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.


Labour

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

In addition their policy also includes the projects announced as part of their NZ Upgrade Programme and those as part of the COVID response shovel ready projects. Combined these projects include:

  • 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
  • Penlink
  • Northwest Bus improvements
  • Te Whau Pathway
The Northern Pathway (aka Skypath)

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

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

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.

Greens

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.


NZ First

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.

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38 comments

  1. If Labour do go with the metro option and it is mostly underground in the isthmus. Then the build should start in Mangere, which will likely be above ground.

    This has the benefit of being a faster start. A complete network connection between A2B and the rail network at Onehunga.

    Underground works will take a long time. Mangere shouldn’t have to wait for the network to build out.

    1. Gotta love the Nats. I feel like they’re super close to getting the need for transport, but still stuck in the dark about modes. Yes, we need another crossing, but it doesn’t need to be a car and heavy rail tunnel. Yes, we need rapid transit on key corridors, but busways are just as space intensive as light rail and shift half as many people. They’ve come a long way but they’ve still got a long way to go. At some point their construction industry donors will figure out that it’s all megaprojects no matter what they choose and the mode basically doesn’t matter. Until we get there, we’re going to be stuck having the same argument while the governing parties flounder and nothing gets done.

      1. I’m pretty sure that it isn’t “construction industry donors” they’re trying to appease, it’s land owners and subdivision developer donors. Notice how all the Roads of National Significance have led to massive urban sprawl by way of new subdivisions.

        1. Totally agree..however sadly Labour aren’t much better with Twyford spending loads upgrading everything that moves around Drury for his newly proposed Twyfordville and the developers that ensue.

          Real happy with what Greens put out, hoping they have some skin in the game come next week, Transport wise.

        2. I think I’ve figured it out. National’s key base support is from the farmers, hence they always get the rural vote. And farmers need truck and trailers right to the gate, whether sheep or cattle or kiwifruit. So the road lobby is a given, an ideal support party. Not sure how much support National have in the cities (according to the voting maps, not much) except for the very rich suburbs. St Helier’s for instance, and Takapuna, I’m presuming would bleed rather blue…

        3. I bet all those urban National places like Taka are turning to ACT, hence the bump in their supporter base.

    2. Given the low frequency of services at Onehunga, running frequent buses from Mangere, Favona etc to the closest station on the Southern line would probably offer a superior service and be much, much cheaper.

      1. Massey road and the rail over bridge is badly congested. Probably Middlemore or Papatoetoe would be easier and quicker or send buses to the Western side of Otahuhu. That would avoid a lot of traffic. We talked about a rail route through there to the airport before the light rail plan came along.

  2. Will the policies of any of the parties reduce transport emissions by 10% next year and then a further 10% each year? Will we meet our Paris commitments? Does not look likely to me even if they actually implement the best policies. And no party seems to have a policy about decarbonising aviation. Why are they not discussing options such as Power to Fuel? But that would need Tiwai point power and probably a lot more renewables.

  3. Interesting to see this line in the Labour manifesto using “light rail” when Twyford keeps talking about “light metro”…

    “Labour will build a light rail connection from the City centre to Māngere and the airport following the receipt of advice from the Ministry of Transport.” (Page 19)

    1. Yes I almost feel like Twyford can’t palate the term light rail so refers to it as light metro even when their only policy states they progress light rail to Mangere – not the extremely long time frame now however, in 2016 they promised to have it out to Mt Roskill by 2020, now they simply say they’ll make a start on it within 10 years and expect Auckland Council to pay for half–in comparison all the lavish freeways get fully government funded.

      1. “He seems to use the term interchangeably in interviews too.”

        Ah the consummate politician, “you’re both right!”

    2. Labour is still calling it light rail to confuse the public, they don’t want anyone asking how much Twyfords metro scheme is going to cost, how long it will be under construction, and how many communities and village centres get bulldozed to build it.

      (The answers are ten to twenty billion, ten to twenty years, and ten to twenty communities).

    3. In Priyanca’s Labour pamphlet we received in Maungakiekie electorate, it clearly states they will build Metro rail. Seems like they don’t know what they want to build.

  4. Re National: “They’ve also stated they’ll cancel light rail and instead build a busway down Dominion Rd” – to be fair, isn’t that what Labour have done also? Labour/Greens/Twyford have so severely stuffed up on the Dominion Road issue that it seems likely that all we will ever have now is buses down Dominion Road.

  5. IMO,National policy can be discounted,they will have a different idea in three years time.Probably the ideal, is that the Greens have some influence on Labour’s transport policy,would also like to see ACT support projects they fundamentally agree with . Looking for Utopia,but getting the best result,will require politics to be pushed aside,forever hopeful

  6. I’m hoping Julie Anne Genter gets the Transport portfolio. She seems a lot more competent than Twyford, and if even half of the Green projects get going our network will look a lot better in 10 years time

      1. She’ll undoubtedly get in, it’s whether the Greens are needed to make a majority or not that determines they seats at the cabinet table.

  7. Another year goes by with an embarrassingly bad central city InterCity bus depot. Perhaps that could fixed as part of a forward looking transport policy.

  8. damm, I wish it wasn’t the greens that had the most sensical transport policy. There are a few deal breakers with the rest of their policies and morals that I just cant bring myself to vote for.

    1. +1 their transport policies make quite a lot of sense generally, however almost the rest of their policies are straight out of the identity politics woke looney bin!

      1. Totally agree. Couldn’t vote for them with clear conscience. However if they get into government I hope they will get transport portfolio from hopeless Phil…

        1. This would really be a great outcome. I don’t know if any of them read the blog, but taking Light Rail off Twyford and giving it to the Greens to get it back to AT spec would be a fantastic result. I’m no Green voter, but they’re really our best shot at getting a sensible transport system across the region.

      1. a) anti gmo. Out of principle. Its basically anti-science at this point. I could kind of get waiting a decade to see if any issues arose, but there haven’t been any (to do with the science, not a stupid business model)
        b) Their take on the ETS, its a really light statement in their policy statement. But they want to repeal it completely and have a much more tight governmental control on a direct carbon tax / budget is the implication. I get that the ETS has its issues (which could be resolved), but a govt price setting deal is a bad idea. NZ needs to reduce carbon, but it doesn’t have to absolutely nuke the economy. I believe they want more tight control because it will ensure everyone will pay the same price (rather than a more progressive approach)
        c) their social policies. Not really a topic for a transport blog. And I agree that more should be spent, or at least a better model eg TOP. But I disagree with some of their messaging and how far such policy should go.
        d) I have serious ties to the farming industry. Their policies I think aren’t based on good science and models, and seem to be trying to indirectly change stuff in the industry through unusual and kind of punitive means. Eg a specific flat tax of different types of fertiliser. No measuring the harm and taxing based on that, just a blanket tax on it all. They really promote “regenerative” agriculture but at this point its like the “AI” of farming. Total buzzword that most people implement most of anyway.
        e) their continued support of GWP 100 as the main measuring stick of greenhouse gas emissions. It allows a serious discount of direct c02 emissions that is paid for by short lived greenhouse gasses.

        Woke and looney is another annoying set of labels that dont help anyone.

        1. Ah a TOP perfectionist. Enjoy never implementing or influencing with a single one of your thoughts. Perfectionism is a hopeless ideal in politics (which is, by definition, a social and therefore compromising business). It truly is the art of the possible. You can stay pure, and have no effect on anything, or pick an approximate but viable pony in the race, and have some influence.

          Hell, you could even join and have a go at persuading a party to use your superior insight!

          Is any Party perfect in every detail, nope. Do I agree with everything the Greens campaign on? Will they ever be able to implement them all? No. Are they, in general, an improving influence? Yes. Better than the alternatives? Yes.

        2. I never said I was voting for TOP, just implying that their policies are a lot better alternative to greens on some key areas. I think that the “they’ll never get in so its a waste of time” is a stupid argument. For example you can make the same argument about heaps of stuff. Why should NZ even bother trying to decrease emissions? We will have a negligible effect on the global temperature and are essentially totally reliant on the much larger emitters. If they get to 4% this time (Which is a stretch) perhaps people will take more notice next time. Maybe other parties will take a look that people are voting for them and lean in their direction. I believe many other minor parties have been sitting around that level before for ages.

      2. I have a fantasy where we get to vote parties and politicians to specific portfolios, rather than government as a whole. It is a shame having to pick out the best on the whole, with a few dead rats to swallow.

        1. Yeah I agree, or something similar, like a Board or a commitee. Well just do away with ‘politics’ as a whole really, but hey ho never gonna happen!

    1. Yes. Problem is that National never re-examine their policy positions (“Am I out of touch? No it’s the voters who are wrong.”) so expect them to run on the same transport policy in 2023.

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