Regional Transport Committee Steps Up

Good to see the Regional Transport Committee isn’t blindly accepting the Government priority on Roads of National Significance.  The Herald reports:

One of seven Government “roads of national significance”, a $2.3 billion highway north of Auckland, has been placed at the bottom of a list of regional transport priorities.

The proposed 34km four-lane link between Puhoi and Wellsford was listed behind 14 other transport projects in a staff report to the Auckland Regional Transport Committee, which is working on a blueprint to keep the region moving through the next 30 years.

Top of the list is the $1 billion rail electrification project, for which the Government has yet to allocate money for new trains, followed by a central Auckland rail tunnel and integrated public transport ticketing.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce responded:

“It is one of the challenges for the new Auckland City and councillors to make sure they represent the whole city,” he told the Herald after turning the symbolic first sod for a $98 million rail link for 2km between the main trunk and central Manukau.

“On one hand it is very important that we have public transport in the central area, but we also need transport links to the Rodneys and Franklins of the world,” he said.

But RTC Transport Chair hit back with

It was prepared in the absence of any known benefit-cost assessments of the Puhoi-Wellsford project by the Government’s Transport Agency

“[Unlike] the regional priorities that have been objectively identified and refined through the years, it hasn’t been on the table and hasn’t been assessed as delivering the best benefits, given its costs,” Ms Rose said.

“So we are having to work around something that takes funding from other identified priorities that have been through robust processes.”

Right on!

At the same time as the Transport Agency was preparing to spend $103 million on investigations and property purchases on such an “ill-developed” project, Aucklanders were still waiting for the Government to allocate money for electric trains against an arbitrary funding cap.

Yep. And Papakura’s Caroline Conroy concludes with:

“Hopefully the minister will get the message,” she said.

“We are not talking about roads or rail, we are talking about transport and he needs to consider the needs of the Auckland region when he writes his Government policy statement.”

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