With special votes seeming likely to result in the Green Party getting one more MP, at the cost of National, and the chances of Auckland Central and/or Waitakere swinging from National to Labour being relatively (but not impossibly) slim, we have a fairly good idea about the shape of the future government.

  • We have 121 seats – a one seat overhang. This is down from the current parliament, which has 122 seats. This means that 61 seats are necessary for a majority.
  • National are likely to end up with 59 seats, which leaves them two short of a majority. They will require two “parties” (it feels a bit wrong calling one man bands of Act & United Future parties) out of United Future, Act and the Maori Party for support. This shouldn’t be too difficult. Ironically Labour might be kicking themselves for winning Te Tai Tonga as then there’d be a two seat overhang and National would need all three of these support parties – a much harder ask.
  • Interestingly, the total number of seats of parties generally supporting the government is down from 69 to 65 (assuming the Maori Party supports them), which gives a little less breathing space than we had previously. If either John Banks or Peter Dunne disagree with National on anything then they could make life pretty difficult – although I think this is unlikely as both will probably become defacto National MPs.

What does this all mean for transport? Well obviously the government is likely to continue with its current policies – as I outlined in this post we are likely to see further investigation of four additional Roads of National Significance. Personally I think these extra roads are more election bribes than anything else as there’s unlikely to be any money in the transport budget for major new projects for at least a decade if the government keeps pushing forward on their current RoNS.

In three years time obviously Victoria Park Tunnel will be fully completed and opened (I wonder if it will still be plagued by horrific congestion, I suspect so), construction on the Waterview Connection will be in full swing and widening of the SH16 causeway should be well under way. I’m not entirely sure what progress is expected to be made on Puhoi-Wellsford by that stage. Assuming that Labour and the Green Party stick to their pledge to scale back this road, a change of government in three years time could well mean that the “holiday highway” never happens, unless so much construction on it has occurred by 2014 that it’s impossible to back out of. I think that’s unlikely.

My pick for the big “elephant in the room” issue for road construction over the next three years will be declining fuel tax receipts putting enormous pressure on NZTA’s ability to actually deliver on the projects the government is promising. Already this year we are seeing NZTA finding it desperately difficult to “pay the bills”, having to put off many of its subsidies that go to Auckland Transport for a month or two here and there, so that they can manage their incredibly tight cashflow. If petrol prices continue to rise between now and 2014 this trend will only increase and we might find it very difficult to fund either the smaller projects (generally those with the best cost-benefit ratios) or we may have to be looking at delaying some of NZTA’s bigger projects. I feel that even increasing NZTA’s ability to borrow (as proposed in the LTMA reforms) will only delay this inevitability.

Of course it’s not all doom and gloom over the next three years. By late 2014 pretty much all our flash new electric trains should be running on the Auckland rail network, and judging by recent trends our rail patronage may be getting close to 15 million trips a year. With an enlarged Greens caucus, and key Labour MPs with a strong interest in Auckland transport issues (Phil Twyford, David Shearer and Jacinda Ardern) being returned to parliament and identified as rising stars, there should be an even better informed political debate over transport in the future. As I have noted in a few recent posts, I am particularly excited that Julie-Anne Genter has made it into parliament – I’m looking forward to parliament’s first questions on parking policy!

Like with many things, the real wildcard might be New Zealand First. Which side of the political divide they fall on transport policy is probably yet to be determined, but they may find it a useful weapon to attack the government on. Although Andrew Williams was clearly the worst mayor North Shore City ever had, the fact that he has been in that position means that he must have a reasonably good awareness of transport matters in the Auckland area – which must be a good thing.

Certainly, it’ll be an interesting three years.

Share this


  1. “Although Andrew Williams was clearly the worst mayor North Shore City ever had”

    I think you’re being too specific. Andrew Williams was clearly the worst mayor NZ ever had. I’ll put $20 on Williams being featured in the media for doing something disgraceful by the end of January, at the latest.

  2. I don’t think that almost all of our EMU’s will be running by the next election, perhaps 1/4 of them if we are lucky. Remember Wellingtons new trains started arriving in around September last year and they only have about half of them delivered so far and Auckland is getting almost twice as many (171 cars vs 96), I have also seen a document that suggested they won’t all be here till about 2016. Even so they are very well timed for the government as by the time the election rolls around they should just be starting to really come on stream and be noticed by the public giving a great story to tell.

    I think the biggest story will continue to be the battle over the CRL and its merits. In the next 12-18 months the council should hopefully have a designation largely sorted out and should have produced another business case that addresses all of the criticisms of the previous one along with dealing with issues like CBD road capacity. By then hopefully the council will have done a lot more to promote the project and educate the public on things like that it isn’t a loop for trains to go around in circles on, that it allows much higher frequencies on the existing lines and that the rest of the network can’t be expanded without it etc.

  3. “..declining fuel tax receipts putting enormous pressure on NZTA’s ability to actually deliver on the projects the government is promising”
    I expect funding for RONs and more RONs will be topped up from asset sales. The election pitch was “Education, Health and Transport projects” – I didn’t think for one minute transport projects to mean CRL.

    1. Exactly…. more reason to be gloomy about asset sales. If they were actually intending to invest in transforming the infrastructure of the nation and therefore the economy there might be some point in this programme. But their total lack of vision makes it a hopeless distraction really, and it will have little or no positive outcome but certainly occupy government as real pressure piles up from the world economy.

      Their denial about oil dependency is perfectly highlighted if they really do sell [largely] renewable electricity companies to buy roads to subsidise truck freight!

      1. Put in those terms Patrick- They really will sell [largely] renewable electricity companies generating domestic energy to build duplicate gold-plated roads to subsidise truck freight burning imported oil and the roads won’t bring in enough wider ecnomic benefits to cover the huge costs of building them, let alone the interest on the debt to pay for them in the first place.

        Sounds like digging our economic grave.

  4. CBD rail loop will be interesting with Banks in support during the campaign. Rudman has a piece on this today. Nikki Kaye also supporting an extended tram network. Show me the money Nikki!

    1. Well we’ve got three more years to hold Kaye to her word. The tram thing is such a typical spoiler from her, sounds nice but is meaningless, this is a push for a local level programme, ie the spending of ratepayers money. She is a government MP, her work needs to be at the national level. She might as well campaign on getting the busses to run on time. No Nikki, Auckland transport will work on the local road public transport we need you to fight for the big stuff that Wellington controls.

      Three more years of dissembling Nikki? Or are you going to actually get the result the city ends?

      1. Yes I heard that…. is Banks turning into an interesting Rooster or will he snap into line once Joyce leans on him like he did before the Mayoral race? Perhaps his new situation really will allow him to hold his own view….?

    1. It has been suggested before that he will get a promotion so it is likely we will see someone different, I have also heard the comment in the past that transport is a portfolio given to someone either on their way up or on their way down. As for Labours transport spokesperson, I think it will depend largely on who ends up as leader but I hope either Phil Tywford or David Shearer (if he isn’t leader)

  5. I think the Nats dirty tricks team will work hard on NZ First. They did it in the run up to the 2008 election (with help from the now one MP club called ACT).

    Nikki Kaye, if she holds on to her seat, better start proving to Auckland she actually can deliver something (anything) for Auckland, otherwise she’s history in 2014.

  6. I think Joyce will recieve some promotion, so we will probably get a new transport minister, but don’t expect government policy to change much. I think the pro-roads policy is a National party thing rather than a Steven-Joyce thing, and the pre-2008 transport spokesperson maurice Williamson (who might return to the transport role) was particularly outspoken and in fact dismissed by Key a week before the 2008 election for his advocacy of tolls. Also worth noting Key himself was Nationals transport spokesperson when first elected to parliament under Bill English.

    Kaye winning Auckland Central is actually possibly good for PT in that it could speed up her elevation to ministerial roles where she will have more power than just on the backbench, but she will probably need to make it into cabinet to have a real impact. The fact she jumped 24 places on National’s list indicates she is heading in the right direction, but I suspect it may be 2014 (helped of course if she holds the seat there again) before she gets into cabinet or a senoir role, as there are still a few people like Chris Tremain ahead of her in the que.

    Regarding NZ First I have done a small bit of research and it fully supports the Puhoi-Wellsofrd holiday highway (see http://www.localmatters.co.nz/Features/General+Election+2011/The+Candidates/Tracey+Martin+-+NZ+First+Party.html for proof)although the source also states NZ First support for the rail link to Marsden Point.

    1. But does Kaye actually support the CRL? Most of her statements seem to suggest it might be a good idea but more study is needed, and by the way why don’t we build a tram that follows the route more or less and then we won’t need it?

      1. “why don’t we build a tram that follows the route more or less and then we won’t need it?”

        Arnie, are you saying that? Or did Nikki Kaye say that?

        1. No, I’m saying that as, somewhat tongue in cheek. But you can see where the tram project might head, link it with Mt Eden station somehow and there will be plenty of misinformed comment about how we now have a loop without all that cost…

      2. Arnie- You are making up words and putting them in Nikki’s mouth. She has never said that ever.

        She did however sponsor a petition to parliament supporting both Trams and the CRL.

        Which is the opposite of what you’re imagining she said.

        The tram lines proposed don’t even follow the same route, and secondly clear suggestion in COMPLETELY DIFFERENT AREAS. The tram loop will clear congestion in the CBD and Inner West, the CRL provides massive benefits to Southern and Western users (and eventually the North Shore).

        Yes, we can hassle and harangue Nikki and Banksy too to back it up with action. We have the right to do that.

        Just don’t magic stuff out of thin air- it’s stupid

        1. As you can see from my later comment I’m not suggesting she did. However there will be people who breeze over the transport issues this city faces and believe that a tram and the CRL are interchangeable assets, which is why I believe the tram is a red herring and we need to focus on the CRL.

          “The tram loop will clear congestion in the CBD and Inner West”

          Really? How? I would say CBD congestion is caused by the huge volume of traffic heading to and from the motorways. And congestion in the inner west? Where?

        2. Arnie- Your first comment suggests she did and as people “breeze over transport issues” so too can they breeze over transportblog threads and get the wrong idea completely. I understand you’re just shit-stirring in a “tongue in cheek” fashion.

          The CRL will cut down the huge volume of traffic heading to and from the motorways. The trams will reduce congestion by- you know taking cars and buses off the roads…

          And congestion in the Inner West? Arnie 03 meet Ponsonby and K Rd’s.

          Nicholas O Kane makes a very good point in the post that you replied to about the fact that she’s pro PT and being promoted and could be very useful. There’s two choices here- you can hate her, or you can get her to use her power to make it happen. Let’s continue this discussion in 3 years and if there’s no progress we can both agree she’s evil.

          I think it will go the other way though. Fair enough?

        3. Geoff, genuine question: is the plan to run the tram in mixed traffic along K Road and Ponsonby Road or to provide dedicated space for a double-track separate to the traffic lanes?

        4. Do you really think the majority of Ponsonby Road traffic is people in the inner west heading their way home, or towards Curran St on ramp to the Northern? In any case I’d hardly call traffic on Ponsonby Road ‘congestion’.

          I’m not saying she is evil, however I genuinely believe the tram proposal is a case of PT washing. I’d love to be proved wrong but I don’t think we have a government that is going to look to progress the CRL. I’d hate to see the tram offered up as a consolation prize.

        5. I think arnie has a point. I’d love to be pleasantly surprised to discover the Nikki was genuinely and proactively pushing to fund the CRL as a priority, but every time I hear the tram talk it sounds awfully to me like a distraction. Especially as it is either like she is promoting something that is really only relevant at the local level, an issue for AT, or if she is really imagining central government funding then something that would be competing with the CRL for that money. Hmmmm.

          Now were she, for example, loudly and publicaly hollering for say 1.2 billion from the asset sales, some of which is already flagged for transport, to be spent on the CRL I would be more convinced. I would also have to admire how clever that would be too as it would go a long way to both steal her opponents thunder and shore up support for that programme which is, as we know, largely unpopular. Cunning and good for Auckland…?!

        6. The last time I spoke with Nikki, just before the election, I came away with the impression that she favours the CRL but dare not breach party lines by actually saying so. I am wondering if her proposal for a tram loop is a de facto way of showing support for a rail solution. A “tram loop” isn’t being widely promoted by others nor as a preferred option over a CRL so it’s the only explanation I can think of. Either way, actions speak louder than words and she is neither saying nor otherwise demonstrating support for CRL.

    2. “Regarding NZ First I have done a small bit of research and it fully supports the Puhoi-Wellsofrd holiday highway”

      I suspect NZ First’s transport policy is something along the lines of:

      1. What ever Peters says it is on any particular day.

      2. If we didn’t have so many Chinese immigrants there wouldn’t be any need for new roads or rail lines.

      3. Some sort of bizarre conspiracy theory regarding the purchase of new trains or the construction of new infrastructure. Peters has some documents that he can’t show you that prove John Key is being paid by the Chinese government and Aussie banks to do something that isn’t clear or significant to anyone other than Peters.

      But does it matter? The Government doesn’t need NZ First’s help to implement its transport policies. Those policies were detailed before the election. Labour and the Greens campaigned against them specifically. Labour and the Greens lost. Not a single Auckland electorate changed hands, despite Labour devoting a lot of their campaign resources to Auckland Central and plenty of tactical voting on the left. And National have huge majorities in Rodney and Northland, and have a majority over Labour in Auckland Central. That is a pretty solid mandate to proceed and I suspect the RoNS contracts will all be signed well before 2014.

      I still believe the rail tunnel will be built, and will be approved this term. But the ball is in Len Brown’s court. Instead of just announcing that he expects central government to pay for an arbitrary percentage of the project that Brown has decided upon, he needs to start negotiating and ante-ing up some serious Auckland Council money. It was Brown’s election promise and therefore he needs to figure out how to deliver it.

      1. Obi Your opinion that Auckland must pay for the CRL alone is not more persuasive though endless repetition. Please show me a road that is also not in one region, why shouldn’t Auckland rate payers also have to pay for Puford, it too is entirely in Auckland? Or Waterview?

    1. It’s an important matter, because if it’s mixed traffic then I can’t see how it will reduce congestion as tram trips will be just as slow as the current buses are. If it’s in dedicated lanes then that’d be great, but good luck trying to get rid of a lane of traffic each way along Ponsonby Road or on-street parking.

      Mixed traffic – huge cost for little benefit.
      Dedicated lanes – bigger benefits but likely to be impossible to implement.

      1. I think the way to get there is to first get the buses to run with privilege. Which is to say a long term trial of buslaning on 4 lane roads like Ponsonby Rd. It could be done very cheaply as a proof of concept programme. I would, however, spend a bit to enable the buses to go against the one way system at Three Lamps; taking out the loop around the back would speed the route, decongest Redmond St, and deliver bus users directly to both the cover and the shops of Three Lamps. A small number of parks would be lost. And anyway trams would have to use this route too, there’ll be no track laying in Redmond.

        I would also get the buses to run in a tram-like fashion, so no pulling out of their new buslane but rather build the pavement out flush with the new buslane, add priority at the lights and the speed of the Link if run like this would be spectacular. Only fools would bother driving if their destination was anyway on this run.

        1. That would be nice, but slight overkill for essentially the Inner Link, the 020 (for a bit) and the 010. After speeding along Ponsonby Rd, no doubt the Link would sit at Vic Park for 10mins as it would be ahead of time…now if we could somehow get rid of the time keeping stops on the Link…

      2. I discussed with one of the senior tramways engineers from MOTAT (the one who taught Mike Lee to drive trams), what his views are about introducing trams and he pretty much said what Josh says. If trams are competing for space with other vehicle types then not much is gained. Advantages are gained if the tram is provided a dedicated corridor.

  7. Comments from Kaye today about PT and a specific mention of a tram. Absolutely no word on the CBDRL.

    I agree with arnie – it’s a small bone to say she is serious about PT, while not bucking the party line on the rail link.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *