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$12 billion on roads no-one will use

Written By: - Date published: 10:15 am, August 12th, 2012 - 58 comments
Categories: transport - Tags:

Research from the Green Party shows that the $12 billion ‘Roads of National Significance’, the bulk of the next decade’s transport budget, would be on routes that carry just 4% of the country’s traffic. So, the other 96% of us are paying nearly $3,000 a head for roads that bugger all people will use. Traffic on many of the routes is actually falling.

Meanwhile, the CityRail Link that would double Auckland’s rail capacity and, so, slash motorway congestion waits forlornly for $1b from the Government.

And lets not forget that the effect of projects like Transmission Gully is to induce more traffic, adding to our $8.3 billion a year oil bill and sending more traffic into congested zones.

So, National’s policy is to spend $12 billion on routes that few use, will cause more downstream congestion, and further deepen our expensive oil addiction, while the Green option is projects that will carry more people for less, reduce congestion, and reduce our oil bill. Is there any real choice?

58 comments on “$12 billion on roads no-one will use ”

  1. Dr Terry 1

    This is NZ “heading in the right direction? Well, if we are, the government is intent on using the wrong means.
    Note (again) the clever and bold initiative of the Green Party!

  2. TighyRighty 2

    4%of traffic is far different from 4% of the population. How many individuals will use, not trips made, the Auckland rail loop?

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      If you are interested in offloading pressure on roads, road trips saved is a crucial metric.

      • TighyRighty 2.1.1

        I never said it wasn’t. All I pointed out was that the stats being bandied around had little on each other not being a straigh comparison.

  3. captain hook 3

    what would happen if 4% of the population stayed home and read a book?

  4. Thanks for the post. To clarify, it’s not even really original research, we just did some maths with Government numbers.

    MoT daily household travel survey states a very realistic 11 million vehicle trips in NZ each day.
    NZTA traffic volumes show there are about 400,000 daily vehicles on the remaining routes. (Not counting Vic Park tunnel because that’s completed).

    So, 75% of money on new infrastructure over the next ten years will be spent improving (and we’re not even talking huge improvements here) 4% of the vehicle trips.

    Since the traffic growth on these routes isn’t higher than growth in trips overall, that percentage won’t be getting bigger over time.

    TightyRighty, you’re right that percentage of trips is not equivalent to number of people. But unlike the RoNS, the CRL will benefit more than just the people directly using it. In fact, the biggest overall economic benefit in the business case accrues to road users in the Auckland region. So, 80,000 people take the train, but that also improves the journeys of those travelling by bus and by car.

    (80,000 is also almost 3 times the number of people forecast to be using Puhoi to Wellsford in 30 years…)

    • DJ 4.1

      Can I ask what percentage of Auckland users will use the rail loop?

      What percentage of New Zealanders will use the rail loop?

      And lastly, what percentage of North Shore residents will use the rail loop?

      • Carol 4.1.1

        Isn’t the rail loop going to relief some of the congestion at Britomart?

        Britomart is already fast becoming too small for the number of people (mostly Aucklanders, I guess?) who use it. Already we have to sit in trains outside the one rail entrance to Britomart, waiting for a berth to free up. It’s very frustrating when your train has been on time up to that point.

        This is only going to get worse in the future as there is a continual rise in the numbers of people traveling to and from Britomart by train. As well as providing a 2nd entrance to Britomart, it looks to me that it will enable some people to get to the central city destinations without going through Britomart at all.


        • handle

          Doesn’t that rail loop mean they can fit more trains on the other lines as well, not just for people going into the city centre? And handle the load from a new airport train and from more buses to Botany and the North Shore?

  5. If any one section of road was carrying a significant percentage of the country’s traffic, that would be something to complain about. It would be a terrible indictment of our transport system. Having your traffic distributed over a large number of roads is a good thing, not a bad one – which means even the highest-used sections of highway don’t carry a significant percentage of the country’s traffic on them, and which also means complaining about road upgrades on the basis of what percentage of the country’s traffic they handle is obviously stupid.

  6. Psycho Milt,

    The reason I brought this up was simply to point out that the amount of money being spent is disproportionate to the number of trips they will affect.

    The Government is saying, we’re proud to be spending billions on “roads” — which is disingenuous. These new motorways won’t affect most people’s car trips. More road users in Auckland would benefit from the CRL. More road users in Wellington would benefit from more frequent, reliable and affordable commuter train services and some targeted safety upgrades.

    A new alignment of a motorway is at least 4 times costlier than safety upgrades and passing lanes — which achieve the same benefit, perhaps greater benefits because they are less likely to induce new traffic and fringe development.

    Why spend $12b on a few new alignments, when you could spend $4-6 billion to upgrades these routes, and have a few billion left over for the CRL, some busways in Auckland, better PT in Wellington and Christchurch, invest more into rail freight and coastal shipping, maintaining and upgrading our existing roads (which are being neglected because all the money is being sucked up by these big projects)?

    All of those things would benefit road user more than what the Government is doing.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      Keep up the good work. Good to see you on The Standard.

    • bad12 6.2

      Nice work on Gerry in the House, half the time i don’t think He is avoiding answering the question, seems He hasn’t the intellectual capacity to carry those answers round in His head,

      From what i have seen of Wellington rail there would be as much a case for building enhanced car-parking at a number of rail stations as there is for building anything that gets more cars from all directions to the bottom of Ngaraunga Gorge at the same time…

    • The question of whether these motorway projects justify diverting funding from other roading projects is worthy of consideration, but the fact that the motorway projects only cover 4% of traffic is irrelevant.

      Also: yes, we in the many hick towns of NZ are forking out for motorways in Auckland and Wellington, and yes, commuters in those cities would benefit more from improved commuter rail. But those of us in NZ’s hick towns do occasionally have cause to visit Auckland and Wellington, both for work and pleasure, and when we do we’re bloody glad previous govts have kitted those places out with motorways. We couldn’t give a rat’s ass about whether the local commuters are provided with an excellent public transport system or not, for fairly obvious reasons.

      • Draco T Bastard 6.3.1

        We couldn’t give a rat’s ass about whether the local commuters are provided with an excellent public transport system or not, for fairly obvious reasons.

        Yep, very obvious – it’s because you’re stupid.

        • Psycho Milt

          Really? Try reading the post again – disdain of worthwile publicly funded infrastructure you’re unlikely to use is apparently all the rage.

          • Colonial Viper

            I’d just like a $10 train ride from the airport into the centre of the city, like most civilised cities have.

          • Draco T Bastard

            It’s a question of which ones are worth supporting. The RoNS aren’t.

            And I was specifically responding to the line I quoted. You’d be better off when you visited Auckland if PT had been installed rather than roads so “couldn’t give a rat’s ass” about it is quite stupid.

            • Psycho Milt

              I would? This is an article of faith for the Greens, but the evidence suggests cities based on sprawl and the accompanying low population density aren’t going to be public transport success stories, at least not unless hugely subsidised. Auckland is going to have a lot of road traffic no matter how much the rest of us subsidise a rail system for it.

    • xtasy 6.4


      Julie Anne –

      So far I am impressed and want to encourage you on your good work! This is what Parliament, the public and NZ in general need, the truth to be told!

      If only the media would heed this a bit more and come to the party and do their jobs!

      Keep up the good work, and tell your Green Party members that have not had much chance yet, or feel a bit less motivated, to do the same and hammer this useless, lying government with heaps of written and oral questions!

      I will consider voting Green again, as long as you guys keep it up and keep honest and committed!

    • xtasy 6.5

      Julie Anne –

      and NEVER get hung up for your bit of accent!

      NZers are generally not that bad and can be very open minded, especially in the cities. So many will love your honesty, openness, and they “love” Americans that are progressive, real and honest! You can only win, win and win, if you keep your work up!

    • KJT 6.6

      I do not entirely agree about this.

      One of the most effective ways of relieving congestion in Auckland is to encourage industry and workers to relocate to the regions.

      Effective transport links and satellite towns are more congruent with how New Zealanders like to live, than high density cities.

      Too much is being spent on a few roads, but the road and rail links to Northland do need to be substantially upgraded.

      The Kaimai road and rail links also had theoretical negative ROI when built. The costs of linking the sleepy hollow that was Tauranga to the Waikato would not have met the test at the time either.

      Look at the real ROI, now.

      Marsden Point is the only New Zealand port with the depth and access for larger more fuel efficient ships.

      We should be investing in a effective transport infrastructure for the future. When fuel prices will be much higher and electricity may be the only energy we can afford.

      • handle 6.6.1

        Electrified rail, you mean.

      • Tracey 6.6.2

        KJT, people know about high unemployment and other problems int he far north, they also know that what you suggest could be an answer. They don’t really want answers for problems like this… that’s one reason it gets so little attention. NOW a highway from Auckland to Wellsford to save ten minutes in a car….

        We also need fewer ports, something which makes alot of sense. BUT this is hindered by the business model which sees a proliferation of ports, and freight companies playing them all off against each other for lower and lower prices…

    • Tracey 6.7

      STOP MAKING SENSE, use more rhetoric and half truths…

  7. blue leopard 7


    All together now folks!

    “We’re on the Road To Nowhere”

  8. BM 8

    Voters love roads.

    • Carol 8.1

      There’s plenty of voters who love (and use) rail, including some Auckland Nat voters I know.

      • BM 8.1.1

        Great thing about roads though, is that they are multi-use.
        Bikes can go on roads
        Buses can go on roads
        Cars can go on roads
        Motorbikes can go on roads
        Trucks can go on roads

        vs Rail
        Trains can go on rail

        • Draco T Bastard

          And roads are still far less efficient than rail.

        • blue leopard

          If that is the only thing going against rail, then:

          tiny trains,
          medium sized trains
          slightly larger than normal trains
          really large trains

          could be designed, no?

          …And bikers could use the tracks if they really felt like it…

          • Jim Nald

            And …

            Trains carry bikes into the city that can be used around CBD

            Trains carry cars as per European motorail trains eg

            Trains can carry lots with some planning and organising

            • BM

              Don’t get me wrong I’m not anti train, I just personally think we need to get our roading network sorted first.
              At the moment I think roading gives us a few more options.

              • Draco T Bastard

                The problem is that it’s impossible to get our roading network sorted. Adding more roads, adds more congestion and thus increases the waste of resources.

                • fatty

                  True, the last thing our urban centres need is to charge ahead and blindly build more road,s as if it was still the 1950s. NZ actually needs to reconstruct roads into cycle friendly roads. Auck, Wgtn and Chch can all easily be reconfigured to accommodate cyclists and buses.
                  Around the world in progressive cities car driving is being stigmatised the same way we do to smokers…maybe we’ll catch on in another 20 years. Its a shame poor people don’t drive, our government would attack it with everything they have

              • Colonial Viper

                Don’t get me wrong I’m not anti train, I just personally think we need to get our roading network sorted first.

                Classic “reasonable voice” discussion delaying tactic.

              • Tracey

                “Don’t get me wrong I’m not anti train, I just personally think we need to get our roading network sorted first.
                At the moment I think roading gives us a few more options.”

                Don’t you think the way the roads have been dealt with, a blueprint which continues today, is unlikely to solve the problem with the “network”. Why would doing the same thing we always do get a better result this time?

        • Kotahi Tāne Huna

          In his next amazing revelation, BM will explain how he worked all this out while reading Thomas The Tank Engine.

        • bad12

          Behold BM, the birth of a truly inspirational genius,(while obviously suffering brain damage)…

        • rosy

          Trains can go on rail
          And people can go on trains more efficiently – and in the end, that’s what we’re trying to move. (and bikes can go on trains).

        • Tracey

          You’re right, and it’s an argument for both sides.

          Sadly, like many who want roads more roads and even more roads, you miss the point. It’s not rail and eradicate all roads… it’s more rail than we have, and less road expansion.

  9. Poission 9

    In wellington the problem is less acute ie less reason to travel to.


    Less work,fewer customers decreased demand.

    • prism 9.1

      But I saw last week that a commuter with bike trying to travel at peak time was ordered off the train. Apparently the only place to be was near a door and the bike was a hazard. This isn’t good and people with bikes should be able to travel at all times. There needs to be an option at peak times, where a biker can stand up beside the bike in a freight wagon if they have run out of available bike storage.

      • xtasy 9.1.1

        I lived in the Hamburg suburban area for a few years, taking a bike onto a local train was no issue at all. Only at peak times, as far as I remember, were bike riders and owners taking it on board expected to pay a little surcharge!

        It shows that NZ has a long way to go. It can be done, it will be done, but NZ governments are so ridiculously petty and backward, they almost always look for every excuse NOT to advance matters and policies.

        Wakey, wakey, David, are you there? May be a little hint and idea YOUR team has failed to acknowledge or get aware of?

  10. captain hook 10

    take two options and go to bed.

  11. xtasy 12

    Dear all –

    Re public transport the debate can go on forever, but with fossil fuel costs definitely going to increase substantially due to increased demand by growing populations and new growing economies using traditional transport forms (in India, China, Brazil and many other countries), and also new resources going to be limited, there is NO alternative to switch as soon as possible to alternative, public transport systems at least in the major centres of NZ. For discussion and information just have a look at a very few selected bits of information on the following websites:


    All this is just limited info, and more is available. I am sure those that do thorough research, will realise, NZ is behind with public transport investment and usage, and substantial investments are needed here, no matter what modes of PT may be preferred, to get things moving and to prepare for a more energy efficient future.

    Now does anyone within Labour perhaps get this? It may offer a kind of positive “difference” to what National offers in policies, would it not?

    Wakey, wakey!

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      Now does anyone within Labour perhaps get this? It may offer a kind of positive “difference” to what National offers in policies, would it not?

      Yeah man a few of us are paying attention.

  12. xtasy 13

    No matter what dollares will be assigned and spent, it is going to be a sick joke under this government. No common sense and intelligencia, I’d say. I take consolation with following musica, or I’d go isane in this sadly to “limited” country with “narrow” minds:


    Boa noite my friends.

  13. marsman 15

    Notice how the spin on these Roads of National Party Significance is that they will bring Economic Benefits, ha ha like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Meanwhile they are doing their best to destroy Kiwirail. Brains in the National Party?

    • handle 15.1

      The official cost-benefit analysis reports for those roads mainly say they cost more than they bring. Now the Minister and his servant in charge claim otherwise. Based on what? Keep pressing them, Julie-Anne.

    • Tracey 15.2

      Well, already it’s resulted in a rates revolt up there in holiday paradise due to the over payment for sewerage. Those Aucklanders in their holiday homes want to poo in peace but not pay for it… maybe they have a disproportionate amount of irritable bowel syndrome, which is why the trip up there needs to be ten minutes shorter???? Is that what you mean by economic benefit??

  14. KJT 16

    12 Billion into roads to please the trucking lobby.

    A few 100 million into rail.

    Zero into coastal shipping.

    When oil is likely to steeply increase in price in future, even if we do not have to fight a war to get any at all.

    Roads do need upgrading to the regions, but the priorities are all skewed.

    Improving Auckland transport at the expense of the regions is also just going to compound the problem of congestion in Auckland.

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