NZ Herald: ARC’s Green Transport Plan Ignores Reality

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The Herald’s Editorial asserting that the ARC’s transport plan “ignores reality” for its focus on public transport is remarkable for its poor grasp of what current realities actually are.

The reality is that significant roading projects such as the revised $1.8bn Waterview extension and the $2bn+ Puhoi to Wellsford motorway have not been subject to any economic benefit-cost analysis. Projects such as rail electrification have long been established as being more effective at reducing congestion in Auckland. The need for faster, quieter, low emission electric trains was established as far back as 2002 by Boston Consulting in an independent report.

The reality is that the prioritised list comes not from the ARC, but from the Regional Transport Committee which comprises representatives from the local councils, health and safety, the police, the AA, the freight industry and cycling and public transport representatives.

The Minister of Transport has been recently calling for “joined up thinking” in relation to transport planning, but the reality is that this thinking is already well represented in the Regional Growth Strategy, ARTA’s 10 year plan and now a transport plan designed to take Auckland 30 years into the future.

ARC cool on hybrid Waterview link plan

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The ARC feels insufficient information has been provided to properly assess the Waterview motorway link and it still prefers the option of a longer link through Rosebank Rd.  The Herald reports:

Auckland Regional Council’s transport committee has withheld support for the latest cut-down version of a motorway through Waterview involving a mix of surface and tunnelled sections.

The committee yesterday deemed it had received insufficient information to assess the $1.4 billion scheme before the Transport Agency board meets in a fortnight to consider submissions and decide whether to push ahead with the final link in Auckland’s western ring route.

It also restated its preference for a longer link through Rosebank Rd as “the superior strategic alignment” to connect the Southwestern and Northwestern Motorways, even though the Government ruled that out early this year as too expensive, while instructing the agency to review various Waterview options.

The regional councillors affirmed their support for completing the 48km ring route between Manukau and Albany, but questioned the strategic justification for running it through Waterview, where the latest proposal will require the demolition of up to 365 homes and loss of 5ha of public open space.

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Shunted into ’70s

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John Landrigan investigates the progress being made on electrification of Auckland’s rail network in this article in the Aucklander.
The Government insists that electric rail is still on, dare we say, track. But Auckland is borrowing to buy an ageing diesel fleet of British cast-offs.
 All abooooard the great traans-Auckland rail jooourneeey. Bear in mind, folks, there will be many stops before we reach your preferred destinations.
 Where do Aucklanders want to go? For more than 80 years Aucklanders have wanted modern, affordable and regular train services to drop them off near work and home.
 But plans have been derailed more times than Amy Winehouse has been booked into rehab and left many of us nose-to-tail, alone in our cars, listening to her croon about it.
Under the previous Government, trains were to be modernised, electrified and run underground from Britomart to Mt Eden. This would be paid for through a 9.5 cent regional fuel tax that the Auckland Regional Council championed.
But the new Government abolished regional levies in May, ostensibly to share the burden with the rest of the country through national taxes.
Now, the plan is for the Government to lend the regional council $33 million to help buy six diesel locomotives built in the 1970s, with carriages from British Rail.
To mind the gap until the money can be raised? It would seem so, but at what cost?

No matter how hard The Aucklander tried to find out, no one could tell us how much of our rates was going to subsidise our taxes for this.

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New Stations Put Extra Pressure on Ratepayers

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The Herald reports that it looks most likely that ratepayers will be picking up the funding shortfall created by the axing of the regional fuel tax:

Money has been assured for new Auckland railway stations, but at extra cost to ratepayers, after the Government’s cancellation of a regional fuel tax for motorists.

An integrated public transport ticketing project will also be scaled back under Auckland Regional Council budget decisions made yesterday.

Although regional rates will be held to an average 3.93 per cent next year, as originally programmed, the council has approved a revised 10-year funding plan including annual rises of up to 6.73 per cent by 2014. Its new schedule would lift the average rates bill from $336.79 this year to $350.03 next year.

Chairman Mike Lee acknowledged a council-imposed rates rise ceiling of no more than 5 per cent honoured since 2005 would be breached in three of the next 10 years, from 2013 to 2015.

He acknowledged that the budget commitments would be inherited next year by the new Auckland Council, at which point he said their impact on overall rates would be “fairly minimal”, equating to annual rises of under 1 per cent.

Although the council made an assumption in March that it would have to hand control of most of the stations to the Government to overcome a $202 million funding hole left by the aborted fuel tax, chief executive Peter Winder yesterday disclosed compromises to avert that. These followed agreement by the Transport Agency to:

  • Pay a 60 per cent subsidy for new railway stations including at Newmarket, New Lynn, Manukau, Onehunga, Grafton and Avondale.
  • Make a $5 million grant towards costs already incurred by the council on Newmarket Station.
  • Lend the council $32.8 million over four years to pay for six new six-car diesel trains already on order from KiwiRail until the Government buys electric rolling stock.

Mr Winder said those concessions would still close only 22 per cent of the funding gap… [more]

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