Wow, things really have gone crazy in transport circles over the last few days since the local government elections. In the past I had found myself highly disappointed by the lack of information on the big public transport projects advanced by the mayoral candidates (as they were at the time), but now it seems like we’re almost getting overwhelmed by the media’s interest. It is all quite exciting. Here are a selection of articles from the NZ Herald and the Dominion Post just today on transport matters:
- The NZ Herald finally got around to doing a bit of research into the “big three” rail projects that Len Brown wants to advance: being the CBD Rail Tunnel, Rail to the Airport and Rail to the North Shore. While the article’s title is typically dismissive of rail (that’s an ongoing theme which I guess we have the editors to thank for) it is useful for the details of the projects to be raised. Personally, I think the estimate that rail to North Shore will be under $2 billion is extremely optimistic – as the harbour tunnels might cost something close to that, let alone the regrading of the Northern Busway plus an extension from Constellation Drive to Albany.
- Another NZ Herald article with a title that is dismissive of rail looks at the government’s (predictably) lukewarm response to Len Brown’s rail plans. I suppose that I know a little bit more about the disparity between the government’s transport policy and the new Council’s transport vision than NZ Herald editors, but I actually found myself somewhat encouraged by what John Key had to say about Len Brown’s transport plans – basically that they need to talk about it, but everyone needs to be aware that there’s not much money rolling around. I agree, the problem is not that we don’t have enough transport funding available, the problem is that we’re spending it on the wrong stuff.
- In the Dominion Post, there’s a fascinating article outlining the pointlessness of them spending $2 billion on more motorways, when that spending won’t actually make a difference to traffic congestion in the longer term. One of the problems of induced demand is that it effectively becomes impossible to fix congestion through building more roads and wider roads.
- And finally, there’s another article in the Dominion Post the potential conflicts between central government and the Auckland Council over the issue of rail funding are highlighted. Perhaps most interestingly, potential deputy mayor Christine Fletcher weighs in with some strong words supporting fast completion of the CBD Rail Tunnel.
Many of the articles mention that Len Brown is meeting with John Key (and presumably other senior ministers) on Thursday to discuss transport funding issues. Oh how I would love to be a fly on the wall in that meeting!