A question I often ask myself is, what transport projects would I build if I had $10 billion to spend? (say over a 10 year time frame). Well in this post, with the help of the list of projects in the ITP, I will attempt to answer that.

First up though, it is perhaps worth mentioning that $10b over the next 10 years is not an unrealistic figure. The current National Land Transport Programme tells us that over the next 3 years alone, $3.4 billion will be spent on transport. Included in that amount is money for maintaining roads and running public transport however with a little extra funding, as is being investigated as part of the consensus building group, $10 billion seems about right. Further The major road and PT projects listed in the ITP, a 30 year document, come in combined at just over $31 billion so $10 billion over a 10 year time frame is not an unrealistic figure.

ITP Major Project Costs
ITP Major Project Costs

So what would I spend it on?


Believe it or not I do actually support a couple of roading projects. Waterview and the upgrade of SH16 are already under way and should really be finished. I think there is value in “completing the motorway network” and would consider these the last major state highway project in the region. Next I think it is quite important that we still do work to improve some of our local roads through projects like AMETI and as pointed out a few days ago, removing rail level crossings. All up lets allocate $2.5 billion towards those. This would mean that there would need to be some serious prioritisation of roading projects which would likely upset some groups

Walking and Cycling

This seems to be the forgotten cousin of transport and it wasn’t even mentioned in the ITP presentation. One of the great things about improving the walking and cycling network is that by comparison it is cheap to do and a little money can go a long way. Spending decent amount of money can give us a pretty kick arse network so lets bite the bullet and get it done.

Public Transport

With those other two areas budgeted for, that leaves us with $5.2b to be spend on improved PT infrastructure. The first project on my list is obviously going to be the CRL. The costs for it listed above are inflation adjusted and include other projects like grade separation and extra trains so lets stick with the actual construction cost that we know about which is ~$2 billion.

From my post about how we could run trains post CRL we would need a branch line to Mt Roskill. Seeing as the route is already designated, and most bridges already built with it in mind, it would likely only cost in the vicinity of $100 million. At the other end of the network we know the business case for electrification to Pukekohe stacks up so we will add in the $140 million listed above.

The last project on this list is rail to the airport. What surprised me was how cheap it was for the northern link compared to the eastern link. The more I have thought about it, the more I wonder if perhaps it excluded the connection to Onehunga so lets bump up the cost to $700 million, like was suggested a few years ago. These four rail projects, along with the trains needed to run on the tracks come in at a combined $3.9 billion.

There are a number of small items on the list, ferry terminal upgrades, integrated ticketing, upgrading the real time system and so on. Lets allocate $100m to these and other small PT infrastructure projects. That leaves us with about $1.2b for buses.

We know from the CCFAS that even with the CRL, we will need to improve bus infrastructure in the city and the ITP suggests that we need $250 million for that. Dominion Rd is a pretty important bus corridor and post upgrade is expected to have the bus lanes almost to the quality of a full busway. However we know from when the upgrade was announced that it is now only budgeted to cost $47 million so I’ll use that figure.

On the North Shore I think we definitely need to extend actual busway infrastructure to Albany, the ITP suggests that the $750 million listed is to get it all the way to Silverdale. I don’t see the Albany to Silverdale section being needed in 10 years so I’m going to to make a guess and suggest $200 million to get it to Albany. We also need the South Eastern busway from Panmure to at least Pakuranga. As mentioned in the ITP sheet above, the costs largely come under the roading project but for the purposes of this I will include part of the bus costs separately, lets say $500m. That leaves us with around $150m which can be used for new bus lanes around the city, although some of that may also come as part of local road projects

So to review. Below is a rough guide of what I would spend. Over a 10 year period it would leave us with a completed motorway network, a kick arse walking and cycling network, a largely completed rail network with exception of rail to the shore and finally some massively improved bus infrastructure. What gets dropped off the list is a lot of the big and expensive motoway esk arterial upgrades like the Mill Rd corridor and many of the motorway widening projects

  • Waterview – $2b
  • Local roads – $2.5b
  • Walking and Cycling – $300m
  • Rail – $3.9b
    • CRL – $2b
    • Mt Roskill branch – $100m
    • Electrification to Pukekohe – $140m
    • Rail from Onehunga to the Airport – $700m
  • Bus – $1.2b
    • City Centre Bus improvements – $250m
    • Dominion Rd – $47m
    • Northern Busway Constellation to Albany – $250m
    • South Eastern Busway – $500m
    • New buslanes – $150m
  • Other – $100m

I’m interested to hear what projects you would go for if you had $10 billion to spend.

Share this


  1. I don’t think SH16 is really completing anything, it’s simply a massive spend to widen a motorway to pretty excessive levels and completely misses any opportunity to put in a proper bus priority system at the same time. It’s a 2+ billion subsidy to encourage people to drive into the city from out West.

  2. Touché Matt, I’ve planning a post [and will still do it] on why the Council should talk about the whole Rapid Transit Network together and not in atomised little bits, and after that why it should be pitching the next stages of the Rail Network as one package and not get lost in arguments about specific projects. Of course as a contract something like the CRL or the Mt Roskill branch needs to be costed and managed as a defined and separate construction project but the reason for them and their value is entirely about the whole network. All transport systems including roads are of course dependent on the quality of the entire amenity [which is why it is crazy that motorways are discussed completely without any mention of parking for instance] but rail is a uniquely network dependent system, having a high level of inflexibility at the heart of its structure [both its strength and weakness].

    So to promote the CRL without reference to the wider network is to undersell it, and to attack it as being only about the land above the tunnel is to show a similar failure to understand what it is. Thus far Council and other proponents of the project [see the herald opinion piece yesterday in favour of the project http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10868194%5D repeatedly make this mistake.

    Auckland could have, without any additional budget from what is already spent here from AT and NZTA a fantastic and joined up RTN by adding bus priority to the areas you mention and by building the rail package exactly as you describe as one network extension to form an extraordinarily powerful heart of this RTN:

    The CRL vital to provide the capacity and demand to power the other extensions
    The Mt Roskill branch to serve this heartland and take pressure off Dominion Rd for bus users and drivers alike
    The Mangere extension of the Onehunga Line including to the Airport
    Electrification to Pukekohe and the new stations on that route coordinated with new developments in these Greenfields areas.

    The value of these together are vastly greater than the sum of their parts and should be pitched as a package.
    The same goes for the Bus rapid transit pieces in the jigsaw; like Panmure to Pakuranga should be linked with Pak to Boatany to Man City to the Airport.

    And the cheapest Network of them all should be treated this way too: The cycle network.

    Coming soon.

  3. Pretty sure that southeast busway is included as part of AMETI. Are you sure you’re not double-counting?

    1. I’m saying take $500m out and dedicate it to that busway then spend $2.5b on arterials, some of which will be for AMETI projects, some will be for improvements in other areas.

      1. What about the Constellation – Westgate – Waterview busway, or at least the Westgate -Waterview bit? Sure that would be the best value project on the list.

        1. My view is that we are getting some ok bus lanes, lets spend some money in the interim to create some good stations at or near the interchanges that don’t require a full busway just yet. Leave that part for the following decade.

  4. How about a billion on walking & cycling?
    1. Change the rule to pedestrian have right of way at intersection (unless signposted), from the current pedestrian have no right of way at intersection (unless signposted). Might need to spend some money on
    changing some intersections, and quite a bit on marketing/education.
    2. A linked cycleway of 30km/h side roads (like they have in Vancouver), instead of cycle ways on main roads. Where the cycleway intersects with main road, have instant orange (press and other direction is orange, will be red for them and green for you in less than 5 seconds). Where cycleways are on main roads, have them two directional separated from traffic.
    3. More raised pedestrian/cycle overpasses. Having to wait two light phases to cross a road diagonally is really frustrating, how changing it to no waiting for high usage areas. What if you could walk down queen st without waiting for a single traffic light (and still had cars using the road).

    1. My guess is that an absolutely kick ass cycle network could be made in Ak for way way less than a billion. A great deal of it is simply about on street cycle lanes, perhaps that’s the problem, not enough expensive engineering?

      I keep pointing to the Don Mackinnon Drive example, there is a gap in the about to be built NZTA cycleway there because they want to build an expensive cantilevered track suspended over the motorway [and have no more budget] whereas AT own a dangerously overwide road right along the route that would benefit enormously from having one lane given over to cycling on the northern side. Cost? portable concrete barriers/planters to create necessary grade separation [necessary here because of speeding drivers encouraged by too much motorway like space and daft road geometry] and some new road markings. Benefit? A joined up cyclceway.

      Come on AT; lift your game.

  5. Lets see $10b over next ten years and how I would spend it:

    Roading – $4.766b

    Waterview: $2b
    Local Roads: $2b
    SH1 Widening between Manurewa and Papakura: $516m
    Walking and Cycling: $250m

    Rail – $2.95b
    CRL: (for consistency sakes) $2b
    Electrification to Pukekohe which also includes Manukau South Link and Duplicate North Link (The electrification to Pukekohe includes two new stations): $150m
    Onehunga to Airport Line Extension $650m (didn’t that come in around $500m in a recent paper?_
    BR:AKL Rail Efficiency Program Part One: $150m

    Bus – $1.2b
    Same as Matt’s Proposal so
    City Centre Bus improvements – $250m
    Dominion Rd – $47m
    Northern Busway Constellation to Albany – $250m
    South Eastern Busway – $500m
    New buslanes – $150m

    That gives me $8.916b of total spending giving me around a spare billion to play with.
    So an $500m back to local roads, another $100m to part two of the Rail Efficiency Program leaving $400m spare as back up funds. Hmm tossing up whether to widen State Highway 20B as that is a total dog most days of the week or use it as a deposit for Wiri to Airport for the Airport Line. Will have a head scratch over that.

    1. Oh I would agree with the widening of the southern motorway to extend the 6 lane section. It took me one hour to drive from Greenland to Manukau last week and it wasn’t even peak time.

    2. Okay found a use for that $400m that I had spare, widen and 6 lane that cursed 4-lane Bottleneck at Mt Wellington Interchange/State Highway One. That piece of highway is the total pits and is up there with the Hill Road to Takanini Interchange section of SH1 that makes people blood boil and in need of a fast upgrade

      1. I heard nzta wants to keep that for now as it chokes the flow to stop folding the inner motorways and will encourage use of the WWR for through traffic.

        1. That would sound right from NZTA. Although it does nothing for those living south of Papatoetoe needing to get to the CBD or Greenlane without that Eastern Highway ever have been built as a back up…

          And yes to others here in ATB:
          1) I use the WRR despite it being incomplete to reach Te Atatu or skip the North Shore when travelling from Papakura to those areas
          2) I use rail where I can
          3) In saying that I also use my car to get to the CBD from Papakura as well and make the odd trip to the Shore

          1. Well you can either have the chokepoint before the interchange for just southern traffic, or you can have it after the interchange for both southern and Mt Wellington traffic. The motorway through Newmarket and the CMJ is as wide as it is ever going to get so there really is no point funnelling even more lanes into it.

  6. You can pretty much walk between Britomart and Aotea Square along Queen St, including crossing diagonally, without having to stop for lights due to the double phasing that exists

    1. Over the next three years, the NZTA, and local authorities are spending $12.3b on tranpsort. Auckland is spending about $3.4b of this so there is still plenty of money for transport projects in other parts of the country. The point is we could spend our money better than what we are currently doing.

      1. But after waterview, which is why they are spending $3 billion, what other plans do they have for metropolitan Auckland?

        1. What other plans, look at the table in the post, there is $2.5b for motorway widening, another harbour crossing. $500m to turn that last section of SH18 to a full blown motorway with flying ramps, interchange upgrades etc.

          1. I thought they weren’t going to start looking at another crossing till 2020. Opening around 2025 or 2030.

        1. No it is $12.3b over 3 years, of which $9.4b is coming from the NLTP

          The NZ Transport Agency has announced the details of a $3.4b programme of investment in the Auckland region’s transport system over the next three years.


          The investment in Auckland is part of a $12.3 billion investment in New Zealand’s land transport system set out in the 2012-15 National Land Transport Programme (NLTP), including $9.4 billion from the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF)

          And here is projected NLTF revenue and spending over the next decade

      1. I tried to write a letter to the Editor rebutting Ken Shirley. Dom Post didn’t print it. Looking at the views that do get published, it seems they are actively screening out those that oppose new highways.

  7. A striking omission from the ITP list is ‘a WIDESPREAD program of bus priority measures on existing roads’. Bus lanes, queue jump lanes, traffic light preemption….

    You could do all the listed public transport projects and probably half of Auckland’s public transport users (ie, most bus riders) would hardly notice the difference.

    1. Yeah that is a hilarious editorial, smells like the work of Mr Roughan, what you’re witnessing there is a dinosaur trying to understand Transit but only as viewed through the windscreen of his car…! Poor John is getting left behind by the new Auckland.

  8. “…over the next 3 years alone, $3.4 billion will be spent on transport [in Akld]. Included in that amount is money for maintaining roads and running public transport however with a little extra funding, as is being investigated as part of the consensus building group, $10 billion seems about right.”

    Your $10bn wish-list above is all about new capital projects, so what exactly is the pricetag for the other “ongoing costs”? Looking at the 2012-15 NLTP for Auckland, it seems to (conservatively) be the following:
    – Maintaining/renewing local roads: $190m/yr
    – Maintaining/renewing State Hwys: $90m/yr
    – Running PT services: $240m/yr
    – Road policing for this area: $300m/yr nationally; let’s say $30m here (going more by geographic size than population obviously)
    – Road safety promotion & education, transport planning & strategic studies: $10m/yr

    So we’re looking at ~$560m/yr, or more than $5billion over 10 years just to keep providing a functioning transport system over and above your $10bn wish-list. So it seems that the “little extra funding” has to be reasonably big…

    1. What we do know is that the Auckland Plan’s transport package costs around $60b over the next 30 years and that there’s a $10-15b funding gap (info from here: http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/EN/AboutCouncil/HaveYourSay/Documents/gettingaucklandmovingfeedbackformdiscussiondocument.pdf page 11). That suggests existing revenue streams have the potential to generate around $45-50b for transport over the next 30 years.

      Take the lower of the two, $45b and divide by the three decades and you get around $15b per decade. Taking out your $5b for operations and $10b for capital each decade seems pretty feasible.

      1. I was informed, by a person on the working party, that the budget is closer to $70B but yes, the $10B shortfall is correct. 70% of that $70B ($49B) is to be spent on roads if the plan goes ahead as it is.

  9. I would think that extending the Northern Busway southwards, giving total bus priority into the CBD would cost less and provide more benefit than extending it north to Albany, but then both would be nice in an ideal world

    along with the expenditre figures by region, it would be interesting to have fuel excise contributions by region, then we would likely see that indeed, Auckland does subsidise the rest of the country!

  10. Have just moved here and think what Auckland really needs to to fix every intersection to make them more pedestrian friendly. Many intersection even in high pedestrian flow areas like CBD and inner suburbs are totally set up to shift cars with traffic lights having very long phases, and non-signalled intersections ridiculously wide and difficult to cross.
    Sure this is probably a 20 year program but can start with highest pedestrian flow areas. This is very important as poor intersections increase walking time substantially, and which also affects PT stop radius too.

      1. Exciting. I’m probably already over my head work wise, but it aligns with other things I’m doing so would love to help out.

Leave a Reply