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The light rail delay is good

Written By: - Date published: 8:09 am, June 25th, 2020 - 16 comments
Categories: assets, auckland supercity, privatisation, Public Private Partnerships, public transport, transport, uncategorized - Tags:

Good apart from every conceivable political angle for the government, granted. The political angles are well covered elsewhere in the NZHerald, Stuff, and TVNZ. Neither the Prime Minister claiming regularly on radio that the NZInfra version would help pay for our retirement, nor a single relevant Minister or public sector department, comes out of this mess well.

But the delay is good.

Firstly it will enable a future public sector to coldly evaluate whether Public Private Partnerships really represent value for money. This is a vital job for the Infrastructure Commission, MoT, and Treasury. There is no reason not to publish Gateway Reviews for example. There’s also a task for DPMC and the SSC to ensure that Crown entities like NZSuper don’t do another deliberate sabotage of other Crown entities like NZTA like they did over two years. The Transmission Gully project recovery and cost recovery debates are at least a year from settling, and the project will have a procurement stink over it for years to come. Notably the SH1 Ara Tuhono project is well underway, and while it’s encountered reasonable delays it’s still progressing steadily.

In short the public sector needs to get its shit together on this. There will be more funds approach us for more transformative-scale projects, and this scale of procurement needs strict discipline.

Secondly it gives breathing room for the construction industry. With rail, water, and motorway jobs going gangbusters in the Waikato-Auckland region, teams and clients need to see jobs completed and successfully handed over to prove that there really is internal capacity and expertise to take on this scale of work each year. The Americas Cup and APEC infrastructure surges will be completed later this year. The delay balances the work pipeline.

Thirdly the City and the Government need time to catch up with each other. After going into a pure alliance for the Link Alliance heavy rail job, they figured out halfway through that critical things were missed. Things like ensuring that the private landowner capital value uplift gained by proximity to mega public transport projects wasn’t simply privatised into Paritai Drive, and instead was properly taxed to ensure that some of that windfall unearned capital value increase went to funding the job. Kainga Ora didn’t have time to embrace it.

Finally there’s the land and the people. With near-zero communication to potentially affected Auckland locals about the project for years, no one had a clue what was going on and local and international elites were making all policy-patrician when in fact were just making bank. The NZTA notion of a nationwide public transport ticketing card was near death, and this would have killed it. Auckland Transport, who started the job, were shut out. As were all of Auckland’s transport NGOs. Mana whenua were nowhere. It was set up to be litigated from Environment to High Court no matter what the decision was.

By capital value this is the largest botch-up by this government or indeed any government in New Zealand.

But this failure, massive though it is, also gives us time to sort out the very large political, public sector, local government, and industry problems that would have collapsed the job worse than Transmission Gully and on an unimaginable scale.

Trust me we dodged a cannon-ball.

16 comments on “The light rail delay is good ”

  1. Nick 1

    This bit sounds familiar… 'With near-zero communication to potentially affected Auckland locals about the project for years, no one had a clue what was going on and local and international elites were making all policy-patrician when in fact were just making bank' .

  2. bwaghorn 2

    The cynic in me thinks this is a back room concoction to let labour blame Winston, while giving Winston the opportunity to look tough and get some airtime . And let's face it it wasn't going to be started this side of fuck nows when any way so they are blunting nationals attacks a little .

  3. Tricledrown 3

    This is the time to build infrastructure Winston is just having a poll driven tantrum Auckland needs this project.

    With construction slowing down land prices cheaper finance even cheaper it's time to get this underway as next year is When the shit hits the fan .

    Every recession takes at least a year for the full impact to take effect.

    This is Winston's last Stand Ron Mark's,and Shane Jones are waiting in the wings if Winston First fails to get over 5% that is the end of the Softer Version of the National Party .

  4. Peter 4

    The rail delay is good. It means we won't have to put up with the bitching from Mike Hosking about the stupidity of it, the lack of necessity of commuter rail and the silliness of public transport

    Travel around Auckland into the future will be sorted and Hosking can calm down. Will he find anything to grizzle about? Of course, he's a professional. Um, what will be leading his moan mountain? Yep, how hard it is to get around Auckland with all the traffic and all the clogged roads!

  5. Michael 5

    Back in 2017 this was a shovel ready project, what happened?

    To my mind there is a real conflict of intentions, what is fit for purpose. On one side, the minister's, is the intention to build a system that delivers a 30 minute service to the airport from the CBD. On the other is the original intention to build a system to give relief to road congestion, do away with bus sausages on our main arterial roads at a time when intensification of Auckland's inner suburbs is expected. Such intensification required a lot more service stops than a quick service to the airport can provide. It is as if there are 2 projects here, not one.

  6. The best chance of getting a light-rail system is with a Green-Labour coalition.

    I have been very impressed with the l-r in Sydney. Comfortable, quite, convenient.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      I have been very impressed with the l-r in Sydney. Comfortable, quite, convenient.

      I hear that from nearly everyone I know who's been overseas and used the local public transport. Even hardened right-wing who seem truly amazed at how good public transport can be.

      • Gabby 6.1.1

        Any problem with having a proper grownup train instead?

        • Draco T Bastard

          Depends upon where you put it doesn't it?

          Probably don't want freight trains running down the middle of Dominion Road at all hours of the day.

          • Gabby

            You mean they'd be ripping up existing tracks and routing freight trains through the city centre? That seems unlikely.

        • Michael

          Essentially wrong place, puts a lot of weight on rail system, slowing that down and fails to greatly increase the catchment of passengers.

  7. Dean Reynolds 7

    Nothing will be sorted until we re-establsh a Ministry of Works as the lead, Government owned contractor on all large scale infrastructure projects. PPP's are dead in the water!

    If the Nats start whining about the light rail project, remind them of their Transmission Gully PPP balls up.

  8. newsense 8

    Nah. It's a sign of confused ideology and poor leadership.

  9. Tricledrown 9

    Winston tale wagging the Dog has NZ first coming last.

    Seymour is picking up Winston 's Nationalist populist far right fringe.

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