- 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: simon bridges
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.