The two current main contenders for the Auckland mayoralty are still yet to release any policy but they are starting to make more noise. At a business association meeting in East Tamaki yesterday they talked transport with both leaving a lot to be desired.
He repeated his vision for light rail in parts of the city.
“The City Rail Link will double heavy rail capacity, but that only benefits the south and west, while other parts of Auckland don’t get that,” he says.
Goff says he wants to explore public-private partnerships and city bonds as a means to fund large infrastructure projects.
He says rates alone should not be relied on to fund projects, which would mean an opportunity for public-private partnerships and an element of “user pays”.
“There’s no money put aside [for light rail]…but the cost of not doing anything is more,” he says.
He says up to $3 billion in productivity is being lost in the city’s congestion.
On funding, Goff says city bonds would be an option to share the cost over generations.
He’d also ensure the council would be unified and prepared when presenting a plan to Government for support on projects.
The biggest issue with Goff’s statements are his claims about cost of congestion are rising faster than rail patronage, having doubled in the last month or so from the more frequently quoted $1-1.5 billion. But even that isn’t correct as highlighted by this research a few years ago which showed those upper limits of congestion are based on assuming roads should operate in complete free flow conditions 24/7 – which in reality would mean a massive overbuilding of capacity. Using a more relevant metric that focuses on network utilisation results in a cost of just $250 million.
We also know that congestion hasn’t actually got much worse in recent years. The recent ATAP foundation report showed that travel time delay has been fairly stable and has even declined in the AM peak.
Crone favoured an “aligned” approach to her transport plan – that includes investing in all transport modes across the entire region.
She would follow other international cities in investigating innovations like driverless vehicles.
During her speaking period, Crone questioned why the AMETI project isn’t more of a priority for completion.
She also questioned why more park and ride facilities aren’t in use across the city alongside buses, trains and ferries.
“Without park and rides you’re capping the number of people that will use that service,” she says.
However, Crone says the challenge would be on funding the projects.
She is intent on bringing Auckland Council spending under control, including promising to open the books to shed light on how it is spending money.
“The private partnerships [for transport projects] and the Government – the taxpayer – shouldn’t be putting money into a system that’s wasted,” she says.
Crone hit out at the CBD cycleways being constructed when other areas like Rodney are still waiting on sealed footpaths.
I agree with Crone that AMETI should be a higher priority. AT need to hurry up and get on with it but many of her other comments show a lack of understanding of transport issues and seem more aligned with common over the barbecue type generalisations or contradictions.
One is the assumption that a lot more park n ride is needed to get more people using PT. Research has shown that adding P&R will often see many existing users change how they get to a station so the actual parking capacity gained much less what is built. It’s also not cheap, even simple P&Rs like the new one at Swanson can cost as much as $18,000 per carpark and if they’re buildings or underground the cost goes up even more. Spending $100 million might add as few as 5,000 carparks and assuming they were all new users it would be equivalent of around 2.5 million trips per year which is around 3% of current patronage. Also if driverless cars do become common soon like she hopes then P&R probably won’t be needed at all.
But it’s the last comment that’s the strangest and shows a lack of understanding of even how transport is funded. Already thousands of people per day are using the new cycleways being built in the city and those are being funded by the council, NZTA and the government through its urban cycleway fund. The NZTA and UCF funding isn’t something that can be diverted to other projects – and if council didn’t put up their share it would go somewhere else. Even if the funding could be diverted likely the last place it would go would be to rural footpaths
At the end of the day it might not matter who the mayor is and what their personal transport vision is. The ATAP process currently under way and due to wrap up in August has been about creating alignment in transport between Auckland and the Government – at least at a broad level. This is likely to limit any