ARTA have invited me to attend the opening of the New Lynn rail trench on Monday morning. If I can get myself out of bed at 4.30am I will probably go along. Monday’s event is not about the completion of the New Lynn project, as that won’t be done until September this year, but a lot of progress has been made in the last few months on this project and the next step is to get the trains through the trench – on one track – so that the other track in the trench can be built. The station will be shifted down into the trench, so things will be quite different for people using New Lynn station.

To see how progress is going I visited New Lynn today and took a number of photos – here’s one of them: I will do a more in-depth post on the New Lynn project in the next short while – probably after I go through the trench on Monday morning.

Anyway, that’s not really the point of this post. The point is that Steven Joyce will be attending the opening of the trench on Monday morning. At the opening of Newmarket Station last month I got the chance to talk to the Minister (altogether quite briefly), but because I was somewhat unprepared I didn’t really have the chance to think much about what to say to him. I mentioned that it would be ‘interesting’ to see the findings of the study into the CBD rail tunnel and that I hoped it would be fourth time lucky for this project (having been previously proposed in the 1920s, 1950s and 1970s). However, it would have been interesting to put a rather tricky question to him, although obviously in a fairly friendly manner.

Just in case I get the opportunity to have a brief chat with Mr Joyce on Monday I wonder what kind of question I should ask. A few come briefly into mind:

  1. Were you a bit disappointed with the low BCR for the Puhoi-Wellsford road? If the BCR for the CBD rail tunnel comes out to be significantly higher than Puhoi-Wellsford, it’d be a bit strange to not go with that project instead…. wouldn’t it?
  2. Do you feel a bit sorry for all those people in Waterview who went through 6 months of hell thinking that their houses would need to be taken, only to find that they needn’t have worried after all?
  3. Is there any logical reason why it’s OK to use national land transport funds for rail subsidies but not for rail capital costs?
  4. When are you going to announce a new public transport project?

Does anyone else have ideas?

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  1. I think don’t ask about Puhoi to Wellsford, it will probably make him get his hackles up and less interested to talk. Perhaps stick to questions about the rail network and its future development as he is there for a rail event after all. Perhaps ask him something along the lines of:

    1. It seems that more and more people are using trains now that improvements to the network are being made, after duplication and electrification are finished what projects do you think would be good to keep train use increasing and to allow us to maximise our network?
    2. Do you think we will see any more rail projects started in Auckland in the next 10 years? If yes then what?
    3. What are his views on a rail link to the airport?
    4. What are his views on a Howick/Botany Line?
    5. Does he want to borrow your books by Paul Mees?

  2. I like something like 1, builds on what is being done to rejuvenate rail. Perhaps phrasing in terms of utilising excess capacity on the rail network may help too

  3. Instead of this:

    2.Do you feel a bit sorry for all those people in Waterview who went through 6 months of hell thinking that their houses would need to be taken, only to find that they neednโ€™t have worried after all?

    Ask this:

    Do you think it is fair to use the rail designation for building part of the Waterview connection, and instead of saving houses just shifting the problem onto KiwiRail when the rail designation had been in place long before houses and motorways were planned?

  4. I think the question needs to be rhetorical; along the lines of ‘It’s pretty impressive, isn’t it: the trench represents a significant and necessary shift in the way we move people around this city. It’s a pity you and your lot haven’t come up with an equally impressive way of resolving Auckland’s environmental and traffic gridlock issues, notwithstanding your attendance at all these recent inaugurations of better public transport facilities for the country’s largest urban conglomeration.’ Or something similarly challenging; our Mr Joyce is far too complacent and self-satisfied.

  5. You could ask him if he ever uses public transport himself!

    You could also ask how many good small projects will not go ahead because of this one large one.

  6. Ask him whether he thinks modal shift from cars to PT is a worthwhile objective.

    Ask him if he thinks investing in PT is a good way to reduce congestion.

    Ask him if he thinks auto-dependency is a problem

  7. Ask him what the next big PT project is going to be. As an aside might want to comment how great it is that we have councils like WCC who are forward thinking enough to get off their backsides put the case for an improved urban environment.

  8. I like 1 and 4… He is a politician, he won’t walk away if you ask number 1 as long as you make sure Matthew Delaney or similar is next to you, then it becomes a story…

  9. Jarbury, I think asking him about the next PT project would be your best bet. Don’t go with provocative OR rethorical. Neither will get you anything except a brush-off or a “meh” answer.

    And if he is in a talkative mood, I am sure the conversation itself will offer you options.

  10. I’d agree, ask him about the next PT project, and within the question mention how there seems to be a significant increase in patronage apon investment.

    I would also like to see his thoughts on a airport rail link, would be very interesting.

  11. I didn’t get a chance to ask him anything in the end. There were tonnes more people at the opening than I had expected.

    The new station is pretty cool. Will be great when completed.

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