Auckland, Hamilton, Christchurch and Dunedin big winners
Winston Peter’s fiery speech last night on wanting a change of direction would be what sealed it for a new regime – a Labour-led regime to come into power. For me I am excited for the new regime after nine years of a do-nothing Government that white ant-ed Auckland every step of the way. Now those instigators are relegated to Opposition it is time to seriously focus on bringing our urban centres up to speed.
What does this mean?
Catching up on our transport infrastructure deficits in our main urban centres as well as other infrastructure like hospitals. The new Labour-led regime under Jacinda Ardern is going to have to hit the floor running with policy in the run up to Budget 2018. For Auckland a perfect start would be throwing out both the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) and the Supporting growth – Delivering transport networks program (previously known as Transport for Future Urban Growth or TFUG) and redoing them from scratch.
Both documents were either flawed or ended up flawed due to a heavy roads first focus at the expense of transit. Given Labour, New Zealand First, and the Greens have a heavy focus on transit and freight rail those documents do not exactly line up. Ironically the first iteration of the TFUG was a good one and had a good balance between transit and roads. Submissions to that first iteration supported the TFUG (below) but Auckland Transport decided to up-end that and go with a roads first second version. The irony continues that with the new Regime and a renewed focus on transit that second iteration of TFUG goes out of date and we will most likely swing back to the first iteration – the one that the public supported in the first place. To move the irony to Shakespearean class irony this won’t be the only thing needing to be reset with the Port of Auckland vote in the Planning Committee two weeks ago needing another look at and the Drury-Pukekohe Structure Plan consultation also needing a full reset.
If Labour hold true then the Congestion Free Network 2.0 and Regional Rapid Rail now enter the mix. First off the bat would be the Southern Airport Line (Airport to Manukau via Puhinui Station) allowing a fast link to the Airport while the Northern Airport Line (via Dominion Road) is built over the next few years. Other projects looking at fast starts would include the North Western Light Rail Line from the City Centre to Westgate.
Remember Labour, you said this so we will be watching you – and most of all helping you get these projects over the line:
Make Auckland a world-class city – LABOUR POLICY
Investing in Auckland’s transport infrastructure is vital both to the quality of life of Aucklanders and the economy of our largest city. Labour will invest to make Auckland a world-class city.
Auckland’s population grew 14 per cent between 2008/09 and 2015/16, with a 16 per cent increase in state highway traffic volumes and a 35 per cent increase in public transport boardings in the region.
Yet spending via the New Zealand Transport Agency on new and improved transport infrastructure in Auckland hasn’t increased.
Congestion has worsened dramatically in recent years and costs Auckland nearly $2b a year. Average speeds at peak times have fallen nearly 10km/h since 2014. Delaying projects that would reduce congestion is a false economy. The cost of doing nothing is too high for Aucklanders and for business.
It’s time to accelerate investment in Auckland transport.
• Build light rail from the CBD to Auckland Airport. This will be part of a new light rail network that will be built over the next decade with routes to the central suburbs, the airport, and West Auckland, and will later be extended to the North Shore
• Build a new Bus Rapid Transit line from Howick to the airport, starting with a bus service which will connect Puhinui and Manukau train stations to the airport in one year
• Invest in more electric trains, electrification to Pukekohe, and building a third main trunk line urgently between Westfield and Papakura
• Build a range of significant cross-town bus priority routes including New Lynn-Flat Bush, Point Chevalier-Botany, Silverdale-Whangaparoa, and Howick-Glenfield
• Allow Auckland Council to collect a regional fuel tax to fund the acceleration of these investments, along with infrastructure bonds and targeted rates to capture value uplift.
These projects will ease congestion, reducing wasted time and fuel costs. They will make our biggest city an even better place to live. Getting more people on to high-quality public transport will unclog our roads.
Rail to the airport is crucial for Auckland’s future growth. Waiting 30 years is simply not an option given the congestion that exists on the roads already. A world-class city in the 21st century needs a rail connection from its CBD to its airport.
This policy revises the Auckland Transport Alignment Plan and adds additional projects laid out in the Congestion Free Network plan. In total, there will be an extra $3.3b investment, comprising both new and accelerated projects over the next 20 years.
Light rail network and heavy rail improvements will be brought forward from the second and third decades into the first decade. Light rail to Mt Roskill will take four years to build, with the lines through to the airport and West Auckland completed within a decade. New bus improvement projects will also be carried out in the first decade. In the second decade, we will expand the light rail network to the North Shore.
Costs will be avoided by building the airport and North Western routes as light rail from the start, rather than initially doing bus improvements. Some lower-value projects will be delayed and the cost of the East-West Link will be reduced by adopting an option with a better benefit to cost ratio, saving $1.2b.
Labour will invest a net $2.1b extra in Auckland transport infrastructure. These increased investments and the existing funding gap in the ATAP will be met with new funding sources. A Regional Fuel Tax is forecast to raise $160m a year at 10 cents a litre. Labour will give Auckland Council the ability to use new methods of funding infrastructure, like infrastructure bonds and targeted rates.
Labour’s Improvements to Auckland Transport Alignment Plan
Projects accelerated to the next ten years
• Light rail – CBD to Central Suburbs and airport
• Light rail – CBD to West Auckland
• Bus Rapid Transit – Howick to the airport
• Third rail line – Westfield to Papakura
• Additional electric trains
• Better value for money East-West Link
New projects in the next ten years
•Bus priority route – New Lynn to Flat Bush
•Bus priority route – Point Chevalier to Botany
•Bus priority route – Silverdale to Whangaparoa
•Bus priority route – Howick to Glenfield
Projects accelerated to the second decade
•Light rail – CBD to North Shore
•Further rail improvements
Source: NZ Labour Party
So Labour have committed to the Congestion Free Network with some upgrades along the way. The North Western will go straight to Light Rail rather than bus-way first meaning that corridor up to Westgate finally gets the love it has so missed out on by this Government. The East West Link will be scaled back to around $725m (down from the current $1.85b) meaning Option B is going to be back on the cards.
Southern Auckland turns out to be a massive winner in the announcements too.
Labour have committed to the full Botany Line (Airport to Botany via Puhinui and Manukau) within ten years (Airport to Puhinui done by 2020) while the Third Main will go from Westfield all the way to Papakura rather than Wiri as proposed by National. Pukekohe Electrification is also in the mix from Labour cancelling out National’s very weak announcement seen HERE.
The Botany Line (also known as The Southern Airport Line) is a victory for me after long hard years getting this one through and finally over the line. While we have an election to still go through National’s complete refusal on any of the Airport Lines is enough for me to vote against the Government.
The good thing about Puhinui to the Airport is that it capture passengers from the Southern and Eastern Lines widening the catchment along the heavy rail network until the Northern Airport Line is built to the City Centre.
Exciting times ahead