Month: November 2012

Leadership and the CRL

Stepping Up (Inadvertently) To Lead from the Front?

On A Mega-Project



It is becoming apparent that the Local Government Elections in Auckland are going to be fought over these three main topics:

  1. City Rail Link
  2. Rates and Local Service Provisions (funding local services)
  3. The Unitary Plan if The Council’s Draft Unitary Plan turns out to be a stinker


However at the moment the main focus seems to be on the City Rail Link after a leaked report from the Mayor’s Office and subsequent debate. This focus on the CRL seems to have factions drawing their line in the sand as they stand their ground on whether they are; for the CRL (in any form), against the CRL, or just plan fence-sitting (Councillor Cameron Brewer’s favourite position currently). However what is failing from our incumbent Councillors and the Mayor is actual leadership on the City Rail Link debate – which is not helping the ratepayer at all!

Let me show a long Facebook thread from Councillor George Wood on the CRL – and also to the fact I have been mentioned for the umpteenth time on this matter in the past 10 days:

  • Auckland CRL rail tunnel project funding in the spotlight. Excellent interview by Larry Williams of David Thornton No MoreRates.
    No Title (click on link for interview)

    • George Wood I hope that you have read this Treasury report Ben Ross. It goes along with what Dick Quax,Cameron Brewer and I have been saying about the lack of clarity around the current Auckland Council infrastructure budgets.
    • Simon Prast George, do you accept that the population of Auckland is going to rapidly expand?
    • Bob Murphy Not if the rates keep increasing Simon.
    • Natalie Bray-Gunn would think Bob population of Auck will increase if rates go up, peeps won,t go out at night, and to cut down on power go to bed early, leave this one up to your imagination.
      Ian Wood so the population of those too poor to leave will go up…
      • Bob Murphy If they go to bed early there could quite possibly be a rapid increase in population.
    • Bob Murphy What are you on about Natalie? Don’t understand your point.
    • Natalie Bray-Gunn why do we want to leave, we just have to get it right here, remember those on low incomes, and elderly, This is our homes our Country,
    • Bob Murphy I remember them alright Natalie, I am one of them.
      Natalie Bray-Gunn Simon said did u accept population for auck going to rapidly expand, and u said not if rates keep increasing, if people broke they stay home don,t go out, and cut down power etc, and go to bed, so then population increases so they can pay bills.
      • Natalie Bray-Gunn so am I, underpaid and overworked, and 6l, so keep on with my job, and watch people hired in my firm and paid under counter,at times, maybe they need to check out peeps from other countries and the students they hire, and up the coffers.
      • Bob Murphy You look good for 61.
    • Bob Murphy I think that the point is if the rates keep in increasing nobody will come and live in Auckland and people will move out to places where the rates and house prices are cheaper.
    • Natalie Bray-Gunn isn.t that our retirement dream, think even owning a house a full on dream for most young ones these days.
    • Natalie Bray-Gunn there are always peeps from othr countries rich enough to buy business,s and houses in Auck…
    • Bob Murphy Hence the point that Auckland is going to price itself off the market if it keeps going on like it is.
    • Natalie Bray-Gunn not Auckland , just for our kids…
    • Bob Murphy My kids have gone to Aussie.
    • Bob Murphy They are doing OK, and the weather is better when we visit them.
    • Ben Ross I would not bother paying attention to a report out of Treasury. If those Boffins can not even get commentary on the Economy correct for the last oh I don’t know 25 years then their report from their infrastructure will be just as incorrect.

      I also suspect being from Treasury it is partisan and highly political knowing Treasury’s often actual far-right tendencies. Heck Bi-Partisan does not even in their dictionary but at least it is in the USA and the Republicans know and how to act Bi-partisan.

      So political, doing as their master the Minister of Finance says or wants to hear (and dont give me that independence rot either…), can not even get the economy commentary correct, partisan, stale and unoriginal in thinking since 1987. That makes it not even worth the pdf it was saved to as a file and certainly not worth my time reading currently or in the future (I would trust a report from the IMF on our infrastructure over Treasury).

      Clutching at straws from the Centre-Right and possibly embarrassing if Council either remains Centre-Left or lurches to the Centre at next years elections.

      Least some of us don’t wait for door stops produced out of Wellington (nor from the Mayor’s Office from that matter either) and actually are conducting private unpaid research into getting the CRL going using thinking outside of the square and knowing full well getting it wrong will bankrupt the city. Private and unpaid research that will be taken into the elections next year for voters to decide…

      Bring on 2013

      And for those looking for my stance on the CRL here it is

      With this bit on funding:
      Funding wise I believe we as a city can achieve a three-way split between the Council, Central Government and the private sector. Those new stations will attract urban development and investment around them so I am pondering on leasing out air and sky rights, as well as resident and commercial development within and on-top of the stations to help generate returns for the CRL. I am aware in Tokyo such a thing happens with large malls, office and/or residential towers built above the stations by the Rail Company, thus “operated” by the rail company, leased out to the private sector by the rail company, thus generate returns on investment for the rail company! So what we need to do is be rather savvy with the planning, discussion and funding of this critical mega project – something which this current council is not (savvy that is (the word stale being operative here).

      Where I Stand on the City Rail Link   A couple of days ago I posted my stance on…See More
    • Dick Quax Auckland’s population growth is not that rapid nor is its economic growth particularly stellar. Those cities that are doing well have low taxes (rates) and plently of land available for development.
      Like · Reply ·

    • William McGrath Actually, it is growing, and looking down Queen Street at the amount of traffic from people getting to/from work and leisure on all modes of transport shows this. You can’t ignore the growing problem in our Central City forever, George and Dick. We need the CRL. We need Central Government assistance from it, and we need solid strategies for funding it. All you two do is whinge and don’t suggest anything to solve the problem at hand. If you want to get votes next year, start considering solutions. At least Len’s thinking!
      • Millie Liang Hi William. I work all around the cbd every day and from what I see and hear from property owners and retailers they are finding it tougher and tougher to survive. More and more retailers are on monthly rentals and heading to the suburbs where rents and parking is much easier. Evey city in the world has congestion problems never mind how many zillions are thrown at the problem. Look at any major city in China where they have thrown billions at it or just across to Sydney. As for more people in the city, I would suggest the 1,000 -1,600 people that walk past some of my clients retail shops is made up of international students who have no intention of buying except fast food. You just have to sit outside some Queen St shops (besides fast food outlets) and do the numbers as to whether retailers are making ends meet and wonder how long they can hold on or their leases are up for renewal. As for Council pr spin that say this area or that area after street scape/road paving upgrades has 30-40 increase in patronage, I would strongly suggest it is simply dragging customers from other areas, like High St, Aotea Sq etc prescients. Wait to the seismic upgrade of buildings in the cbd kicks in and you might find the Council offers free parking in the cbd to get people into the area to justify the millions being spent.. From just 2 yrs ago the cbd retail/office market has completely changed… There will always be people wanting cbd retail space believing they have a better product/marketing plan etc. If in fact their are more people coming into in the cbd why aren’t they spending and why are retail shops down the bottom of town vacant and retailers climbing over each other to get into Princess wharf,Wynyard Quarter. To get Britomart going the majority of retailers were/are being enticed out of High St etc leaving a vacuum.
    • Dick Quax Most of the growth is occuring in the outer suburbs not on the CBD, 87% of the employment is outside the CBD. So the solution is a more flexible PT system fit for 21st century use not 19th century technology. Just because other solutions don’t match yours don’t dismiss them out of hand.
      George Wood This latest Treasury report will be an interesting discussion tomorrow Dick.
      • Millie Liang The amount of clients I have in the cbd who want to sell their biz/assign leases before they loose everything is a worrying trend. It simply isn’t commercially viable for a large number of them.
      • Ben Ross I’ll be brief, the car is also 19th century technology as well so like to come again with that argument Councillor?
    • William McGrath Dick, so far, neither you or George have come up with those 21st century solutions? You have not shown the Auckland people a viable alternative to the City Rail Link. Until then, you’re argument is invalid.
    • George Wood Get real William. In our democratic system of justice he who asserts or affirm must prove. It is about time the mayor and has team of CRL tunnel promoters came up with the evidence. It seems they are basing their case on a wild hunch right now.
    • Millie Liang Hopefully the Mayor has read how tough Aus is doing it and the $AUS 32 billion budget blowout and the article today in the Sydney Morning Herald on what Gerry Norman has to say where their retail sector is heading.. and hopefully the mayor is having a …See More

      HARVEY Norman executive chairman Gerry Harvey says industry conditions remain di…See More
    • Ben Ross Harvey got caught out from an obselete business model. However point is taken from the SMH article. We need our leaders to talk up otherwise we get a self fulfilling prophersey
    • Ben Ross And Councillor Quax, I can tell you dont read submissions much otherwise you would of noticed me pushing for the Eastern Highway in the Auckland Plan…
    • Dick Quax Eastern Highway is that in NZ?
    • Ben Ross The very highway connecting your Ward with Councillors Brewer and Lee while defeating Banks in 2004 (sadly)
    • Dick Quax oh the eastern corridor now known as ameti. It was never intended to be a “highway” but a multi modal transport corridor to accommodate buses, trains, walking, cycling and private cars. And I was staunch supporter of that project
    • Ben Ross I know you were Councillor. I was annoyed greatly that the Eastern Corridor never went ahead back then as it could of all been completed by now relieving the pressure on the Eastern Suburbs. Although do you still support the corridor today including what is now known as the Botany (rail) Line
    • Mark Donnelly George/Dick – is the CRL actually a project? If it is give Len Brown a map and ask him where the trains go / circulate etc. What max timetable is, and actual capacity before and after CRL. Govt/AT papers only show a rise from 29,000 to 36,000 or so into CBD.
      Western line suffers major disruption under CRL with 40% not going through to Grafton/Newmarket.
      Until someone actually lays out what the project actually is, it’s just a nonsense. It’s like the political interference which saw Parnell station, which slowed Britomart turnaround from 4min to 6 min!
    • Ben Ross By the way George, out of pure interest any reason I got mentioned/flagged? Just interested that’s all – as it is not like I am running for mayor here (folks)
    • George Wood Just responding to an earlier comment that you made on in another FB article Ben Ross.
    • Ben Ross All good


Here is another thread from Councillor Brewer in regards to the Minister of Transport and the CRL:

Labour’s Phil Twyford got bounced in Question Time today by the Minister of Transport Gerry Brownlee on the City Rail Link who made it absolutely clear that he stands by his earlier comments that he takes big issue to the suggestion that the project is either useful or popular.
The senior minister went on to say for “around $1 million per metre” (where have I heard that phrase?) the tunneling project “will do so little”, and he slammed the latest Horizon Poll which claimed 64% of Aucklanders support the CRL.
Meanwhile, on another planet (Auckland Council) at exactly the same time, $73m was transferred into its 2013/14 CAPEX budget for the CRL, taking next year’s spend ALONE on the project to $1/4 billion!!

  • Michael Myles Murphy Yes I watched a little of the house today, it amazes me that anyone would vote for these clowns and that is both sides of the house. The downfall of democracy as I have often said this country is an asylum with the lunatics running the place, the only one who shows any decorum is Lockwood Smith.
  • Michael Myles Murphy By the way you people south of the bridge Keep your Crap.
  • Ben Ross A bugger that C&R and the Centre Right Independents on Council are fractured and can not give a unified position on the CRL (I can provide links if one wishes quite happily) leaving their flank exposed. And especially leaving their flank exposed relying on an obsolete Minister of Transport from an obsolete time, running an obsolete agenda from an obsolete ideology 60 years ago thus having obsolete thoughts, and unoriginal ideas, and thinking.

    Don’t under-estimate the City’s desires either as it looks for true vision and leadership. Something the Minister can not offer for pies, and something the Centre-Right lost in 2010 and seems to have still lost and something this current Council is losing fast…

    Time for that Broom stick


What I am pointing at is that the old guard currently in power (and having baggage to boot) are pretty entrenched in their ways and narrow thinking and mindset about the CRL (whether advancing it or abandoning it) and are not really looking at new creative ways to either advance the project, or propose a viable alternative if against the project. Thus folks Auckland is in serious trouble indeed.


Now as a promise to a fellow ratepayer in Papakura, I am trying not to sensationalise the issue there – as the old guard does that pretty well indeed.


So while the old guard gets stuck the mud, you often find others will rise to the challenge and begin to show a new leadership to advance a project forward. Creative, outside-the-square thinking, or just a fresh set of eyes and mind is often needed and I believe in the case of the City Rail Link that is the case.


Look I’ll be straight and frank, I am going to rise to that challenge and try to lead a new path in advancing the CRL. As I have stated in my “Me and The City Rail Link” post (as part of my fundamental in transport: An Integrated Approach to Transport: None of this “all for one but not the other approach” we get from both roading and Green lobbyists. Road and Mass Transit both have their places here in Auckland – albeit more balanced like the Generation Zero 50:50 campaign):

I support the City Rail Link being built but under a different time frame and development process than what the Mayor proposes.

Funding wise I believe we as a city can achieve a three-way split between the Council, Central Government and the private sector. Those new stations will attract urban development and investment around them so I am pondering on leasing out air and sky rights, as well as resident and commercial development within and on-top of the stations to help generate returns for the CRL. I am aware in Tokyo such a thing happens with large malls, office and/or residential towers built above the stations by the Rail Company, thus “operated” by the rail company, leased out to the private sector by the rail company, thus generate returns on investment for the rail company! So what we need to do is be rather savvy with the planning, discussion and funding of this critical mega project – something which this current council is not (savvy that is (the word stale being operative here).


And when you see other bloggers out there blog material like this: “300 Queen St: The Perfect Future Transit Station – By Patrick Reynolds, on November 29th, 2012″ on the potential of the City Rail Link, subsequent urban development, and the actual potential to expand the rail transit system to more Aucklanders  you know you can feel confident there are others out there wanting to advance a very critical mega project and often have similar thinking as yourself.

Patrick’s post is a post one would use (with his permission and full referencing of course) as “supporting material” to help show others the true benefits of the CRL – something the old guard just can not grasp.



Passion, determination and patience is needed to bring this mega-project to fruition. And by the looks of it, new blood and thinking is also going to be injected into Council to see this “killer app” (as someone said elsewhere) through to the end – For a Better Auckland.

All material and commentary on the City Rail Link Debate written by me at BR:AKL can be found from the City Rail Link Debate category.


Open Schism in C&R Exposed


And so I go trundling through Facebook and Twitter this morning (as I usually do) and I notice this crop up which links to an article from Bernard Orsman and the NZ Herald:

Council duo attack rail link spend

By Bernard Orsman


C&R ticket divided on Mayor Brown‘s $2.86 billion policy, with some comparing it to a ‘black hole of Calcutta‘.


Spending on rail in Auckland has been compared to a “black hole of Calcutta” as right-leaning councillors take an increasingly strident line against Mayor Len Brown’s $2.86 billion city rail link.

Communities & Residents councillors George Wood and Dick Quax are openly contradicting their ticket’s policy of support for the rail link by saying it does not stack up and calling for a halt.

C&R leader and rail supporter Christine Fletcher is playing down the divisions in the caucus, saying Mr Wood and Mr Quax have always had “extreme” views and the ticket is a broad church.

Mrs Fletcher insisted the C&R policy of supporting the rail link and land purchases, but not approving a start on construction until funding is in place, “was the policy” and had the backing of candidates chosen for next year’s local body elections.

The views of Mr Wood and Mr Quax – half the C&R caucus of four councillors – have hardened in the past week with the release of a Horizon Research poll showing 64 per cent of Aucklanders support the rail link and a leaked report saying rush-hour traffic in central Auckland will slow to walking pace in 10 years without the rail project.

Mr Quax said the rail project made little sense because it would gobble up 80 per cent of the public transport capital budget over the next 10 years when much-needed bus lanes and ferry terminals received a “paltry” 20 per cent.

“The Government has made it quite clear that it does not see the central rail link as a transport priority project. The numbers don’t stack up. For every dollar it returns just 40c and will only remove 1400 cars per day from the road.”

Mr Wood said he supported the project “sometime in the future”, which Auckland Transport said could be 2025 and the Government 2030, subject to it being financiallyviable.

“Rail is a ‘black hole of Calcutta’ and is soaking up 80 per cent of the public transport budget and costing ratepayers around $461 million over the next three years,” he said.

“There is a lot to be done in other areas before we get into sucking all the lifeblood out of Auckland into this one project.”

Centre-right and independent councillor Cameron Brewer is also becoming increasingly concerned about the cost of the rail link after initially supporting the project and work to secure the designation and buy properties along the 3.5km underground route.

Mr Brewer said he had yet to be convinced about the cost and benefits of the project, including the benefits to nearly 90 per cent of Aucklanders who do not work or live in the CBD who may have to pay for it through tolls or a regional petrol tax.

Mr Brown did not want to comment about C&R’s internal wranglings on the rail link, but said he could not see how councillors could ignore the latest poll.

“The poll showed overwhelming support for the city rail link and integrated bus and rail improvements to public transport across Auckland.”

Rail wrangle

•C&R councillors George Wood and Dick Quax blast the $2.86 billion rail link
•C&R leader Christine Fletcher says the ticket supports the link
•Mayor Len Brown points to a poll showing 64 per cent support


Did I not ask the last week to Communities and Residents (C&R) for a UNIFIED Policy Statement on the City Rail Link? I think I did in this particular post: THE ACHILLES HEEL OF C&R. With the question being in that post: “Is Communities and Residents (C&R) Actually Unified?”

Well if you read the article above, I think the answer is a firm ‘NO!’ Especially after the language exchange from Councillors’ Wood, Quax and C&R Council Leader Chris Fletcher…


And so where am I going with this?

Well if we want to avoid this parody below I think it might be seriously time to take the broom out, brush out the cobwebs and inject some new blood into Council. And by new blood I mean electing no-one that has served on a legacy Council prior to the current Auckland Council.

Yes that picture still gets the laughs every time someone goes at posts it.


But in any case, can Auckland really afford a fractured Council in the most pivotal period of our future (2013-2016). Pivotal meaning that what ever Council does in 2013-2016 will affect Auckland quite easily for the next 50 years. So no pressure there folks 😛


A schism has been exposed in the primary (heck that is loose when they only hold 19% of the voting power in the current Council) centre-right party “ticket” which can result in being the catalyst to a fractured Council after the elections next year. It is something I clearly do no want, and nor does Auckland!

I have warned aspirant Councillor Cameron Brewer about the City Rail Link on Facebook:

Cameron Brewer, I had noticed this after C&R developed a schism that the ratepayer has noticed: “Mr Brewer said he had yet to be convinced about the cost and benefits of the project, including the benefits to nearly 90 per cent of Aucklanders who do not work or live in the CBD who may have to pay for it through tolls or a regional petrol tax”

That argument about the CBD can be shot to pieces by anyone from the Centre like myself OR the Centre-Left with a simple and slick marketing campaign that would have Auckland Transport envious on the City Rail Link. This resulting in the Centre-Right’s flank being awfully exposed in the campaign next year.

I might go an expose that flank now in a post of mine and see where we go over the next 10 months


So as ratepayers and voters next year we have a collective decision to make; do we bring in a unified and progressive Council that will take us forward for the next 50 years, or a fractured Council that will cause us to backslide in the mud for the next 50 years.


Again as candidate to the Papakura Local Board in next year’s Local Elections you can check my baseline policies and stance on the City Rail Link


2013 – Your City, Your Call



The Achilles Heel of C&R

Is Communities and Residents (C&R) Actually Unified?




Does C&R comprehend Public Good and see beyond the pure monetary side in a Public Good?


When the CRL debate popped up thanks to Bernard Orsman AND THAT POLL, I decided to go ask a nice simple question to Auckland’s centre-right local body organisation ‘Communities and Residents’ (C&R) in both Facebook and Twitter. This was the answer from Twitter:

By the way, has @CandRAuckland passed a resolution or motion yet on either supporting or being FULLY against the Auckland City Rail Link?

7hC&RTiny Klout Flag20C&R ‏@CandRAuckland

@BenRoss_AKL C&R supports CRL designation, but wants an effective funding options/value/timing discussion with all key parties


Same answer I got in the THE CRL AND THAT POLL CTD thread from Orakei Local Board Deputy Chair Mark Thomas. So that is all fine and a policy statement I would be inclined to follow providing the CRL started construction around 2018 (rather than 2015 as the mayor is pushing). However move to another rail project like the recently announced Pukekohe Electrification business case and that unification from C&R seems to fall apart rather quickly. To make things more interesting, it seems I might have exposed an Achilles heel from C&R in regards to public transport in Auckland and the cost/benefit situation:


I have asked C&R for their view-point on Pukekohe Electrification to which I will post as soon as I get it. But now check this Facebook thread in regards to the electrification extension:

  • Another pipe dream from Mayor Brown and his supporters. We can’t keep putting things on the tab. Interested to hear from my colleagues Dick Quax and Cameron Brewer.

    Pukekohe train plan

    Electric trains could run to Pukekohe if Auckland Council approves a $102 million upgrade to electrify the line past Papakura.
    • Bob Murphy Don’t worry about your colleagues, worry about your constituents George Wood!!!!
    • George Wood OK Robert Bob Murphy, point taken. Just thought that Dick and Cameron could add their views.
    • Ben Ross I would be very careful going into opposition over the Pukekohe electrification extension. The project has a BCR of 2.1 which is higher than probably just about all (bar one) of National’s Roads of National Significance projects COMBINED.

      Further more the project which needs $80m can easily be covered with targeted rates and development levies over 15 years to cover the loan. 

      And last I looked Papakura and Franklin Wards (to which Pukekohe resides) are both under Centre Right councillors (even though Cllr Des Morrison has “quit” C&R). Those two Councillors would be fast backing the electrification projects unless they wanted to willing feel the wraith of their constituents to the point being tipped out by a Centre Left candidate who supports the electrification extension project
    • Bob Murphy When are we going to get the North Shore rail connection?
    • Daniel Sloan We should electrify the road. Why give rail a monopoly?
      • Ben Ross fried pedestrian – toasty 😛:P
    • George Wood Can’t see this happening too soon. Saw a metro system that was struggling in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. This is a city of 2.6 million and they badly overestimated the patronage they would achieve. Auckland is only getting 10 million on the rail per annum.
      • Ben Ross And as Campaign for Better Transport shows time and time again we under-estimate ours often badly. Onehunga being one – although Manukau was the reverse that can be easily fixed with The South Link
    • George Wood Can you see rail breaking even financially any-time in the future Ben Ross?
      • Ben Ross Dual question. Freight rail yes I can if Mainfreight and Fontera could run their own freight train services on the rail lines. As for passenger rail, I do not expect it to monetary wise as it is a public good that provides greater profits in the social and economic front than the pure monetary front – something Public Bodies and representatives miss
    • Scott Bovaird I’ve given up arguing against George it must break even philosophy
    • George Wood Why is that Scott Bovaird. Can’t we have fair and balanced debate?
    • Scott Bovaird Hahahah I think we sit on complete opposite sides of the fence. Also feels like you won’t acknowledge that there is more to public transport beyond will it pay for itself. Also you don’t need to convince me to tick your name next year
      • Ben Ross yet 😉;-)
      • Scott Bovaird you’ll never convince me to live on the shore ben,
      • Bob Murphy If George stands for mayor you will get your chance Scott.
      • Scott Bovaird well if ya look below if george aligns himself with people like dick I’ll be doing everything to help other candidates
      • Ben Ross Sorry not running for mayor next year – value my sanity too much while I am still young :p:p
    • Dick Quax George I get accused of being anti PT which I’m not – use it quite a bit – however do get grumpy when I see how much public money just keeps on being poured into a 19th century technology – rail – to solve a 21st century transport problem.

      Scott Bovaird Im yet to see a reasonably legitimate alternative proposed dick. Until someone presents a business case that actually looks better than improving out rail system and then encouraging people to live near it your always going to be seen as anti PT
    • Dick Quax “Encourage people to live near rail” – just how do you do that – deal with reality not some fantasy planet which no one inhabits.
    • Scott Bovaird Ahhhh insulting my intelligence instead of actually dealing with the issues. … glad to see you’re a respectable representative of our community. Congratulations Dick you have reaffirmed my belief in why I would never vote cnr and will encourage everyone I possibly can to vote against you as well.
      • Ben Ross Not affiliated – just saying 😮:o
      • Scott Bovaird hahaha I would be distancing myself as much as possible ben cause I’m now in a very motivated place
      • Ben Ross An Independent Average Ratepayers’ View Shinning The Light at Issues in Auckland into the 2013 Local Government Elections
        Auckland YOUR CITY YOUR CALL

        Emphasis on independent 😮:o
    • Kane Glass It goes by the name of Planet Planet Rail
    • Scott Bovaird Also this is probably why you Franklin member of cnr quit because you don’t give a hoot about south of Manukau
    • Millie Liang Gentlemen.. Maybe I aren’t thinking straight..If everyone is worried about overcrowding and having to demolish 50-80k of houses in the city in the near future to accommodate everyone why do they want to spend large amounts of money on rail tracks from say Pukekohe/Helensville into the cbd….It just I remember the disaster that has unfolded at the Newmarket station square when all the pr 4-5yrs ago said there was going to be within 5-10yrs, 17,000 train passengers using the station everyday with trains capable of arriving every three mins….At the time I thought this must only be pr purposes to get funding as there was no way there that many people going to get off in Newmarket unless a city was going to be built at the end of a line, and then why head into the city any way…just my thoughts.


The dis-unity within C&R could very well extend from this article published in the Herald a couple of days ago:

Councillor quits ‘too urban’ C&R

By Bernard Orsman

Auckland councillor Des Morrison has resigned from Communities & Residents, saying the right-leaning ticket is too urban-centric and he wants to focus on rural issues before retiring at next year’s local elections.

“I’m not as close to C&R as I was,” said Mr Morrison, the Franklin councillor and chairman of the rural advisory panel.

He said he was still working with C&R but wanted to use his last year to focus on key issues for the rural sector.

The resignation of Mr Morrison, a popular figure on the council, is a blow for C&R, which has struggled since the first Super City elections, winning only five seats on the 20-strong Auckland Council.

The resignation of Mr Morrison highlights the failure of C&R to work with right-leaning independents, such as Cameron Brewer, Calum Penrose and Sharon Stewart, to build a united opposition against Mayor Len Brown’s left-leaning majority.


Hmm problems behind the scenes? Again check my THE CRL AND THAT POLL CTD thread as Bernard and I probe C&R on the CRL for responses and history.


However the Achilles Heel of C&R was exposed in the Facebook thread which I placed in bold:

  • George Wood Can you see rail breaking even financially any-time in the future Ben Ross?
    • Ben Ross Dual question. Freight rail yes I can if Mainfreight and Fontera could run their own freight train services on the rail lines. As for passenger rail, I do not expect it to monetary wise as it is a public good that provides greater profits in the social and economic front than the pure monetary front – something Public Bodies and representatives miss
  • Scott Bovaird I’ve given up arguing against George it must break even philosophy


Okay there is a difference between flushing money down the loo and subsidising a public good such as public transport – especially as I mentioned the wider economic and social benefits often outstrip the pure monetary cost!


Electrification to Pukekohe, the Manukau South Link and the City Rail Link are three public transport projects that provide wider and larger economic and social benefits in comparison to pure monetary cost (often expressed in capital to build and then the operating cost to run the thing). While the central government’s Roads of National Significance defy basically everything including monetary cost.


So the question ratepayers must ask to Council and Local Board candidates next year when it comes to projects that will crop up in the debate: While a program loses on the pure monetary front (such as public transport), does the program’s economic and social benefits outweigh that monetary loss?


There is more to programs than dollars and cents folks, and C&R could be exposed on that front especially if Pukekohe Electrification is anything to go by!



Now I wonder if C&R will respond to this? I’ll wait and see :O

Pukekohe Electrification Ctd

Pukekohe Electrification Case Took Some Legs and Ran


After the news of Auckland Transport releasing the business case for extending the electrification all the way to Pukekohe, so that ALL Auckland Metro Rail services will be covered by the new EMU’s (replacing the existing diesel fleet), the entire concept has seem to grown legs and gone for a run on its own steam (excuse the pun).

From Auckland Now:

Electric trains could reach Pukekohe


Electric trains could run to Pukekohe if Auckland Council approves a $102 million upgrade to electrify the line past Papakura.

The electrification of Auckland’s train system is already well underway and an Auckland Transport spokesman said today they were “looking at options” to extend the project to Pukekohe.

“This would see trains running from Pukekohe to Britomart every 20 minutes at peak times and every 30 minutes at other times.”

The extra stretch is expected to cost $102.3m including buying two trains, creating park and ride facilities, new stations at Paerata and Drury and a major station upgrade at Pukekohe. Three bridges would be raised and the lowered.

Almost $19m has already been set aside in Auckland Transport’s long term plan for the project, which is expected to save $2m a year by having electric rather than diesel engines.

Mayor Len Brown welcomed an investigation, saying it would mean people in Franklin would be able to make full use of the rail network along with the rest of Auckland.

“This would mean quieter, faster and more efficient trains all the way to Pukekohe.”

Brown said Pukekohe was a key centre for residential and business growth, and there would be a rapidly growing need to move people to and from homes and jobs.

The area’s population is predicted to more than treble in the next 30 years to close to 80,000.

Franklin Local Board chairman Andy Baker said electrification was something the board and community had advocated for for a long time.

“We are extremely pleased that the investigation is happening now as it makes sense to do the work while we have contractors and systems in place to build Auckland’s electric rail network. ”

The first electric train is due to arrive in Auckland from Spain in the third quarter of 2013 and will undergo significant testing before going into public service in 2014.



And so it seems Auckland, especially South and Counties Auckland are all abuzz with the real possibility that by 2016, electric trains could be running from Pukekohe all the way to Britomart and Swanson (out west).

In saying that we in South and Counties Auckland must also not lose sight in all this excitement on the Manukau South Rail Link which would allow EMU’s to run Pukekohe to Manukau direct services, giving easy and fast access for South and Counties Auckland to their major service and employment hub – Manukau City Centre.


Exciting times ahead for this part of Auckland in regards to rail and efficient, accessible public transport.


You can see the Auckland Transport Business Case for Electrification to Pukekohe at my PUKEKOHE ELECTRIFICATION CASE post.


The CRL and That Poll Ctd

Looking at the Debate that has Cropped Up Again on the City Rail Link


Yesterday in my “THE CRL AND THAT POLL” I had stated that:

Thanks to Bernard Orsman from the NZ Herald and Horizon Research (a polling company), debate has flared up again on the City Rail Link. Is there any thing new in this debate? Currently no so I wont bother going into it much unless you like to go around on a Merry-Go-Round with the emergency stop button absolutely stuffed beyond repair…


Well to prod the debate along some we would not all be stuck on the never-ending Merry-go-round I asked this question last night over Facebook and Twitter:

Ben Ross: In any case, is C & R releasing a unified policy statement on the CRL any time soon so votes can make a choice in 10 months time?


And wouldn’t you know it the debate has shifted has the spot light has been clearly shone onto Auckland’s centre-right local body political organisation “Communities and Residents” (C&R).

Let’s see what C&R members or officials have to say on the debate (for the sake of continuity I shall paste the entire thread):

Bernard forgive me if i read this wrong but since when is 1099 the majority of Aucklanders?

    A majority of Aucklanders want the Government to make a significant contribution to the $2.86 billion city rail link, a new poll shows.
    • Bernard Orsman A poll of 1099 people is the basis for a scientific poll…just ask Peter.
    • Donna Beattie They didn’t poll me
    • George Wood Were people told of the costs involved in the CRL project? It is interesting that depreciation and operating costs have not been revealed at this stage of the planning. Even B Ben Ross has not considered the operating costs. It certainly wouldn’t be taken up by the private sector and run like a business s happens in Hong Kong!
    • Bernard Orsman Would the private sector have built the Northern Busway George?
    • George Wood The Northern Busway is a completely different funding arrangement. It was built by Transit New Zealand who committed $200 million of funding from the Alternative to Roading (ATR) fund and funding from the Infrastructure Auckland funds ($40 Million). Around $60 million of additional ratepayers money got a state-of-the-art system of five bus stations but the operational funding required per passenger is a lot lower than rail. It currently would carry over 5 million passenger trips (Northern Express and North Star Expresses) each year which is half the rail systems current patronage at a fraction of the overall cost.
    • Ben Ross Is someone sitting on a report that I let alone the rest of Auckland has not seen George in regards to operating and depreciation costs in regards with the City Rail Link? I rather hope not this side of the Local Body Elections 2013…

      Operating Costs and Depreciation of the CRL has entered my mind and crossed my thoughts many times once the CRL opens around the 2025 mark. If I were to look at paying patronage, total patronage and trains per hour being thrown down that 3.5km tunnel, the private sector opportunities with the 3 CRL stations available (sky rights and retail/office rights anyone?); the allowing of the airport, Botany and North Shore Lines (and especially the North Shore Line which can carry 900% more passengers than the bus way ever could (as well as the fact the North Shore Line runs via the CRL system); AND account for the late Owen McShane Rail Fallacy then YES I have appreciated the operating and depreciation costs of the CRL mega project from beginning to the end.
    • George Wood Ben Ross, this is interesting commentary from Brisbane on the south east Queensland public transport. Bus is looked upon as being more favourable to passengers.

      Southeast Queensland bus patronage has surged by 65 per cent over the past six years, more than triple the growth in rail usage.
    • George Wood Good South East Brisbane busway report and evaluation.
    • Ben Ross Hmm yes, although I remember buses playing second fiddle to heavy rail in Brisbane while I was there in 2003-2005. Heavy rail was mode of choice if one lived on the Sunshine or Gold Coasts and did not want get stuck in metro car traffic all day
    • Ben Ross But that is beside the point as this argument is flipping over to a bus verse rail competition argument which should have been buried in the 90s but has not <_<. Rail, bus and car complement each other on a comprehensive mixed transit system rather than compete against each other. It should be a requirement for all Councillors, Mayors and Ministers of Transport to do a four-year course in Sim City 4 building before standing for office… Just saying (after I have been known to build extremely comprehensive transit systems for sprawling cities over 3 million)
    • George Wood I was around in about 1999/2000 when the ARC decided to go with the rail system. It was never really evaluated to the Nth degree with the chairman of the ARC Philip Warren being hell-bent on buying the rail rights from Tranz Rail.
    • Ben Ross Sounds like a Councillor Lee there George
    • Ben Ross In any case, is C & R releasing a unified policy statement on the CRL any time soon so votes can make a choice in 10 months time?
    • Desley Simpson Ben my understanding is that C/R support continuing to buy land as part of preserving the option, but are not committing until Govt confirms funding.
    • Ben Ross Thanks Desley, much appreciated and understandable with that answer. To do otherwise would be near financial if not political suicide. 2018 rather than the Centre-Lefts 2015 would be the preferable construction start date all things considered. Call it a gut feeling on that one
    • Bernard Orsman Let’a be perfectly frank everyone. Len is not going to start building the CRL until the funding in place. That includes council funding, Government funding and alternative funding sources. Right now, the Government are not coming to the party with funding and won’t allow him to toll roads or introduce a regional fuel tax. In the meantime, he boxes only with property purchases and designation. The National Government clearly don’t support the project and it won’t happen until there is a change of Government in 2014 or 2017? Labour and the Greens have indicated they will pay the Government’s share by using money set aside for the holiday highway. Whether they will support alternative funding sources is unclear. As the saying goes, there is a lot of water to flow under the bridge. As for C&R, its position is all over the road. It will be interesting Ben Ross to see if they develop a clear, unequivocal policy next year or do what they have done the past two years and each have a separate view.
    • Mark Thomas Across Auckland, I think support for the CRL is more mixed than this suggests. 90% of submitters from the Orakei ward didn’t support it in the Long Term Plan. Not because improved public transport including rail isn’t part of Auckland’s future: it has to be. They don’t support it because there is no plan to fund it! (And, Horizon has been one of the least reliable surveyors of public opinion).
    • Bernard Orsman What are you saying Mark. Do you, or C&R, want the CRL removed the LTP – and nothing to happen until 2022 at the earliest???
    • Mark Thomas No. I support the continued designation and associated funding for now, but a much more effective conversation needs to happen with Aucklanders and other potential funders about cost, value and timing. I appreciate Len’s “Consensus Building Group” is partly designed to do this, but when I look at its composition: Child Poverty Action Group, Combined Trade Union, Environmental Defence, AA, EMA, Cycle Action, Walk Auckland, Business Forum etc it looks more like a United Nations. Except the Security Council veto holder is missing. So, we need an Auckland transport initiative that gets agreement on both the problem and the most cost effective solution. Stay tuned!

I will continue to prod Communities and Residents over the next few months to make sure a unified policy statement does get released by them to the Auckland voter – no matter which way they swing, so long as it is a clear stance before and in time for the Local Government Elections next September.


On another front and in another thread, the validity of the Horizon Research poll in the CRL has been brought into question. You can see the arguments crop up in the second half of the thread (the first half is about cost again):

Bet the people of South Auckland were not told of the true costs of the Central Rail Link? It will be far more than we have been told up to now especially when the depreciation and operating costs have not been assessed. The point I would raise with the people who are so enthusiastic that this project proceeds is: If it is so good why isn’t the private sector clamouring to run the Auckland Metro Rail system? Maybe Ben Ross can answer this question?
    • Millie Liang Good point George. I read a research paper a while back that showed long term maintenance of infrastructure in California hadn’t been costed in and over a 50yr period up keep costs were 4-5 times the actual construction cost. As you say if it made commercial sense the Council would be turning private enterprise away from the door every day… I would simply ask the Germans/Italians or even Mr. Branson come have a look (at their cost) and tell us if you interested..
    • Hone Willis If you are looking for “commercial sense”, then public transport is probably the wrong place to look.

      Did California do a costing on roading maintanence savings in that study Millie?

      The issue (for me) is Auckland’s current “unfinished” Rail network is a waste of space.

      If we are not going to close the loop, or increase coverage in any way… we might as well focus on wharf traffic, and forget about passenger rail.

      We needed the loop to be finished fifty years ago, when it would have cost so much less, now.. the cost is almost prohibitive.

      Or, perhaps we need to accept that Aucklanders are incapable of doing what every other major city in the world has done..

      An efficient means of moving your workforce around saves everyone time and money….
    • Ben Ross Correct, and heavy rail is the most efficient form of people movement in a large city (well subway is for the super dense cities but even they still have extensive heavy rail systems).

      I am finding it ironic Australia and NZ is behind the ball with heavy rail with the Republicans in the USA and the Tories in the UK having another crack at heavy rail programs again….
    • Ben Ross The law for starters does not allow private enterprise to run our metro rail system – or our freight rail system either.
    • Ben Ross And there is a difference between run and operate…
    • Millie Liang Hi Hone..I need to dig the paper out but I recall what opportunity/ cost benefits were envisaged were lost in something like 10-15yrs when traffic volumes were back to what they were previously and then an under budgeted maintenance program is causing ongoing problems.
    • Barnsley Bill George. The people of south Auckland will not be paying for it
      • Ben Ross The people of South Auckland like myself already pay well will be paying for the CRL: General Rates, Targeted Rates for those near the corridor, development levies on new houses near the corridor, general taxation and for those who use buses, trains or ferries – our fares
    • Ben Ross The ones who benefit from the CRL – pretty much every Aucklander that travels by train, bus, ferry, or car on a major arterial road or motorway no matter where their destination is inside the region
    • Scott Bovaird Grrrr you can’t compare the value of a public transport service on the basis of ’would commercial enterprise be interested’ its nearly annoys me as much as people who think John key will be a good pm cause he is a ’business man’….
    • Ben Ross Agreed Scott. I was going to trot out the Public Good speech but I just err did a major screw up at home and need to go fix it before I have hell on the home front
    • Millie Liang Hi Scott.. I doubt if there is many with a more Socialist ideology than me but it all needs to be paid for and I can’t see it being wise to kick the can down to our kids generation to pay down the debt. I definitely wouldn’t call someone who was a foreign exchange dealer a business man..The ones I know before they burnt themselves out were more like gamblers 🙂:)
    • Scott Bovaird Note I didn’t actually say I was in favour of the CRL just that I hate the above analogy. I also think john key is as far from being a proper business man as you can get.
    • Scott Bovaird Millie plenty of ways to pay for it… Regional fuel tax… Hotel bed tax( my preferred at the moment)… Just two off my head
    • Millie Liang Agree with your thoughts Scott, as long as it isn’t just property owners that have to pay for it through increased rates.
    • Dick Quax People support the cental rail loop because they just don’t know the real cost. A billion here and a billion there and soon you’re actually spending real money – even the rate payer may notice.
    • David Thornton This Hoizon survey carries no credibility in view of previous polls it has conducted being shown to be unscientific. This is one of those polls where the client [Auckland Council?] has indicated its position and hopes the survey will prove it. Use your imagination. And who is behind this AllaboutAuckland website?
    • Ben Ross Dodgy polling companies are unhelpful true. And yes who is this All About Auckland outfit?
    • George Wood All About Auckland is the former Franklin Live Ben Ross
    • David Thornton And who owns it and is there a financial arrangement between it and Auckland Council?
    • George Wood It is owned by Kane Glass who has been committed to recording the Auckland Council meetings from virtually the first day,.
    • Ben Ross 😀:-D all good then.
    • Jay Boreham I’m with David Thornton on this. This survey was done by the same company who did the sham survey against the NZ Police earlier this year. I would question the integrity of this survey and AC for using them if I was you. Also would an online poll really reflect the population in the South.

      The findings of a recent survey claiming falling public trust in Police were del…See More
      • David Thornton Jay, i see that the Police survey story refers to the owners of Horizon, do you knoqw who they are?
      • Jay Boreham According to their website their “Prncipal” is Graeme Colman who is/was also a consultant for Morrison McDougall Public Relations who say: Graeme was Auckland City’s Media Manager for three years and he managed the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, involving policy advocacy at the highest levels. According to BACS “Graeme provides some results from the many surveys he has conducted with suggestions of how charities can improve their chances of business support.”
    • David Thornton George Wood getting back to Horizon – can you confirm that Ak Cl did in fact commission this survey, and did the council approve the survey questions. Also how much did it cost?

And now you can see where one particular part of the CRL debate is going.


Although me getting mentioned twice? What am I here – the unofficial Transport Mayor of Auckland or Mayoral Candidate for Auckland folks? Heck I am flattered 😛


So will see how this debate continues to pan out as we approach the Local Government Elections in September next year. In the mean time there will be plenty more to be said on the City Rail Link!