Monday, 1st July, 2019
The increased petrol tax today and Auckland’s Regional Fuel Tax (RFT) one year old, prompts a question: “What are we getting for our money?”
Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said last year, unveiling a revamped Auckland Transport Alignment Programme (ATAP): “Together, we will invest $28 billion over the next decade to unlock Auckland’s potential. We will be building vital projects including light rail, Penlink and Mill Rd, heavy rail and bus upgrades, safety improvements, and more dedicated cycle lanes.”
These “much needed” investments are made possible by a $4.4 billion funding boost from the RFT, National Land Transport Fund (16.3 billion) and Crown Infrastructure Partners ($0.36 billion) contributions, they claimed.
Half-way into the “year of delivery,” and all we’re seeing is key projects delayed, down-sized or discarded. The public are seeing noticeable asset deterioration at a rate we haven’t seen previously. It’s across New Zealand, Forum members advise, not just Auckland.
Despite being repeatedly told we have funding nothing is actually happening on any project - Nothing on light rail, no sign of ‘ready to go’ Penlink or Mill Rd or the 3rd and 4th Heavy Rail lines.
The growing use of public transport is progress, but the worsening traffic congestion is making it harder for people and goods to move around our city with every day that passes. “We are not building a viable transport system fast enough to get in front of Auckland’s rapid growth,” said Auckland Business Forum chairman Michael Barnett.
In the first nine months of the RFT, around $101 million was spent against a forecast of $126 million. Meanwhile light rail has an allocation of $1.8 billion – the under-spent $1.8 billion could be reallocated to “ready to go” projects (with solid business cases behind them).
Ever-increasing growth on the periphery of the city is not being matched by the provision of infrastructure – particularly road space. The congestion impacts on residents and businesses are bad enough now, but they’re only going to get worse.
The Forum’s key objective for Auckland is an ‘integrated transport network;’ i.e. a transport system designed to generate good system-wide outcomes for Auckland’s movement of people and goods. This requires well-planned and balanced investments across roads (maintenance and new capacity), public transport, and walking and cycling options.
Where’s the money gone? What exactly has it been spent on? Auckland transport users certainly aren’t seeing the benefits.