Appearing in the letters section today of the NZ Herald:
In opening a fourth motorway lane between Newmarket and Greenlane, the New Zealand Transport Agency claims benefits of over a million dollars week to the Auckland economy, brought about by peak hour journey time savings of up to five minutes.
It is difficult to understand how this claimed economic benefit is calculated. No commuter using this section of motorway at peak times is likely to arrive at work any earlier or leave work any later – workers travel on their own time, not their employers. For a while they may enjoy an extra five minutes in bed or an extra bowl of cornflakes, but this is unlikely to add up to a million a week for Auckland’s economy.
Courier and freight companies that utilise this section of road more frequently at peak times may enjoy some cost savings, but these would hardly add up to $1m a week either.
The NZTA’s reasoning appears seriously flawed, which is a concern given the billions currently being allocated by central Government to motorway projects, while petrol prices soar to record levels.
On the otherhand, if NZTA want to use this type of economic evaluation, then the CBD rail tunnel must be worth tens of millions a week, since a single railway line can carry 10x more than a single motorway lane in an hour at peak. The CBD rail tunnel will also save more than 5 minutes at peak for Western Line passengers, who can also be productive on their mobile phones at the same time, checking emails and texts.