Back in May I wrote about how it appeared a road only harbour crossing might be on the cards following some NZTA documents I recieved as part of an offical information act request. That prompted our friends at Generation Zero to initiate a survey to see just how much support there was for various options. The results are now back in.
The survey was conducted by UMR Research and had a sample size of 500 with a margin of error of ±4.4%. The survey asked the following question.
The New Zealand Transport Agency is planning to build an additional Auckland harbour crossing in the next decade. They’re considering three options. On a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 means “strongly oppose” and 10 means “strongly support” how strongly do you support each of these options?
- A rail-only crossing, that would mean rail could go from Albany to the CBD, which costs approximately $3.5 billion
- A road-only crossing which costs approximately $5 billion
- A rail and road crossing, that would mean rail could go from Albany to the CBD, which costs approximately $7 billion
Of the three the road only option was deeply unpopular with just 22% of respondents saying they support or strongly support it compared with almost twice as many (41%) opposing the idea. By comparison the rail only option had 42% support compared with 29% opposition while the idea with the most support was combined option.
I think it’s quite good that Gen Z included costs in the options as often these types of surveys don’t but the result is quite interesting in that the most expensive option was the most preferred. This suggests that Aucklanders want more of everything regardless of cost, and that lines up with what we’ve seen from other surveys and the likes of Mayor Len Brown often says he gets told to just get on with it. As we know, some of those views might change a little when it comes time to push the button on increasing rates or taxes to cover this extra infrastructure costs but regardless, it has interesting implications for future funding discussions.
The report also takes a look at the demographics of those who responded and they too have some interesting outcomes.
- People under 45 were more likely to support a single mode crossing compared to those 45 and over while they were comparatively less supportive of the combined option. I wonder if this reflects them taking more account of the costs of these projects while those 45+ were more inclined just to get stuff done.
- A rail only crossing had the lowest level of support from those in the South which seems to tie in with a the highest level of support for a road only crossing from that area. Perhaps this suggests that the people surveyed from the South were more likely to need to drive over the harbour and so favoured that. Conversely of the single mode options, those in central areas were more likely to support a rail only crossing which perhaps suggests a greater concern about the impacts of a road only connection.
- The combined crossing option has the most support amongst those in the highest household income brackets and also those who own a home with a mortgage
Overall a useful survey and thanks to Generation Zero for organising it.
You might recall that the recent ATAP interim report poured a little bit of cold water on the AWHC, noting
Improving access to and from the North Shore
- The bridge and its approaches are a pinch-point on the transport network, particularly during the evening peak in both directions.
- An additional crossing significantly improves accessibility to/from the North Shore, but does not appear to substantially improve congestion results.
- Projected growth in public transport demand appears likely to trigger the need for a new crossing within the next 30 years. There is potential for a shared road/PT crossing, but the costs and benefits of different options require further analysis.
High cost of potential solutions
- Because any new crossing will be tunnelled, there is a significant opportunity cost arising from this investment. Fully understanding key drivers, alternatives, cost and benefits will be crucial before any investment decisions are made.
- It makes sense to protect the route for a new harbour crossing in a way that integrates potential future roading and public transport requirements.
In light of this, if a survey were to be done again it would be interesting to see how people supported the various options if they knew the road options also result in a considerable congestion impact on and around the motorways in the future.