The government have revealed their election promises for transport in Auckland. By in large most it seems positive, in that most of what they’re promising are projects we’ve been supportive of for years and will greatly support PT in Auckland. I think it also represents how much the discussion in NZ has shifted over the last 10-20 years in that we’re likely to have all major parties having come to realise, or at least accept, that significant investment in PT is needed and popular with voters.
The biggest issue is just how long it’s taken the government to come to this realisation and as such have missed key opportunities, such as with the NW Busway. Here’s what they’ve promised.
National has come up with a whopping $2.6 billion election transport package for Auckland that includes a new highway alongside the Southern Motorway for $955 million and a Northwestern Busway costing $835m.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges was forced to reveal details of the package last night after parts of it were obtained by the Herald.
The package also provides $615m for the Ameti transport project in southeast Auckland, $130m to electrify rail from Papakura to Pukekohe and about $100m for a third track on the busy freight and passenger rail line between Westfield and Wiri.
Bridges said all of the projects, except the Mill Rd highway from Manukau to Drury, would be completed within 10 years.
Here are a few quick thoughts I’ve had
- The key question is really just how much faster these projects will be built as a result of this announcement. Projects like the NW busway still have to go through a full consenting process so could be years from any construction actually started.
- What impact will electrifying to Pukekohe have on the council’s just agreed plan to buy battery powered trains. We know from the business case for those that stringing up the wires will take 4-5 years meaning it could be finished in around 2022 if they get started soon. That might only be 1-2 years after the battery trains are meant to start running. Is it now worth it for AT to use the money to just buy more normal trains in advance of the CRL, a quick calculation suggests they could get an additional 6 units for that price but then it wouldn’t allow for extension of services to Pokeno etc.
- Why does the government remain silent on ‘mass transit’ on the isthmus and to the airport.
- The business case for the third main suggests that it would cost $65-80 million to complete. Does this suggest they’re going to build parts of the forth main at the same time, it would certainly make sense to.
- How are these projects being funded, are they coming from the National Land Transport Fund or directly from government spending
- I’m glad there hasn’t been any really stupid projects included in the list like some of the speculation had suggested, projects such as a new road crossing of the harbour. In saying that, silly projects currently on the books, like the East-West Link are still going ahead.
There’s clearly more to come on transport from the government, such as what their promises are outside of Auckland as well as whether (and how much) they’ll extend the Urban Cycleway Fund.
Labour are due to release their transport policy on Sunday so it will be interesting to see how it compares.