Government Still Messing With Auckland Transport

John Key's backdown on his Government's refusal to support Auckland's rail loop was inevitable. Similar to his reversal of the decision to increase class sizes, Key has seen that public support for the rail loop has remained strong. The decision to delay funding was a clever tactic to take the heat out of the Government's opposition by appearing to support the scheme yet refuse financial support for another seven years. This allows Brownlee and Joyce to continue with their crazy motorway agenda and in speaking to the Land Transport Management Amendment Bill, Transport Consultant and MP Julie Ann Genter clearly explained the folly of it all.

The flagship of all the Government's growth stimulation initiatives are the Roads of National Significance (RONS) and building motorways has become an ongoing obsession that has transcended reason. Some excellent questioning and research from Genter has revealed that the motorways that the Government are so determined to build generally fail cost benefit analysis. Not only that but they appear to be mainly based on the view of a Minister, with no background in transport planning, that they are a good idea.

Private transport volumes peaked in 2004 and road freight saw a leveling off in 2007, rail freight volumes are increasing and demand for public transport is also increasing. The Government has decided to ignore research and public demand and is prioritizing around 90% of its "infrastructure" spending on motorways. What the Government hasn't factored in is the huge cost of road transport to businesses and private citizens. While it costs the Government and taxpayers (road taxes etc) around $4 billion a year to maintain our road infrastructure, it costs us $12 billion a year to buy vehicles and fuel. Fuel and vehicles have to be purchased from outside New Zealand and this just increases our current account deficit. The Government's plan to spend $11-12 billion on motorways that support only 4% of our traffic volumes will lock us in to an uneconomic transport system that will just increase our levels of debt.

If the Government has its way the rail loop won't be built for another 10 years and one can easily imagine the level of frustration at the inefficiency of Auckland's public transport by 2023. Those living in the proposed greenfield housing developments on the outskirts of the city will also suffer through the lack of transport options. The obsession this Government has for bitumen is almost obscene.


Armchair Critic said…
He's put himself in an interesting position. On the face of it, it's a lolly scramble, and everyone loves a lolly scramble. Right?
The points where it doesn't stack up can be summarised in a few words; timing and money.
The projects are so far out into the future that most of the National caucus won't be around in parliament to vote for the appropriations when it come to paying for these "think big" projects. National have a good record of flip flops on transport projects. Can Key assure us they won't do another u-turn?
On the money side, a u-turn would make sense, because the economic evaluations show the motorways up as poor investments. With National reputed to be good at that fiscal stuff, these projects are not good for their reputation.
bsprout said…
You are right AC. The previous National Government promoted the view that they were good economic managers and part of that was the reduction of regulations and bringing in the Employment Contracts Act. Those decisions contributed to the leaky building debacle (that is costing the country around $13 billion to fix), the Pike River mine disaster and possibly even the Rena wreck (with the deregulation of coastal shipping). We also have one of the most inequitable societies in the OECD since workers lost the ability to maintain wages at a livable level.

Rather than bring us economic gains, National continually exposes us to risk and long term debts.
Unknown said…
These projects are for the betterment of citizens. At start we have to face some difficulties but later it will give a long lasting benefit to us. So, we should appreciate the efforts by govt. For more such information please visit:
Armchair Critic said…
We would get better betterment if we did something else, Lee John. The link you provided appears to go to a blank page.
Unknown said…
It's a good sign that government is still working for the betterment of the public. I will share it with my builder here:
Unknown said…
It is still looking like Govt. is still messing with Auckland transport. Such works should be done but with the convenience of public.
builder auckland
Zahidul Hasan said…

Great site! I am loving it!! Will be back later to read some more.

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