Late last year we illustrated how easy it is to afford to build the Congestion Free Network across Auckland over the next 17 years. Despite investing over $60 billion in our transport system over 30 years congestion is still expected to get worse and we believe that is predominately because overall the current plans prioritise investment in roads well ahead of investment in alternatives that can help improve mobility and encourage a shift in mode share.

Essentially, because the CFN provides such a comprehensive alternative to congestion, we think it’s definitely possible to reduce the proposed spending on new roads infrastructure between now and 2030 from around $22 billion to just under $6.5 billion.

It’s one thing to be able to afford the CFN programme over 17 years, but what’s just as important is how we have staged the CFN’s implementation to ensure that it is affordable in each and every year between now and 2030. Much of the problem with our current transportation plans seem not to be about what happens in 2024 or 2031, but the enormous trouble affording the huge number of projects we want completed before about 2030. This was shown in the Consensus Building Groups report – note the expenditure includes operating costs.

CBG Funding gap

Put more simply, I just struggle to see how Auckland can afford to build the City Rail Link, AMETI, the East West Link (in whatever form), Penlink, the first stages of the Mill Road Project, the Dominion Road upgrade and many many other projects over the next few years. So we’ve been careful how we stage the implementation of the CFN to not fall into the same trap as the current plans – to ensure that in each and every year we keep the investment in capex to not much more than a billion dollars – significantly less than what will be required in some years under the current plans.

Broken down by project type, here’s our plan for implementing the CFN as well as other major capital expenditure works over the next 17 years that we think are worthwhile projects. We’ve also tweaked the costings of some of the projects from what we have published previously. For example we’ve increased the cost of rail to the airport as we believe the ITP costing is probably too low but we’ve lowered to cost of buying extra trains as the figures we used included the costs of the current EMU purchase.

CFN Costs by year - 2

(Note the project title is what’s listed in the original ITP, hence reference to Airport Eastern Rail Link, which in the CFN is actually a busway).

Because we don’t know exactly how long each project would take to build we’ve obviously had to make a few assumptions. Generally single projects have a slower start to their spend (because it’s on things like design, consenting and property acquisition) then they ramp up once construction is underway before having a slowish end again. For project categories (for example “other urban arterial upgrades” we’ve generally focused the higher amounts for later years because it’s likely the necessary projects aren’t well known at this stage, but as required in some years we squeeze down the funding a bit if there are other large projects on at the same time.

Looking at the above table in more detail it’s amazing to see what can be achieved:

  • Southeast busway finished by 2020
  • Mt Roskill rail extension finished by 2022
  • City Rail Link finished by 2021
  • Northwest busway finished by 2020 and SH18 busway by 2026
  • $250m upgrade of Southern Motorway done by 2021
  • Western Ring Route completed by 2021
  • North Shore Rail (at the fairly generous price tag of $3b) done by 2030

And many others obviously.

Looking at the grand totals for each year, it’s clear that over time there’s a significant decrease in spending on motorway projects – but this makes sense with the Waterview Connection being sold as “completion of the motorway network” for so many years.

CFN Costs by year totals

While the CFN does dominate capex spending in some years (especially in the big spending years for building North Shore Rail), generally there is plenty of money in other categories – particularly local roading projects – for worthy improvements.

CFN Costs by year graph

We will continue to do more work detailing the affordability of the CFN over the coming weeks and months – hopefully informed by better costing information as Auckland Transport release it as part of their work on the Integrated Transport Programme (version 2). Our goal is to continue to refine the details of the network, to better understand its cost, affordability and timing and to highlight its many benefits for Aucklanders.

What becomes obvious from the exercise above is that Auckland can afford the Congestion Free Network. Sure, constructing the network will dominate capital expenditure on transport over the next 17 years but we are building a pretty massive high quality PT system from near scratch.

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  1. The Mayor seems to be in another world. His deputy and Mike Lee have their feet very much on the ground however, and I think that discussion with either would be fruitful.

  2. Or more accurately Auckland cannot afford to not complete a citywide Rapid Transit Network for the sake of all road users. The city certainly cannot afford to keep investing disproportionately in the mature road network; the costs and benefits show that the returns are diminishing and much greater value for money is to be found in the underdeveloped networks: Auckland’s ‘Missing Modes’.

  3. It’s almost like you guys think your plan will be adopted. I wonder at the madness of all the hours you waste on a project that is not ever going to happen. Unless you think the Greens are ever going to run the country you have no chance. The RONS are THE plan.

    1. The project has to happen. Both Auckland and New Zealand cannot afford for it not to happen.
      National will not be in power in three years’ time. Hopefully they won’t be in power in 12 months’ time. In either event the Greens will be a significant party in whatever government is formed, and that means we’ll finally get sensible transport policy.

      That the Roads of Dubious Significance are National’s plan is not in question. What’s open for question is whether it’s a good plan, whether it’s an affordable plan, and whether it’s a plan that will actually do anything more than sink the country further into debt without fixing anything for the long term.

    2. “The RONS are THE plan.” Wow that says it all. And National somehow still manage to convince some people they know what they are doing!

      1. I dunno Fred, he’s always funny, especially as he gets more and desperate with every comment. Living in England he has no idea about what is happening here, just reading the Herald online gives such a distorted view of the real forces at work here. He certainly doesn’t seem to understand the role of Auckland Council’s decisions on transport investment direction. If it was all RoNS and no Council input the east/west decision would not have gone the way it has, ie a much more efficient down scaled less destructive road upgrade completely consistent with the CFN.

    3. What do the RoNS have to do with transport in Auckland? Are you saying that once the western ring route is finished there needs to be no more transport investment in auckland? Sorry if I don’t agree with you that highways outside of Tauranga and Wellington are all that is needed for Auckland for the next few decades.

      This network Matt is talking about is a reassignment of Aucklands Integrated Transport Plan. It uses Auckland Transports projects and aligns with Auckland Councils strategic objectives. Auckland council specified things like northwestern and upper harbour busways and rail to the airport, it’s not like Matt and Patrick invented them. They simply read them off the councils strategic plan then went over to Auckland Transports investment plan to find out how much they were supposed to cost.

      All this CfN really says is “spend the money we have building the rapid transit projects we have planned and use the rest for new roads and motorway upgrades.” What it doesn’t say is “increase taxes and rates and add road charges to build lots of ineffective new motorways on top of all that” that was the last ITP, the one that had a twenty billion shortfall was it?

      And sorry to be blunt, but you’re a bit thick if you thinks the next ITP will do the same. It doesn’t take a Green Party politician to see that increasing taxes and rates for a big spend up on low value projects busting their way through people’s homes is a good way to lose a lot of votes (apparently it takes a National politician to do that… Bit we’ve already seen a huge back down on their grandiose east west motorway plans, so maybe they are starting to realise).

    4. Phil, I expect it to be built.
      Logic of the case + Clear presentation + Some grunt to get the message out + Many sensible councillors + Public not wanting to pay for useless roads + Demographics moving in the CFN’s favour = Better than even chance

    5. RONS = Roads of _National_… that is National and not Auckland Transport. There is a difference.

      “Unless you think the Greens are ever going to run the country”. They don’t need to – we have MMP, so any coalition, could bring in some further examination of RoNS.

      Ultimately, I am an optimist – I like to think that in the end, careful cost benefit analysis will win out over policy based on simple slogans..

  4. If the Greens have enough influence over Govt to cause such a policy shift then they will have significant power and that would be a disaster for NZ’s economy. Whilst I think it is healthy to have some Green voice – handing them real power would unleash far too many loopy initiatives. No one in sandals has had a good idea since Jesus.
    I don’t think any Labour Govt will stray far from the RONS and obviously National is committed. This is why I question if this isn’t just a lot of wasted time and passion from you guys.

    1. Labour has already committed to scrapping the Steven Joyce Memorial Holiday Highway and funding the CRL. That’s a massive shift from the current policy of “SJMHH or bust” and “CRL? Maybe one day.”

      I know I shouldn’t feed the troll, but people who don’t know much about the topic might see your comments going unrebutted and think they’re actually reasonable.

    2. Just to let you know that the big and patently misleading push out there to paint the Greens as some kind of extremist group of idiots is becoming obvious and tiresome because they’re quite simply are not.

      And sadly this patronising attitude thinks we are all too stupid to see through this garbage. And I dont even vote Greens. In fact they are far less of a threat to NZ’s prospects than the bulk of the National Party MP’s who appear idealess, contribute little but maintaining the status quo to suit their personal fortunes and are simply there to faithfully do as they are told by the top level of the party.

  5. Three fantastic and very telling posts from Matt in the last three days. Good evidence, very well analysed and well calculated. Better than anything I have seen from NZTA or Ministers of the Crown.

  6. I will give you a great example of Greens being dangerous idiots…. BIO FUEL. The once championed plants to green fuel that pushed all of our food bills through the roof and pushed thousands of people in the third world into starvation.

    1. As opposed to National being dangerous idiots who are quite happy to sell usage rights to our lakes and rivers to the highest bidder, regardless of the long-term damage done to those waterways that will pollute them for future generations.

    2. Right, so the 5% bio diesel blend that is available in some gas stations in some parts of the north island has pushed our food bills through the roof and pushed thousands of third world people into starvation? The same biodiesel that is made from tallow waste from the meat packing industry? Or is it the bio ethanol blend that is made from dairy byproduct?

      Get your facts straight Phil before spouting nonsense. In New Zealand biofuel is a very small part of a very small market, and almost entirely based on recovery from waste stocks.

    3. Of course biofuel is a disaster and proof of the scrapping of the bottom of the oil barrel but to say it is a Green agenda just shows what an ill informed moron you are. The corn ethanol programme is a George Bush federal subsidy to big ag and big oil and gas.

      Really, we are saddled with the world’s most hopeless troll; a disaffected and angry Little Englander.

      1. But he is asking the sort of clueless questions that the regular readers of Whale Oil or Kiwiblog would ask and never get a sensible answer to. So at least he is giving you the opportunity to see the “holes” (in the context of those identified by some “common sense blokes” sitting around a bbq solving the world’s problems) in the argument.

        So he is a bit of a gadfly (Socrates would be turning in his grave), if a woefully uninformed one who just blindly follows whatever the neoliberal agenda tells him to this week.

  7. Phil I regularly ask you direct questions and receive no answer – I can only assume that either high caste people like you wont correspond with low castes like me or you dont have an answer that supports your neoliberal agenda.

    Your intellectual honesty is very low.

    You should contact this guy:

    Sound like you have a lot in common.

  8. New Zealand is not Germany, the NZ Green Party is not the German Green Party, and NZ has no need for diversion of food in order to generate bio-fuels; we have plenty of waste products that can be used as feed stock without having to change a single other part of our economy.

      1. So a six year old article that biofuels may be imported from unsustainable sources in the future. Could you not find any evidence that it has actually happened in the half decade since?

  9. I think there needs to be some real attention given to where the Benefit to Cost ratio figures come from to justify (some) of these new roading projects. I was utterly gobsmaked to read in the guest posting in December year review part 2 that the value for time saved for a person driving a car is almost twice as valuable as the time saved by someone on a bus or train – what?? To quote from the article” The procedures for conducting an economic evaluation of a transport project are set out in excruciating detail in the Economic Evaluation Manual (EEM)  published by the New Zealand Transport Agency. This manual defines the exact procedures that need to be followed when evaluating any transport project and specifies the values that should be used in the evaluation.” The EEM, the article says places a value of $7.80/hour for a car driver and $4.70/hour for a PT user. How can this possibly be justified. This needs serious attention even if the current government has shown a prediliction to ignoring BCR’s in their personal favorite RON’s projects.

  10. The NZ Green Party caused all that? They are more powerful than we knew. For what it’s worth, plenty of political parties the world over have supported bio fuel. There is some interesting stuff happening in the US regarding algae based ethanol. No food required. Wasn’t Air NZ testing bio fuels? Go for them Phil. And you’d better start writing to Virgin Atlantic as well.

    1. Air NZ did test biofuels, but has not progressed the idea further.

      In part as the source of the bio-fuel (some weed type plant grown mostly in India), turned out to be not what was promised at all, and instead of growing on the side of the fields, not needing any water, fertiliser or intensive farming techniques, turned out to be the bio-fuel equivalent of a water and Fossil Fuel sucking rice crop to get the yields required to make airplanes fly on it..

      So yet another greenwash solution dashed on the rocks of reality – but at least Air NZ stopped the insanity when reality became clear.

      Unlike the US where they enshrined the insanity in law and traders then made a fortune importing bulk ethanol, blending it will a small amount of local ethanol then exporting the stuff as “Amercas newest major sustainable export”. As the Tui billboard says “Yeah Right”.

      1. Greg – Air NZ worked in conjunction with Virgin on using a Bio Fuel kerosene look alike made from Jatropha. If I remember correctly they flew a flight with one engine (out of 4) running on renewable energy while the other 3 engines ran on normal fossil fuel Kero.
        The problem with most Bio is the freeze point. Bio tends to be full of fatty acids that solidify in the cold and whilst that might just be an inconvenience on the side of the southern motorway – it is more than just a slight problem at 30’000 feet.
        Making a renewable fuel suitable for airlines is a big challenge. Especially as, unlike road transport fuels – there are no subsidies for bio fuel for air transportation.
        Neste, the Finnish State Oil company make a bio product called NXBTL which would work as a blend in Kero and a leading European airline is about to make a very exciting announcement about renewable fuels next month.
        It is interesting what you wrote about the traders in the US making a fortune – do you know someone at Traffi that told you that story 😀

  11. People change their opinions on all kinds of things. That’s part of a smart process. How does this compare to the evolution of thinking on nuclear power? Or does that not suit your ideological hatred of the Green movement?

    1. Nick Wrong is yet another Pseudonym of Phil with a fake email address, if you hadn’t guessed from the vitriol already, so don’t bother arguing logically with him.

      (I wonder if the name is targeted at me, I suppose I should feel honoured…)

      1. I didn’t moderate or delete his comment, that presumably was one of the guys that administer the blog. I responded with my words as you can see above.

        The guys don’t delete comments because they don’t fit with their way of thinking, they delete ones that are continual and gross violations of their guides for healthy debate. Using fake names and multiple identities is against the rules (as well as being dishonest) so I can see why they do it.

        If Phil wants to not be deleted then maybe he should follow the commentators guidelines like everyone else. Partrick R tells me that Phil is now starting to post under his name and putting his email address in to pretend to be one of the blog administrators, very dishonest!

        If you want vitriol you should see some of Phils earlier comments that Matt L has shown me, I would be ashamed to put my name to some of the downright nasty things he has said (I suppose that is why he uses a suite of fake names?).

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