Council silence does not help Auckland
We have had both National and Labour outline their transport policies for the election and beyond. Labour have gone all in being proactive in wanting to deliver the Congestion Free Network 2.0 with two Airport Lines and the North Western Light Rail line the centre pieces. National have continued their incrementalism tinkering around with the Auckland Transport Alignment Project speeding some projects up and pushing some back after getting caught short massively with Auckland’s growth (see: ATAP Update Admission of Government Failure).
Auckland Council has been rather quiet on the whole transport manner despite an election going on. No it can not remain neutral at all with this election. Not when Council is our biggest advocate and should be trying to strike out the best deal when it comes getting people and freight moving through, and out of the City. This is why Goff’s rather weak reply to the ATAP tinkering last week is being met by a tepid response.
From the Office of the Mayor Phil Goff:
COUNCIL AND GOVERNMENT CONSIDER INCREASED FUNDING FOR TRANSPORT IN AUCKLAND
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has welcomed agreement with Government to spend more on Auckland transport infrastructure and bring forward major transport projects.
The latest update on spending was sought by Council, and local and central government agencies have jointly proposed the new transport spending programme.
Mayor Phil Goff says, “I welcome the fact that new infrastructure will come on-stream earlier and that we have significantly increased the level of investment.
“Unprecedented population growth has outstripped previous projections and the need to invest in our transport infrastructure more quickly is critical.
“Auckland adds 45,000 people a year and our transport system is not coping. Council and Government have identified the need to lift transport spending from $24 billion to nearly $27 billion and bring forward a range of major projects to address growing transport congestion.
“I particularly welcome the commitment of $1.2 billion in the first decade to mass-transit on the isthmus which I believe will be light rail.
“Busways in West and East Auckland and on the Northern motorway will relieve traffic congestion by providing effective public transport alternatives.
“Penlink is also being considered as a tolled PPP road and new arterial routes are funded to service greenfields development.
“The increased budget and projects now go to Council and Government, and are expected to be formally agreed.
“Bridging the funding gap of $5.9 billion is now being negotiated between Council and Government.
“I welcome the Minister’s statement that Government has enough headroom in its budget to make a larger contribution to funding Auckland’s transport infrastructure.
“The hundreds of extra cars being added to Auckland’s roads each week paying more petrol taxes and road user charges will help fund the new projects.
“Auckland has to meet its fair share of the cost and we are considering the best options for how we do that.
“Road pricing such as congestion charging, tolls or a fuel tax in my view better reflect costs falling where there are benefits to the users of transport infrastructure than general rates. We are also exploring other options including targeted rates and value uplift,” Phil Goff said.
Which way the election will fall on September 23 is anyone’s guess.
However, come September 24 and the ATAP could be very well scrapped for something a tad more proactive.
We have to remember the ATAP has gotten to basic concepts wrong from the get go. The first was that the ATAP and the officials who wrote the first version couldn’t figure out what congestion was nor when it occurred across the entire transport network. The second was using medium growth projections to base the ATAP timetable when the Auckland Plan has used high growth projects since 2012 and those projections have been backed up from Statistics New Zealand since 2014.
In reaction some elected representatives have said that all we need to do is juggle around the timetable – which is what has been done. Well no. Given the ATAP is about incrementalism and we need a more proactive approach the ATAP come September 24 should be very well scrapped and started again.
Yes scrapped, binned, chucked, start from scratch.
Perhaps to get the first two concepts right from the get go would be a start with an ATAP MK2.
But more specifically a more proactive lens could be applied to Auckland’s transport investment, one that could save us money in the long-term.
Enter Labour and Greater Auckland’s Congestion Free Network 2.0.
The entire premise around CFN 2.0 (which has been costed out) was to bring in and forward key transit projects alongside other projects such as the Third and Fourth Mains as priority investments. This does not mean Mill Road as a two lane safety upgrade and link back to the Southern Motorway is skipped but rather bringing a suite of transit and freight projects forward (which is what the Third and Fourth Mains, and Mill Road south are) alongside safety upgrades to key arterials (like Mill Road north and Murphy’s Road) into the first Decade. Consequently larger new roading projects like the parallel expressway alongside State Highway 22 will be shunted back into the third decade and may never be carried out at all compared to the current ATAP proposals.
This is not necessarily a bad thing as the CFN 2.0 was designed to allow greater accessibility and connectivity to the transit networks mitigating congestion and ultimately lessening the need for bigger roads. Bring your road projects in first and you trigger induced demand (a.k.a more congestion) in which by the time the transit network follows behind it is already too late. The idea is to be proactive with congestion not be reactive. And if the transit network is fully in place first than those who can take transit will freeing up road space for those who are on the road.
Council should realise this and be taking a proactive rather than reactive incremental approach to transport. Given there is an election on with two very different transport policies on the table Council should as our biggest advocate try to secure the best deal available.
There is more to life than the ATAP and Auckland certainly deserves better than incrimentalism both National and ATAP offer.
So come on Goff – be our champion!
As for Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin? Time to get some Congestion Free Networks set up for you to!