Auckland’s traffic congestion was decried by Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand yesterday as a “deadweight” on the region’s productivity.
Sir Anand, who grew up in Auckland, said heavy investment in motorways and the decline of public transport after trams were taken off the roads in the 1950s had led to severe congestion to the detriment of both individuals and the economy.
His comments came as he opened New Lynn’s $36 million railway station and bus interchange.
“Aucklanders lose valuable time through sitting in long traffic queues – the frustration to them and cost in time lost and petrol and diesel converted into fumes for no purpose has been immense,” he told 200 people at the opening.
“That cost is not simply borne by individuals who could have been at home enjoying time with their families. Congestion means that it takes longer for goods and services to get to their destination and onward to export markets.”
“All of this has been a deadweight on productivity for Auckland and, given the size of the region’s economy, the whole of New Zealand.”
But Sir Anand said new investment in Auckland’s public transport was beginning to pay dividends, evidenced by an increase of almost two million boardings last year to more than 60 million passenger trips on buses, trains and ferries.
Although that was still well below a figure of about 100 million trips in the 1950s, when as a child growing up in Ponsonby he enjoyed catching trams and trains, “it is good to see the trend heading in a northwards and correct direction.”
Sir Anand’s leadership of yesterday’s event, as a politically-neutral figure, came as politicians of the left and right congratulated each other on the realisation of a vision for the transformation of what
retiring Waitakere Mayor Bob Harvey said had been a “very tired” town centre.
The station has been part of public investment of $300 million, on which his council has spent $91 million on surrounding road upgrades and a contribution to the railway trench, on which the Government spent $140 million.