Transport policies typically play a leading role in local government elections but don’t tend to be as important in central government ones. Instead topics like the economy, health, education and more recently climate/environment play a much larger role. But of course a party’s transport policies can often be a major lever in how successful they might be in achieving those other goals.
So, with the election is now just a few days away, here’s a quick of a recap of the key transport policies of parties, with an Auckland focus of course. To keep things manageable and with some order, I’m only including in here parties that are currently in government or likely to get in based on the polling that’s been around. Those polls have also been fairly consistent in the order of the parties so I’ll use that too.
This election Labour don’t really have a dedicated transport policy, instead they’re mostly just pointing to the stuff they’re already doing. That means the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport 2021-24 that was confirmed in September – we wrote about the draft here and the final version is largely unchanged. This continues/builds on the 2018-21 GPS and sees more focus put on safety, public transport and climate impacts. However, as we’ve seen, it will need more than just some nice words to make it a reality
- The Northern Pathway (incl Skypath)
- The third main between Otahuhu and Puhinui
- Rail electrification to Pukekohe
- A few new stations between Papakura and Pukekohe
- Widening SH1 from Papakura to Drury
- Mill Rd
- Northwest Bus improvements
- Te Whau Pathway
Labour have made no specific mention of Light Rail/Metro in their policy however it is still there in the documents and we can expect that will be pushed again and Transport Minister Phil Twyford has confirmed they will pursue a Light Metro option. We can only hope that doesn’t mean getting involved with the Superfund and CDPQ again.
A few of their other policies will play a part here including their plans to reform the Resource Management Act and for electric buses, although as I pointed out last week, they need to bring the timeframes of this forward.
National have gone for big, backwards and unaffordable for the core of their transport policy once again promising hugely expensive four lane highways all over the country as part of an infrastructure splurge. Though much of what they announced is somewhat disingenuous with large parts of it more than a decade away and uncosted.
In Auckland they’re promising to bring back the ‘most expensive road in the world‘ per km, the East West Link and are promising to start work on a new harbour crossing by 2028 as combined road/rail tunnels. Again there’s also a bit of trickery going on here with only the first part of the funding for it included in their plans.
One positive is National are now promising a raft of rapid transport projects including going for a fourth main, extending electrification further south as far as Pokeno and a Northwest Busway. But they’ve had had a “blast from the past” approach to some projects having included a bunch of legacy and since superseded ones. This includes now supporting projects such as a heavy rail spur to the Airport, even though we’re already building Puhinui and the first stages of bus priority. They’ve also stated they’ll cancel light rail and instead build a busway down Dominion Rd
Finally, National have hinted that they’ll also look to cancel the Skypath if elected and like Labour, want to reform the RMA in a similar way.
ACT don’t seem to have any specific transport policy but they do have a policy titled Local Infrastructure Reform which would apply and has some merit to it.
They say they’d create “a system of 30-year infrastructure partnerships between regional and central government“. Those partnerships would come up with a prioritised list of agreed projects and it seems there would be a form of bulk funding, combined with other funding sources like rates, which the region would use to deliver to deliver their plans. They say the government’s role would then focus on “assessing the performance of these infrastructure partnerships against pre-determined and agreed metrics, like population growth, road fatality rates, and congestion levels“.
Essentially this sounds like souped-up versions of the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) which would not be a bad thing. Though given how much work goes into ATAP, delivering these for every region would be no small task, let alone doing them all in an electoral cycle. They also say the regional partnerships could be more than just a single region and give the example of combining transport plans for say Auckland, the Waikato and the Bay of Plenty as a single partnership.
Being ACT, there’s also a desire to get private investors to help pay for projects. Given our existing experience with that *cough* e.g. Transmission Gully *cough*, it’s hard to see how this would work in reality.
The Greens have put out what I think is quite a good policy. For a starter it still appears they’re using our Congestion Free Network as the basis for their plans however one major difference this time they’re looking to split up the delivery into two stages. The first stage focuses the next electoral term and would see interim solutions, like those planned for the Northwest, on all rapid transit routes meaning that the entire network is in place in some form in time for the City Rail Link in 2024. The next three years would also be spent preparing for Stage Two which would look to see the more permanent solutions being rolled out.
They also say they still prefer street level light rail but with a more optimised solution. The support for street level light rail is because it is cheaper than metro solutions meaning we can deliver more of the network for the same comparable budget.
Like National they also propose starting a new harbour crossing before 2030 but their version would be light rail only.
As well as the PT policy, the Greens want to create a huge $1.5 billion fund for cycling super-highways around the country and in Auckland that would likely include routes alongside or nearby our major rapid transit lines and motorways.
On top of this there are some other policies which would impact Auckland such as their plans for free and discounted travel for a range for certain age and income groups and setting fare caps. There is also their regional rail plans.
New Zealand First’s transport policy doesn’t include a lot of detail and much of what is included are broad statements such as not allowing our “roads to be privatised or corporatized”. I assume that means a no to road pricing.
The only Auckland specific policy is, like National, to build a heavy rail spur from Puhinui to the Airport.
That’s just a quick recap so in most cases follow the links for more details. And if you haven’t already, make sure you get out and vote.