Auckland Mayoral candidate outlines plans to scrap the Regional Fuel Tax and introduce new rail lines across the city

Auckland Mayoral candidate outlines plans to scrap the Regional Fuel Tax and introduce new rail lines across the city
Mayoral candidate John Tamihere wants to see the Auckland light rail project scrapped in favour of tram trains that could operate on the existing rail network.

Auckland Mayoral candidate John Tamihere says he plans to scrap the Super City's Regional Fuel Tax and reallocate funding from the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) to fund a number of new projects.

The new plans were unveiled as part of Tamihere’s transport policy on Wednesday. Under his roading and rail proposal 16 km of new rail lines will be built on Auckland’s North Shore along the existing Northern Busway corridor. It will operate tram-trains which will run from Albany to the CBD.

The new rail lines will also run from Kumeu to New Lynn, Mount Albert and Onehunga and through Mangere to the Airport. Another line will run from Botany to Panmure and then link up with the existing rail network and run into the CBD. He claims the rail projects could be completed in nine years and funded from the existing $28 billion ATAP budget.

The tram-trains would be able to operate on the existing rail network as well as on the new lines being built.

Scrap Auckland light rail project

Tamihere says if elected he plans to scrap the Auckland light rail project and says its benefits don’t justify the projected cost and existing bus services can already cater for areas such as Dominion Road and Mount Roskill.

Priority roading projects under Tamihere’s transport policy proposal include Mill Road, Penlink, Puhoi to Wellsford, the Kumeu bypass, a revamped East-West Link and the Port Access.

“It will take multi modal approach that includes track, road and more park and rides,” Tamihere says.

But whether or not all of the projects can be funded out of ATAP, Tamihere says central Government will need to come to the table.

“When I get the mandate from Aucklanders in October, I will head to Wellington to start a new conversation. I will not go to Wellington to get my instructions, like the present guy. My instructions will come from the people of Auckland.”

He says the Auckland Council can’t continue hit motorists in the back pocket if they don’t have access to public transport due to where they live.

“The petrol tax is only applied to Auckland and Aucklanders pay more than their fair share.”

Convincing Wellington

But Tamihere admits it will be a hard sell convincing the Government to fund his plans.

“Central Government will have to pitch in more than it wants to. Some of the ATAP funding will need to be brought forward. But the elephant in the room will always be central government,” he says.

Tamihere says the Government can’t continue to keep Auckland in a head lock.

He admits he doesn’t have detailed costings for all the projects he’s outlined.

But Tamihere says he’s keen to introduce congestion charging and use public-private partnerships to help fund them. However, details on both ideas aren’t included in his latest policy documents.

He says central to his policy proposals is putting pressure on the Government which will be seeking a second term in office in 2020.

“In election year we will be asking Government to fund Auckland equitably.”

Tamihere’s transport policy also includes details on his plan to replace the superstructure of the Auckland Harbour Bridge to create a new two tier design that will include rail lines, new lanes for cars and a walkway and cycleway. He says there’s agreement that Auckland needs a second harbour crossing and the Auckland Harbour Bridge has already reached capacity. But he says the city can’t wait until 2030 for a solution.

“Someone has to make a move on this now.”

Lobby group NZ Transport 2050 Inc. was formed last year and has since mounted a public campaign alongside the Public Transport User’s Association to stop the light rail project. This has included everything from newspaper ads and social media and public meetings. The group is welcoming Tamihere’s call to use tram-trains, instead of creating a separate light rail network.

“We do believe that tram-trains are a very clever way Auckland could get the benefit of trams at a lower cost, with less duplication and where it makes sense, but use the existing rail infrastructure such as the CRL to carry these units," chairman Paul Miller says. "Tram-trains are becoming common in Europe to solve exactly the types of issues Auckland is wanting to solve. It would be good to see Kiwirail advise publicly on the merits of both uses and how this would complement their rail infrastructure and existing systems.”

ATAP budget

In April last year Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff unveiled the revised Auckland ATAP which will see $28 billion invested in the city's transport system over the next decade.

Projects currently with committed funding under ATAP include the City Rail Link, the Puhoi-Warkworth motorway, additional electric trains, Manukau-Papakura motorway widening, Northern Corridor Improvements (NCI) and the Northern Busway extension to Albany. 

While new projects include the Auckland light rail project, Panmure to Botany Eastern Busway, Airport-Puhinui state highway upgrade, a revised East-West Link, electrifying the rail network to Pukekohe, the Penlink toll road, Albany-Silverdale bus improvements and enhanced walking and cycle ways.

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He wants to spend $28 billion on 16km of train lines - and then claims $3 billion for 25km of light rail is too expensive?

Lovely to see a detailed explanation as to how to fund this .

Has anyone heard of Walter Mitty ?

More importantly , from and Engineering point of view does the HARBOUR BRIDGE have the structural integrity to have tram lines and very heavy tram trains running over it ?

It's OK, hes going to replace the whole bridge, just keep the piers. The best bit is he only going to close the bridge for 24 hours to do it. That's never been done anywhere in the world before, but that's no problem for JT

Hey... that's when he parts the seas, and then you just drive ,walk, or cycle over. It will be open for the rush hour. (Finance permitting).

Good job for the new Infrastructure Commish. Add an RMA NPS to the effect that 'we're gonna bung Rails just any old where we Want' and there's the nimby's fixed. Add another 20-50c/litre on the RFT then there's the disncentive to use them Awful FF-Fueled Jalopies, and incentivize plus fund PT. Win, win, win. What could Possibly go wrong?

Best of British luck to you JT , in your attempt to go to Wellingtin for the funds for your plans...

... I'm sure Julie Anne-Genter will warmly receive your proposals for more roads .... nyuk nyuk nyahhhh ...

Hmmmm... you do realise the anti-car / anti-roads / anti-freedom of choice brigade are running our fair land , girt by hair-shirt ...

JT will get a letter, on Ministerial letterhead, Genterly Dulling his Grand Design Hopes and denying Funding. Nobody else will know what's in the letter, because G will claim it's a Clown Party Privileged Transmission.

But we have plenty of roads Gummy. At the moment we don’t have freedom of choice, the only real option is to drive. Even riding a bike is barely an option these days.

nahh gummy.... you're way off here. The road lobby has been running things, which is how we got to this point of hopelessness re transport. The bear needs to be in hibernation, winter is not over yet..come back in spring when the thinking is clearer eh!

Let's just change everything including stuff that's already working well. Get bossy with Wellington. That'll work.

Looks like Tamihaere is raging ahead of Goff (despite people struggling to spell the former's surname).

Tamihaere's doing all the right things to win the lolly: making a lot of noise; being assertive; keeping his messages clear and simple; displaying strong intelligence; not bogging down with detail; coming across as young/energetic/powerful; being a good humorist; and keeping a safe distance from funding/financial issues.

I reckon Tamihaere would be a PR consultant's dream candidate. He's got charisma to burn.

Goff might soon be history - despite his experience and measured approach. He's coming across as a bit tired and worn.

Anyway, who cares about local body politicians - they're merely overgrown student politicians with tidier haircuts.......


he is a seasoned politician and knows how to play the game, he will make an interesting mayor, as for all the promises he does not have to deliver a single one of them he can blame the government of the day for not coming up with funding.

Yes it's like campaigning for your apartments body corporate on a promise to cut income tax levels. Then saying you didn't break your campaign promises, it's the government that broke them.

Anyone who votes for someone on the basis of promises they have no ability to keep is an idiot. Unfortunately, no one seems to mind that Mexico still isn't paying for it

Yes it’s a worry isn’t it. People will fall for any ridiculous promise these days (especially those of a certain generation). He may as well promise to cure cancer.

so true .. this is how COL got into power.
Anyway I am sure JT will achieve as much ( but not more) as Goff - exactly nothing ; I hope he can do it cheaper.

Love it, this guy just gets funnier and funnier. Not only is he promising to deliver a shed load of very expensive transport infrastructure that will magically cost ratepayers nothing, but now he's actually saying it will cost less than nothing so he can drop the petrol tax.

Have no faith in his promises on cost, but his planned train line xtensions get a thumbs up. Could go a bit further though.
Panmure to Botany, and keep going and link it back to Manukau city. Then connect the airport line to Puhinui as well. Probably would want a line from the north shore to out west via Hobsonville and the Te Atatu peninsula too.
Design the routes, allocate/restrict the land and start building as we can afford it, its going to take decades, but its only going to get more urgent, and more expensive if we wait.

Panmure to botany and through to manukau and the airport is already planned for in ATAP, though the manukau to botnay section is post decade 1.

You can thank Len Brown for that, no need to vote for JT

None of that was planned as (heavy) rail, all of it was going to be bloody buses. The only rail upgrades were additional tracks along the main southern line, and electrification out to Pukekohe.

Heavy rail is a very expensive option these days, basically an outdated technology unless the tracks already exist. Light rail is a lot cheaper, and buses are getting closer to train levels of usefulness by the day.

If you think heavy rail is expensive now, wait 40 years till you actually desperately need it because we have 4x the population to move about, and twice as many houses we either need to bowl over or tunnel under to install it. A set of tram tracks down the middle of the road is not comparable to a proper grade separated rail system in speed or capacity.

Mayoral candidates offering transport solutions with no background of transport engineering should first visit the last Mayor's transport initiative - Len Brown's tram in the Wynyard quarter that cost us many million and of course with no demand now sits with just rails in the roadway offering dangers for the unwary.

Gross stupidity and I suspect the proposals we are hearing today are not much better !

New lanes on the Harbour bridge - where do they originate / terminate ? How will that assist in adding capacity ? Total madness !

Electric barges up the Tamaki - another crazy green initiative that will never happen.

3000 cars per vessel, 250 / barge and even that may not get past the Tamaki bridges which now require two additional tugs since a previous barge incident - 2 trips per day that's 6 days to remove the cars ( Second Hand only ) so the number of cars - new plus second hand - on the wharves will be little different from today.

Charge time for a electric catamaran of that size would be many hours so - won't achieve 2 trips per day.

Dredging the Tamaki - how likely is that - It's taken years to get approvals to dredge local marina's. Where is the dump site ? Total nonsense.

The cost of the 2 bridge escort tugs each way each trip would be horrific.

Total madness !

Leave transport design to transport engineers.

None of this makes any sense. His ego can leap tall buildings with a single bound!

Man this guys is a genius, now he's going to solve homelessness in only 18 months! Really makes it look light past lightweights have just been sitting on their hands when all they needed to do was go bang some heads down in wellington and bam, homelessness solved!

With any luck he will decide to build a wall. - somewhere just south of Auckland would suit the rest of NZ just fine.

it would be a win-win I reckon.

Sounds like he’s been hanging around Willie Jackson for too long.

Are you sure he's JT or DT?

Wow luckily for us this guy isn't going to get in. Don't we usually send these type of people to.....Invercargill ?

UN mostly

Nz...doing infrastructure the wrong way since...forever. And it doesn't look like changing in Akl anytime soon. Christ, even the roughest part of London manage to organise the Dockland Light Railway and that worked pretty well when I used it. Even priority busways could work in Akl with its network defeating geography and how about some waterborne mass transport like Hong Kong does it!