Auckland transport set to be next election campaign battleground as Labour gears up for rail announcement; National's also making moves; Could they end up in agreement come 23 September?

By Alex Tarrant

As house prices in Auckland start to fall, Election 2017 attention turns now to Auckland transport as the next National vs Labour battleground.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges on Friday announced a bunch of National Party plans for improving the city’s transport network that are being worked on with Auckland Council.

It was perhaps not coincidental that Bridges was ‘forced’ to reveal the plans, given Labour was giving everyone and their dog a wink and a nudge that they were gearing up for a big Sunday announcement.

The newly invigorated lead opposition party will try and turn the conversation into one of trains versus cars, rapid transit versus congestion this weekend as a vision for a twenty-first century rapid transit system is touted by Jacinda Ardern and Auckland MPs including Michael Wood and Phil Twyford.

It’ll be a case of rail, rail, rail, rail, bus projects as Labour seeks to overtake National and the Greens on leading the conversation of how should we get around Auckland in the future, and how can we come up with a city-wide light rail network.

Light rail from the CBD to the airport will be a major plank – not in the four-year timeframe that the Greens are promising – but we’ll at least get to Mt Roskill within that timeframe, with a promise for the remaining link within the decade. A new bus connection to the closest train station to the airport will help until then.

A number of other projects (the South-East will get trains!) will seek to leap-frog promises of busways and extra roads and go straight for the rail option which will invariably arise over the next 20 years or so. Sunday afternoon you’ll get the full details.

Meantime, National also sounds likely to counter this on Sunday with an announcement themselves. This was precursed by a statement from Bridges’ office on Friday stating that “the Government is working closely with Auckland Council on new ways to accelerate and deliver significant ATAP projects.” These include:

  • Mill Road ($955 million)
  • North Western Busway ($835 million)
  • AMETI ($616 million)
  • Extending electrification of rail from Papakura to Pukekohe ($130 million)
  • The 3rd Main Rail Line (Wiri to Westfield) ($100 million)
  • Total Investment - $2.636 billion

“These projects will help close any funding gap (of up to $7 billion) of the $27 billion worth of investment in Auckland transport projects over the next decade. Ultimately the projects mean more Government money will be invested in Auckland,” Bridges says.

“They will help with growth occurring and being enabled by other partnerships recently announced by Government and Council, the Housing Infrastructure Fund and the Crown Infrastructure Partnership.

“These are substantial projects involving substantial new work across the city. We will be substantially completing these over the next decade. Further details have to be worked through with Auckland Council and we’ll have more to say in the coming weeks.”

Labour will aim the “nine long years” criticism at any policy movement like this from National between now and the election. Those in the party who remember the Clark/Cullen government being showered with the phrase in 2008 are relishing the opportunity to give it back a bit. I wonder if we’ll see any resumption of the “nanny state” line that also contributed to the Fifth Labour government’s downfall?

Labour will say it has found a way to make all its Auckland transport promises pay – some roading projects could be tapered back as they emphasise the need for funds to expand Auckland’s light rail system.

We already know Twyford is a fan of the targeted rate, and also of value uplift taxes. To be fair, Bridges is too, but there’s a Mexican stand-off going on between the government and Auckland Airport regarding who moves first on this.

Aucklanders should be encouraged by the fact both sides appear to be listening to concerns and remedies. There will be some differences, but each side has another seven weeks to keep trumping the other.

Wouldn’t pre- and/or post-election cross party agreement on Auckland’s transport solutions be nice? Perhaps a pre-cursor to a grand National-Labour coalition if Winston doesn’t come through on that Kingmaker status? Just for a month or two, while game-changing legislation and plans are drawn up for Auckland?

Well, it has been a long week.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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75 Comments

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Media should ask National : Why now.

Lol Election year

BUT this year will be for change.

Change? Unlikely! There may be a 'handing over of the baton of power' to Labour, but that's not change! It's a continuation of the governance that we have had for many decades. All that happens is that 'one lot is out, the other ( same) lot is in'. That's why there is so much anti-Trump kerfuffle. It's not about Trump, it's about The Establishment ( Democrats + Republicans = Nation + Labour = Conservatives + Labour etc etc) being scared witless that someone is going to upset their cosy status quo. Change? I'd love it! But this election isn't going to be it! The closest we will get is reactionary 'change' in the vane of Macron. Little couldn't win, so Ardern is our Macron.. The end result? "All Change", but we're still standing at the same station......

(NB: Arguably the last Change NZ had came with Lange. Agree with it or not, it was change. Unless we get something along those lines eg: Unless Ardern gets in and does what has to be done early, regardless of what she 'promised', there will be no change now)

Be positive and Vote for National Free NZ

I shall! I will be a TOP voter. It may seem futile, but it's positive!
Many across the Globe have almost 'had enough' eg:

There are a number of very serious problems in Western culture at the minute, but the decline of the Rule of Law in favour of giving corporate globalism carte blanche is one of the most obvious and threatening. This is the case against Big Business:

They break the law with impunity
They lie 24/7
They send emails to which response is barred
They never answer texts
They demand personal information at every turn
They almost never provide a manned phone number
They offer after sales service that is no service at all
They have no ethics whatsoever
They are unbelievably incompetent
They profiteer shamelessly
They lay off staff in huge numbers to give returns to shareholders
They could not care less about consumers
They spend millions on tax avoidance.

https://hat4uk.wordpress.com/2017/08/05/the-saturday-essay-the-bigger-th...

Read "National deserve to lose" by Damien Grant in NBR.

Value uplift tax - wonder if it will be 100%.

All these will be water under the bridge, after the election ?
Pun intended...

Hang about ...

Can't understand the logic of a light-rail-tram system via Dominion Rd to Mt Roskill, out through Hillsborough, and right past the existing Onehunga Rail Station

Simpler to extend the Britomart-Penrose-Onehunga line out to Mangere in 2 years with express trains thru Onehunga

Light Rail and Standard rail as operated in Auckland and NZ both use the same narrow guage

Dead right. Heavy rail please for the airport. Onehunga or Puhunui.
Aucklanders have to get out of denial. Serious infrastructure has to be done. It costs and Aucklanders will have to pay - massive Rates increases - Fuel taxes - maybe both.

Fuel charges are not fair. What if you live and work in Warkworth - why are you paying for CBD workers? Congestion charge the way to go - start small and cheap but then expand - say $1 for crossing the bridge when congested?

,

I think that will be an option. It seems the planners thinking is light rail all the way , or heavy rail all the way . One problem with heavy rail via Onehunga is the line form Onehunga to Britomart is at capacity, and the CRL wont be finished in time.
Hopefully there is at least an interchange between the 2 systems at Onehunga, Not everyone wants to travel to the Wynyard quarter. Bit of Americas cup thinking there , I think .

Problem with heavy rail option is congestion. The CRL tunnel only doubles the capacity of the rail network which will only last a couple of years at the current 20% yearly growth. That means any airport services would require a corresponding reduction in southern services. (Current onehunga branch is infrequent - and single track so can only run in one direction at a time)

Light rail adds new capacity that adds to the heavy rail networks capacity.

Essentially you can't expect to provide all mass transit services for a city through one tunnel.

Love the cartoon

Agree, hilarious

Alex your opening sounds as if our housing woes are solved! Long way from that being the case.
Huge issues still to resolve.
Good to see the transport issue getting the attention it deserves, though

Where can I find details on the NorthWestern Busway project?

Google didn't turn up much.

Surely they're not going to dig up the motorway they have only just built?

Of course they will have to. Nationals are a bunch of old school losers that can't plan a year ahead. Should have been built in the first place as everyone always said but hey gotta build roads for your mates.

Another highway paralleling the southern motorway doesn't make a lot of sense either.

I support rail but they also need to start thinking about laying the groundwork for congestion charging. When self driving cars arrive they will be extraordinarily cheap, so congestion charging will be needed to incentivise people to share a ride rather than have every car zipping around with one person in it. I'm unsure about the longevity of busses once self driving cars are here. Trains might still make sense with people being dropped off at the train station.

If we have enough roads or infrastructure for a certain population size, then that shouldn't be needed.

Watch the space more TAXes to come ...they are just warming up !!

Labour's promo to the announcement failed the substance and content - we were waiting for a breakthrough ..lol.!!
If rail projects will end up like the thousands of miles of cycle routes around the city which is not even being used by 0.00001 of the population and costed zillions of dollars , then its another sham..! and money down the drain ...and another "Rail"drain on the council's budget going forward

But the interesting thing is this: IT IS THE OPENING FOR TAXING SEASON... Auckland has to pay / contribute whether they like it or Not - that is the same good old Labour Spirit and Attitude - use buzz words and black mail emotions and hardship .... Jacindra stated that as if she was already making a PM's decision !! an intimidating look covered with a smile !! ... the main users for an Airport rail will be travelers and tourists ... so why not make it user-paid service like everywhere else in the civilized world ??? why should the people living north of the bridge and Rodney pay anything towards that in their daily petrol usage ??
Same old Labour, same tool box, Same flimsy team , new flimsy deputy hiding behind a new young face thinking that their jumping up and down and overdoses of enthusiasm will fool the voters ...hmmm, Little substance Indeed !! ...

Again, watch the space more TAXes to come boys ...they are just warming up !!

Go back to 1956.

Back to when trains were the best means of transport around you mean?

Funny you say that ... I experienced Melbourne's train and tram system which was amazing ... why cant we do something similar ? there are few million people in an out of that city everyday and yet did not see traffic jams like in Auckland ... !!

Melbourne and Auckland are pretty close for congestion really. On the Tom Tom Congestion Indicator, Melbourne is 33% and tipped to rise to 60% by 2050, and Auckland has a similar target and is marginally higher today at 38%. Sydney is 39% by way of comparison, and London 40%.

http://tinyurl.com/yaa3tyqg

TomTom report is meaningless. Do some reading

This is ridiculous. Light Rail is far from the traditional heavy rail from 1956. Light Rail Transit (LRT) is where the future is for Auckland.

Wait for the autonomous electric powered quadcopters. There's a revolution coming with computer controlled electric powered flight.

Eco Bird don't we all use the airport locally or internationally?

Yes, indeed we do DGZ, and it will be Fairer for everyone to make it purely user paid service where part of the running cost pays for the infrastructure rather than tourists only paying for its running cost. i.e. every user contributes for its running and existence.

Congestion charges are user paid charges, tolls are the same ...I do not pay for the Puhoi tunnel when going north, I have a choice ...not so when i am charged through my petrol usage.

It's obvious why uniform charges on petrol is used, simply because it is less obvious / costly by spreading it on a bigger base .... but it remains unfair in my view. and also remains open ended - how long is it going to last? how long is this piece of string?

Yes agreed. Should be on a user-pay basis. It's going to be expensive to vote for Ardern.

I know.. and been sounding that since last week .. they are just warming up ...

BTW, when was the last additional petrol tax removed after introduction? my guess is never and we get used to it even when the project is well paid for ..Tax numbed.

She has not ruled out any changes to Little's Tax policies and just being cagey about the whole issue ... Labour will slip in CGT and Negative Gearing once in power ....

It is going to be more expensive to clean the mess after they are gone ...

The last regional tax was removed. If I remember right, it was 2 c per litre in Auckland, Wellington, CHch, and maybe Dunedin , to pay for public transport improvements.
Long term Congestion charging will probably make more sense. I think they are proposing to give Auckland Council the power to do both , the tax wont be decided by the government.

And not a minute before time, should have been done long ago

Tax 'em I say...tax the investors, tax the income they make from the hard working people who are being ripped off by them. Tax their land, tax their houses, tax their very breath. Then build a city that is liveable, where people can afford to live and movement is easy. Tax the greedy, self entitled boomers... make them pay.

That's right - if the boomers would simply have a few less expensive bottles of pinot each week (and pay more tax on their loss making real estate investments), we could tax them more and then pay for the infrastructure the city needs to function properly.....but the old people in this country are too backward in their thinking - they want, want, want and take, take, take when it best suits them.....but are not willing to give back to the city that they benefited from.....

(this is of course a piss take on the views some of the older gen have of the smashed avo eating younger gen...)

Well us boomers are entitled to a bottle of Pinot at night. That's why this is still a free country. You ever fight for for your country?

Some of us are right now.....while our current government and current day property investor is happy to sell the place out to whatever foreigner buyer is willing to pay top dollar....

Take it you're ex services Moaman?

Well, if you had a property for sale and Top dollar knocked on your door ( in an auction for example), you would have sold too - or were you going to stop the auction because some Asians are bidding?

So let's cut this type of BS cos it leads to nowhere other than undesirable divisions!

But the current system already has (created undesirable divisions) - but you and the Darklord mates have the rose tints on so are out of algnment with reality...

And on the topic of taking top dollar from a foreigner - no I wouldn't. I'd rather sell to a young local couple - greed isn't everything my friend...people have capital gains brains disease and appear to have forgotten how to be good, decent people.

Oh well, sorry my friend ... I hope that you will find the young couple and sell them your house when time comes ... well done!

BTW , most "darklords" like me do not sell at all, we just buy when we can, you certainly knew that already ...

and BTW, the current system has not changed since at least the 1990s ... so don't blame the "system" for undesirable divisions !!

and BTW, we had a very similar housing appreciation twice in the last 17 years ... both happened when LABOUR was in Government !!

So the idea is to exploit the situation for your own financial gain, as opposed to trying to fix it? You don't want the housing issues to be resolved...so you feed off government and council incompetence..

And if there was such appreciation in house prices under labour, as a Darklord you'd welcome them back into power wouldn't you?

Exploit ?? LOL, ... let's leave it at that my friend, shall we? ... it seems you are living in another universe .. so very sorry to disturb you ...!

We live in a much more primitive Galaxy where houses are "shamefully" sold at market value and Yes, we do feed off others incompetence .... We have no clue as to how to resolve complicated issues using your divine spirit, principles, and knowledge ...

That's why we are so looking forward for the coming back of Labour to rid us from our Sins and fix this problem for everyone .... Oh, and save us from the ruthless Speculators and the merciless criminal Foreign buyers.

Peace !!

And just about everything you have said demonstrates why we need laws restricting who can buy houses and land here. If foreigners are not buying, as it was when people could afford houses, then people could still afford houses. The purpose of houses is, first and foremost, to provide HOMES for people, using them like a casino is so many shades of wrong, and just because the law allows it does not mean it is right. Once the law allowed a man to assault his wife.

great summary of Labour's position .. they do not dare to speak their mind but you did it for them- thank you. Three more years.

3 more years indeed...

Thank you Labour for all the taxes LOL!

Thank you National for the expensive houses, congestion, over-run infrastructure and poverty...LOL!

LOL, well it was available to everyone -- chicken littles did not grab the opportunity and was waiting 9 years for Labour to solve the issues .... As if their flimsy policies now and punishing the smart ones will get you ( cheerleaders) anything you are dreaming of or promised with - in fact you will join us in paying more taxes ..lol !! if you still have a job, that is -- Be prepared to be disappointed - Big Time - this is Deja Vue 2002....Grant Robertson thinks he is ( trying to be) another Michael Cullen, he is just too exposed and people can read through that yellow smile very well ...LOL noticed he changed his haircut to look like him :)
Vote for change !...Vote National

LOL!!

I'll second that, they are beginning to sound a tiny bit hysterical

Looks like they are wanting to shift the taxation collection, onto local governments. There are reasons why they want small councils to merge into super cities, and one reason is to allow regional taxes, as it makes things a lot easier to administer.

:)

Main users will not be travellers. Far more people will use it to get to work in the area, plus residents of the southwest, mangere using it to get around.

We've fixed our congestion problems with the new Waterview tunnel. Great South Road from Greenlane to Newmarket has only half the morning traffic it had before the tunnel. Anybody else notice a big improvement?

Yes but it will only be temporary. Without decent PT investment everything will end up clogged again

Big improvement I cannot believe it! Hopefully this will last at least 10-20 years.

lol, haven't been down to penrose for few years, used to work there and spent countless hours commuting from the Shore and back ( for 18 years), must try it again sometime then. You could imagine what a harbour tunnel will achieve if built in 3-4 years.

A harbour tunnel will definitely lift the average house prices on the North Shore to unprecedented level, probably something like $3M-$4M I'd say ;-)

Oh, is that why they are not doing it then? :)

The business case for the harbour tunnel actually shows that congestion will be worse after construction. The southern/northern/northwestern motorways simply don't have extra capacity, so all the tunnel does is allow the bridge to be repurposed to deliver north shore commuters into the CBD.

Well and that alone is great as the North Shore also includes Rodney and up to Welsford very soon ... there are tens of thousands of homes being built north of the bridge.. -
collectively will reach the 1M people ..... The bridge is one of the bottlenecks and slows down the flow ..... however I thought that the tunnel will connect the shore to the eastern suburbs or from Devonport to CBD ... I could be wrong or confused by the old plans.

No the harbour tunnel will not help those from Rodney / Welsford. The northern motorway is the bottleneck. Traffic on the bridge flows quite well with the peak. It will only help those coming from the lower north shore.

The tunnel duplicates the current bridge. Though taking a shorter path, it still connects SH1 at northcote to SH1 at victoria park. Devenport users will still have to drive up lake road or take the ferry. To get to the eastern suburbs you still have to go through spaghetti junction and down the southern.

http://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/awhc/

thanks for that ...
then they have to think of another alternative because the Shore (the Northern MW) will soon be totally choked I see the traffic early morning from my place ... it used to flow well north of Greville road until about 7am, now the crawling starts at about 6am with an endless long line of lights towards the North...

Has any party come to power with a plan to tax people and announcing it as a major plank in their campaign ? Labour is intent on losing every election with such moves, wasn't it Capital Gains last time ?
English and the National are safe.

The Clark labour government? Introduced the 39% top tax rate.

Also the current National government has been ramping up petrol tax and RUCs. The GST increase though was one they introduced after campaigning on no new taxes.

Yes , GST rise was compensated with tax cuts and WWF and benefit adjustments ... so there were no new taxes as campaigned by NATs... Labour lost support last election when it touched on CGT ... they put the hard word before crossing the line ..so they failed.

I have a very suspicious feeling that they will slip CGT in once in office - It looks that they will keep dodging this issue and avoid addressing it in public - so that no promises would be broken later ...

They are campaigning for the removal of Negative gearing facility for property investors though ... which will also fire back at them ..

Labour has probably learnt their lesson last time and I feel they will deceive us again using "Aims justify the Means" principle

So Their message is vote us in and we'll fix it - the devil will be in the detail !!

Let's see what this Beauty Contest will lead to ...

If Labour want a point of difference from National It should be,' bring the troops home'! USA is a rogue state that has lost all credibility.
Only a moron can actually think the war on terror is a fight-able war or even the real reason for the wars.
The so called 'axis of evil' might have birthed a couple of dozen terrorists before 9/11 but now they are justified to produce them by the million.
The one thing the 'axis of evil' countries have in common is the rejection of using the petro dollar for trade. Russia, china and India are now also side stepping the petro dollar. They are all rejecting , the greatest financial scam in history.

Meanwhile we still have troops in the countries that the USA has invaded with our help.
They don't need our weapons, They like having us on the team as we help legitimize their behavior.
We have these subjugated nations blood on hour hands.
This should be the biggest issue in our election but its not even on the agenda.
We need our media to stop repeating the propaganda drivel fed to us from the USA and we need to bring our troops home.
We are on the wrong side of history, fighting with the wrong team. We are part of the problem.
The days of the US dollar being used as the reserve currency for trade are numbered. We need to get with the picture and not go down with a sinking ship.
When the world fully rejects using the US dollar as the reserve currency for trade the US economy will collapse.

I doubt things are that simple, they never are. A lot of what our troops are doing is keeping two sides apart in an internecine war with centuries of history. One lot blowing up a school bus from the outfit down the road that believes a slightly different version of the complete and utter nonsense they believe in; that sort of thing.

A lot of that is the propaganda drivel I mentioned that NZ media needs to stop repeating.
We didn't help USA invade Iraq and Afghanistan to stop two local war lords shooting bullets at each other.
Iraq was ceasing trade using US dollar and switching to the Euro. Iraq oil is now controlled by USA and Britain and Iraq has a puppet govt.
Afghanistan has the worlds largest lithium reserves and if the invasion was about getting Osama Bin Laden they got him years ago. Thank goodness he didn't come from NZ, under that fight terrorism logic the USA would have laid waist to our country.
The FBI said the terrorist that attacked twin towers were Saudi Arabians. Why is Saudi Arabia still USA's best friend? Because they are biggest oil producer and have made no moves to stop trading their oil using the US dollar.
Its not all that complicated David, follow the money.
If USA fought wars on humanitarian reasons they would have rescued East Timor from Indonesia.

I have no doubt you are correct in all but NZ's involvement. For example we (Helen Clarke) refused to send combat troops to Iraq despite US and UK (and John Key) requests to get involved.
http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/308164/nz-made-'right-judgement'-over-iraq
Here is a very good recent article on the ME problems from (David Chastons favourite) John Pilger which supports a lot of what you have said: http://johnpilger.com/articles/terror-in-britain-what-did-the-prime-mini...

Thank goodness for Helen Clarke Labour Govts sense of judgement.
Unfortunately our National govt jumped in boots and all and let our troops get involved with the USA's invasions.
Why isn't this Labour party using their moral high ground to put us back on the right side of history?
They need to stand for something other than being a watered down version of National party policies.

Actually my original comment that we were involved with the invasions was correct.
We didn't have our combat troops involved, Just our SAS elite troops.
If my memory is correct we only found out about our SAS being in Afghanistan after they took casualties or some sort of incident was published.
Evidently where our SAS go is not the business of everyday NZ'ers.
I would be surprised if they weren't in Iraq as well, but for the point of my comment it doesn't matter.
My point was that Labour has the opportunity to stand for something and have a point of difference from National.

My memory is slowly winding back and I think NZ found out our SAS were in Afghanistan when they showed up on some USA or BBC war footage in the media.