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Transmission Gully- $1bln white elephant

Written By: - Date published: 9:01 am, December 17th, 2009 - 119 comments
Categories: transport - Tags: ,

Here’s a prediction. Transmission Gully will never be built.

There’s a reason that Labour kept pushing Transmission Gully off. The Benefit/Cost ratio is sh*t. “It is likely that the benefit-cost ratio for the Transmission Gully route is less than 1” says Joyce. Disgracefully, NZTA is too ashamed to publish the actual number.

Transmission Gully will cost $1 billion and be worth less than a billion to the country. Stupid.

Put the billion in early childhood intervention for at-risk kids. Pays off at $17  for each one invested. Or put the billion in public transport with decent B/C ratios. That’s what this government is about, eh? Value for money?

Even that crap “less than 1” B/C assumes no more oil spikes. The IEA reckons the next supply crunch will be 2012. Before building begins on Transmission Gully even if everything goes well. That next spike will push costs up and slash benefits driving the B/C into the ground. Peak oil will keep it there. No government with any sense will build a 27km white elephant, a billion dollar monument to the death of car culture.

Another thing. Tolls are dumb. Running the toll system costs a bomb. Up at Orewa-Puhoi, taking a payment by phone costs NZTA $2.70. Average transaction cost is $1.29. Toll is $2.00. In the first year, tolling lost $500,000 (25% more than revenue). The cost of the system is even more than expected and the losses are bigger (NZTA is pretty shy about revealing that too).

The B/C of roading projects falls with tolling. Why do it? It’s just a dumb obsession with user pays. If a project makes sense its because it creates a worthwhile benefit to the nation as a whole, the nation should pay.

Transmission Gully – worth less than it costs. Tolling – more expensive than the revenue.

Let’s hope we get that sensible government in time to cancel this ridiculous waste of our money.

119 comments on “Transmission Gully- $1bln white elephant ”

  1. TightyRighty 1

    is the reason Labour put off transmission gully because it thought it could do better with kiwi rail? i think it’s pretty apparent that the cost benefit ratio of transmission gully will be higher than whatever it is for kiwirail. seeing we’ve already lost 600 million on that in the deal of the century.

    • Zetetic 1.1

      Bluster disregarded. You are against all projects with benefits less than costs, eh?

      • TightyRighty 1.1.1

        no not all. i am against putting things off over and over again, the cost of transmission gully has sky-rocketed from free to about a billion dollars. wellington needs another route north. saving ten mintues on a twenty five minute journey, multiply that by however many people use the road yearly, and you have some large efficiency gains. better to save some time and drive to work in wellington, than take your chances with a clapped out train system.

        • lprent

          That is calculated inside the B/C ratios. Evidently you are wrong.

          • TightyRighty

            what part am i wrong about lprent? saving ten minutes on a twenty five minute journey? or how you can multiply that by everone who uses the road each year? or that taking 40% off travel time is an efficiency gain?

            • Pascal's bookie

              The effieciency gain is included in the b side of the B/C, it still doesn’t outweight the c side.

            • snoozer

              Tighty. Those benefits are counted in the B-C ratio. They do not outweigh the cost

              And there’s no use crying that in the past it might have been cheaper. The money was spent on other things then and this decision is being made in the present.

              • TightyRighty

                i know that, so what b-c analysis was done for kiwirail that showed that we would pay a billion for something worth $400 million, and doesn’t even include the vital trucking operation that is now eating up competitors?

                compare the beneficiaries of transmission gully, everyone who uses the road or has goods delivered along such road, to the beneficiaries of buying kiwirail, toll, when the cost is the same. so really one provides wider good, and one benefited an australian company in the deal of the century.

              • Draco T Bastard

                compare the beneficiaries of transmission gully, everyone who uses the road or has goods delivered along such road,

                Until the road reaches congestion or until nobody can afford to run a car any more – whichever comes first.

                The B/C of 1).

              • Pascal's bookie

                So your argument is that Kiwirail thing sucked and we did that, so we should also do this other sucky thing, just to be fair?

              • snoozer

                Tighty. a B-C ratio for Kiwirail would include the benefit to the whole country, not just the value of owning it. I haven’t seen a B-C ratio for the rail system but I’m willing to bet its greater than 1, unlike TG.

            • Bored

              Methinks you miss the real point, you wont get that efficiency gain on a bicycle or on foot, What Zet correctly intimates is that oil will not be available at a price the average motorist can afford by the time this road gets built, compounding this will be th extra cost of building cause by the spike in oil prices.

              A saner alternative (regardless of your politics) would be to plan for this eventuality and match investment strategies to future realities.

              • TightyRighty

                methinks you live in lala land, when petrol gets that expensive, it will be feasible to drill the southern ocean basin. or people will buy electric cars, or whatever is out there to replace petrol engines. so lets plan for a future where humans, as they do now, have personal transport and use it.

              • Swampy

                Rise in the cost of oil will affect everything, not just road building, it will cause a massive economic slump, just as happened in the 70s with the oil price rises which caused recession in many countries. The truth is the oil economy is what our economic development relies on heavily. For this reason I dispute the wishful thinking that peak oil will lead to some new utopia where public transport will take over and everything continue as before.

  2. roger nome 2

    What an expensive barrel of pork. I wonder how much it’s worth to Peter Dunne?

  3. roger nome 3


    “i think it’s pretty apparent that the cost benefit ratio of transmission gully will be higher than whatever it is for kiwirail.\

    I think your crystal ball’s broken. Either that or you’re a peak-oil denialist (i.e. nearly as ignorant as a AGW denialist.)

    • TightyRighty 3.1

      my crystal ball is broken? oh thats right, your so progressive that forgot to wonder what might come after the internal combustion engine. gee silly me for thinking that people would rather catch a train than drive their electric car or whatever the future holds for independent personal transport to auckland. or one of the many place not served by rail lines.

      • lprent 3.1.1

        Yep I also think that personal transport will be around for a long time.

        However we have more than enough roads now if we had a decent public transport system. The more people on public transport, the less vehicles on the road.

        That is why the B/C on public transport is high what ever way you look at it – amongst other things it reduces the requirement to pay for roads that fill up within a few years.

        • Gosman

          Wellington requires a decent road route going north out of the city especially considering the threat to the costal route due to potential sea level rise of AGW.

          No amount of investment in Public Transport will change this situation.

          • Pascal's bookie

            How do you get from the south end of TG to Wellington?

            • Gosman

              South end of TG?

              You have to be less obtuse.

            • Gosman

              Oh you mean Transmission Gully.

              It is still far more inland than the current route and will be easier to protect from any sea level rise.

              • Pascal's bookie

                So how do get between the south end of the new safer inland route and Wellington again?

                Just seems like this argument, that you are fond of, has a few gaps that might be very expensive to fill.

              • Clarke

                It’s a pity it’s going to be built on a fault-line, then. Because in an earthquake, NZTA’s own analysis says the road will be more damaged than the coastal route and will take longer to repair …

              • Gosman

                Do you mean the existing Motorway on Wellington harbour?

                If so then this will have to be protected at some stage as well. However this will have to be done whether or not Transmission Gully is built.

                I would prefer that we have a decent first class road route in-land and not have to worry about having to protect all the existing coastal highway.

              • Gosman

                The existing Motorway is built across fault lines as well. It is pretty hard to avoid that in Wellington.

                Which is easier to do though, rebuild a road after a one off earthquake or deal with flooding caused by rising sea levels?

          • lprent

            A rail line on the Transmission Gully route would be a hell of a lot cheaper. It might even have a positive B/C.

            I’d agree on the need to reduce dependence on the coastal route. But that has been the case since I first looked at the civil defense in wellington. An earthquake has always been on the cards there, and that coastal road has a good probability of dropping back into the sea (or going up again).

            • Gosman

              Relying only on Railway as the main route in to and out of Wellington from the North would be extremely limiting.

              Building a road widens your transport options, including you public transport ones.

              BTW this nonsensical talk about Transmission Gully being too steep for Trucks is laughable. This is not the Himalaya’s.

              If trucks can travel over the Kyber pass I think they should be able to build a road for them that isn’t too steep in Wellington.

            • Swampy

              With the grades of the TG highway a rail line would be very expensive to operate. Still it has been talked about for decades, but this is the NIMT we are talking about and the most they have managed to justify in the heyday of railways was a couple of minor deviations (off the original route via Johnsonville).

            • burt


              I’ve taken my mountain bike up Transmission Gully a few times and I can assure you that getting a train up that gradient would be an interesting exercise. The “incline” grade sections of the old Rimutuka rail line are nowhere near as steep as Transmission Gully.

              Sure it would be possible I guess…Perhaps the IPCC could model it for us and prove that gravity has different effects of trains when you use them to replace cars.

              • lprent

                I’ve never been there. Inclines are a bitch for trains, which is why there aren’t tracks over the harbor bridge.

                However I was thinking more of a tunnel at transmission gully. There are probably those nice machines around that they used at Puhio.

              • burt


                A tunnel seems like the most logical choice, perhaps the type of rock and the presence of fault lines etc buggers that option.

                The perfect option would seem to be;

                Rip the guts out of the top of the gully on a mega scale making the summit 100 meters lower than it is today. Stockpile the massive mounds of clean fill for when we need to build sea walls around the Kapiti coast. Replant renewable resource credits trees all over the remodeled landscape.

                If you say my idea is silly I’ll call you a traitor. 🙂

                • lprent

                  Whatever you say burt – but it does seem like it would raise the cost part of the equation.

                  Personally I think that the whole transmission gully road seems pretty bad. The only major ‘benefit’ would be to get politicians out of Wellington when the big one comes. But I thought that would be against your religions.

  4. roger nome 4


    Ah ever faithful in the market to magically provide all the answers i see. I too believe that one day a solution will found to get around the depletion of fossil fuels, re personal transport, i just don’t know that this can be done within the next 20-50 years, when we’ll need it.

    The following is from a report prepared for the US department of energy.


    World oil peaking is going to happen, and will likely be abrupt.
    * World production of conventional oil will reach a maximum and decline thereafter.
    * Some forecasters project peaking within a decade; others contend it will occur later.
    * Peaking will happen, but the timing is uncertain.
    Mitigation efforts will require substantial time.
    * Waiting until production peaks would leave the world with a liquid fuel deficit for 20 years.
    * Initiating a crash program 10 years before peaking leaves a liquid fuels shortfall of a decade.
    * Initiating a crash program 20 years before peaking could avoid a world liquid fuels shortfall.


    • TightyRighty 4.1

      and Roger that may all be true. it does not mean that people will stop using personal transport in favour of public. trucks will still operate, business will still need roads to function, and providing a third northern route out of wellington is sensible to say the least.

  5. Macro 5

    Building motorways now is the HEIGHT of STUPIDITY.
    * A few more million invested in upgrading the rail into Wellington.

    *Banning trucks carrying containers into the port and putting containers on rail from container ports built out of the city.

    * Or better still moving containers by rail in the first place.

    *Upgrading public transport even more with more frequent feeder buses to trains etc.

    *Taxing single person cars traveling into the city in peak hours. eg Singapore/ London.

    Far cheaper and would have a positive benefit for all as well as the planet.

    • Kevin Welsh 5.1

      This is one thing I have never been able to understand about road container transport. Why move one container at a time by truck, when you could move hundreds at a time by rail?

      Why not set up rail hubs in strategic locations, and then have smaller trucks delivering in a small radius instead of working between the likes of Auckland and Wellington?

      • Gosman 5.1.1


        If I have a small consignment of goods that I need to move fast to a location away from a rail hub it makes economic sense to move it by road.

        • felix

          And that’s why no-one is suggesting digging up all the roads. That option will always be available for that type of transportation.

          It’s not a reason to go on building more and more roads though – most freight is far more predictable, repetitive and bulk-oriented. Rail and hybrid solutions are more appropriate.

          • Gosman

            Possibly but that is really a separate argument to whether or not Transmission Gully is a good thing or not.

            Wellington doesn’t have a decent main road going Northwards. Transmission Gully provides it with this option.

            This will mean that the existing Coastal route can become far more people friendly and there is greater flexibility in transport options into and out of the Greater Wellington area.

            I have yet to see any meaningful alternatives put forward by opponents of Transmission Gully beyond a childish ‘More Public Transport and less provate cars’ mantra.

            • felix

              Well I’m not really an “opponent” of the transmission gully project – it’s not even on my radar to be honest.

              But I do take issue with your suggestion that promoting more public transport and less use of private vehicles is in any way childish.

              Actually the more I read it the more ridiculous that last paragraph of yours looks.

              • Gosman

                It’s childish because it is a simplistic rendering of a complex issue which doesn’t really deal with the topic at hand. It would be like saying the solution to AGW is to reduce Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere. It might be correct but there is no substance behind it.

                More Public Transport might resolve a number of issues but it is not going to deal with the fundamental problem that Transmission Gully resolves, that is the lack of decent road link in and out of Wellington from the North.

              • felix

                It might be correct but there is no substance behind it.

                If it’s so obviously correct as to be childish then to argue against the premise would be….?

                Note, I said “against” not “for more detail“.

              • Gosman

                It is childish to use that as the sum total of your argument. And that is all I have heard in relation to alternatives to Transmission Gully. ‘You should spend more on Public Transport’. Really? How will this make Wellington’s northern access less vulnerable? That is why there is no substance in such an argument.

              • felix

                Fair enough. I think I started replying to you while you were off on a tangent so I missed the context of what you were saying.

      • Swampy 5.1.2

        Because you still have to get the containers from the premises to the rail yards, and off at the other end. How do you do this except by road? And then it costs extra to transfer them from road to rail. We are talking here about relatively short journeys across town or whatever. And then the containers that have been loaded have to wait in the rail yard while the rest of them are loaded onto the train before it gets going, and then it takes time to unload them all at the other end.

        Now a single truck may only be able to move one or perhaps two containers at a time but it can do so on demand and without these delays and extra handling. On a long distance trip it becomes less of an issue but on a short haul across a city it does not stack up so well.

        • Macro

          “Transmission Gully” is about access into and out of Wellington. Now if you can remove trucks and a large number of commuter traffic going to and from work from the existing motorway TG would be unnecessary! Sure you will need trucks in the city but the transportation of containers into and out of the city should be off the motorway.
          Furthermore the Govt has said that it will cut Carbon emissions by 10 % or more. Just how is it going to achieve that if continues investing in concrete and more cars and trucks? The pitiful ETS is not going to achieve it.

    • Gosman 5.2


      Transmission Gully is not really for the day to day commuter, although it will help in that regard.

      I take Public Transport to work pretty much every day. However when I go North on trips with my family I take a car as it is far more convenient than having to drag four kids and associated baggage on Public Transport.

      None of the options you suggest will make my life easier.

      • Clarke 5.2.1

        ransmission Gully is not really for the day to day commuter, although it will help in that regard.

        Actually Transmission Gully is almost exclusively for cars, as it’s too steep for trucks – it’s nearly three times as steep at the summit as Ngauranga Gorge, which means it’s pretty much impassable for B-Trains and the like.

        This is a road to nowhere, dreamed up by a moron of a Minister.

        • Gosman

          I’d suggest the amount of commuters north of Paramata is minimal compared to those living in the wider Porirua, Hutt Valley, and Wellington City environs.

          The Road will allow much easier access of these people to the North. I’d suggest that is hardly a road to nowhere.

          Why do you think this project has got so much support amongst the wider local Government area in Wellington?

          • Clarke

            I’d suggest the amount of commuters north of Paramata is minimal compared to those living in the wider Porirua, Hutt Valley, and Wellington City environs.

            I think you’re entirely right – which is, of course, why the project has a negative BCR, particularly given that the trucks won’t use it in any appreciable numbers.

            Why do you think this project has got so much support amongst the wider local Government area in Wellington?

            Because Kerry and co are a bunch of car-centric dinosaurs – and because (largely) Transmission Gully is not their money, it’s central government money. So it should be interesting watching Bob Jones sweeping the current pro-car WCC lot into the dustbin of history at the next election.

        • Roflcopter

          Ummm… It’s not 3 times as steep, it’s the same grade over a longer distance. And no, it’s not a problem for trucks, it just takes longer.

          But don’t let the facts get in the way of a good yarn.

        • ben

          This is a road to nowhere, dreamed up by a moron of a Minister.

          You’ll have to be a bit more specific. This has been on the books for 40 years.

        • Swampy

          You are much mistaken, the road has been campaigned for a decade or more, it was not suddenly dreamed up out of nowhere by the Minister.

    • Bored 5.3

      You can always rely on techno salvationists to argue against the laws of physics and known shortfalls in resource capacities. They tend to be the same fringe looneys (and economists) who believe that continuous growth in a finite world is possible. Its the same materialist stupidity evident in the extremes of both left (communism) and right (market neo liberalism) that blindly refuses to see reality.

      Your chances of getting these pillocks to understand our common future and act accordingly wont happen in advance, the actual reality will have to happen first and wrap itself around their very thick craniums several times before you will get so much as a duhh!!!!

      • Gosman 5.3.1


        Was there a point to your post Bored?

        Simple question for you –

        Does Wellington need a decent road route into the City from the North?

      • Draco T Bastard 5.3.2

        You won’t even get that – even after it happens they’ll still deny it.

  6. Gosman 6

    Do any of you who a decrying the decision to build the Transmission Gully route live in Wellington and drive?

    The current roads out of the Capital are positively Third world. On top of that they are extremely vulnerable to being cut off due to natural occurances or accidents.

    Given the threat of increased sea levels due to AGW wouldn’t it be sensible to build an in-land route which won’t be impacted?

    • snoozer 6.1

      there’s lots of things that would be nice to have. but government spending shouldn’t outweigh the benefits of that spending. Sorry, but Transmission Gully isn’t worth the cost.

      • Gosman 6.1.1

        The Government has decided otherwise. The road should be a toll one with steep charges though. I wouldn’t mind paying $10 for a trip for example if it saved me 15 to 20 minutes.

        If The Labour Party wishes to make this an election issue come 2011 I welcome that. It would be interesting to see how much support they will lose in Wellington.

        • Draco T Bastard

          The Government has decided otherwise.

          That’s because this government is stupid.

          • Gosman

            And so too must be most of the Local Governments in the Wellington region then.

          • Clarke

            .. or it could be because the National Party took election “donations” from the trucking lobby. Not stupid – simply available for purchase.

            • prism

              About trucks firms using the TG someone has already suggested that it is too steep for many. So they probably wouldn’t be major cash supporters of National with this project as a goal.

          • Gosman

            So why does the proposed route have majority support amongst the wider local Government sector in Wellington?

        • snoozer

          Gosman. The point of this discussion is that the government’s decision is stupid and the costs outweigh the benefits – that’s official. The government didn’t decide that isn’t the case, they are building it regardless.

          Labour won’t run against building TG. But some future government will just shelve it.

          • Gosman

            Not if the build is well advanced it won’t.

            The proposal is to take around 10 years to build it. It is unlikely that any new Government will shelve it if it is already three or four years into this schedule.

            If they did the backlash from a large section of Wellingtonians would be huges.

            • Lanthanide

              That depends entirely on whether the government is facing a huge deficit or not, doesn’t it?

              After the Asian financial crisis in 1997-98, many highways, hotels and other construction projects simply halted, and have remain halted since.


              So don’t just merrily assume that because something costs $1b to build, that once it is started it will be completed no matter what. You simply can’t finish building something if the money isn’t available.

              Now the most likely scenario for this is peak oil and oil price shocks. But also consider what would happen if a massive earthquake struck Auckland, Christchurch or Wellington? The government would likely divert funding from unnecessary infrastructure towards rebuilding the necessary.

          • Swampy

            Labour supported TG in its previous term of office.

            • lprent

              Yes, it kept getting deferred for projects with better benefit / cost ratios – ie ones that returned more in benefits to the community than they cost.

    • Bored 6.2

      I walk, bike, scoot, and occasionally drive around Wellington, its a bloody nightmare. It reflects years of neglect and should not be as it is. We missed the boat for what we needed when oil based energy was cheap. Having said that the wisdom of spending billions on an automobile infrastructure now is wrong. Its a misinvestment.

      • Gosman 6.2.1

        Regardless of whether or not investment in Public Transport is increased within the convines of the greater Wellington region it still needs a decent overland road route to the North. The Coastal route is extremely vulnerable to numerous threats including increased sea levels. Building a first class route in-land makes sense even if you want people to take buses instead of private cards.

        • Bored

          That would be a better investment so long as it is attuned to future usage, I have long been in favour of better integrated rail / bus services to take the weight of cars of the roads. That will happen in the future anyway, but I agree there does remain a real issue as to whether the current local routes provide any redundancy etc. Must say the current coast road would drive anybody using it regularly to insanity.

        • Clarke

          it still needs a decent overland road route to the North.

          You may well be right, so it’s a pity that Transmission Gully doesn’t fit the bill. It’s too steep for large trucks and heavy machinery, sits on a fault line so is more likely to be haevily damaged in a large earthquake, and will take longer and cost more to repair in an earthquake than the coastal route.

          It’s a billion dollar white elephant, exactly as Zetetic suggests.

          • Gosman

            So when the Coastal route is impacted by rising sea level rises what would you suggest Wellignton does Clarke?

    • satty 6.3

      How do more cars in Wellington City improve the car traffic there?

      In Central Europe the cities with the highest average inner city travel speed are the ones with the best public transport systems. Here in New Zealand the politicians try desperately for 50 years to prove the opposite – they completely failed.

      Wellington (traffic) can clearly only improve with less cars in the city. Therefore every cent invested in car traffic instead of public transport makes things only worse.

      • Gosman 6.3.1

        Do you live in Wellington Satty?

        Have you ever tried to take your family on a trip to the North during a Summer holiday?

        • Draco T Bastard

          I’ve done that and it was a nightmare. Took nearly 4 hours just to go the first 100km or so. It took that long because of all the commuters in their cars. If all those commuters had been on the train instead then it wouldn’t have taken as long as the roads would have been empty.

          • fizzleplug

            Those aren’t commuters, they are holiday-takers. Who for some reason don’t want to take their suitcase on the train with them.

            Normal commuter traffic is no-where near this bad.

            • Gosman

              What a flippent and ignorant reply.

              Have you ever attempted to take a number of small children on a holiday?

              Taking them on Public transport would be a nightmare.

              • snoozer

                It’s stupid to build a billion highway just to ease congestion a few days a year.

                especially when oil prices are heading one way – out of reach for things like cra holidays

              • prism

                When I travelled through Wellington north a while ago, I noticed that major car numbers on the roads in the weekend were young men. The road through the Rimutakas seems to be a rally track for them. This sector of population are big road users in the weekend cf to other sectors.

              • Captain Rehab

                Have you ever attempted to take a number of small children on a holiday?

                Taking them on Public transport would be a nightmare.

                You’re not smacking them properly.

            • Draco T Bastard

              No, they were commuters. I doubt if normal commuting applies in the holiday period anyway but the time I went through wasn’t actually in the holiday period, it was close though and midweek.

              Normal commuter traffic is no-where near this bad.

              That’s what I’ve heard – I suspect that the day I went through was just one of those days when everyone took their car to work rather than public transport and yet NACT want to build a highway that will encourage even more people to take their car.

              Definition of stupidity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
              And yet that is exactly what NACT are proposing to do and at a known B/C ratio that proves that it’s not worth doing.

          • Swampy

            No it is because the roads north out of Wellington are inadequate for the traffic, they go through too many residential areas

        • satty

          I have no problem if people take their car for a weekend trip. Specially, when there are three or more people in the car. The car might be a necessary item at the place you spend the holidays, like in rural areas. Does it make sense for some holiday trips saving 15 or 20 minutes travel time to invest a billion dollars?

          The main traffic problems are working day commuters: A single person driving a car through the city to park it on most expensive real estate in the country. The car stands around there idle and doesn’t serve any purpose all day.
          You can fill up Courtney Place with maybe 20 cars, which is something like 20 to 25 people, or you can try and get 6 or 7 buses through instead, which is probably more than 250 people in peak hour times. The majority people do not need there car at the office, no parking fees and everyone’s travel time would be reduced, reclaiming pedestrian areas to make a city a lot nicer and stress-free, with a large number of trolley buses this certainly reduces toxic exhaust and therefore improves the health of city people… this is a real Win/Win/Win/Win situation, proven in God-knows how many cities around the world (haven’t seen one in New Zealand yet).

    • Macro 6.4

      I used to live in Wellington and now I live in Auckland – I visit Wellington regularly though throughout the year and travel down occasionally by car and have driven around the city by car in the last month. Let me tell you that the roads around Wellington in rush hour are no where near as congested as the roads in Auckland at the same time.
      Let me also suggest that this is possible because of a much more people friendly public transport system.

      Captcha “Bus” – This thing is intelligent i tell you!

      [lprent: I read the code. It isn’t….]

  7. Pete 7

    Given we’re borrowing a billion every two weeks to fund Labours social spend-up, $2.4b is a drop in teh bucket. A mere few weeks spend.

    Why are you getting exited about the latter spend but not the former?

    This road is needed. The current road is inadequate, no matter how much money you waste on KiwiRail.

    • snoozer 7.1


      the benefits outwiegh the costs. That’s official.

      that means that this road isn’t needed, not at this cost.

      • Gosman 7.1.1

        The Government has decided otherwise. This decision is extremely popular amongst many Wellingtonian’s.

        • snoozer

          No. The government has not decided that the benefits outweigh the costs. The minsiter says the B-C is less than 1.

          They have decided to ignore the B-C ratio and waste our money because it will be popular with a few people on the Kapiti Coast like you. Those of us in the centre of the city couldn’t give a crap, except that it’s a waste fo our money.

          That may be good politics. But it’s not good government and its not good use of our taxpayer dollars.

          • Gosman

            Ummmmm….. I don’t live on the Kapiti Coast.

            If noone else in Wellington cares about this why does it have majority support amongst the Local Government sector?

            I would love if the Labour Party made this an election issue.

            • Bright Red

              they’re obviously not going to make it an election issue.

              No-one in the Hutt cares about it, gosman. I know that much. We just see it as a waste of our money. A billion dollars to give a road to some idiots who can’t just take the train.

              So Prendergast likes it, so what? She’s just pro building roads.

            • Pascal's bookie

              Really? You’d love a nation-wide campaign on the proposition that the Nats are slashing spending, except for on an uneconomic road designed so that beurocrats can save ten minutes on their yearly trip to the provinces? 😉

          • Rob

            If the benefits outweighed the cost then the ratio would be greater than one. You are confused.

            What you are meaning to say is that the costs outweigh the benefits ie a ratio of less than one.

      • prism 7.1.2

        Or vice versa.

  8. Greg 8

    Nome: Peak oil. Myth. Read an article the other day from a oil producing nation’s persepective. They were busy laughing at us, because while we stress about peak oil, they stress about limiting supply to keep the price high. Which is a challenge apparently. That aside – yes oil will be more scarce tomorrow than it was today, and yes one day we come close to running out. But the market WILL supply a solution. We know roughly the amount of oil left, we know the rough cost of extracting it. Therefore the price will increase in line with the increased cost an scarcity. As such the investment in alternative fuels becomes more profitable, more money is invested and alternatives are developed. The wonders of economics eh.

    Bored: “They tend to be the same fringe looneys (and economists) who believe that continuous growth in a finite world is possible. Its the same materialist stupidity evident in the extremes of both left (communism) and right (market neo liberalism) that blindly refuses to see reality.”

    Speaking like someone who truly does not understand economics. I suggest you take some time to look into it – you may be suprised what you see. The thing about economics is that the common misconception is that economists develop models and try to fit them to the real world. In reality the opposite is true, economists study the real world – and develop models to reflect it.

    Have you ever heard of the Solow Growth Model? Basically it hypothisised what your claiming, that the world is finite so countries can only reach one maximim point of growth. The problem was that real world evidence contradicted this. Countries just kept on growing. What was discovered was that either an increase in the capital/labour ratio or technology can shift the whole model outwards – making countinued growth possible in a finite world.

    • Bright Red 8.1

      greg. there is only so much recoverable oil. peak oil is an inevitablity, that’s the concensus of the geologists. That’s how resrouce extraction works – every feild peaks, every region peaks (eg the US peaked in 1970), and eventually the world must peak too.

      but I guess you know better than them, just like you know better than the climatoligsts.

      The only question with peak oil is ‘when’? And I’m not aware of a single model that puts it more than 20 years away.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.2

      In reality the opposite is true, economists study the real world and develop models to reflect it.

      A couple of economists do that but the majority just take the free-market theory at face value. They don’t even look at the assumptions behind – the assumptions that assume away reality.

      • fizzleplug 8.2.1

        Not sure what all this peak oil fuss is about. If we wait another 50 million years, a whole new lot will be ready for extraction. Just be patient people.

        Transport spending is a long term plan (obviously).

    • Bored 8.3

      Greg, the fairies at the end of your garden have been telling you tales. Solow I have read along with other tea leaf readers (commonly known as economists). His models has too many failings to discuss here, but even if you dont break it down its as simple as the inability to fill a cup to twice its capacity.

  9. Greg 9

    Oh and TightyRighty – stay true to your name, don’t become a pawn of this National government. Your right – kiwirail was a disaster. But that does not mean Transmission Gully is a good idea. A cost/benefit ratio lower than 1 is terrible, even a ratio higher than 1 does not make it a good idea. Evidence out of the states suggest tax cuts have a cost/beneift ratio of 3. I feel this is the benchmark we should be comparing it to.

  10. Greg’s faith in the Invisible Hand of the Market coming to our rescue when oil becomes too expensive is a mite akin to the faith of the Rapturists that the Invisible Hand of God will come to their rescue when Armageddon breaks out.

    In reality as the price of oil increases the market for it will shrink to those who can still afford it, and those who can’t afford it will become “collateral damage” of the market mechanism – unable to run their cars they’ll have to crowd like cattle on an inadequate public transport system to get to school or work, if they still can, give up trips to relatives and/or leisure activities, crowd into inner-city concrete jungles to to get a job they can walk to or take what they can, which means they’ll have even less money to spend on the inevitably expensive ‘new technology’.

    Alternatively, if Greg is correct the result will be that ten years after TG opens the north end will be surrounded by satellite housing developments built to take advantage of the ‘improved’ access to Wellington and TG will no longer be able to cope with the extra vehicular movements it’s very existence generated, so another road will be needed.

    The fundamental point is that with global warming, peak oil and a totally unsustainable growth in both population and its expectations, man is catapulting himself into a situation where no man has been before and the old mindsets will no-longer do.

    It’s a truism that Generals go into new wars always prepared to fight the one before. Politicians are no better and Transmission Gully is just kind of war-winning plan the General were drawing up in 1914.

    • Bored 10.1

      Well put, it’s the triple whammy you mentioned that needs recognition. A rational response is not to leave this to faith based solutions such as market economics or undiscovered technologies. If either have any mitigating factors great, but to rely on them would be foolhardy in the extreme.

    • Quoth the Raven 10.2

      Greg’s faith in the Invisible Hand of the Market…
      Maybe you should look at the Iron Fist behind the invisible hand.
      You at once want to decry the market and this bit of government folly from National. If left to the market this road would never be built because as Marty rightly points out it is just not economic. No private business would build this white elephant it’s only possible with the extra-economic power of the state.
      As to peak oil if it’s a real phenomenon, which I believe it to be, one should think you’d see the advantages to market mechanisms working away making oil ever and ever more expensive and alternatives such as public transport or alternatives to oil altogether becoming more economically viable. People will adapt to peak oil it will probably mean a process of relocalization will happen. It’s also interesting to note that the US that paragon of the free market 🙄 still provides subsidises to the Oil and Coal industires.

      The fundamental point is that with global warming, peak oil and a totally unsustainable growth in both population and its expectations, man is catapulting himself into a situation where no man has been before and the old mindsets will no-longer do.
      Man has always been “catapulting himself into a situation where no man has been before”. There is nothing new there. I agree re: population growth, but what do you propose to do about it? Coercive legislation?

      • Draco T Bastard 10.2.1

        It’s also interesting to note that the US that paragon of the free market 🙄 still provides subsidises to the Oil and Coal industires.

        The US loves free-markets – just so long as it’s not theirs. An actual free-market would destroy capitalism as there’s no profit in it (which is how the market should actually operate).

        I agree re: population growth, but what do you propose to do about it? Coercive legislation?

        I’d prefer education where everybody has a good idea as to what their life costs in regards to resources used.

  11. Tim Ellis 11

    Good on the government for going ahead with it.

    For those complaining about the cost benefit ratio, I doubt there was a lot of economic sense in spending an extra 1.7 billion on the waterview tunnel either, which Labour wanted to do.

    • Good on the government for going ahead with it.


    • Draco T Bastard 11.2

      What extra $1.7b?
      Last time I looked it was an extra 2 or 3 hundred million and it would keep the community together, not have 165 homes massively devalued and would have been a better option all round.

    • felix 11.3

      Tim has never been good with figures though.

      Or dates for that matter.

      Or names, quotes, accuracy, analogy, original thought, subtext, and definition.

    • jarbury 11.4

      The Waterview Connection, as a full tunnel version, had a BCR of 1.15. The Transmission Gully motorway has a BCR of around 0.3-0.5. Quite a difference don’t you think Tim?

      Whilst this project might be quite strategically important, I think it’s hard to get past the fact that its BCR is so low.

  12. Bill 12

    As white elephants go…….kind of tedious.

    Why not emulate this and sail over Cook Strait in style…..hook it in with Kiwi Rail?


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