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.

Rapid Transit

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.

Rapid Transit Map

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.

AMETI Buslane - Pakuranga Rd

NW Busway

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.

EMUs at the Depot
Photo by Patrick Reynolds

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.

Kiwirail Funding

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?

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  1. Important to point out that, ultimately, we’re not looking for the government to spend more money on transport than it does already. We want it to make better use of the money it already spends. This means allocating a higher share to public transport, and investing in rapid transit rather than the extremely low-value RoNS programme.

    As per our Congestion Free Network proposals, it’s possible to fund a lot of new investment in PT infrastructure by postponing some roads, and of course the PT options will mean that the need for a lot of those roads becomes less urgent.

  2. Currently in South-East Auckland (Botany/Pakuranga area) there is no rail transport, just a slow bus network that gets slower and less efficient with every car added to the road. The logical solution is to add a heavy or light rail system from the city to the eastern suburbs.

    From speaking to people in Auckland Transport, it has been ascertained that there is no plan for rail to be developed out to the South-East area. The only plan for this area is building a busway which, while allowing buses to move faster, does not solve the issue of congested roads or benefit the environment.

    This petition is aimed at making the local government and council aware of the situation, and letting them know that the people want the rail network to be developed, not more buses to clog up the roads. Rail is the most efficient people mover and this needs to be taken into account, and plans developed for rail to South-East Auckland. The population is growing NOW, not in 40 years’ time. It’s time to act NOW and sort out the transport issues plaguing South-East Auckland.

    1. I agree that rail is great, but there’s not much wrong with a busway – it’s capable of moving large numbers of people and doesn’t “clog up traffic”. It’s not about solving congestion. Congestion doesn’t matter as long as there are alternatives, like a busway, that people can use.

    2. yes, I think you’d be better placed supporting AMETI PT improvements, i.e. accelerating delivery of the busway, rather than trying to get rail out there.

      1. AMETI, is like the PT users on the buses it supposed to helping, well and truly stuck in the slow lane, as it has been for many decades.

        After all the A and M in AMETI stand for Auckland City Council and Manukau City Council respectively.

        AMETI was cobbled together from the aftermath by scrambling transport planners in both councils after the long desired by some, Eastern Highway was canned in the mid 90’s.
        Both organisations have been long gone now [mentally at least, if not physically], yet here we are stuck with the poor decision making of, particularly, the old MCC.
        With regards their single mode [car based] transport planning for Pakuranga, Botany and beyond.

        AMETI is totally out of date, and the thinking behind AMETI being even older, is definitely even more out of date.

        We have no more lanes across the Tamaki river than we had 30 plus years ago.
        We have no more bus priority in Pakuranga and beyond than we had 30 years ago.
        But the human population and numbers of cars in the former MCC area have gone through the roof since.

        And the only solution close to being delivered is the SOV carrying Reeves road “Flyover”, a solution to a problem that is direct from the 60’s.
        One that no cities are trying or attempting today, and many are willfully removing such examples with a shudder as they collectively say “What were they thinking”..
        And here we are working madly on “completing the dream” with a design from the 50s and 60s.

        Meanwhile the planners and there political masters are madly hoping against hope that driverless somethings [or driverless anythings] will come along and save the day.

        We don’t need a flyover, but we need something there, and sooner than the current go slow plans allow. So whats needed is a makeover.

        Right now a busway is best seen as a placeholder for future PT options is the last best hope for Pakuranga and beyond to ever have rapid transport out that way

        So think of the busway, not as allowing pokey old slow buses in a slow lane, but instead as a means of preserving [or in this case, grabbing hold of] a PT right of way that should have been there day 1.
        But it also one that will be very definitely needed in the future when the current woolly thinking planners and.their political masters have long since moved on to Tauranga or sunnier climes.

  3. No mention of a freight line for the South and Eastern Train line. Without rail freight to and from Auckland and the Port, Auckland will drown in a roadway full of trucks.

  4. I’d like to see a commitment to a two-lane highway down the spine of the North Island from Whangarei to Wellington. It’s kinda happening in bits and pieces but not fast enough and with a lack of coherence.

    1. Three questions:
      1. Why do you want to build 400km of two lane highway through some of the least populated and slowest growing regions in NZ?
      2. If we assume it would cost about $5 billion, what projects would you drop from the NLTF to get this up and running?
      3. When you say “lack of coherence” do you mean focusing on the parts that deliver the highest value for money?

      1. At $25m/km minimum you are looking at almost $10,000,000,000, not $5b, and there is no way it would be that cheap in the Mangawekas or Desert Road. By far the highest volume sections are 4 lane or are in detailed design for four lane already, all of the best sections are done and only just scrape by the EEM.

        1. You’re not wrong, but I was building in some optimistic economies of scale given the scale of the thing.

      2. They might be least populated and slowest growing, but they’re also significant tourist areas. Don’t see any need for expressway standard, but more passing lanes and other safety initiatives would be good (and some already in planning stages iirc).

        1. Compeletely agree. But minor safety improvements are quite a different proposition from what was suggested.

    2. 4. I have driven to Whangarei a couple of times, on a 2-lane highway which was already there. So what did I miss? OK, it’s not exactly straight in some places (Dome Valley springs to mind), but the terrain is not exactly flat either.

      The part which was quite slow (lots of town centres) is the part between Auckland and Hamilton, and there we’re having our shiny new motorway.

    3. Isn’t that called SH1. It’s already at least a two lane highway.

      But assuming you mean a 4 lane highway then hire would you justify it? Many sections in the middle have fewer than 10k vehicles per day, some half that

  5. AMETI or NW busway seems the most likely to me. The scariest thought is that they might agree to Reeves Road Flyovr now and ‘future proof’ it for the busway making it impossible to build the busway a la Mangere Bridge.

  6. A rapid transit service for Greater Christchurch would be great. Either using the existing rail corridors or new dedicated busways or a combination of the two.

  7. Those weren’t my comments on rail to the South East – I copied them from the link to the petition i posted (which was started by an 18 year old student.)

  8. For all it’s flaws and lack of ambition, AMETI with bus lanes to Highland Park and Botany funded in full would be a dream result.

    What do I expect, a motorway to Northland to try and get rid of Winston Peters?

    The Key administration must be removed from office as soon as possible.

    1. The last Labour government put a large amount of money into roads and was very frugal with PT spending as well, I wouldn’t be hedging all our bets on a change of government.

  9. im hoping for a tax cut for higher income earners and some more motorways so I can get to my holiday homes and rental properties quicker.

  10. Well not really any surprises in the budget. The Nats just doing their usual thing.
    One point that they did specifically make in the health budget was an extra $2.2B to cope with an aging population AND RECORD IMMIGRATION. Seriously W T F are we doing spending taxpayer dollars on healthcare for immigrants?!!!!!!!!! The entire point of immigration (at least as far as National claims) is to improve NZ….by spending our money on some old Chinese grandparent who just moved here on a family reconciliation visa?! F**king ridiculous! Even if it’s just 1/4 of that $2.2B that’s still $550m which would buy a lot of new EMUs/pay to electrify to Pukekohe/NEX to Orewa/early start on CRL, Isthmus LR etc. So to Shon Key and his treasonous buddies I say F U!

    1. Take a deep breath, Bruce, and allow the foam around your mouth to subside. I know a lot of immigrants (my wife and children included) and they are taxpayers and I wouldn’t mind betting that they pay a whole lot more tax than you do. More taxpayers, in general, require more health expenditure. Not difficult for most of us to understand.

    2. Any other racist things to rant about? What sort of person would withhold healthcare based on country of birth not being NZ 🙁

    3. Bruce, I’m not a fan of funding healthcare costs either for elderly immigrants who have not worked here either, but what evidence do you have to suggest a significant amount of this additional spending is on elderly immigrants. You appear to have made up a number and prefixed it with ‘Even if it is just’ to make it sound like it is probably bigger.

      1. “aging population AND RECORD IMMIGRATION” is the quote from the budget (without the CAPS of course) Jezza.
        Sarah: it is not about withholding funding based on country of birth but rather questioning why we are letting in record levels of immigrants when Auckland is currently having massive growing pains and housing shortages. Or do you not care about your fellow New Zealanders?
        MFD: I don’t know your personal circumstances and you don’t know mine either. Maybe your wife does work and pay considerable taxes. I can guarantee you that there are plenty of immigrants out there that are paying virtually no taxes (except GST which they mostly can’t avoid) but are receiving plenty of taxpayer benefits (free PT for example). As in the above comment to Sarah, there is a housing shortage in Auckland and a prudent common sense approach would be to restrict immigration levels to give the city time to catch up with housing and things like infrastructure.
        Scott: As per usual missing the point/not offering any ideas/alternatives. *yawn*

        1. I don’t think I’ve missed your point at all, you’ve been very clear.
          And straight up, you’re racist. You’ve made that perfectly clear across many comments.

        2. There is nothing in there that gives any indication of what proportion of this is caused by aged immigrants who have not worked here before. The local population is ageing, which will be driving up expenditure, along with the high levels of net migration, which includes both returning New Zealanders and new migrants. Even if your claim that 1/4 of all new spending on health is to do with retired migrants, which is absurd, your claim that we could instead spend the $550 million on PT holds little weight. The primary driver of economic growth (2.3 % pa) has been population growth (2.1 % pa). Without immigration we wouldn’t have had that extra tax revenue in the first place.

          1. By your own admission Jezza growth is but 0.2% except for population growth. That is a pathetic figure. In the meantime everyone else is having to pay for this higher “growth” in the form of house prices, rates, congestion while not really gaining much if any per capita. There is no point in growing population for the sake of it if it is doing nothing to improve the country per capita! Also as a result of the above we have a higher dollar and interest rates than we otherwise would meaning our exports (actual real income) are a lot less than they should be.

            As for Scott keep throwing labels out. You probably have a mail order bride!

          2. Won’t get any argument from me regarding the lack of real economic growth above population growth. Our level of new arrivals is not that much greater than it has been in the past, it’s the returning New Zealander’s and NZers not leaving that’s the main cause of the rapid growth in net migration. Ironically I think if we were to turn off the migrant tap (or slow the flow) there would be a real risk of a shortage of building labourers, which might put us right back to where we started regarding the housing shortage.

            Any reason you have decided to drag me into this placing labels on people game? For the record my wife and I are both pasty white rural South Islanders living in Auckland!

          3. That wasn’t at you Jezza 🙂

            Net migration has now accelerated to 70,000 pa which is a record and a lot higher than the 20 or so thousand pa of the 90’s or the fairly flat couple of decades before that. By pretty much any measure it is on the very high end of what is sustainable (can’t think of many of any developed countries that have net migration rates of over 1% pa). This is particularly an issue since the vast majority of immigrants choose to live in one place and one place only – Auckland. If Auckland didn’t have a housing shortage (and indeed if it had an excess of housing – something it hasn’t had since the 80’s, then and only then could this be a positive. Right now however all it is doing is making a huge problem worse and is resulting in Kiwis living in cars, garages or multiple families per house).

    4. What a gross rant. Pretty tired of reading your racist bullshit on here Bruce.
      FYI immigrants come in white flavour too – is that ok or is it just the “non-western” ones you object to?

  11. I wanted a couple of mill spent on cameras on motorway overbridges. We could use the 10 mill that they would generate from pinging texting drivers to put some extra police on our roads. I am sick of texting drivers running into my friends and family.

    1. Is that happening quite a bit for you? I haven’t had any texting drivers run into my friends and family yet.

  12. By all accounts CAF are a bit quiet at the moment too, so there might be a nice deal to be done on new trains, even if they are for delivery in a couple of years. Two UK rail franchises just placed large orders with CAF for an assortment of EMU, DMU and loco-hauled stock and supposedly the terms were very favourable indeed!

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