Some interesting and promising news yesterday about Skypath
A toll-free SkyPath at no cost to Aucklanders
“As a result of discussions with Transport Minister Simon Bridges we have the opportunity to deliver a toll-free SkyPath at no cost to Auckland ratepayers” says SkyPath Project Director Bevan Woodward.
“Earlier this year when Downer Construction withdrew from the SkyPath PPP they advised that SkyPath was too small and unique to work as a PPP. We then met with the Transport Minister Simon Bridges to discuss the issues with the proposed PPP. Whilst he wanted to see if the PPP could still be made to work, we were reassured when the Minister advised that he could fund SkyPath in the next tranche of the Government’s Urban Cycleway Program funding.”
Subsequent to Downer Construction’s withdrawal, the SkyPath Trust has also given notice that it is withdrawing from the PPP arrangement. Like Downer Construction, the Trust does not believe SkyPath is a suitable project to be delivered as a PPP.
Andy Smith, a SkyPath Trustee says “With the PPP having foundered, we see Minister Bridges’ offer to fully fund SkyPath as the best way forward. This means we can avoid both the tolling of SkyPath users and the revenue underwrite by Council’s ratepayers for the 25 year period as required by the PPP.”
“It would not be unusual for the Government to fully fund SkyPath. Given it is part of NZTA’s State Highway such an asset would ordinarily be fully funded by central Government. With the demise of the PPP we believe it is now time to allow Minister Bridges to include SkyPath in the next tranche of Urban Cycleway Program funding. From the feedback we’re getting, a toll-free SkyPath has wide support from Aucklanders.”
The government should have been funding Skypath from the start. In some ways the project was perhaps a few years ahead of it’s time as was conceived at a time when funding for cycling infrastructure was almost non-existent. That all changed with the Government’s Urban Cycleway Fund, which combined with local and NZTA contributions is seeing over $200 million invested in Auckland over three years. Some of the projects funded through the UCF, such as Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr, are expected to cost much more than Skypath will. Had Skypath not been going through the private funding process it was, it’s quite likely it would have been included too.
And making Skypath toll free is something that should definitely happen. It’s absurd that a walking and cycling path should be tolled while vehicles on the same bridge can drive across for free.
Of course, this isn’t the government announcing for it yet. To Stuff they’ve said
A spokesman for Bridges said the Government had not agreed “at this time” to fully fund the project.
“If the project is technically feasible and is supported by sound business case it could be considered for funding as part of a future Urban Cycleway Programme,” he said.
The next funding tranche would become available on July 1, 2018.
Given the project has long been considered by transport agencies the number one cycling project in Auckland, it’s hard to see it not stacking up
It’s also interesting that the government are effectively confirming that there will be another round of the Urban Cycleway Fund. This is fantastic news and hopefully it’s at least as big as the previous one ($100m). There’s certainly a lot more of Auckland, and other cities, that could do with investing in safe cycleways.