after being replaced by buses.

CL July 2013 tram Akl townhall

The bus routes have been there for about 3 decades, at were put in place before the development of the rail systems. Consequently many bus routes follow the train lines, while much of the train lines follow the motorway.  The congestion is therefore not very consistent.

CL then looks at Auckland Councils transport plans. Fully implementing these, aimed at making more use of public transport, is costed to have a $12 billion short fall.  Road tolls have been put forward as one possible way to fund the necessary transport developments.

CL puts a bit of focus on the development at Waterview (near Pt Chevalier and the motorway causeway to Te Atatu in Auckland’s west). This development aimed at connecting the South western and North Western motorways ids begin funded by the NZTA.

CL July 2013 Waterview development

CL then looks at developments of roads in Auckland’s east – a neglected area transport-wise.

Campbell Live’s second segment looks at Transport projects throughout the regions.

Dan Parker reported on the views of councils throughout New Zealand.

CL July 2013 Councils in NZ about regional roading

An NZTA spokesperson Geoff Dangerfield says they do allocate funding fairly between Auckland and the provinces.  However, people in Southland and the Far North dispute they are getting sufficient funding for safe and usable roads.  These are essential for important industries like forestry and agriculture.

There have been a lot of the complaints are about the government’s RONS being to Auckland focused, sucking up funding needed for deteriorating roads in areas like Hastings.

CL July 2013 Hastings detereorating roads

Central government contribute 51% to everything spent on roads, but funding agreements differ from region to region.

Southland’s mayor Jim Copeland says limited funding means road standards are dropping there.

CL July 2013 Southland roads standards dropping

Far North mayor Wayne Brown claims they are not getting their fair share of road funding. Tasman mayor Richard Kempthorne says the funding crisis means Tasman has stopped sealing some new sections of road.

CL July 2013 Tasman not sealing new roads

Campbell Live’s third and final section looks at The Congestion Free Network proposal. The CTFN involves collaboration between the Auckland Transport Blog and Generation Zero.  CL begins the segment by characterising the plan as “revolutionary” and presenting “Auckland as we’ve never seen it“. This alternative plan aims to end congestion, be environmentally friendly and sustainable, provide real choice for travelers, and costs a fraction of Auckland Council’s plans.

CL July 2013 Congestion free Network plan for AKL

Matt Lowrie from the Auckland Transport Blog says is not cheap but, at a cost $10 billion all up, cheaper than the official proposals, .

CL July 2013 Matt Lowrie AKL Transport Blog

Furthermore, over the full time period they are proposing the plan will cost $24 billion, with less focus on roads and more on public transport.  However, these figures have confused me a bit.  Does Matt mean that the initial cost will be $10 billion?

The City Rail Link is the”killer app” that opens up the whole network.  The CFN also has some cool additions like a rail line to Mt Roskill.

CL July 2013 CRL to Mt Roskill CFN

And it includes improved bus networks in the south, north, east and west of Auckland, plus some ferries straight into the city.

CL July 2013 CFN ferries into city

Driving by car will still be an option, but on roads that aren’t congested.  There will also be a rail line to the airport.

CL July 2013 CFN rail to airport

Matt L is pretty pleased with the CL coverage.  However, he does criticise 3 of the 7 RONS being included as part of plans for Auckland when,

the strongest advocates for it are from Northland who call it a lifeline for their region – despite it not looking to do much for them. The rest are elsewhere in the country including some particularly expensive ones in the Waikato and Wellington.

[...]

Also is it just me or did Wayne Brown just suggest Far North transport priorities are being driven by what forestry truck drivers complain about?

The CFN does look like a pretty cool plan.  While it would free up funding for other areas of the country.  However, the funding issues will still be up for analysis and debate.

These issues are bound to be a significant part of the upcoming local council elections, and hopefully the progressive/left (Auckland) City Vision alliance will be providing significant focus on transport issues.  City Vision launched its campaign and new website yesterday (Sunday).  They claim,

“We are the only organisation across the Waitemata and Albert-Eden-Roskill wards to have full teams of candidates. Although we are already out campaigning in the streets and marketplace it is traditional to have a Launch and we are delighted that Hon Phil Goff MP, Denise Roche MP and Mayor Len Brown will be our official speakers” says Robert Gallagher, Chair, City Vision.

The City Vision website includes Transport choice as one of four main parts of its “vision”, along with Keep or assets, City with a heart and Proud Aucklanders.  As with the last council elections, this tends to cover central Auckland.  So I will be looking to see what Future West plans for West Auckland, with Sandra Coney and Christine Rose having already launched their campaigns under that banner.

According to the NZ Herald, Labour will also be running candidates in the council elections, but they and the Green Party will be working with City Vision on issues like transport and retaining community-owned assets.

This all looks like some very good progressive plans collaborations and organising, well worth getting behind.  I also think Auckland-based organisations need to be communicating with those in the regions as regards shifting the weight of future growth from Auckland and coordinating a fair dispersal of funding and development.

 

 

 

15 comments on ““The Big Issue”: councils & transport”

  1. Sable 1

    Its inexplicable to me why New Zealand roads are so bad. I suspect those working on our roads are not doing their job properly, the question is why? Perhaps constant revision of road works makes the contractors more money then doing the job thoroughly the first time out.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 1.1

      A small population in a medium sized country. Roughly the same size as UK but only a 15th of population. And south island is even more sparesly populated.

      Roads to high standard cost the same anywhere, but if you dont have as many to pay for it, something doesnt add up.

  2. Takere 2

    The plan proposed is a dog …… it’s an expensive bitsa. Central Govt needs to fund it or return the $9b dollars of regional Road User levies to Aucklanders that Fat Boys Brownlee & Joyce stole from that fund that was run between 1996 to 2006/7 in the Auckland region. That can pay for that machine boring the tunnels on the northwestern motorway and when its finished that, keep it down there for a 5/10 years tunnelling throughout Auckland to create a underground network for electric trains able to travel in both directions! Simultaneously!! Cancel the contract with the Well Connected Group of Parasites too!

  3. mickysavage 3

    Hi Karol

    Future West should be ready to announce all of its candidates tomorrow. And I am sure that we will support at least in principle the congestion free network proposal which to my mind is a brave and forward looking proposal.

    • karol 3.1

      Thanks, micky. Excellent. I’ll be looking forward to tomorrow’s launch with interest.

  4. Tiger Mountain 4

    Minto for Mayor! Free public transport on existing system, with expansion of services planned.

    Well nothing is really free but, but, less congestion for a starter. I know an older woman who because of redundancy and fear of no job, moved with her company location from West to South and spends $125 per week on various buses, getting her first one at 5.30am home 6.30–7.

    Such people would like Minto for Mayor. And you bludging guys in the black Audis would no doubt too with the riff raff on trains and buses instead of their unsightly jappers.

    • Takere 4.1

      Haha! And further down the track, once all of the riff-raff are using cheap(er) public transport. The Audi-ites can get taxed fairly for their use of roadways! User pays is finally here or about!?

  5. Rosetinted 5

    A related issue is the frustration and even anger felt by regional councils at the lack of interest of central government in fair distribution. Fair in NACTs case means looking for Auckland to be a pretty city, that will be ‘world class’, one which tourists and wealthy ‘investors’ will be drawn to.

    Fair in regional councils case is getting a decent share of the nation’s taxes to maintain and supply needed infrastructure, roading etc. Of course this has become more difficult now that they are being treated like businesses that can make big expenditure decisions (such as Dunedin stadium, and now in Christchurch gubmint is forcing them to take on big ticket items). Central government gave them the right to ‘general competence’ in finance, but doesn’t actually want them to be self-governing, so the ratepayers have to cope with this mixed model of apparent freedom but central government control.

    And central gubmint is able to encourage or pressure them to enter into projects that don’t show good cost benefit results with the long-term costs lying on the ratepayers shoulders, such as the Dunedin stadium. I heard a Pacific Island report on Radionz, I think about Tonga. They have had some outstanding buildings and infrastructure built by Chinese firms using Chinese labour, but then they don ‘t provide maintenance. The buildings seem to be more than what is actually needed, so they are not fully used, and the country is virtually having to borrow to keep them maintained, increasing their debt burden. It is interesting to see a similar mode of operation taking place in provincial NZ.

    The provinces I think feel like the poor cousins of Auckland, the Queen city. And perhaps cousins on the wrong side of the blanket, that don’t get talked about much. No wonder that there is a call to set up a political party that represents the provinces. We could have that under MMP and it would have a focussed mandate, unlike Labour that spouts out things about workers and housing and so on, repeating what are the loudest calls, like my battery operated parrot. That battery if worn out, silences the parrot, until it is replaced. But then it still does not say anything original, it can only repeat what registers in its mechanical memory.

    • karol 5.1

      Well, it is a strongly related issue, Rosetinted, albeit not directly related to transport.

      As an Aucklander and a Kiwi, I don’t want to see Auckland growing (in population) excessively while the rest of the country is given secondary consideration. I’d like to see the population and economic considerations being spread around fairly. The excessive focus on Auckland as a commercial centre will be damaging to the well-being of the city.

      Meanwhile, coming back to transport, Aaron Hawkins posted today on The Daily Blog about the neglect of public transport in Dunedin.

      I wonder how much the government is pressuring the council to focus on things like stadiums, while ignoring basic infrastructure like public transport?

      • Rosetinted 5.1.1

        karol
        In Tasman-Nelson region the Mayor I think, was carrying on about not being able to afford to keep rural roads in order. There was a recent photo from the Nelson Mail showing a repair being done on a main road in Golden Bay, which has been washed away again before the original repair was finished. The climate ‘bombs’ and the forecast extended weather events will make road maintenance more difficult and expensive. And Tasman is a tourist area, as well as being a busy enterprising place.

        Is gubmint going to abandon regions at whim, like Gisborne having its important rail link whipped away. They have put their heads together there and I think I caught a rumble about an idea to reinstate it. It may take a private-public partnership, which would be a forward move in those circumstances. It needs a gubmint really keen on all NZs having a place in the whole economy, not just putting all efforts into training, PRs, lawyers, chefs, barristas and, for a while the building industry, and economists of course, running a casino economy dependent on foreign money which might not stand up to scrutiny as to its provenance.

  6. tracey 6

    I have followed the transport blog for a while and more recently the zero project. If vested interest was put aside for an hour the wood would be seen for thectrees

    • Takere 6.1

      You’re onto it Tracey. It’s dog, a bitsa ….. playing into the roading oligarchies hands! Aucklands land-locked by the sea. This ill conceived plan is purely a party vote grabbing middle class go nowhere plan. It’ll be shelved the day after the election. So for currying a vote or two …it’s a pretty expensive bribe??

      • karol 6.1.1

        Takere, do you mean that the Congestion Free Network is an expensive bribe, or the government/RONS or the Akl council City Rail Link plan?

        Ditto to tracey: I’m not sure whether you are for or against the ATB and zero project.

        • Takere 6.1.1.1

          Yes Karol, the CFN is a bitsa and a bribe to gather votes in Auckland ……the ACC plans are nearly a sensible solution but what it needs is Len to hit Jerry & Joyce up for them to return the Road User Levies collected in the Auckland Region from 1996-2006/7 worth about $9 billion dollars! That’ll pay for Rail double tracking so the public & Freight can be transported by rail. Freeing up the roads a bit more for buses. Use that tunnel boring machine more after its finished the NW route. Keep it underground for a few more years to create a comprehensive underground rail network throughout the Auckland Region. If we really need to build more roads, use the space above the present motorway (because we’ve already paid for the ground under it) network and then separate commercial use from private use and tax accordingly.

    • Rosetinted 6.2

      tracey
      You might have some thoughts on this. I remember when transport companies’ contracting out driving work was really getting going. The drivers were encouraged to buy their own trucks and contract to the company for the work.

      This cut down on the heavy expenses of the transport industry supplying their own vehicles which, getting bigger, are getting more expensive. And the maintenance and administration and adometers and disel tax etc.

      I wonder how many still buy their own, and what proportion of trucks do the transport companies own outright? It would seem to be much more profitable for the transport companies to put less investment in trucks.

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