It’s official: the Auckland CBD rail loop would bring more benefit to the country for its cost than any of National’s ‘Roads of National Significance’. And that’s even before we talk about peak oil. Any rational government would put the money into the project that gets most benefit for the taxpayer buck. Not this one.
The report on the CBD rail loop says it will return $3.5 worth of benefits for every dollar spent on it. Compare that to the benefit/cost ratios for the Roads of National Significance:
So the CBD loop returns more benefits than any of these projects, some of which (the Puhoi to Wellsford ‘holiday highway’ in particular) are just white elephants that will return little if any net benefit.
Put it another way, for an expenditure of $1.3 billion the government would create $4.7 billion worth of value to the economy by building the CBD loop. To get the same value from the RoNS it is planning to spend $3.6 billion.
Surely, Transport Minister Steven Joyce would be jumping all over this project – it’s a chance to get the benefits of the Holiday Highway and new Wellington motorways for only 36% of the cost.
Nope. Here’s Joyce on the CBD loop:
“at the end of the day there’s always going to be a point where somebody says well, who’s going to pay? I mean, these are very big numbers. Even the CBD rail loop at $2bn [that’s the construction cost not the present value cost] is a very big project. Sounds quick if you say it quick, but when you’ve got a Govt faced with debts rising very quickly, you’d have to have a pretty strong justification.”
You would think that the same logic would apply to the RoNS. You would think that with strained finances the government would be utterly determined to get the most bang for its buck. But they’re too blinded by ideology and too determined to follow through on their mindless promise to saddle us with white elephant motorways.