Big money doubts as $46b transport plans unveiled

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The New Zealand Herald gives a perspective on the final draft of the Auckland Regional Transport Strategy. The strategy proposes spending $46 billion on public transport, roads and walking and cycling between now and 2040. It will be presented at Britomart Transport Centre today for two months of consultations. Key projects outlined:

Public transport

  • Rail electrification: $1.2 billion
  • Central Auckland rail tunnel: $1.5 billion
  • Airport rail links: $1.1 billion
  • Avondale-Onehunga rail link: $1 billion
  • Northern busway extension to Orewa: $400 million
  • Bus priority links Henderson-Albany and Panmure-Botany-Manukau centre (figures unavailable)

Roading

  • Completing the western ring route: about $2 billion
  • Auckland-Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative: $1.3 billion
  • Improved airport links: $400 million

Investigations proposed for

  • A third Waitemata Harbour crossing.
  • A strategic road link to improve freight movements between East Tamaki and the western ring route.

Response To David Bennett, MP

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As covered over at Auckland trains, the MP for Hamilton East, David Bennett, is opposed to the introduction of a regular train service between Auckland and the Waikato.  He is now responding to the postcards being sent to him by saying any potential rail service would have “problems”.

Responding to this, Barry Palmer has prepared the attached letter, which eloquently explains why Mr Bennett is wrong on every count.

What is especially disappointing about Mr Bennett’s attitude to Hamilton rail is that he was a willing recipient of our petition to electrify Auckland’s rail network back in 2007, along with Green Party MP Keith Locke. We thought this marked a sea change National’s thinking towards rail, but clearly we were mistaken.

<David Bennett accepts the Electrify Now petition, along with Keith Locke

Rail line upgrades close two sections

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The New Zealand Herald reports important closures across Auckland’s rail network this weekend. A recent Project DART newsletter explains why.

Pt Chev – Newmarket Service Extended

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Point Chevalier residents can now catch a direct bus to Newmarket between 7 – 9am and back again between 3pm – 6.10pm on weekdays, starting on the 1st November.

The service is in addition to its regular hourly service operating between 9.15am – 5.45pm on Saturdays.

Scott Macarthur, the director of Macarthur Buslines, says the changes are primarily directed at students so that they can use the existing service to travel to and from school. The new 3.10pm and 3.50pm service will however offer a further option for employees or shoppers in Newmarket who are wanting to get back to Kingsland or Pt Chevalier.

The move is supported by the Newmarket Business Association.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sam Buckle: Road Users Hitch a Ride

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Good article in today’s Herald from Sam Buckle of the New Zealand Shipping Federation on how the profit motive does not apply to roading. 

For some reason, the management of our roading infrastructure has avoided the scrutiny applied to other state assets and services. We apply commercial models to the electricity network, we invite commercial behaviour into our health and prison sectors, but when it comes to road transport, everybody’s a socialist.

Read the Rockpoint Corporate Finance report, on which this article was based, here.

‘Get foreign help to build next bridge’

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The proposed ANZAC Centenary Bridge

The proposed "ANZAC Centenary Bridge"

The Sunday Star-Times reports a group of architects presenting at the Auckland Architecture week 2009 have proposed a design for a new harbour crossing:

In 2005 Richard Simpson first proposed the idea of a new harbour crossing – a bold new bridge that would take a more direct route between the city and the North Shore designed to accommodate pedestrians, cyclists, vehicular traffic and trains.  The design would be the result of an international design competition for a bridge that not only fulfills the functional requirements of connection, but that would also contribute to the identity of Auckland – the greater city and the Waitemata Harbour.  Integral to this initiative are economic and social benefits resulting in the creation of jobs for the construction of the bridge and the urban renewal of the freed-up land on both sides of the current bridge along with others associated with tourism and the creative industries.

The proposed bridge thankfully includes provision for public transport and cycling. The group has made their own case for a bridge over a tunnel under the harbour:

THE CASE FOR A BRIDGE

  • Construction cost $2-3 billion compared to $3.7–$4.1b for the proposed tunnel
  • Operating cost of 1/5 to 13 of a tunnel (based on ventilation, lighting, drainage and maintenance)
  • About 350,000m2 of land valued at around $1b in St Mary’s Bay and Northcote Pt could be sold off after closure of bridge.
  • Travel time and distance savings worth about $60 million a year (based on a bridge being 1.2km shorter than a tunnel)
  • Estimated tourism benefits: $325 million a year (based on tourists staying an extra night)

Source: ANZAC Centenary Bridge Group

NZTA draft farebox recovery policy

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We’ve just received this by email from the NZTA:

The NZTA has been working on a draft farebox recovery policy for public transport services which sets out the NZTA’s proposed requirements relating to farebox recovery policy in the regions.  Once the policy is finalised it is to be implemented by regional councils and the Auckland Regional Transport Authority.

The farebox recovery policies that regional councils include in their regional public transport plans set out the contribution public transport users are expected to make to the cost of providing public transport services in their region.

A farebox recovery ratio, the proportion of the total costs of the services recovered from the users, measures the contribution fares make to the cost of providing public transport services, and is typically expressed as a percentage.

The NZTA believes the farebox recovery ratio is one way to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of public transport networks.  The NZTA is keen for regional councils to set and achieve a farebox recovery ratio target for public transport services in their region which sets a fair distribution of the costs between the users, the regional authority and the NZTA.  Farebox recovery ratios have been in decline in New Zealand for quite some time, and the NZTA is keen to arrest this decline.

It should be noted that changing fare structures or raising fares is not the only way to improve farebox recovery ratios, other measures include improving service and information quality, integrating fares and simplifying ticketing systems to encourage increased patronage together with  reducing costs by optimising schedules, frequencies and service times, increasing priority measures and so on.

Further rationale on why we are doing this work and the rationale for the NZTA’s draft farebox recovery policy can be found in the consultation document and associated Questions and Answers attached.  This information is also available via the NZTA’s website http://www.nzta.govt.nz/consultation/farebox-recovery-policy/index.html

We welcome any submission you would like to make.  Details on how to make a submission can be found in the consultation document.  I have also attached a word file with all of the consultation questions raised in the consultation document, which can be used to make a submission.  The closing date for submissions/feedback is 5pm Monday 30 November 2009.

Subsidised road network “elephant in room”

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TVNZ reports:

New Zealand’s state highway network is subsidised by about $1.5 billion each year, which is scuppering the coastal shipping industry, the New Zealand Shipping Federation says.

It cited a government-commissioned report, the Rockpoint Corporate Finance report, Coastal Shipping and Modal Freight Choice, for the New Zealand Transport Agency, which was released last week.


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