While the number of people who oppose the City Rail Link thankfully seem to be reducing – something probably helped by the government at least saying it will be needed eventually – those that do oppose it appear to be getting increasingly desperate in their opposition.
George Wood is perhaps the prime candidate in this regard, often pulling up decade old newspaper articles in a bid to try and claim the project will increase massively in cost or that people won’t use it like predicted.
Perhaps the biggest blind spot the people who oppose the CRL have is that that they complain about the CRL costing $2.86 billion (an already inflated figure) then go on to say the Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing (AWHC) should be built instead. Opposing the CRL on the grounds of it costing too much then pushing for a $5.3 billion road runnel is absurdity in the extreme.
For his part George try’s to justify his position as being that the CRL is partly funded by ratepayers while the AWHC will be funded by the NZTA so is “free” for Aucklanders. That of course ignores that tax revenues from Aucklanders make up a third (or more) of the total tax take. That also means that when you work it all out, the huge cost of the AWHC means that the amount Aucklanders will contribute will be about the same for either project.
The latest to jump in and yell about the CRL is former MP Michael Bassett.
Former government minister Michael Bassett has criticised Auckland Council for the planned City Rail Link, saying the $2.8 billion project would drive up rates and should be prioritised behind a second harbour crossing.
Bassett – who was local government minister in the 1980s – said the “profligate” council would be forced to borrow more money or put the burden on ratepayers to fund the tunnel.
“Planning a second harbour crossing is much more urgent – absolutely vital in the very near future,” he said.
“This council has a big appetite and many expensive ideas. Now, the mayor wants government money (taxpayers’ of course) for an early start on his great white elephant, the underground rail route.
“It will never make money. It won’t even cover its costs. The mayor will then either demand bigger subsidies from the Government for the shortfall in revenue, or he’ll push up our rates to pay that shortfall, or borrow yet more money.
“Public transport in the Auckland region already gets a huge subsidy. And it will need more to pay for the white elephant.”
I’m not sure what made him crawl out from somewhere and start complaining about transport projects but in many ways it’s actually quite sad how much people like Wood and Bassett are divorced from reality, logic and facts. We know the CRL is almost half the cost of the AWHC so it definitely has the advantage on that comparison. With this post what I want to address is just what kind of impact each project has to people/vehicle volumes
Firstly the AWHC. The information we currently have comes from the most recent study which was done in 2010. I have a number of issues with the traffic modelling as it ignored the drop in trips over the harbour bridge that occurred after 2006 despite the modelling being done in 2010. However looking at the 2041 results it suggests:
So the total difference across the bridge for each hour of the AM peak is ~5,200 vehicles so ~10,400 extra AM peak vehicles crossing the harbour (in each direction). Towards the city it suggests that with the AWHC we will see an increase from the over inflated 2008 volumes ~6,300 vehicles during the AM peak. I’ve got no idea where they’ll all go because the CMJ and CBD streets certainly don’t seem to have the capacity to handle that many additional trips. In the CBD in particular we’re trying to do the opposite as vehicle priority is removed to make the city a more pedestrian friendly area.
The figures above are vehicles not people and buses across the harbour will carry a lot of people however if we build another crossing it’s primarily about moving cars, not buses so the people impact probably isn’t that different from the vehicle one.
By comparison we can get some rough figures for the level of impact the CRL will have from the City Centre Future Access Study. Now the CCFAS also has problems with it’s modelling however even the MoT suggest that it’s probably underestimating PT trips.
The Integrated (CRL + Surface Bus) option was the one chosen as being best and that sees the CRL move an additional ~12,000 people into the city centre over and above what’s planned in the reference case, that’s a substantial amount more than the extra city-bound traffic crossing the harbour. In addition the rail patronage only refers to trips to the city centre, it ignores all rail trips to other parts of the region which will be made even more viable thanks to the increased frequencies the CRL will allow for i.e. trips to Henderson, Ellerslie or a range of other destinations. Further the number of people accessing the city centre by bus will also increase.
So we have a situation where the CRL is about half the cost of an additional harbour crossing and it moves many more people. To me the choice is pretty clear about what we should be building first and it certainly isn’t the AWHC.
I’m not even going to go into the whole roads are subsidised too issue or just how much a toll would have to be to make the AWHC profitable.