This is a guest post from the Office of the Mayor of Auckland.
Consultation on Auckland Council’s proposed Annual Budget for 2022/23 opened on 28 February and runs until 28 March.
The centrepiece of the budget is a proposal for a Climate Action Package that, with co-funding from the government, would allocate more than $1 billion over the next 10 years for a range of initiatives to reduce emissions and the impact of climate change. These initiatives would be funded by a proposed Climate Action Targeted Rate (CATR) of around $1.12 per week for the median-value residential property.
This proposal follows Auckland Council’s unanimous declaration of a climate emergency in 2019 and adoption of Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Plan in 2020. While progress on climate action has been made, we are not yet on track to meet our emissions reduction targets. The CATR will lay the foundation for significant changes that we need to avert a climate disaster. As the United Nations warned in its latest International Panel on Climate Change report, climate change is a “threat to human wellbeing and the health of the planet” and urgent action that cannot be delayed is needed to stop its effects becoming catastrophic.
Public transport improvements
If supported by councillors later this year, the CATR would see more than $600 million invested in 10 new frequent bus routes and 69 improved bus routes, as well as 79 additional electric or hydrogen buses. This will result in improved bus services for more than 1 million Aucklanders and bring 170,000 more people within 500m of a frequent bus route (see below for more details).
A total of $122 million will be spent to replace Auckland’s aging diesel ferries with low-emissions vessels, important as ferries currently contribute 21 per cent of total public transport emissions.
Cycling and walking
Cycling and walking would benefit from a $228 million investment in new infrastructure and improvements or extensions to existing routes, making Auckland’s streets safer for kids to walk or cycle to school. The cycling investment will be focused on completing key links in the separated cycling network, including connections to schools and jobs in the North Shore, Manurewa, Onehunga, Hobsonville and New Lynn.
The cycling investment would deliver at least 18km of new separated cycleways, plus a full local area network in New Lynn. The local area network will include safe local cycling connections intended to transform streets to be more attractive for cycling. The exact interventions for the local area network will include measures such as traffic calming to reduce speeds and volumes of traffic, separated cycle facilities, intersection upgrades and supporting measures to support uptake of cycling.
The projects in this package will link up currently disconnected parts of the cycling network. This will deliver better value for money by attracting a high number of users to support the emissions reduction and climate change goals of the CATR.
The walking investment will for the first time ensure a dedicated budget is available to improve the experience of people walking around our suburbs and town centres. The focus of this investment programme is on walking for transport for short journeys (less than 2km). It aims to improve safety, access, and support the transition to a low-emissions and climate-resilient Auckland. The funding would allow more pedestrian crossings, improved street lighting, a higher standard of footpath maintenance and improved access for people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds.
To green the city and reduce the impact of high temperatures, around 15,000 large native trees (between 1m and 1.5m tall) will be planted on streets and in parks, playgrounds and road reserves. Thousands more trees and plants will be planted in other areas such as bush remnants. Our planting programme will focus on low-income areas that currently have lower tree canopy coverage and limited protection against the heat. Focus areas for tree planting include Māngere-Ōtāhuhu (8 per cent coverage), Ōtara-Papatoetoe (10 per cent) and Maungakiekie-Tāmaki (12 per cent).
Bus improvements—detailed information
The principles for allocating funding in the Climate Action Package are simple. Initiatives must reduce emissions, have wide regional benefit, address inequality, and start fast. As a result, improving and extending bus services in south and west Auckland—which currently have significantly lower levels of access to public transport—are key priorities. However, all parts of Auckland receive improved services.
The maps in this section include a large amount of information, which is summarised in the key below.
In the south the key improvements are:
- Brand new frequent route 37, linking Highbrook, Ōtara (Preston Rd), Puhinui Interchange (connects with trains and Airport Link), Roscommon Rd, Clendon & Manurewa
- New frequent route 39 linking Ōtara North, Papatoetoe East, Manukau, SuperClinic, Clendon & Manurewa (current 361)
- Extension of services to Ihumatao, also serving Airport employment areas which don’t currently have bus services
- Extra services on Route’s 31, 33 & other local routes in Ōtāhuhu, Manurewa and Māngere.
- New bus services to the NZUP funded Drury, Drury West & Paerata railway stations.
- New routes linking Clark’s Beach to Papakura & Drury South to Drury.
In west Auckland the key improvements proposed are:
- A new frequent route 15 linking New Lynn & Henderson via Glen Eden (current 154)
- A new frequent route 17 linking New Lynn, Titirangi & Glen Eden (current 170)
- Service improvements to local routes in Glen Eden, Ranui, Sunnyvale & South Lynn
- Further improvements to routes planned to serve the North West bus improvements including the WX1 (Westgate to City express via Lincoln & Te Atatu stops) & Route 12 (Henderson to Constellation) & Route 13 (Henderson to Te Atatu Peninsula)
In the East all routes gain some level of improvement, with every route upgraded to at least connector level which means they operate every 30 minutes from the early morning until the late evening, 7 days per week.
On the North Shore, the key improvements are as follows:
- Frequent service on the NX1 will be extended as far as Hibiscus Coast station
- Improved services for 2 frequent routes & 9 other routes.
- The maps also show already planned improvements including upgrading the 814 between Devonport & Akoranga & the 120 between Henderson & Constellation station, new services supporting the new Rosedale station & more services on routes around Rodney serving Warkworth and surrounding areas.
On the central Isthmus the key improvements are:
- A new frequent route 67 linking New Lynn & Onehunga via Mount Roskill (current 670)
- A new frequent route 74 linking Onehunga, Sylvia Park & Panmure & Glen Innes (current 743)
- A new frequent route 76 linking Glen Innes, Kepa Road, Orakei & Wynyard Quarter (current 762)
- Improvements to off-peak on key corridors to city centre such as 22 New North Rd, 24 Sandringham Rd, 25 Dominion Rd, 27 Mt Eden Rd, 30 Manukau Rd & 75 Remuera Rd
If you want to see the full detail or zoom in on your area, check out the full network map online here.
Once public submissions close, councillors will review feedback from members of the public, interest groups and others before debating the proposed budget in workshops and meetings later this year to decide whether to support the budget and the Climate Action Package at a meeting in June.
Public feedback will be important in determining if the CATR goes ahead. There will be organised efforts to defeat the rate by those who think that reducing the future catastrophic effects of climate change is less important than ratepayers saving an average of $1.12 a week (for the median-value property worth more than $1 million).
That’s why it’s important that we hear a range of views from Aucklanders and from Greater Auckland readers on the importance of climate change action.
The CATR is a necessary step towards further action, not a silver-bullet solution. Future councils will need to build on the initiatives in the CATR. However, we need to take this action now. Every day we delay, the worse the climate crisis will become and the costlier and more difficult it will be to resolve.
Visit akhaveyoursay.nz/budget to read the full proposal and have your say.