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.