One of the most important parts of any project is to review it after completion to see what went right, what went wrong and to see if the project did what it was expected to. This is especially important with transport projects due to the often massive costs involved in new or upgraded infrastructure. Thanks to an OIA request, a year I obtained the post implementation review (PIR) for the Northern Busway while in October another request showed that for many of the roading projects within Auckland had been overstated. I thought I would do the same thing again to see if any more reviews had been completed since then. However to their credit, the NZTA have now started publishing the details of all PIRs online and they made for interesting reading.
Rather than wade through and pick out a couple of examples, I have instead collated the results into a spread sheet to make it easier to compare. Some of the projects are from local bodies while some are from the NZTA. There are also a couple of relating to public transport or cycleways. I have highlighted in red or green if the project performed better or worse than expected.
While each review was unique, reading through the comments very similar recurring themes turned up.
- Roading improvements often didn’t have the safety benefits promised and in some cases made the road less safe due to inducing more traffic and/or higher speeds.
- Traffic volumes didn’t increase as expected.
- Documentation including the project assessment was often not complete or missed out crucial information.
- The original assessment didn’t follow the evaluation guidelines and in one case the local authority made up its own criteria that among other things, ignored on-going maintenance costs.
What is important to note is that despite performing worse than expected, many of the projects were still quite positive and worth building but had they been assessed properly they might not have been given the priority that they were.
I will be keeping an eye on future PIRs that are done to see if the standard starts to improve.