Martin Gummer: Auckland at Crossroads

Martin Gummer was chief executive of Transfund NZ from 1997 to 2002, and chief executive of ARTNL (the Auckland Regional Transport Network Ltd) from 2002 – 2004.

Transport officials, past or present, almost never speak out on transport issues, so it is particularly courageous of Martin to do so in an opinion piece in today’s Herald.

In particular the following quotes should be making people stand up and take note:

The holiday highway, however, has a lower cost alternative – improvements to the existing road, that could defer replacement for a further 20-30 years. Corners could be smoothed, alignments improved, maybe a short bypass built around Warkworth, and three- or four-lane sections with a central wire barrier built in the Dome Valley…

So what huge benefits justify spending four to six times greater than that for a major overhaul of the existing road? A time-saving of 10-15 minutes over the status quo? Hardly.

The minister and the Government are getting into tricky territory here. This has more than a whiff of the politicisation of transport funding that characterises the Australian system.

The CBD rail loop should encourage urban renewal, commercial activity and property development along its alignment, and more intensified urban development around or near other rail stations – helping to harness Auckland’s growth within its existing urban area.

It should also make rail travel a more viable, accessible option for more Aucklanders.

The holiday highway will further improve property values, increase property development in Warkworth, Wellsford and surrounding communities, and encourage more commuting from there to Auckland. Where do the Government’s priorities lie?

Leave a comment