Thursday, 14th September, 2017
The Auckland Business Forum is calling on the next Government to quickly make a big call to change how Auckland has traditionally tackled its transport problems.
“If we could duplicate across Auckland the success the Waterview Tunnel project has had on reducing congestion, we would soon be ahead of the game,” said Michael Barnett, chair of the Auckland Business Forum.
It took nine years for Government, Auckland Council and private sector groups to develop an agreed transport strategy. “It is an integrated $20 billion-plus package of investments of road and rail network improvements that will enable significantly upgraded public transport and goods distribution services.”
But if the strategy is to make a Waterview-styled difference to travelling around Auckland, the big call we need to make is to commit to its delivery as a package within the next 10 years – not 30 years as a first draft proposed. For this speed-up a 3-pronged action plan is needed:
- commitment to a 10-year investment strategy directed at Government and Council allocations, and agreement on where the revenue will come from.
- prioritising the delivery of these projects over the next 10 years – providing Auckland with the impetus to meet its existing growth challenges.
- ensuring that the supply of the projects to market is at a scale and time-line that’s appealing to both domestic and international investors and partners
The significance of Auckland’s growth challenge is seen in population trends. In the last two years Auckland added 87,500 people, a growth which is higher than that projected for Wellington over the next 30 years – 84,600. An updated projection has Auckland reaching 2 million by 2029 rather than the mid-2030s which Auckland’s current transport strategy assumes.
This latest growth surge has generated a 15% increase in freight trips on some roads, and on current trends a third of Auckland’s arterial roads will be congested through most working days by 2020.
If Auckland is to successfully manage its brand and opportunities on the international stage - such as capably hosting the America’s Cup defense and APEC conference in 2021 - then it needs to match that with an equally effective commitment to its growth and infrastructure.
The few days remaining in the election campaign is enough for political aspirants to show their intentions for Auckland – it is not about more roads versus public transport – we need both. It is not about where the money can come from – it is obtainable. It is about the next government providing fearless and joined up leadership with Auckland Council and the private sector to commit to do in 10-years what we have in the past been content to set out in a 30-year agenda.
“It is a big call. But the success of the Waterview Tunnels shows that when we get our act together we get ahead. Let’s set a goal to duplicate that success across the transport network within 10-years, and much sooner for investments needing priority for action by 2021.”
For more information contact Michael Barnett, mobile: 0275 631 150 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Barnett, Chief Executive, Auckland Chamber of Commerce.
* The Auckland Business Forum: Members include Auckland Chambers of Commerce, Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern), Ports of Auckland, Auckland Airport, Civil Contractors NZ, Infrastructure NZ, National Road Carriers. These organizations represent a cross-section of Auckland industry and commerce whose role includes guardianship of businesses responsible for more than 450,000 Auckland jobs and generating 42% of New Zealand’s gross domestic product (GDP).