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National’s Auckland Transport announcement

Written By: - Date published: 8:33 am, August 6th, 2017 - 15 comments
Categories: climate change, national, phil goff, phil twyford, public transport, same old national, sustainability, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, transport - Tags:

National had some bad luck this week.  Its Auckland transport policy found its way into Bernard Orsman’s hands and was published prematurely.

Normally there would be a joint Auckland Council Government negotiation with Phil Goff getting some well deserved credit but this opportunity was destroyed by the premature leak.  And just before Labour’s announcement of its own Auckland transport policy.

How unfortunate for National.  Not.  The incident reeks of a crude attempt to maximise political advantage at the cost of good governance.

The announcement itself shows clearly National’s road bias with the biggest chunks of money going to roading projects.  The biggest one, the East West Link is not in the Auckland Transport Alignment Accord and lacks that most basic of analysis, being a reasonable benefit cost ratio.

Two projects highlight how inept this Government is.  And why its anti rail anti public transport bias is costing Auckland tremendously.

The first is the third rail line.  This is a relatively cheap project, $100 million although the business case thought more like $60 million.  It will have significant benefits for congestion and for the southern passenger rail system.  But this is the project the report for which Simon Bridges attempted to bury and hide.  One minute they don’t want us to know about it, the next minute it is a transport priority.  Go figure why …

The second project is the North Western busway.  The Northern busway, a brave effort by the North Shore City Council in the 1990s exceeded all expectations.  It reduced congestion and provided commuters with a good quality regular public transport alternative to cars.  Actual performance exceeded expectations by a long shot.

Many have advocated for a similar busway on the Western Motorway.  Phil Twyford has made it a cause célèbre ever since he became a local Member of Parliament in 2011.

And the Government?  It steadfastly refused to do anything.  Designers were told to design the upgrade in such a way that a busway could have been constructed in the future. Rather than do the job now much more cheaply while the major works were occurring it decided to put it off to some time in the future when the project would have been much more expensive to build and would have caused a new wave of construction induced chaos.

The beauty of a busway is that it provides a ready made corridor for light rail.  As soon as the time is right tracks can be built and hey presto you have a modern transportation system that runs on electricity and can provide performance way above roads.  Just build it and people will use it.  As the train system is showing.  To not even put the busway in place as soon as possible shows a paucity of intellectual rigour that should not be accepted from our politicians.

Some such as Greater Auckland have in its congestion free network report advocated for rail along the western motorway and going to the North Shore.  Wouldn’t that be great.

Today’s announcement of Labour’s Auckland Transport policy I am sure will provide a stark contrast to National’s offering.  On the one hand there is something tired and wedded to the thinking of decades past and incapable of contemplating doing anything about climate change.  On the other side will be something futeristic, ready to meet the challenges we face head on and to provide a system that will meet future demands and needs.

15 comments on “National’s Auckland Transport announcement ”

  1. savenz 1

    National just can’t get enough fossil fuels for their motorways, which is ironic as they function like dinosaurs.

    And promises will come to nothing anyway, how many bridges got built in Northland?

    Also with Western bus lane, while a start, the problem is that you have to get to the bus point in your car. Auckland is not like London or Europe where there are train stations everywhere, you can literally walk to a train stop. Try walking from Helensville, Muriwai or Woodhill to the Western bus stop.

    Then imagine you are on a zero hour low wage contract, you are asked to come into work which costs $40 each day but you have to work more than 1/4 of your salary to pay for it. Or you have to go to different areas of Auckland for meetings, from Muriwai to North Shore, and then to South Auckland. Practically impossible to get to an appointment on public transport.

    Yep, having some sort of service it’s a start (if it’s even true) but many parts of outer Auckland will still not be able to access public transport in a functional way (in London there are trains every 2 – 10 minutes everywhere, that’s why people use it).

    Congestion has got worse in NZ as stupid zoning has opened these up out lying areas to building spec housing estates, but there is no public transport to get the people around, so it reduces the ability of those previously living there to get around, so that someone can make a quick dollar. (BTW, the affordable houses are now 1 million dollars where previously they were half the price, before National’s “intervention”) for a worst quality of life.

    The transport powers once tried a train service from Helensville to Auckland going along the west route, There were only a couple of times for the trains, so hard luck if you needed a different time, or you missed the train. This meant few people were able to use it as it was completely non functional as a service and there for puppet value only.

    Just pointing out, that it is not as simple as ‘a plan’ to have a busway. National have done nothing for 9 years apart from blowing tax payer money on a few hobby roads, while increasing the population of Auckland immensely and now expecting those in Auckland to pay for their mistakes and neglects.

    • Marcus Morris 1.1

      We on the Left have got to hammer your point re neglect. How many times did Len Brown go to the Government for help with the issue to be turned away again and again empty handed. After nine years of the “smiling assassin” doing nothing the Nat’s have realised that the situation is now dire. This latest plan is a cynical vote buyer that will do little to solve the problems and, by the time they are completed, l suggest the situation will be infinitely worse. Let’s forget the Metiria distraction (a godsend for the Tories just like the Dotcom pantomime) and highlight the huge number of issues that we face as a result of nine years of mismanagement. Latest joke is Brian Joyce’s attempt to ridicule Labour’s imminently sensible plan for a petrol tax. He claims that is is an old idea voted out in 2008. As if he would know. I would defy anyone driving around Auckland, and seeing the range of fuel prices available, to identify a fuel tax if it does happen.

  2. Ad 2

    That Mills Road expressway won’t get them any votes.

    Hard to see any from East-West expressway either.

    Anyone know when the Greens are doing their transport announcement?

  3. lprent 3

    While it is road heavy, it would have been a decent National package to put in place – in frigging 2013.

    Before National started trying to stuff 40,000+ new people into Auckland each year. Then at least some of these project would have been getting started about now. As it is the only timeline is

    Bridges said all of the projects, except the Mill Rd highway from Manukau to Drury, would be completed within 10 years.

    Right now with the way that the traffic has been increasing, it just looks like “way too little way too late”. Looking at these, I don’t think that any of them would be able to start being done before 2022.

    Ummm looking at Greater Auckland. That would appear to be the case.

    In the meantime, and despite the evident self-interest . This is an idea I have been advocating for a decade.

    Meanwhile, the National Road Carriers has come up with an immediate and practical step to reduce congestion: banning parking on all of Auckland’s main arterial roads.

    “We know there are big projects in the pipeline, but we need to make better use of the existing roads right now,” said National Road Carriers chief executive David Aitken.

    Now this won’t help on all routes because a lot of the ‘newer’ (ie built since I was born) roads already limit parking, but it’d certainly do a lot in the most congested areas in the isthmus. Just in the areas I use, it’d immediately double the lanes on Great South Road, large parts of the Great and New North Road. free up Sandringham, Dominion, Ponsonby, Parnell and Mt Eden Roads.

    Of course there would have to be work done to clear the parking outdents and some of the remaining overhead crap. But that is easier than trying to do any other kinds of road works in those areas.

    Basically retailers need to be told that the days of council provide parking on the main drags are over and that they have to provide it themselves. While I hate to give those price gouging troughers at Wilson Parking a lift – we need more private multi-story parking in the shopping centres along the urban drags. But at least killing free or cheap parking is going to help public transport. And that can be done in less than a half of the time it’d take to put in any congestion toll systems.


    Incidentally, I did some driving in the past week. It looks like the new tunnel has helped a little bit.

    Somewhere I read said about 7% on the southern motorway and that feels about right. The reduction in weekend jams and crawls is pretty minimal. I mainly go south to PBTech in Penrose – in this case twice for microSD cards. Usually a lot less time consuming cheaper than trying to get a taxi or park in town and a better selection.

    Dropping my partner off to the airport was a bit easier via the north western to SH16 through the tunnel in morning traffic saved about 5-10 minutes off the usual crawl up Sandringham road and on to SH16 (I’d have to do it a few more times to be sure).

    Apart from that I don’t see much difference. But I don’t go out west much.

    However that just means that we have reset back to 2015 traffic levels and based on the current nett migration levels will be full again to current levels early next year. With an effective delivery on any new transport projects are ten years hence if we are lucky.

    National – traditionally shortsighted and lazy on transport that isn’t in the open country where they want current ratepayers to pay their developer mates infrastructure costs. Useless pricks

    • mickysavage 3.1

      The parking idea is radical but would work. Also for downtown. There is an international correlation between parking unavailability and public transport usage. Knock those parking buildings down …

    • adam 3.2

      lprent, the Onehunga train stops right outside PBTech in Penrose. The southern line train is a bit of pain, but the Onehunga train stops virtually next door.

      Extra bonus the Onehunga train these days it is much faster, as two stops have been removed from the trip during the day time service.

      • lprent 3.2.1

        From my place (corner of Newton, Ponsonby, Gt North, and K Rds) I’d either have to go down to Britomart, or Newmarket. Essentially get the red bus doing the Q St crawl to Britomart, or the green to Newmarket the long way both ways. Then the train. Or drive to Newmarket and park.

        In theory I could bike to Parnell station down the bike path (essentially I won’t ride Auckland Streets – too frigging dangerous). However that station is only partially operational.

        Once the K Rd station goes in, then yes.

  4. The first is the third rail line. This is a relatively cheap project, $100 million although the business case thought more like $60 million. It will have significant benefits for congestion and for the southern passenger rail system.

    But not the fourth even though the report that Bridges tried to hide clearly shows that building it at the same time as the third was the best option.

    He said the Government was working closely with Auckland Council to find ways to deliver the projects in light of a fast-growing population.

    Which probably means that National has been telling Auckland what it’s allowed to do.

    Bridges acknowledged much of the funding would come from the Government because the council is right up against its debt ceiling which, if breached, could lead to a credit rating downgrade and drive up borrowing costs.

    A government never needs to borrow and, quite, shouldn’t. This means that a government’s ‘borrowing costs’ always remains at zero.

    Of course, that would also mean that the massive subsidies to rich people that the government engages in every year would no longer exist.

  5. Sacha 5

    Jacinda Ardern on Q&A this morning (clip not online) said that Labour would both allow Ak Council to re-introduce a regional fuel tax and get on right away with a busway from Puhinui to the airport as a first step.

    More detail at 1pm, and I would not be surprised if it’s some of the light rail components of the Congestion-Free Network including the NW motorway route as well as Dominion Rd they’ve already announced, and the airport leg.

  6. TheBlackKitten 6

    Lack of public transport has been a huge issue in Auckland for 40 years. No government (both labour or national) or councils have given it the investment that it needed. Auckland is now choking at the neck due to this lack of foresight by our polictions of the present and the past. Combine this with an idiot government that has allowed mass migration into a city that does not have the infrastructure or money to cope with it.
    Auckland chokes because good public transport is not accessible to all of the city. It is now going to take billions to fix this issue. I really don’t see a way out of this.
    Mass migration has seen many traditional Aucklanders leave the city for more affordable housing as wealthy migrants have pushed houses prices way out of reach for those on the average wage.
    The issue people face, is that all the work is in Auckland but they no longer have access to affordable housing due to wealthy migration. So they flee to areas on the outskirts of Auckland and face long arduous journeys to their jobs with employers who refuse to look at flexibility with hours or move their business to areas that are accessible to their workers.
    Lack of investment in infrastructure by past governments and councils has seen that these areas have no access to public transport and roading woefully inadequate.
    Auckland is facing the possibility of becoming a third world city due to piss poor governments, planning and investment.

    • Sacha 6.1

      “wealthy migrants have pushed houses prices way out of reach for those on the average wage.”

      the problem is money flooding unregulated from overseas, not people.

      • That, IMO, is the larger part of the problem but the excessive influx of people also has an effect.

        We need to ban offshore ownership.

      • savenz 6.1.2

        With the 70,000 permanent visas and 180,000 working visas issued with 60% expected to remain in Auckland, it is a immigration problem driven by deliberate government policy. It’s not a “money concept” its actually real, an issue that people who do not live in central Auckland or any one that travels anywhere have to live with on a daily basis.

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