The AA have released the results of a survey of their members about how to pay Auckland’s future transport needs, and we agree with their position.
The Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) looked at Auckland’s future transport needs and found that for the first decade alone, around $23.7 billion is needed but that based on current trends and assumptions, only $19.8 billion would be spent. That’s a shortfall of about $400 million per year. Even more would need to be spent in each of the following two decades the project assessed.
In the long term, road pricing will likely be a useful tool to both manage demand and to raise revenue to help pay for transport but it is expected that could take a decade or more to develop. As such we’ll need to do something in the interim. The ATAP report suggests that additional funding could be provided either by increasing the amount available from current sources, such as the government investing more, or from new funding tools. The report also has this recommendation on funding.
We recommend the Government and Auckland Council work together to consider options and agree on an approach to address the funding gap by mid-2017, to inform statutory funding documents.
But in all the discussions about funding, there’s been a small bit of fine print that is often missed, it has been assumed the current Interim Transport Levy would stop like intended in mid-2018.
That brings us back to the AA and their survey which has looked at their members thoughts on the outcome of ATAP and on funding options. They sent the survey to 20,000 Auckland members and had 1091 responses, the demographic breakdown of which is below. As you can see responses mainly came from older members but this may reflect the AA’s membership being older. Also, it doesn’t appear that the age breakdowns add up to 100%.
When asked how they feel about Auckland’s current transport system in its ability to meet Auckland’s needs, 61% said it was terrible (20%) or poor (41%). Just 7% said it was good or fantastic. That result isn’t all too surprising though as most people tend to think things could always be better.
They then asked for respondents thoughts based on this map. What’s notable about it is that it only shows the first decade projects, which is fair enough as the full map is quite confusing but also because many of the big road projects in ATAP are front loaded into the first decade while many of the key PT projects are in the second and third decade. See if you can spot the error with the map.
Asked for their thoughts on this plan and 37% said it looked good or fantastic while 42% said it looked ok. That’s a lot better but not great and it would be interesting to see how people would react and what they would want prioritised if they saw proposed strategic PT network.
The survey then asked about how to close the funding gap with the following options
- Delay or cancel some of the projects
- ‘Find’ the money by reprioritising expenditure
- Raise more money from Aucklanders/all New Zealanders
A slight majority (53%) thought Option 1 should be, or would be open to it being part of the overall solution.
Those two measures soared to 69% when asked about option 2. The AA say they asked respondents what portion of funding should Auckland get from the Government with the median response being 40%. This was also after explaining the size of Auckland’s population, GDP, vehicle kilometres travelled (VKT) and the expected size of the coming population growth
The third option of just raising more money was also positively supported with 58% saying yes or maybe to it. But the AA drilled deeper on this question, asking for options on another three options:
- Auckland property rates increase (if you rent, assume an equivalent increase in your rent)
- a regional fuel tax
- a motorway user toll
For option 1, 69% said they were opposed and of those that were prepared to pay more via rates, the median amount they’d be willing to contribute was $100.
Option 2 was better supported with 51% saying yes or maybe to the idea of a fuel tax with just 5c per litre being the amount respondents were prepared to look at paying.
The trend continued with Option 3 and 61% said yes or maybe to the idea of motorway tolling. This is interesting as ATAP talks about road pricing across the entire road network, not just a motorway toll. Even so, AA say the median amount people were prepared was $2 per trip. That motorway tolling came out on top suggests attitudes towards the idea are rapidly changing over this issue rapidly, all the more reason to get on with it.
Next the AA asked for thoughts on the Council’s Interim Transport Levy which was brought in as a way to bolster transport funding. As mentioned, the levy was only ever meant to be a temporary 3-year fund but as I suggested the other day, it seems a bit silly to replace it given we still need to find an extra $400 million a year and the levy would help in making a nice dent in that figure. It seems the survey members mostly agree and 67% said they’d be comfortable without grudgingly accept keeping it.
Lastly, they asked about selling assets and as you can see below, this was much more of a mixed bag.
All up some fairly interesting and useful results, particularly as it feels like the support for road pricing has been increasing over the last few years.
The AA, like us feel that the interim transport levy should be retained. It’s in place now and has a comparatively high level of support compared to some of the other options.
Mr Irvine says the beauty of continuing the transport levy is that, without changing anything, we would generate about $175 million of investment each year.
“That’s a big chunk of Auckland’s share of the funding gap, and we want Council to have a good look at what other options exist to make up the rest.”
What do you think of the AA’s survey and the results from it?