Today is budget and while we wait to see what, if any, goodies Bill English will announce, I thought I would list some of the things I’d like to see and what we may actually see. My gut says we won’t see anything too significant as the government often now announce or at least hint at changes in advance.
What we want to see
City Rail Link
Back in in January the government gave certainty to the City Rail Link when they agreed it should start construction sooner than they had originally anticipated. This was primarily in response to two things:
- significant growth the rail network has been experiencing with sustained increases of more than 20% year on year
- pressure from private developers like Precinct Properties – the ones behind Commercial Bay (Downtown Shopping Centre) and others – who we understand are keen to get on with their development and which is intrinsically tied in with the CRL.
But at the same event where John Key announced the government would support starting sooner the CRL happening sooner, he also said it would be subject to addressing a number of issues with the council.
We still need to work through a number of important and quite complex issues with the Council.
These include how project costs will be finally shared between the Government and the Council and how the Rail Link will be owned and managed.
Providing these issues are resolved – and I’m confident they can be – we’ll aim to finalise the business plan later this year.
The government announcing that the issues had been resolved and that funding is being forward for the project would be welcome news.
Getting more in to the realms of funding fantasy, it would be great if the government were to announce a number of rapid transit projects to complement the CRL in a bid to keep Auckland moving.
Some specific projects that could do with a boost include:
AMETI is really in need of some funds to get it moving faster because at the current rate just the busway just from Panmure to Pakuranga is not due to start till 2021 and it could be almost a decade from now before it is finished. East Auckland needed this busway built years ago and so anything the government can do to speed that up would be welcome.
With so much growth planned and already happening in the North West it will be critical that we have some good quality PT options. We know the project is bubbling away slowing with Auckland Transport and it could do with a push to get moving faster.
A second batch of trains for Auckland
AT continue to say that they have enough trains and that it will remain that way even after the CRL is finished. My view is that they have severe case of wishful thinking. Given the trains have a two year lead in time it seems imperative that we get them ordered now. AT have also been talking about buying some with batteries attached so they can run to Pukekohe without them having to string up wires. If that’s a viable solution, then they could be ordered at the same time.
What we might see
Transport for housing developments
There’s been a lot of talk recently about housing and in particular about greenfield growth. As we pointed out last week, one of the issues is not so much the overall amount of land but the amount of land that is serviced with infrastructure. The problem is that building this infrastructure is very expensive with just the bulk infrastructure to support the proposed growth estimated at around $17 billion. Of course in some places within the existing urban area infrastructure also needs to be upgraded to support growth.
That’s why I think it is quite possible the government may attempt to start addressing the issue by directly funding infrastructure or by introducing other mechanisms to enable it.
In the last budget the government signalled a pre-commitment for this budget of $190 million for Kiwirail. We may see a change to that figure or alternatively another pre-commitment for next year’s budget.
Regional Highway projects
Last year the government announced $97 million a number of regional highway projects. It’s possible that funding could be extended to cover projects in more areas.
What would you like to see in the budget and what do you actually think we will see?