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.

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  1. $2.6b over 10 years is $260m a year, a little over 10% of what is routinely spent in AKL by Council and Government… Very welcome, but not revolutionary, also is this new money?

    1. It seems to be the government bridging the funding gap for ATAP, meaning it is now funded without the need for rates increases.

      Also they mention more specific announcements closer to the time, which I suspect will be about the timing of these projects.

    2. Go back and read the article, Patrick. That’s not your run-of-the-mill, garden variety $2.6 billion; it’s a “whopping” $2.6 billion.

  2. Be interested in seeing the details, but if they are committed to filling the funding gap on projects like AMETI and getting it built now I’m good with that.

  3. Why would it take 4-5 years to electrify to Pukekohe? The rest of the Auckland network only took 2 years to construct and Pukekohe is far simpler to do. Once consents are in place you would think it would only take 6 months tops to complete. Yes there is the motorway bridge to be replaced but then those are typically done in less than a year and the process could be done concurrently so 1 year tops plus maybe 6 months planning/consents.
    Does of course raise the question about the likes of Pokeno and out west to Kumeu etc Maybe they could still get a few BEMU for those services (since they wouldn’t need the same frequency as the others and could potentially just operate as shuttles back and forth (Pokeno-Papakura/Manukau).
    Then again if Labour/Greens/NZF get in they’ll probably electrify all the way to Hamilton.

    1. 6 months for consenting? Have you ever worked in any sort of planning role for a major project?

      6 moths to prepare consents and a year to process, at best. Government are ramming E-W link through as fast as possible and they won’t even have a spade in the ground within two years of getting the go ahead.

      Then we need to order parts in from Europe with a 6 month lead time, and install them, then test and certify them. That’s already 3 years and it’s best case scenario..

      1. (resource) consenting will be the easy part with these…because it wont need one unless they need to build large areas of hardstanding

        1. They will have to designate new areas as transport corridors. That is not fast. Transmission lines too. Stormwater will be a nightmare too as railbeds aren’t permeable.

    2. 8 years for Auckland’s Electrification (according to wiki). Announced in 2007 budget, contract awarded Jan 2010, construction commenced 2011, completed in Sept 2014.

      1. The difference is that KR already owns all the land for this, it’s in a rural area so no neighbours to complain. They already know what design they use and how it all works etc as this is just an extension of the existing network. Doesn’t have any of the complications of the rest of the network except one motorway overbridge (which is due to be replaced anyway). There should be no reason at all why this couldn’t be built very quickly.
        @Bryan that was building a network from scratch in an urban environment with many other factors (including funding) so it did take longer if you want to include all the initial planning stuff (a lot of which has probably already been done anyway). Also they had to work out the EMU tender etc which took a long time to get locked down etc. This extension by comparison is straightforward and easy.

        1. I’m not a construction expert, but I think 4-5 years sounds reasonable, once you allow for design, consenting, tendering, construction, and commissioning.

          Remember that the design may need to allow for new stations, e.g. Drury and Paerata, and/or changes to major highways structures, such as where SH1 crosses NIMT at Drury. I imagine design and consenting processes for new stations, especially those that involve park-and-ride are — understandably — a more involved.

  4. It’d be nice to know how much sooner than “within 10 years” Pukekohe electrification and the 3rd main might be built. Sounds like battery trains aren’t needed, so should save the ratepayer some money.
    Given the higher $100M budget for the 3rd main, it must include building with the 4th in mind.
    I wonder how much of the $835M NW busway cost might have been saved if it’d been built at the same time as the recently completed and current works. Sounds like a huge amount of money for 2 surface lanes.

    1. A busway from the city to Westgate is going to cost more than that now. Would love to see how much of NW that price covers.

  5. I think this is a chicken shit feed out and out sop to appease the Auckland voters.

    You’d be mad to see this as anything but a vague “one day we might” promise, none of these projects are spade ready, so will not have to be funded or started this election cycle [i.e. before the 2020 election].

    The money will just be re-allocations of money from other projects, but the big ones like the Holiday Highway and East-West will be going ahead anyway regardless and draining the little remaining funds in the NTLF as fast as possible, so these projects won’t even get a look in until those projects finish.

    And yes AT should still put a deposit down on more trains, they can easily change the type from BEMU to EMU I am sure, but even so BEMUs will be useful for trains out west.

    I am dead sure that if National are voted out, then all this and more will get done by the incoming government anyway, by re-prioritising East/West and the Holiday Highway down the list and accelerating these projects.

    If National stay in then they will still steam ahead with the HH and East/West and these projects will simply sit on the backburner like they are now. Maybe they’d even try and dust them off in 2020 for a second go-round?

    So you’d be a fool to take them at their word given their actions to date speak a lot louder than these words.

      1. I wish newspapers would grow some balls and rephrase that to “But projects in the package had been announced already, which Labour were quick to point out. Labour also stated that “crucially, there is no mention of light rail to the airport””

        This changes the meaning significantly from the incorrect ‘Labour are slinging mud’ to the correct ‘Labour are pointing out a lie’.

  6. My guess is they are trying to make transport a non issue for just enough voters by throwing in a bit of PT wash.

  7. How are the 10 new bridges project that National PROMISED in the far North, in the last bye-election, which National PROMISED would happen, and were definitely NOT an election bribe?
    Have any / some / all of those appeared?
    Been Started?
    Vanished without trace?
    Can anyone trust a National party pledge ?

    1. One of them requires an ancient Kauri tree to be removed and a number of others have ridiculously low volumes. A few of them are sensible, but it will go down as one of the more absurd and panicked by-election promises.

      1. I’ll admit that the building of the Northland bridges lies outside my knowledge and expertise but honestly, if the widening of a rural road bridge requires felling an ancient kauri then I’m siding with the tree. Bugger the bridge!

        1. That’s on the road through the Waipoua forest, where Tane Mahuta lives. It’s pretty picturesque as is, the road is incredibly windy and thus not up for high speeds in the first place, and the traffic volumes are loooow. So I would be very annoyed if they actually built it.

    2. If the asset sales weren’t sabotaged by Labour and the Greens (resulting in a loss of $1 Billion +) those projects along with many others would probably be finished by now.

    3. Maybe they’re waiting for overseas workers to arrive before they can be started.
      Apparently, not one person out of 128,000 unemployed can lift a shovel.

  8. There is nothing that stops any government proceeding with the mooted projects concurrently / alongside those already underway. They just need to borrow some money which is the prudent way to fund capital projects anyway.
    I’m pretty sure there has never been a government who kept all its pre-election promises.
    Need to separate out the politicking from any realities. All the main parties comments today have ben made with full attention on how they will play to the electorate.
    Am I happy with the face of PT developments in Akl – hell no, but successive Labour govts did cock all too.

      1. True – to an extent. My comment was in response to previous posts about lack or reallocation of funds.
        Historically, although not for decades, NZ outsourced large infrastructure projects to overseas suppliers – although I take your point availability of subcontractors would be a constraint.
        However has been pointed out no sod is going to be turned for a wee while so there is time to gear up

    1. “but successive Labour govts did cock all too.”

      Do you remember when Labour didn’t build Britomart, the Northern Busway, and DART in their last term, in an era when PT was almost universally loathed in Auckland?

      1. yeah and I remember Central government complaining about the cost of those propositions too – although Britomart process began well before Labour took power. Funny I also seem to remember Labour selling the Railways and closing down lots of lines.

        I didn’t want to start a pissing comp. My points were – all govts lie especially during an election and anything that promotes/speeds up much needed infrastructure has to be good but some can’t help but see negatives because of their political prejudices

        1. Britomart didn’t really get underway until the Labour government was in office under Helen Clark (1999). Prior to that, a grandiose property-development scheme was proposed for Britomart but this fell over. It was Auckland City Council that bought the old Post Office building to use for a transport centre (1995), and Auckland mayor Christine Fletcher (admittedly a former National MP) who was instrumental in getting Britomart underway.

          Also Labour DID NOT “sell the railways or close down lots of lines”. The sale happened in 1993 under the Bolger (National) government, and most of the line closures with the exception of Rotorua have happened more recently under the present National government. It was Labour that bought back the railway in 2008, a move opposed by National who fortunately were not in government at the time.

          Kevin, please check your history before spreading untruths.

        2. this government has seen more km of railway line closed/mothballed than any in history, napier -gisb and stratford – okahukura is somewhere in the order of 350km worth.

      2. I remember none of those things happened as you describe.

        But I remember some of these things like:

        Labour did buy Snappers system and didn’t buy a integrated ticketing system from some French company no ones ever heard of, unlike Snapper which everyone in Wellington had.

        Labour didn’t buy back KR off Toll Holdings to get the tracks back under proper management when the rail system needed it.

        Nor did they stop Air NZ from going belly up when Ansett did when it was very, very likely it would too.

        Nor did they rebuild Auckland bus services from almost nothing after National didn’t forceably sell these all off.

        And that wasn’t too much after National didn’t force all the power companies to split into lines and power companies either ‘cos power prices weren’t rising fast enough.

        And of course, I remember when National didn’t promise no new taxes.
        And then I remember when they stuck to that promise and didn’t put the existing GST Tax rate up.

        1. I can remember Labour selling 17 state assets including Telecom, NZ Steel, Air New Zealand, Post Office, Petrocorp and State Insurance among them.

        2. Your point being?

          That a Labour versus National asset sales pissing contest will show Labour was worse at selling stuff off? Over what timeframe?

          Many of the 17 sales you allude to were “dead men walking” due to all sorts of reasons, political meddling being the usual culprit.

          And in any case not every State owned asset needs to be kept that way.

          NZ Steel, PetroCorp and State Insurance, Government Printing Office were obvious ones to sell off. Their job/rationale for existing as a State owned asset was past its use by date.

          Telecom, Air NZ, BNZ and the Post Office mail part not the Savings Bank, The NZ Railways tracks and rights of way.

          All strategic assets Government should have kept control over [control mind, not necessarily ownership].

          Just as they do keep control over the Electricity markets – even still.

          In fact while Labour sold off the Post Office Savings Bank [to ANZ], we now have State owned KiwiBank as its logical successor.

  9. Ummm, a lot of negative comments. I am not pro national but I am happy with the cross party realisation the PT is important for Auckland.

    I would like to thank the blog from raising PT awareness so political parties can not ignore it.

    There has been some very important wins for Auckland PT this year, including:
    1. CRL being funded
    2. Number of great cycleways being built.
    3. Intergrated ticketing and new bus network
    4. New otahuhu station/bus interchange
    5. Manukau bus station being built
    6. NCI with busway/cycyleway to Albany
    7. More trains being built
    8. 2 new train stations announced
    9. More funding for AMETI
    10. 3rd Main truck track
    11. New urban cycle fund (at least hinted at) and skypath to be free.
    12. NW busway annouced
    13. Amazing growth in PT numbers

    Perhaps it is worth while to take some time to focus on the positive. This is the best year for PT in Auckland.

    Congratulations and thank you to the work done by Greater Auckland blog, talking southern AUCKLAND, campaign for better transport, generation zero and others like them.

    1. Nice bit of Jacindalising there, but “best year” for PT could have been even better. Or we could have had “best years” instead.

      If I have to focus on the positive, it’s that National didn’t completely starve PT because they needed to keep it alive for their own PR purposes. Kinda like feeding a few of the concentration camp inmates properly so they can be your servants.

    2. Maybe Best PT Year ever in your opinion, problem is the rest of us know that its about 7 years too f*cking late..

      We should have had all these projects underway years ago.

      1. 7 years ago the PT demand was not there. I agree with u that CRL has been delayed but this government. It should have been up and running by 2020.

        I guess u could have argued that it is 37 years to late. It should have been built in Robbie time.

        Auckland PT is full of miss opportunities like vector offer to widen the power tunnel for trains or light rail built in conjunction with Britomart down queen street.

        For me PT has only really improved since 2010. So this has been the best year so far.

        Could it be better. Yes. Perhaps labour/greens have a better PT vision (we will find out on Sunday). But even national is making some attempt to improve things. I am surprise that offered so much when for the last 10 years they wanted PT to go away.

        1. If you don’t build it they can’t come.

          We had pretty good PT demand leading up to 2011 Rugby World cup [7 years ago].
          We should have been spring boarding off that even to ensure we had the right PT projects underway to revamp all our PT offerings.

          Just like what is being suggested we do for waterfront by using the next Americas cup to catalyse these projects in time and space.

          We didn’t have electric trains in 2011 ‘cos National decided to take time off to review the whole contract including the electrification and double tracking when they took power in 2008.

          They couldn’t can the double tracking, [too late] but they went as slow as they could on electrification and electric trains. Maybe we got a slightly better outcome as a result, but we lost 5 years of real transformation in the process.

          As for HOP, if it wasn’t for Joyce [then Brownlee] sticking their oar in [as requested by Infratil] over denial of Snapper and the rollout of the new network design via PTOM law change delays we’d have those in and fully bedded down years before they did in fact happen. And they’re a real johnny come lately to cycling projects as well.

          And more unforgiveable to all the above: they canned the fuel tax too, which would have helped pay for all these projects to have started sooner [especially CRL].

          Looking back on Nationals reign, its clear it has squandered and/or delayed just about every opportunity to do with fixing PT and then some. While advancing the dubious RoNS philosophy which is this Governments Think Big.

          History will not judge the current National Government very well.

        2. I don’t think history would judge any government up until now in terms of Auckland PT and urban issues in general. The current govt dragged the chain on funding CRL just as the previous govt dragged the chain on funding DART and electrification, and many governments before dragged the chain on anything at all.

          The reality is most movements have come as a result of local government vision and persistence and inevitability.

          You are right though that history will not judge the current govt well in relation to the excessive spending on RoNs, but that of course stole money from other roads as well as urban PT.

        1. “And where should the money come from to fund those projects?
          Welfare budget perhaps?”

          Yep, from the Corporate Welfare Budget
          [For all those Road Builders, the Road Transport Operators, the NZ Buses of this world to name a few] who collectively helped Joyce and Brownlee determine that a roads first policies is the only Transport policy needed who have done very very handsomely for themselves in the process?

          Most definitely.

          And if National left the already to go Fuel Tax alone, Auckland would have plenty of funds to kick start these projects using the fuel taxes to fund the projects.

  10. lower our standards… our roads do not need to be the quality they are.. in UK the roads are junk they manage… make roads more narrow …. stupid projects they should just do light rail to airport instead of this listed…. western just make shoulder lanes for bus – done :-)))) but they got my vote 🙂

    1. We can’t do that, the AUSTROADS standards simply won’t allow us to build roads like that anymore.

      If we go down that path whats next? Cats & Dogs lying down together!?

  11. As recently as yesterday Maggie Barry was talking about the need for a second road harbour crossing because the bridge is “rather congested.” For such an articulate woman this is a particularly inarticulate remark. The truth is it isn’t congested and is becoming less so and therefore a nebulous comment about rather congested is the closest she can come to the truth without it being a bald faced lie.

    Barry might be better advised to focus on her conservation portfolio where the most notable success that this government has had is conserving the plastic supermarket bag.

    1. I have spoken to Maggie Barry re transport on two occasions and am convinced she doesn’t understand anything about how an efficient city works in the modern era. The North Shore electorate would be better served by a more enlightened Member of Parliament.

  12. AT stated in their announcement about battery EMUs that they could be re-deployed to Huapai at a later date. It was a key part of their announcement that they highlighted, but your report on the announcement made no mention of that, which I assume was intentional.

    Personally I’m against battery EMUs as it would be cheaper and more flexible to do what every other rail-centric city on the planet does and have a fleet of modern outer-urban DMUs to extend services beyond the core electrified network. In Auckland’s case to Helensville, Waiuku and Te Kauwhata and beyond.

    1. It was mentioned that to get to Huapai it would need modifications to the EMUs to allow them through the tunnel, specifically to allow egress via the front window of the cab. As a comparison, services south of Pukekohe don’t need any modifications and so are more likely to happen. As for diesels, AT have said many times they only want a single fleet for easier and cheaper maintenance, something you’ve support when Kiwirail doing to de-electrify the NIMT.

  13. 2.6 billion, a big number but why does it sound just so unconvincing? Maybe its the 10 years or as others have said its still moar roads with what looks like a PT wash thrown in to fool some of the voters.
    Sorry Simon but your time is up, that EW link 1.9 BCR lie has caught up on you. You could have achieved so much as Transport Minister, PT in Auckland is crying out for investment, people want and use it, instead you fawned to that bufoon Browlee’s opinion that nobody wants PT especially rail. You listened only to the tarmackers, approved silly roading schemes while ignoring low cost and simple to implement measures to reduce congestion.
    Shame on you, too little too late you now promise

  14. I am a little underwhelm with labour transport policy. I would have thought NW busway would have snuck in.
    With petrol taxes and bonds perhaps it makes for more sustainable long term development. But I would to see more details about those things

    1. Looks like they are going for the NW light rail option so why bother with an NW busway as either option will take a few years and similar $ to complete.
      Of more immediate use to help ease NW commuter traffic would have been a sorting out of the Waitakere tunnel and doing something with BEMUs to extend rail to Huapai

      1. And far better than that would be a temporary station at Te Atatu and Lincoln Roads to get a busway service started in the meantime.

        1. Looks like a good idea, bus stations with P&R, K&R, done in a few months. I just wish there was some way to get even a single dedicated bus lane from Lincoln Rd to TeAtatu to somewhere nearer city.

        2. In the very short term, even just a simple bus stop at the Te Atatu and Lincoln Rd on ramps. The bus could exit the motorway and enter again at simply stop on the on ramp near the intersection.

  15. “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.” as well as Pokeno couldn’t they run trains huapai and hellinsville’s way much of the infrastructure is in place and only needs an update and you could see rail services running to a district that is and will be rich in growth over the next 20 years

  16. Light rail from Wynyard according to Labour.
    How do you get from Britomart or the Ferry Terminal to Wynyard?

  17. All I will say is well done Labour. A next generation prime ministerial candidate with a next generation bold solution for Auckland’s future.

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