- Date published:
7:17 am, March 12th, 2011 - 72 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, public transport, same old national, transport - Tags: high-density housing, road vs rail, spatial plan
The government has released 8 papers on its view on a 30-year blueprint for Auckland. The plan isn’t to be released for another 11 days, but National are impolitely putting its view out first.
And what a twentieth-century view it is. One of an ever more sprawling city, with ever more sprawling motorways, ever more cars clogging its veins, ever less community, and ever less government money.
“We won’t fund Auckland’s dreams” they say. Which unfortunately translates to “Aucklander’s dreams” and “Auckland voter’s dreams”. No, they’ll only fund their nightmares.
Auckland has always been underfunded, generating at least 1/3 of the tax revenue and getting far less in government spending. At this point in time, Christchurch does have to be the focus, but we cannot afford to let the heart of the economy stop. It’s not an either/or proposition, the rest of the country must keep functioning to help Christchurch back to its feet. As such, we still need to invest in the future of Auckland – National need to learn their slogan of “re-vitalising Auckland” does not stop at putting their model of regional governance on it.
So the spatial plan needs support. It was largely drawn up under the guidance of National’s appointed SuperCity Transition Authority, led by Mark Ford, who they were prepared to pay $540k per annum of Aucklanders’ money; Len Brown and the Council have now had the chance to put their gloss on it. I’ve not seen it, but from what the government are rejecting it would appear to have a focus on a higher-density city with much more vibrant public transport.
National are still in love with the car, despite fuel about to hit record prices and showing no signs of dropping. They want a city that is already the size of London with 1/10 the population to keep expanding over more productive farmland. One where it is already not feasible for those on the peripheries to do their shopping in the centre. Christchurch is complaining it now takes 2 hours to get across their city; Aucklanders know they already can only do it that quickly outside rush-hour.
So we need a car alternative. As someone who regularly travels by rail in Auckland, the need for central-loop is obvious, as it was back in 1924 when they dreamed it up. If anything happens between Newmarket and the central city – a signal wrong, trespasser on the tracks, train with engine difficulties – the whole network grinds to a near halt. The loop would solve that and make rail so much more viable. It also means that the network won’t reach capacity in just a few years’ time. National’s pre-cursors scuppered the tunnel in the 20s, National scuppered it in the 50s and 60s, and they seem determined to do it again, regardless of Auckland’s wishes.
National also seem determined to antagonise their own voters on the blue North Shore. Joyce seems likely to shortly announce a second harbour bridge rather than the much-preferred tunnel. The bridge will no doubt be less rail-centric, forcing more into their cars. They also don’t like Len’s other rail idea of an airport link (much as every international city has), preferring to continue to funnel tourists down suburban streets to the city instead.
Auckland Council’s plan has high-density housing to make public transport more accessible and feasible; the government prefers to remove all city limits and have Auckland reach for Hamiltron.
It’s almost as though National, so confident in their polling, want to play Russian Roulette with Auckland voters: They like us, now how about we force a corporate governance model on them… and now, let’s try denying the public transport they voted for, let’s see how unliveable we can make their city and see if they’ll still vote for us…