Green Party says would prioritise light rail from Auckland CBD to airport for 2021; Would look to partially fund it through land value capture

Green Party says would prioritise light rail from Auckland CBD to airport for 2021; Would look to partially fund it through land value capture

The Green Party Wednesday promised to fast-track building light rail from Auckland's centre out to the airport by 2021 if it is in government after 23 September.

The move may not come as surprise, but could serve to put more pressure on current government Ministers and the Auckland Council to research how to bring forward work on the project.

Greens transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said the $2.3 billion cost would be met from the government's transport fund. However, the Greens would also investigate partially funding the project through land value capture (value uplift tax).

Interest.co.nz on Sunday wrote that Transport Minister Simon Bridges was in a Mexican stand-off with parties including Auckland Airport on funding for the project. One trigger for the government agreeing to bring the project forward from its current 30-year timeframe would be agreement between beneficiary parties on new funding measures, such as value uplift tax.

Speaking to media in Parliament Buildings later on Wednesday, Bridges questioned the Green Party stance, saying they were generally opposed to processes used to fast-track development. See further comments in Question Time.

But Bridges did welcome the discussion on the issue, particularly around the Greens' support for using land value capture to help fund such a project. “I think they stole that from us," he said. "These are things that we want to do as well. We want to get private money involved in these things."

“Simply put, what we mean and what we’re very open to, is getting new private money in to help us do the job in Auckland," Bridges said. Asked whether that meant the Airport and Dominion Road businesses needed to come to the table, he replied: “I think potentially those things are possible. We’re not quite there yet in terms of having those discussions.”

“If we did a serious public transport project, as I think we’re going to, between Auckland CBD and airport, ...there would be other parties that would benefit significantly from that," Bridges said. "Around the world – Australia, the UK, I think parts of America - they’ve looked at how they’ve managed to help fund [projects] through those sort of things. We’re very open, in fact interested in doing some of those things here as well.”

Bridges disputed that the current timetable meant a 30 year wait for rail to the airport. "What I’ve always said is that we support route protection now, we want to get on with that, and we want to have a public transport corridor. I think moving from bus to light rail’s probably a question of when demand requires that.

“Now look, that may well be sooner than later and I’m very open to that. I’m actually open to reasonable suggestions around this corridor and what sort of project it might be," he said.

The government's central plan at the moment is to secure land for a rapid transit busway to and from the airport, which would eventually be converted to heavy or light rail. Bridges has said there are various roadblocks, including the work required to secure the land which might not be completed until 2019, before work can begin.

On Monday, Prime Minister Bill English said it might be possible to bring forward some planned Auckland Transport projects, although he was non-committal on which ones. Government and the Council are currently in discussion on the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP). An initial $24bn plan, of which $20bn has funding, may have already blown out 18 months after being first devised.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has said higher-than-expected population growth in Auckland in recent years means the initial $4bn ATAP funding gap may have widened to at least $7bn.

Emirates Team New Zealand's America's Cup win gave renewed vigour to calls to fast-track various Auckland infrastructure projects. The APEC forum will also be held in Auckland in 2021, with English saying the combination of events made the infrastructure picture there "a little bit complex."

Genter said bringing forward the project was an ambitious goal which would require unprecedented cooperation between government and the Auckland Council.

See the release from the Greens below:

The Green Party is announcing today that in Government it will fast-track the building of a new rail line to Auckland airport to be completed in 2021, in time for the next America’s Cup.

By light rail it will take approximately 43 minutes to travel from Wynyard Quarter, up Queen Street and Dominion Road to the airport. The $2.3 billion rail line will be a project of national significance funded from the transport fund. In Government we will also investigate additional funding sources for this project such as land value capture.

“Light rail to the airport is the most urgently needed transport project in Auckland, and it will start this year when we’re in Government,” said Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter.

“A new rail line will give people the freedom to by-pass congested roads and travel from the city to Dominion Rd and the airport easily and quickly.

“Light rail will mean far more consistent and shorter travel times for people traveling to and from the airport and surrounding suburbs.

“2021 is an ambitious goal that will require unprecedented cooperation between Government and Council, and we can make this happen.

“It’s absurd that National still thinks this project isn’t needed for another 30 years. In that timeframe the number of passengers travelling to and from the airport will double and the number of people working near the airport will triple.

“It took 6 years for National to realise the City Rail Link was a priority for Auckland. We can’t wait 6 years, let alone 30, for work on airport rail to start.

“Rail to the airport is just one of a number of transformative rail projects that the Green Party will fast-track in Government. We intend to announce more projects closer to the election,” said Ms Genter.

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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Light rail up Dominion Road. Nah. What about a full rail scheme connecting into the existing rail network either from Onehunga, or Puhunui ? As for it being a project of national significance. Nah again. Put up Auckland rates.
Now the new tunnel is connected and there is a circuit motorway maybe it's time to complete the same circuit by rail. That is a line from Onehunga to Avondale. I have a vague memory that was always the intention and the land was reserved across there largely for that purpose. (messed up a bit by the motorway now though) Again, Aucklanders should pay for it, not the government.

I seriously question whether the airport company have any motivation at all to make a rail link work. How much parking fee income will they loose? It their behaviour consistent with my suspicion?

Likely they'll have a 'special' fare with a surcharge which compensates them for the money they charge taxis and for parking. doesn't anyone else see the irony in a "Green" party pushing public transport to an airport? flying being the most unenvironmentally friendly activity? Which sort of highlights the whole hypocrisy of the green public transport movement, its not and never will be energy efficient, it appeals because its egalitarian suffering and this will become increasing obvious. Unfortunately Auckland is investing in all this greenwash rubbish, the world needs to move on from trains.

yes I thought by then we would be moving in pod sized electric self drive cars, so small the roads of today would be large enough for multiple lanes, all travelling in a highly synchronised fashion, millimeters away form each other, no traffic lights and in perpetual motion.

A notion I believe is entirely possible given the billions being thrown at it by Apple, Google and so on.

Or not.

Not. The rest of the world maybe, but not here.

I guess if that is the case we would be stupid to spend money on roads as our current roads will be more than enough. So stop spending on transport altogether and wait for the future to hopefully solve our problems?

No, don't see the irony at all.

Until a high speed bullet train is built between all major centres, and Continential drift causes New Zealand to move closer to the rest of the world, powered flight is a fact of life. To acknowledge its existence is realistic, not hypocritical.

Munch kale, sip Chardonnay on the train to a flight to a climate change conference???

"By 2000, airline travel (3,892 BTU per passenger mile) officially became greener than driving (3,926 BTU per person, per mile.) The trend has continued so that in 2010, flying burned just 2,691 BTU per passenger mile—an improvement of 74 percent since 1970. That was 43 percent better than driving the average car, which gets about 21.5 miles per gallon (4,218 BTU per passenger mile)." - http://www.slate.com/articles/business/the_juice/2014/07/driving_vs_flyi...

Also, electric trains are extremely efficient. Especially in terms of carbon footprint in NZ as about 90% of our energy generation is renewable.

I think air travel is more significant than people realise. The twin engined wide bodied jet such as the Boeing 777 is truly a wonder.

Chris-M,

As a shareholder in the airport,I am interested in how they decide to allocate capital. If they calculate that they are likely to lose more through traffic congestion making it increasingly difficult to get to and from the airport,than from parking charges,then they would go for it.
However,I feel sure that they would fight hard to avoid paying anything for the infrastructure.

$2.3 billion (just budgeted costs) for 27.9km (source: googlemap) = $82,437,276 per km ($82 million per km or USD$62 million at 0.75 USD per NZD).

World Bank figures for high speed rail (http://www.globalconstructionreview.com/sectors/why-china-can-build-high...):
According to a World Bank paper published last week, China’s high-speed rail so far has cost between $17m and $21m per kilometre, even though it has a high ratio of big-ticket viaducts and tunnels. In Europe that figure is $25m-$39m per kilometre, while in California, the only US state currently planning a high-speed line, it’s more like $56m/km.

Just feel that building infrastructure in NZ is a lot more expensive, and take a lot longer.

Agree completely. The construction costs of major NZ projects seem to be on a different planet. eg

Auckland Rail loop tunnel NZ$3.3B 2 x 7 meter diameter tunnels 3.5 odd km each not hard geotech CF
Manapouri tail race tunnel, 10 km 10 meters diameter nearly impossible geotech NZ$220M

Millau Viaduct (France) length 2.5 km Maximum height 280 m!!! cost EU $300m cf estimate for second Auckland harbour bridge a bit longer than the present 1km one; estimated cost NZ$4B!!!!

It is hard to believe that these differences can be just our NZ incompetence.

As far as the crl is concerned I don't think the tunnel is the main cost, I think it is the stations. You could compare with londons cross rail which cost something like 30 billion pounds.
Also with second harbour crossing I imagine most of the cost is the motorway too the tunnel not the tunnel itself.

In Vancouver a station is made by simply removing about 8 to 10 meters of ground between the two tunnels and bringing down stairs/escalators to this platform. Looks pretty simple and inexpensive to me. I imagine Auckland a going to build underground Taj Mahal affairs.
The second Manapouri tail race tunnel equates to about 3 times as much material removed and that material was very hard granite that the tunnel boring machine could barely cope with. Comparatively the Auckland geology will seam like putty.

Know a bloke involved in the inner city loop planning; apparently it is technologically possible but extremely difficult to do, hence the expense.

That might be the case for suburban stations, but remember these are the busiest stations on the network so they need massive people moving capacity. I think you'll be surprised at just how many people will be using aotea station. It's also quite deep.

The platform must be longer than the trains. The trains go either left or right; about every 10 minutes, and take all the waiting passengers with them. There is no where else to go, nothing else to wait for. I don't see a large build up of people here. The design capacity of the platform can be easily increased by increasing the space between the tunnels. The Vancouver train stations are not large and grand affairs and they work very well.

Genter said bringing forward the project was an ambitious goal which would require unprecedented cooperation between government and the Auckland Council

"Ambitious" and "unprecedented" are both serious understatements.

Given the current process requirements they wouldn't even get the proposal past initial consultations stages by 2021, let alone have it built and functional, without some serious riding roughshod over various groups - which would then no doubt end up being held up in court and disputed endlessly.

exactly .. yet another pipe dream by a party that has never been responsible for running anything or building anything ( and they know they will not be ).

Interesting, innit, that the Verdant Ones are proposing a transport solution that involves:

  • Lotsa steel and concrete
  • Which both need Lotsa Coal to produce
  • Which produces Lotsa Planet-foobarring Gas
  • Which rail line will connect to an Airport
  • Which is visited by Jetliners
  • Which produce Lotsa Planet-foobarring Gas
  • and which Carry lotsa Tourists and potential permanent Residents
  • Who contribute to Housing Crises
  • And who condemn Lotsa Indigenes to menial and low-paid Jobs, Serving 'em

Honestly, I woulda thought that them Greens would have urged Fleets of Cargo Bikes to cart 'em round, and Flotillas of Kayaks to bring 'em In and Out again.

What's with the sudden obsession with concrete, steel and 200-year-old transport solutions?

An upcoming Election?

The Green Party just represents a colour. They are not an environmental party no matter what they say. They pushed power saving bulbs with mercury to get a toxic heavy metal into every home. Any environmentalism is just for looks and there's no science backing what they say.

Despite what I've stated rail from the airport would be a lot better than the awful traffic congestion that I have to deal with when I turn up. Certainly more effective than having cars idling on what is supposed to be a motorway.

Totally agree - The Greens dont actually understand what being green would entail. The industrial age & green are not friends and can never be. A debt based system mandating growth and green can not be friends & can never be. So their solution basically boils down to recycle (consumption) faster ... absurd.
The only true green policy you should come up with is massively less humans ... & they appear to be on the wrong side of this one as well.

Next you'll be telling us it's stupid to build hydro power plants, solar power, electric cars, etc. Sticking with the old pulluting stuff is more green in your eyes?

Trains might be 200 years old, but cars are quite old too. I'm not sure how that's relevant, trains are currently the best solution for moving a lot of people in a confined space like a city.

JimboJones,

You are wasting your time if you think you are going to get anything sensible out of ham n eggs. What is laughable about the Green's suggestion is that they could have a light rail system up and running by 2021. Given the current planning laws,2031 would be nearer the mark.

waymad,

Amusing and superficially compelling. However,I see some flaws in your case,which appears to be the status quo. If nothing is done,there will be gridlock,more and more often. That's bad,economically,environmentally and socially. Yes, building a rail system will involve carbon emissions,but over its lifetime,an electric rail system will help reduce carbon emissions and allow essential road transport to move around more efficiently.
You know the old saying about omelettes and eggs. Even the Nats think it's a good idea now,not just the Greens.
I almost never see a post here in support of the Greens. Of course,as a party they have different strands,from the hardline environmentalists who would have us all go back to some mythical pre-industrial paradise,to those who want a more socially and environmentally compassionate society,but who understand that we need a successful economy to achieve these ends. Personally,I would like to see them have some influence on the country's direction. I think our future lies in becoming far better stewards of the land we are so fortunate to occupy.

This is excellent logic indeed.

Building mass transport - or indeed mechanisms that produce renewable energy - requires inputs from non-renewable sources.

Thus this is hypocrisy, and we'd be better off just using up non-renewable sources inefficiently till they're gone. This is indutibly the best way forward.

Brilliant!

AUCKLAND IS BROKE , it cant even afford to complete the rail loop , and now in desperation Goff is squeezing a petty and annoying $5 from anyone renting an hotel or motel room just to pay the massive salary bill that those overpaid under-worked public servants receive every fortnight

If Auckland Airport wants this , their Balance sheet is incredibly strong ....... why dont they pay for it ?

I know why

There is no way in hell it will ever get a decent return on Capital , and their Directors are a pretty sharp bunch and will never even try to do something like this

My second question is how do the Greens think we are going to pay for this ?

"My second question is how do the Greens think we are going to pay for this ?"

Green Party response: What do you mean by "pay for this"? We don't understand what you're saying?

Actually, I think you'll find the greens are probably the most educated overall of all parties. And James Shaw probably has more business credentials than any of the other party leaders.

which is why they are no longer actually a green party. Business & green - despite the spin - its an oxymoron.

Stop spending so much on roads I believe. Cancel East west link and do this instead.

If we are broke, why are we starting on a $1.8B new east west motorway with unknown benefits. NZTA say it will have a good cost/benefit ratio if we ignore the $1.8B cost to build it! No kidding!

We are not broke, we just have no financial discipline when it comes to roading projects.

https://thespinoff.co.nz/auckland/23-06-2017/i-have-not-quantified-the-b...

It really is time Auckland landholders faced appropriate rates bills and quit crying. They've pocketed many billions in unearned untaxed capital gains against land. And rates as a % are far lower than anywhere else in the country.

Indeed, front up with rates.

And besides that, what's wrong with asking hotel users to pay a tourism tax? It happens all around the world and doesn't stop people visiting, and it helps localities provide good infrastructure that tourists benefit from while they're there. Seems like an ideologically-driven whine that doesn't make much sense, to me.

If people want to know more about the advantages of light rail to the airport then they should head over to Greater Auckland website: this post provides a good over-view of the airport issues https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2017/04/05/airport-rapid-transit-a-wa...

PS - I only read their website and not else involved.

Well luckily , the Greens are not looking like they are in pole position for this dumb-as policy idea to see the light of day , unless the private sector fund it .

I had reason to use the bus system in Auckland yesterday, what a bloody shambles. Fix the existing problems for parking at the stations before getting fanciful ideas of expanding the network further. Trouble is Auckland is really owned by speculators, so it become a funding problem to fund the, artificially inflated, land aquisition.

Yep typical. Build a bus transit system with parking at stations. When the parking is manifestly insufficient do nothing about it.

I can't think of many cities with lots of parking at stations. The economics of it are terrible. If people really desire parking near stations I'm sure the private sector can help out at the appropriate price.

I think we should all be equipped with a skateboard and a kite. Problem solved. Carbon footprint, zero.

A Return to the Past - Get off the grass - seriously

If the Greens are talking about light rail along Dominion Road along the centre of it they should go and talk to someone who lived out in Mt Roskill in the days when they had Trams running along the middle of Dominion Rd (before they pulled it all up) and then go and experience the main Tram routes during peak hour in Melbourne

Go on - it's only an air fare - that'll soon cure you of the idea

Parking is banned

In Melbourne all vehicle parking is banned on Tram routes during peak hours, between the hours of 7:30-9:30 am and 4:00-6:00 pm - any vehicle breaching that rule are instantly towed - which virtually destroyed all businesses relying on passing traffic stopping and buying - an uproar

There are plenty of side streets to park on. And I think you'll find light rail will have the opposite effect on businesses, they will thrive. Britomart is now the most desirable real estate in Auckland, before the train it was rubbish.

Here you go - The last Tram to Mt Roskill in 1953
http://www.nzmuseums.co.nz/account/3031/object/481258/trams-auckland-las...

It took till about 1960 to pull up the tracks and reseal the road for Trolley Buses

A small update in there - Simon Bridges comments before Question Time, and also video of the issue being debated in Parliament.

Cheers

A bit strange how Simon Bridges keeps insisting it would be faster to go from the cbd to the airport via the new tunnel?But then as he says , he is not responsible for Auckland Transport, I wonder which minister is?
edit, checking google maps at this time of night , it actually is one minute quicker than urban route 12 , but is 7 k.m longer.

incorrect placement

typical NZ, short term planning and a half way solution
it should have been connected between onehunga (the piles are already in manukau harbor built when the second bridge was} and puhunui when the land was still mostly paddock 10-15 years ago at a third of the cost it will now take just to go to the airport.
and for this I blame the last labour government who had surpluses and the government benches at the time

I think we should hold off building a railway to the airport. Autonomous electric powered quadcopters will be the transport of the future.