Another testy exchange in parliament yesterday between Phil Twyford and transport minister Gerry Brownlee over transport matters in Auckland:

Firstly, it seems pretty obvious that the government is unlikely to support any scheme to raise additional funding through congestion charging mechanisms, regional fuel taxes and so forth. But what really caught my mind is the very end of the exchange, which can also be read in the transcript:

Phil Twyford: Is it not arrogant to be ruling options in or out when it was his Government that abolished the regional fuel tax, which would have funded much of Auckland’s transport plans, when it forced Auckland Council to borrow half a billion dollars to pay for the electric trains, when it went cap in hand to Auckland Council asking for bridging finance, because the Government’s own funding for Auckland’s roads ran out, all the while refusing to support the popular and essential city rail link?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: I take big issue with the suggestion that the city rail link is useful or popular.

I’m becoming more and more convinced this government will never stump up any money for the CRL and the only way we have a hope of seeing the project built is if there’s a change of government.

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  1. Well its not like the CRL is the only reason to want to change the government.

    Brownlee in particular is less than impressive, but he’s not the only one. Usually I find even in an unpopular government there is generally one or two ministers I’d have grudging respect for, but I’m struggling with this one.

    On Transport National are crap.

    1. Transport is going to be a big issue for the next election, it’s most likely going to sway my vote. I agree on most things this government is doing with exception to the CRL stance ‘transport issues’, however their stance is getting beyond belief on this.

      It is the only reason for me to change, and the majority of people are akin to the governments policies, a good example are the protests of the asset sales where just over a thousand people turned up to protest, thats a mere thousand in a city with over a million residence, which shows there are still a majority with the National Government even on this so called issue.

      Because of economic and education reasons I will not be able to vote Labour either so might be going green next election…

    2. From Bryce Edwards: The focus has clearly shifted to the wider benefits that having hundreds of thousands of new investors will bring, echoing Margaret Thatcher’s vision of a ‘property owning democracy’. It was a politically powerful stuff – so much so that British ‘new’ Labour embraced much of the same language. Home ownership was the main focus then, but as home ownership in New Zealand has been on the decline for some time, blue-chip utility shares are the next best thing. The actual numbers of new share owners is politically less important than having middle ground voters feeling they could be included in the benefits and that this isn’t just about large foreign corporations. On the left these are traditionally labeled ‘two bob tories’ – middle and low-income individuals who vote against their actual economic interests because they believe it enhances their social status by association.

      That particular last sentence might have quite a bit to say on voting patterns of Central Govt

  2. It’s been obvious for some time that the CRL will only happen over this government’s dead body (as it were). They are ideologically committed to roading over all other options. In Rodney Hide’s bizarro-piece in the Herald on Sunday ( praising Len Brown as Mayor, there is a comment on the agreement between the government and the Auckland Council that

    “The overwhelming agreement enables major progress and the small disagreement is well understood and will be resolved politically.
    “The disagreement is over the rail loop, transport spending in general and the amount of land to free up for housing.”

    That might mean that Hide could do a deal on MUL in exchange for road-pricing, but Hide is no longer relevant, and Brownlee pretty clearly wouldn’t.

  3. It is very sad for this Govt to have as Minister for both Christchurch reconstruction and for Transport a man who is so demonstrably anti-urban. Once could almost conclude from his behavior he is somewhat frightened of urbanity as he simply doesn’t understand it….

    1. Well how much could we really expect a MP from Christchurch (which has no motorways) to have any clue about Auckland let alone the Nations transport problems.
      I didn’t always agree with Steven Joyce but he was an intelligent man. Brownlee is at best ignorant and at worst a bully.

  4. Anyone catch the bit about his meeting with Auckland Council? “We had a very productive meeting where we talked about solving Auckland’s transport problems with more roads…”

  5. If he doesn’t think it is popular,their polling must be pretty crap. He must think that out there in voter land that voters will be cheering his put down.
    No wonder National does poorly in Auckland at election time. Maybe they have just written Auckland off altogether and seek the anti-Auckland vote?

    1. “No wonder National does poorly in Auckland at election time.”

      National won Helensville, Rodney, Hunua, East Coast Bays, North Shore, Northcote, Central, Waitakere, Tamaki, Maungakiekie, Pakuranga, Botany, and Papakura. And ACT won Epsom for a total of 14 electorates.

      Labour won Mt Albert, Te Atatu, New Lynn, Mt Roskill, Mangere, Manukau East, and Manurewa for a total of only 7 electorates.

      The Greens, of course, won no Auckland electorates.

      Auckland voters have spoken. National was the clear winner by a huge margin. And the Green’s transport policies won them nothing.

      1. Except for where it counted most – the PARTY VOTE. Electorate votes mean bugger all, just decides which mug gets to represent me.

        The Greens held up quite well in the Party Vote (increased their share) so something must of worked from them – apart from a buggered Labour Party

        1. The electorate vote decides who gets to represent you on electorate-specific issues. Like, errr, transport. In which case more Aucklanders trusted National in 2011, by a huge majority. Also consider that Labour made rail the centerpiece of its Auckland Central campaign in an effort to win Jacinda Ardern a seat. They lost that one. Also consider that the Green party vote in Mt Roskill was a lot lower than the national average, and JA Genter stood there. That’s hardly an endorsement for the Green’s transport spokesperson, or for the Green party in Mt Roskill… an electorate which has only recently been the recipient of a honking great motorway extension thanks to the last Labour government.

          And while you’re thinking about electorates… The electorates that P2W would run through overwhelmingly vote National. If you’re going to respect local interests, then feel free to respect theirs.

        2. Obi Nikki Kaye only won that electorate because some stupid Green Party voters didn’t follow their party’s direction of party vote Green, electorate vote Ardern. Denise Roche made it quite clear she was campaigning for the party vote. However a significant number of people (2,000+) also gave her their electorate vote. That splitting of Labour and Green electorate vote allowed Kaye to edge Ardern by about 500 votes. The same thing happened in about three other electorates in Christchurch. Given that National only just got a majority in the end, if Green voters in those electorates had given Labour their electorate vote and Labour had scooped four more electorates, the outcome of the election could’ve been quite different. So conversely electorate vote WAS important in the last election with those several electorate wins to National through a split left electorate vote. I’m still disgusted that the left had the majority support in Auckland Central and still contrived to let nikki kaye back in through the backdoor. Unlike some of those stupid Green voters I was savvy enough to know that my party vote going for Green had value, while because Denise Roche had next to no chance to win the electorate seat, that the best way of getting Kaye out of Auckland Central was to give my electorate vote for Ardern, who I thought was a strong candidate anyway. A pity some Green voters were too dumb to work that out.

        3. Simon… You assume that Green and Labour voters have the same objectives. You’ll recall that Labour in the past have preferred NZ First as a coalition partner over the Greens. Now, post-election Labour have two issues they need to confront.

          The first is that they’ve been leaking support to the Greens. Partly this is because Labour have governed in the past and will almost certainly do so again in the future. They’ve had to make the hard decisions, whereas the Greens get a pass because they’re NZ’s perpetual party of opposition and can get by with feel-good rhetoric. (National, Labour, NZ First, ACT, whatever Dunne calls himself, the Maori Party, and Hone have all been in government… whereas the Greens have always been the last choice as coalition partners for everyone). Labour won’t want to turn themselves in to a minor party and may need to start treating the Greens as their opponents.

          Secondly, Labour will be looking at their Australian counterparts who had no choice but to enter a coalition with the Greens and adopt some Green policies. Including the Carbon Tax, which they had categorically promised not to introduce before the election. The Tax is enormously unpopular, and Labor are looking at being wiped out at the next election. Labor state governments are being tossed out of power, and current polls are so grim that Labor may not hold any seats in Queensland after the election. This must be ringing some alarm bells with NZ Labour, especially if polls closer to the election indicate they’ll need to rely on both the Greens and NZ First.

          Maybe Andrew Williams will be the next Minister of Transport?

  6. If Gerry and the government think that the CRL is not needed then they need to stop acting like school kids and tell the public what they think Auckland needs. At the moment they are just sitting there saying no without adding anything constructive or presenting an alternative.

      1. Then they should show a plan to the public about where they are going to ram these new motorways through and see how long it holds up

  7. Don’t knock the Minister. Brownlee is a very good dog. He does what he’s told and doesn’t even bother pretending he understands the reasons behind his instructions. Mr. Key tells him to go after the CRL and he does; despite reason, facts or public opinion.

    1. Thats a bold statement to say the least, I don’t disagree that Brownlee is a good guy nor a bad politician, but he has this issue very wrong. I highly doubt Key has given him instructions to follow this stance, Key runs the government more or less like a business, weither you think that is bad or good, it is one of the main reasons we have managed to go through a very bad international economic recession with minimal damage, even without extracting resources like our close neighbours Aussie.

      I would assume Key selects his ministers for their abilities and trusts them to carry out their responsibilities, just like you would in a business, you have to trust that your leaders will make the right decisions, the key is to build the right team around you to do so. Unfortunately Brownlee’s personal beliefs are blinding him from the real needs for Auckland to prosper economically as a city, this link is vital for boosting Aucklands economic position.

      If you have evidence to the contrary please share.

      1. Actually, the main reason we got through the recession is that Labour paid down Crown debt to nearly zero. That gave National plenty of leeway to borrow massively. If Labour had actually been the poor economic managers that is frequently claimed, National would’ve inherited a basket-case economy and been left with very few options. Rather, they got to cut taxes, borrow like mad to make up the difference, and then slash the public service exactly according to their initial plan. That it’s completely stupid to throw people into a booming jobless market – the economic multiplier effect says that you’re better off having people in work than out of it – in order to “save money” ought to be obvious to anyone with half a brain. I guess that’s why National just can’t grasp the concept.

        1. You’re talking about the Labour Government that blew a so called $6b surplus before the recession hit?

        2. “Blew” it on what? Paying down debt and implementing progressive social programmes? I don’t call that “blowing it”.

          National, and only National, chose to cut the taxes that paid for Labour’s programmes while not also cutting those programmes. Nobody forced National to cut taxes, and nobody forced National to keep WFF and interest-free student loans. I would’ve disagreed with them, but they could’ve reasonably cut those programmes on the grounds that cutting taxes was a matter of faith and doing that made the programmes unaffordable. Instead they cut the taxes, kept the programmes, and blamed Labour (successfully, based on your reaction) for the massive holes in the Budget. National inherited $300m in core Crown debt. That’s effectively zero when Crown spending is in the 10s-of-billions of dollars every year.

          You can deny it all you want, but we’re in the current big hole because of National’s fiscal decisions. There is no objective evidence that can counter the facts that National cut the taxes that paid for the programmes – and Treasury said of all the programmes that, at the time of introduction, they were affordable – but didn’t cut the programmes themselves. If you can find me evidence that Labour held a gun to National’s head and forced them to keep the programmes while cutting taxes, I’ll recant. But since you can’t, you’re just going to have to accept that Labour are only responsible for as much of the Budgetary hole as can be placed on them spending money when there was money to be spent while also paying off billions of dollars of debt.

  8. “Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: I take big issue with the suggestion that the city rail link is useful or popular.”………..

    Perhaps in this statement by the Minister of Transport we might substitute the words “the City Rail Link” with the words “Gerry Brownlee”

    How can you form a view before studying the question ? I would think the “City Rail Link is “USEFUL” and “POPULAR”


  9. At least he gets points for saying link rather than loop.
    I look forward to more roads! Lets build that Dominion Road Motorway.

  10. Basically those of us wanting to see PT in Auckland have to wait until either Labour gets back in (and even then there is no guarantee) or the Greens win 20%+ of the vote meaning they can’t be ignored. I am not partisan at all in politics but having come back to NZ from Europe in the last year it is obvious that there is zero vision in this National government illustrated by their approach to Auckland and the rebuild in Christchurch. Their overwhelming faith in the mythic beast “the Market” will mean nothing happens as the Market only ever takes the path of least resistance and looks for short term profit.

    If this wasnt New Zealand and was, for example, Romania where I just came from, this would have all the classic traits of corruption and cronyism. However, sadly I think it is just narrow mindedness and, as one other commenter said, a lack of understanding of what it means to lkive in a city.

    If it is true that Aucklanders dont want PT or high density then the best solution is for those people to go an live in one of the many small cities in New Zealand that will support their lifestyle. However, the life blood of a city over 1 million is its PT system.

    Brownlee was a wood work teacher at my high school and I well remember him coaching my mate’s Rugby team by driving up and down the driveway yelling at the guys from his big Jaguar. Hard to imagine that guy wanting to get on a train or bus.

    1. By the late 80s it was essentially a failed state, yet Romania has a much better and cheaper public transport system than we do (terrible roads though).
      I agree not quite corruption and cronyism, certainly idiocy and zero vision.

    2. Yes. Indeed. Happily Labour has been chastened by their ongoing experience of the opposition benches and now have a transport policy that is significantly different from National’s. And better, although not as good as the Greens. But as there seems to be no chance that they will be back in government without the Greens i think it is safe to assume that the next new government will see a dramatic improvement from the dog whistling and infantile smuggeries of the current provincialist crushing the Minister of Transport’s chair.

  11. Local newspapers in provincial towns tend to couch national news stories in two ways – “plucky and/or clever locals beat the odds” or “these outsiders are a threat to our way of life”. Within this meme Auckland is usually cast as the villain threatening local jobs and sucking the productive local sector dry. Thus, I have heard within my earshot (in Hawkes Bay) comments that stopping the CRL would be good for provincial NZ, since it would cramp Auckland’s style and growth. Hence, Brownlee probably had that sort of thinking in mind when he contested the claim the CRL is popular.

    I struggle to explain this governments implacable resistance to the CRL. I can’t quite bring myself to believe it simple spitefulness that the wrong guy (as far as National is concerned) won the mayoralty. This government is exceedingly unimaginative and backward looking and has a pronounced anti-intellectualism at the top which seems to translate into a deep suspicion of planning and a reflexive, magical belief in the free market as a provider of all solutions.

  12. No wonder he hates it. It costs 3000 million dollars and will be used by less than 15 000 people.
    For a laugh, on a 30 year repayment with 3% compound guess how much EACH trip would be subsidised.
    This is an economic millstone onto the neck of New Zealand.
    How is Auckland to prosper if CBD workers cost 100s of dollars a day to get to journey to work?

    1. The tunnel will cost less than $2,000,000,000 (probably less than $1,500,000,000), and benefit at least 35,000 people daily based just on current patronage of the rail network. How many people use the Puhoi-Wellsford route daily? No more than 27,000? Really? Wow, I don’t hear your messiahs preaching that fact to the high heavens.
      But, hey, don’t let facts get in the way of your WhaleOil/Kiwiblog reality.

      1. Matt see my comment below, as a result of the CRL, the rail network will carry about 170k trips per weekday which is more than twice what it would do without it

  13. Sorry guys, but why on earth should we Aucklanders expect taxpayers in general to fund, or even partially fund, the CRL, ie a tiny piece of local infrastructure? It’s irrelevant whether the government of the day is Red, Blue, Green or any other shade, all they do is spend other peoples’ money. As a ratepayer and resident I’m not too keen on subsidising uneconomic local projects either, but if it becomes part of the cost of living here, which I love, then so be it; it’s my choice to stay or go. Christchurch is a different matter; a national emergency requires a national response.

    I’m very disappointed to see party politics entering this blog, and no, I’m not a member of or in any way associated with any political party.

    1. jonno1 – you reap what you sow, and I think the comments here reflect a deep frustration with a government and an incompetent minister who simply refuse to debate the issue honestly. If the government of the day treats Auckland’s PT needs in an entirely partisan and politicised way, you can hardly expect informed opinion not to become disillusioned with the government and politicised in response. Think about it. Do you really think that should Labour together with a 14-15% Green vote win the treasury benches in 2014 the likes of Phil Twyford and Julie-Anne Gentner(sp?) will be impacably opposed to the CRL as Brownlee and Joyce have been, or that they’ll support it?

    2. jonno1 – because the CRL will benefit the countries economy, and therefore the government should be encouraging and supporting the need for this vital project. If we took that attitude the same should be said of the Manuaku Harbour Crossing, the Victoria Park Tunnels or 20 to 1 motorway projects, BTW there are much more I could be adding to the list including the most expensive which is about to start…

    3. That’s pretty much my view. It’s a local project and the Auckland Council already has income streams (and an asset base) that can be used to fund it. In some ways this is a test to see if a Super City can be effective, and whether a Super City mayor can deliver on his election promises.

      I’m not opposed to addtional income streams such as local road congestion charging. However, I think it is stupid to think that Auckland Council should be able to charge people to use central government assets, such as motorways. That’d be like Huntly tolling SH1 to finance a new public library. I’m also opposed to Auckland-specific sales taxes, such as an Auckland tax on petrol. Sales taxes in NZ are central government revenue sources. I don’t want to turn the country in to the US where every jurisdiction has a different set of sales taxes and things cost different amounts all over the country.

      Lastly… Have Labour or the Greens explained how they would fund Auckland Council transport projects? If so, can someone provide a URL? And can Labour and the Greens explain why central government needs to meddle in Auckland Council affairs? Auckland Council isn’t sovereign, but it should have a high degree of autonomy to pursue local projects without needing to approach central government, and central government shouldn’t have veto power over local Auckland projects.

      1. The main issue here is that State Highways in Auckland are overwhelmingly used by local traffic, so silly to have such a huge distinction between State Highway and local roads and Public Transport for that matter. The funding proposed for CBDRL was very clear. Money shifted fro ma project that Auckland Council does not see as priority (Puhoi Wellsford) to CBDRL which is their top priority.

        1. Central government provides or regulates national infrastructure such as a network of long distance roads that are used by both long distance and local traffic; a national rail system; an electricity grid; and a telecommunication backbone. Councils and local businesses provide or regulate local infrastructure. Central government’s desire to improve national infrastructure doesn’t prevent local government from developing local infrastructure. But central government aren’t going to cancel national projects and give the money to local government to spend on local projects. That’s pretty obvious… Otherwise councils all over the country would be proposing that all sorts of central government programs should be cancelled and the money given to them.

          You could change this system and give councils responsibility for the provision of national infrastructure in their area. That’d give councils a sort of wierd ability to hold the rest of the country to ransom… Want to drive from Whangarei to Hamilton? – you’ll be financing a rail tunnel for Aucklanders. Waikato farmers sick of looking at power pylons? – Auckland can generate their own electricity. Waikato wants new swimming pools and public libraries? – a toll booth at the Bombay Hills will be a cash cow.

        2. Obi, two problems with your argument:
          1. The CRL will get local traffic off the State Highway and thereby benefit inter-regional travel; and
          2. The fuel excise system is simply a central mechanism used for distributing funds that to the regions.

          The latter point is important: The funds in the NLTF are not meant to be spent unilaterally by Central Government. Unfortunately over the years since it’s inception the fuel excise system has increasingly been “taken over” by Central Government and excluded regional/local interests. I think this is a real shame, because not only is the public sentiment in Auckland generally in favour of the CRL compared to most major highway projects, but also Aucklanders are willing to pay for it through a targeted regional fuel tax.

          National is being arrogant when they say that a) they will not respect regional wishes and fund the CRL instead of their pet highway projects and b) that they will not even allow Aucklanders to pay for it themselves via a targeted regional fuel tax. I have no problem with Central Government being gate-keeper of the NLTF – but in doing so they should be neutral about what projects get pet forward. And now they are not, thanks to Steven Joyce and the Nats.

        3. Stu… If you accept that unused highway will just induce traffic to fill it up again, then trying to improve long distance vehicle travel by reducing local congestion is an exercise in futility. It’d be spending $3billion to induce traffic. You (and I don’t mean “you” personally, but in reference to a blog mantra) can’t claim that you can’t “fix” congestion in general on one hand, then claim to be able to fix it via rail improvements on the other.

          I remain sceptical about support for the tunnel. I personally think it is a good idea and would be happy to pay my share. I suspect polls reflect the fact that people think that someone else is paying for it. That’s why paying for it out of a current local government income stream is a good way of testing that support… $2k per Aucklander isn’t a lot of money, so why not just add it to rates and see what the polls say? I’ve also mentioned asset sales in the past. I think it is ridiculous for Auckland Council to part own two Australian airports but not fund its own rail tunnel. But the general reaction here was that people would prefer the income stream from the foreign investments to the tunnel. If support for a tunnel is so weak in an e-venue full of rail fans, then I don’t imagine it’ll be higher in the general public.

          I also think it is dumb for central government to borrow money to give to Auckland Council so that Auckland Council can maintain its investment in Australian airports. That’s just mad.

        4. Obi – I don’t think we have ever said that the CRL or other rail investments will solve congestion. What it will do though is allow for a lot more people to be moved about the region free of congestion.

        5. I used to love winding up the previous Transit regional manager by describing SH1 as “the local road I go to the movies on” as it’s the quickest way from Northcote to Wairau

      2. Wouldn’t be a great idea to abolish NZTA / govt transport funding completely. Each province can built its own roads using their own money, after all locals know best the roads they need, don’t they.
        This in a nutshell is why I suspect National is closing down all the alternative ways for Auckland Council to get more revenue, they want to control the purse and say “this is the road we in our ivory towers think is best and don’t you dare tell us otherwise”.

    4. It isn’t unreasonable for the NZ Land Transport fund to contribute to the City Rail Link, like any other transport project that “relieves congestion”, as long as it stacks up economically. Please read the information on the City Rail Link via the link at the top of the page before commenting further.

    5. “taxpayers” are funding the $400 million Vic Park Tunnel, the $2 BiIllion Waterview Connection, and are being pushed to fund the $2 Billion plus Puhoi Wellsford link, used by 16,000 cars a day at best. Why should they not find the CBDRL link which will help improve traffic congestion around the central city, and whole motorway network in fact.

    6. Because of the way funding mechanisms work within New Zealand. Unlike other large major cities across the world, virtually all of New Zealand’s transport infrastructure funding is centralized. In fact, the current Government removed a mechanism by which Aucklanders would have been able to pay their way for vital infrastructure like this.

    7. Why? Because Auckland is the largest part of the national economy and generates more than it consumes in terms of GDP. When the PM describes the largest city in the country as “a handbrake” and “an anchor” on the national economy, courses of action that improve the productivity of that city are vital to the economic health of the nation generally. Since congestion is deemed to be a huge drain on the economy by those who make these decisions, we want the most cost-effective means of relieving that congestion to be employed. Building more, bigger roads just leads to those roads filling up, sometimes within days of opening as we saw with the SH1/SH20 link. The CRL will more than double the usable capacity of the Auckland rail network and do it without requiring any additional road space. In fact, it’ll take cars off the roads.

      Taxpayers should be paying for at least some of this because it’s an asset that’ll improve the function of other, taxpayer-funded and -operated assets, namely the state highway network. The billions that’re being spent on widening and extending the reach of the motorway network are because of congestion, but if we had a properly functional public transport network that money would probably not be required.

      1. And we have proof in our own city that investment in public transport removes vehicles from our state-highway network. Just look at the Northern Busway and how that not only brought traffic growth across the bridge to a standstill but actually reduced it.

  14. Given that the motoways were built by Auckland fuel taxes, they are just as much a local asset as anything else. CRL is an indirect investment into the motorway system. Double rail capacity = greater frequency = more rail users = fewer people on the motorway. Anyone with half a brain can see that. I have never taken the train in Auckland in my life, plus it is incredibly impractical for me. But I have no problems in paying a local fuel tax to fund the CRL.

  15. Some quick figures for everyone. The actual cost of the CRL in 2012 dollars is $2.2b which also includes things such as extra trains, grade separation of some roads and duplicating the Onehunga line.

    Patronage on the rail network after electrification is expected start hitting a wall at about 21m trips at around 2020 as peak capacity gets used up leaving the only place for growth in the off peak. Off peak growth may see patronage increase to a max of about 25m trips. The CRL is expected to see patronage double over the following two decades to about 50m trips. Based on my understanding of current usage that means weekday patronage will be about 170,000 people on the rail network per day with probably 90% or more benefitting from the CRL. It is important to remember that many existing trips on the network will also benefit from shorter commute times so it isn’t purely the number of extra people that will use the network that needs to be considered.

    Further while you might think the CRL is expensive, how much do you think it would cost to get the same sort extra numbers on the road network. After Waterview there simply isn’t the space to put large scale new or widened roads to accommodate this kind of movement.

  16. In my opinion the issue for Brownlee and Joyce is that walking and all this public transport marlark is for the underclass. This is the perception your battling. It’s the same dinosaur perception of Maggie Thatcher. THe quote attributed to her that they probably relish “A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure”. They probably live by this with god-like fervour and are sending this country backwards because of this. Never mind what global stats or numbers who put before them to the contrary. This is where their smugness comes from.

  17. Absolutely. The government (regardless of whether Blue, Red, Green or Cyan with purple polkadots) needs to explain why Auckland is different from every other city with a population over 1 million in Australasia and Europe in not having a decent PT infrastructure. There is nothing unique or special about Auckland, it is just a big city. The lifeblood of a big city is its PT system.

  18. Thanks for all the genuinely thoughtful responses, and the other two as well. Hint: the latter two name names. This is not a subject to argue on personality or political belief, but on factual evidence and economics.

    1. jonno1, most facets of life involves politics thats life and I’m glad this blog and before it AKT are not ignorant of this fact. Be realistic and accept that fact.

    2. The problem we have here is that the factual evidence and the economics don’t support National’s stance on the CRL, or on transport in general for that matter. The evidence is that building more and more roads has no long-term decongestive benefit because the roads fill up. There is also solid evidence that the days of $1.50 petrol are well and truly gone and that petrol prices north of $2 will be the unquestioned norm within the next few years. That fact alone says that more and more transport spending that’s geared towards private vehicles is not a wise use of scarce funds. It’s also not a wise use of scarce funds to cut back on maintenance spending, but that’s also what’s happening in order to fund the Roads of Dubious Significance.

      The reason discussions in here end up attacking National directly is that there’s no evidence in support of their policies that’s worthy of discussion. It took over a year of it not being true before the National front bench stopped saying that more people use the Puhoi-Wellsford route daily than use trains in Auckland. They have consistently refused to acknowledge in the House that even the International Energy Agency has accepted that the rough concept called Peak Oil is real, and is a serious threat to historic notions of personal mobility. They dismiss serious questions with glib, flippant, throw-away lines instead of giving them the serious answer that’s deserved. Look at some of the exchanges between Julie Anne Genter and Gerry Brownlee to see what I mean.
      National treat being questioned on their transport spending as a joke. Why should we do them the honour of not talking about the joke-teller and instead dissect the bad joke?

      1. They are also not above personal attacks – witness Julie Anne Genter all but called a hypocrite by Brownlee. Why? Because Genter dares to question the government spending 90 million on consultants on PLANNING work for a single highway project, while herself, GASP also once worked as a consultant and also got some government money for said work.

        Apparently they expect that if you ever took their money in a fair contract for works rendered, you’re bought, and should shut up?

  19. I think we could all agree on that jonno1. If only opponents of the CRL limited their attacks on it to “evidence and economics” it would have been built 20 years ago or maybe in 1920 when it was originally mooted.

  20. Indeed. If you yourself take the “common sense” approach of treating things (or people) you don’t understand either as punching bags or scapegoats, you’re probably going to find that a great quality in a politician.

  21. In the same way that everyone gets annoyed about commenters calling it the Rail Loop, I do wish everyone would stop referring to Puhoi to Wellsford, when we all know that it’s really Puhoi to Warkworth. NZTA have long given up trying to justify the Warkworth to Wellsford section and increasingly refer only to it as Puhoi to Warkworth. Incidently, the correct road usage figures are: Puhoi to Warkworth 17,000 per day. Warkworth to Wellsford 9,000 per day (both falling), which proves that nearly 50% of vehicles commence or terminate their journey at Warkworth to the east (Snells Beach, Matakana, Omaha etc.) No wonder they are are having increasing difficulty justifying construction.

    1. The difference Bob is that the city rail link is no where official called a loop (any more), whereas the RoNS project is called “Puhoi to Welsford”.
      Plus the road between Walkworth and Welsford does need serious attention, as it is very dangerous, just not a full duplicate highway.

  22. ”Local newspapers in provincial towns tend to couch national news stories in two ways – “plucky and/or clever locals beat the odds” or “these outsiders are a threat to our way of life”. Within this meme Auckland is usually cast as the villain….”

    The attitude toward Auckland is something I’ve never really gotten my head around. I remember once seeing a series of ads on tele starring Simon Dallow, and they were around the country asking about Auckland, and this fella in a local pub couldn’t have been more hostile. ”They don’t care about us, they only care about their lattes and their cellphones” was essentially his reply, as if we’re all on Wall St yelling at lawyers and traders all the time or something. I wonder if thats what the whole country thinks about Auckland ‘They don’t care about us, those JAFAS, so by default we won’t care about them either’

    Slighly off topic there sorry, just thought I’d share that!

    1. The open hostility to Auckland around the country is baffling, I agree. It goes beyond the usual sort of big city – rural divide (I lived in London at one time, so I know what that’s like). And Wellington is where the government hangs out AND they earn more than us too!

      On one occasion checking out of a motel in Palmerston North, when asked where I was headed, I said back home to Auckland, and the proprietor said “You can keep that place, far as I’m concerned”. That was someone in the ‘hospitality’ industry, who’d just taken my money to pay for a couple of nights in his establishment! For the sake of a two minute exchange with a guest, you’d think he could have kept his opinion to himself – but it was like a reflex or something. Hate to think what he says about us when we’re not in the room!

      Some of it has to do with the dominance of NZ’s media by dumb Auckland stories (is anyone not annoyed by that?). But mostly, I just haven’t a clue. It’s not like people’s concerns in Auckland are so different from anywhere else in the country – paying the mortgage, half decent schools, kids sport at the weekends, holding down a job – how different are we, really?! Not to mention that people living in Auckland are 1/3 of the population anyway – if there’s any such thing as a typical Kiwi, there’s a good chance they live in Auckland!

      1. As an aucklander who has recently had more to do with south island, the whole SI vs Auckland banter was a new surprise to me.
        What deeply concerns me is the very deep seated disgust people have for Auckland and most have never been there, generally only transited through Auckland Airport on their way overseas. The concering part is that the negative opinion they hold of Auckland is not just a “friendly banter” like Aussies and sheep jokes, but a true disgust.
        I have recently formed the theory that it is partly made up of sporting rivalry, because sports are one of the few ways the old provincial areas are kept alive, and also partly from history and the SI->NI economic migration over the last century. If we go back >100 years, the SI was the economic powerhouse of NZ, but the last 100 years the SI has been a real backwater with no real major economic activity or industry or anything much happening. The SI got a false sense of importance for a period and has been jealous of the growth and prosperity of the NI ever since.
        The SI took off with immigrants from cold places, but NZs immigrants no longer come from those cold places (england, scotland, etc), and those who do can’t find any advantage to choose to live in the SI when the NI is better in *every* way.
        This sounds harsh, but i’ve been in Christchurch for a while now and have not found *any* reason or benefit or advantage to living/working here. The only one is skiing but that’s seasonal.

        1. I have experienced this too and what surprised me most was the idea that they live in NZ but we don’t. Not sure where Auckland is exactly for those with this attitude. I guess they mean we aren’t real NZers or something…. been watching too many beer ads perhaps. Really baffled me; and I love the South Island and really thought we were one nation…. Very surprised.

      2. Media domination is part of it. I for scoff every time I see the Sky Tower and that cliched Auckland skyline shot on the intro of almost every local tv show.

  23. 16 minutes Warkworth to Puhoi
    Warkworth (middle set of lights) to Puhoi (entering tunnels) tonight pouring rain, heaving oncoming traffic, dark Car 1.3 L 1994 Toyota Corolla 16 minutes 1802 to 1818.. Not really much to to be saved really.

  24. Yes, the Dome Valley needs urgent attention and this hasn’t changed since NZTA announced the indicative route nearly 2 years ago. An Operation Lifesaver type scheme would have been well on the way to fixing this by now.

    1. I came across a NZTA document that said Schwnedys Hill was going to be deviated at a cost of about $40 million in something like the 2012/2013 year, and also Dome Valley improvements were scheduled in at a similar time. However nothing will now be done to either until at least the end of the decade.

  25. Publius, as a South Islander who recently moved to Auckland from Christchurch (but I have lived here for a while before), I believe that the attitude revealed in your post would be the main reason why everyone else doesnt like Aucklanders. I think you will find similar attitudes in Wellington.

    Aucklanders in my experience have a very condescending and annoyingly uninformed attitude towards Christchurch. You may not like it but lots of people dont like Auckland/New Zealand and yet we all still choose to live here. Also to condemn the city after everything it has been through in the last 2 years is very harsh. How much fun would Auckland be after a major volcano that destroyed the whole CBD.

    If you want some rerasons why I would rather live in Chch than Auckland (at least before the earthquakes):

    1. Great for cycyling. Auckland is too hilly compared to Chch.
    2. Easy to get your kids into a good school.
    3. Relatively low cost of living while the salaries are not that much lower.
    4. Easy access to surf beaches within the city boundaries.
    5. Easy access to hills and rivers.
    6. People randomly chat to strangers and help each other out. Not the case in Auckland I have found.

    I like Auckland and I am glad I am here. However, it is ironic to me that you would pontificate on the negative attitude you have found to Auckland while stating your negative opinion of another city with no more evidence than was provided to you.

    Perhaps if you improve your attitide a bit, your Chch experience will be much more pleasant.

    Chch is a major centre for industry and has produced Tait, Jade, MacPac and Canterbury clothing. Hardly a minor economic contribution, despite what the average Aucklander may think, here in the “centre of the universe” as it is often referred to in the SI.

    1. Goosoid – Agree to a point…Publius must have had a bad experience or something from CHCH.

      However I also don’t agree to some of your points…Most Aucklanders that I know are very respectful of christchurch, of course theres that friendly banter that us kiwi’s are famous for, and that epic sporting rivalry that get fiery but not violent like overseas.

      I’ve been going up and down from Christchurch working on the rebuild for the last two years, and I can tell you that Cantabs can be just as condescending and uninformed as Aucklander’s, and they are definitely more arrogant in general. Although Christchurch is an important economical city for New Zealand 2nd largest in-fact before the Quake, it’s still dwarfed by Aucklands. Where in Auckland due to share size, provides over 60% of the countries economic activity. Nothing against Canterbury in general however it is a fact that cant be ignored, if we invest in Aucklands productivity it is going to benefit countries economy.

      Your first comment about Christchurch is correct, Christchurch is blessed with a flat terrain which is great for cycling.
      Also I did notice that Christchurch have great schools, however so does Auckland, although can be a matter of opinion, Auckland and Christchurch have great performing schools with Auckland having arguably the best in the country, well performance wise…

      I find that the cost of living in Christchurch to be quite high, however this might be since the earthquake hit.

      Surf beaches in Auckland are awesome to say the least, and about the same time to travel to compared to christchurch depending on location in the city for both locations, in-fact you have better choice in Auckland, having the luxury of being thin, we have both the West and East coast surf beaches in easier access…plus warmer water…waiting for friendly banter there 🙂

      Rivers Hill, they are unbeatable in Christchurch, we do have the Waitakeres here however and they are not bad for hiking and getting lost, but dont have the snow mountains 🙁

      Last point about chatting to strangers, it does happen, especially when getting out into the satellite city centres or communities, however this is a disadvantage of living in a big city, after traveling around the world all I can say is it becomes less common the bigger the city gets.

      In conclusion, I’m a fan of both cities, I like Auckland better due to the amount of activities, location and diversity of the city. I also think a lot of the arrogantness shown by our southern family are from past experiences, where Auckland has developed immensely in the last 10years alone. But we can get better which is the goal for all of us followers on this blog.

    2. Goosoid, sorry if I came across a bit strong, just i’ve been around a lot of cantabs and get sick of their vitriol against Auckland and its been wearing this Aucklander down. Its all emotion with no justification.
      As Patrick says in reply to me above, like him, I was brought up as a “New Zealander” living in Auckland, and never considered those living beyond the Bombay Hills as beneath us, So it’s been hard to take the abuse from my “fellow” south islanders without feeling the need to “educate” them on the merits of Auckland.
      I will admit I hadn’t considered the cycling advantage, and indeed it is true. The Christchurch public hospital would probably have the greatest number of bicycles parked I have ever seen anywhere in NZ.

    1. Totally agree Ari. I always visit the toilets and the second-hand goods store on the way through; both even in the same street for convenience. 🙂

  26. It’s true that a lot of South Islanders actually hate Auckland, but I think it’s the mental image or the media concept they hate. I suspect many think we really are all latte-swilling Ponsoby luvvies. Sadly they don’t realise that around two thirds of us don’t actually come from here: one third were born overseas, and one third come from elsewhere in NZ. In other words literally hundreds of thousands of Aucklanders actually come from the provinces, and we all have a soft spot for them.

  27. Someone needs to put pressure on Lenny to fund it within Auckland. Auckland simply can’t go cap in hand everytime it dreams up a new public transport initiative.
    Yes the CRL has merit, but Auckland must fund it, because the rest of the country that suffers from sh*te public transport can’t be asked to fund one thing after another for Aucklanders. If this means tolling some motorways or inner city congestion charging then that is what should be done.

  28. @Joshua, Publius (Why will the reply function never work on my browser?)

    Appreciate your responses.

    I always hear Aucklanders say that they never bad mouth Chch but I can only assume that it is so ingrained you dont notice it or it only happens when Chch people are around. Maybe you dont hang out with the kinds of people who do. But I dont really know many people in Chch who would bad mouth Auckland either, more likely to say that Chch is their preference and leave it at that.

    I constantly heard it when I lived in Auckland before the earthquakes. Since I returned after the earthquakes, I have found the attitude to have improved. I suspect more out of a sense of sympathy.

    As a surfer, Joshua I would love to know where you surf in Auckland WITHIN THE CITY BOUNDARIES. I dont know of anywhere. And seriously, if you think that driving to Sumner/Taylors Mistake/Brighton for a surf after work is the same as driving to Piha/Muriwai after work, you must own a jetcar! I would finish work in Riccarton at 6pm and be on the water at Sumner by 7-7.70pm.

    As I said, I live in Auckland and there is a good chance I will live here for the rest of my life. But Aucklanders are at least as bad as Chch people in their parochialism, albeit in a different way.

    Anyway, let’s unite against the real enemy, the anti-PT/cycling people whether from Chch (I am looking at you big Gerry!), Auckland or Timbuktu.

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