National, Labour battle over how to fix Auckland's traffic congestion problems

National, Labour battle over how to fix Auckland's traffic congestion problems

Labour and National on Sunday afternoon both announced plans to help fix Auckland's traffic congestion problems. Read releases from both parties below:

Also see Alex Tarrant's Sunday article on Auckland transport being the next election battleground here.




A world class city needs a rail connection from the CBD to its international airport – that’s why Labour will build light rail to Auckland Airport as a priority, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.

“Let’s get Auckland moving by building a light rail network and accelerating investment in heavy rail and bus rapid transit. This is crucial to Auckland’s future growth.

“A world-class city in the 21st century needs a rail connection from its CBD to its airport. Auckland needs this now. Labour’s going to accelerate the solutions to Auckland’s transport problems.

“I believe Labour’s plan is a game-changer. It will reduce the $2 billion a year that congestion costs Auckland. It will realise Auckland’s potential to be a truly world class city.

“Labour will build light rail to Mt Roskill in four years, to the airport and West Auckland within a decade, followed by a line connecting the North Shore to the CBD.

“We’ll also build a Bus Rapid Transit service connecting the airport and East Auckland, and a third main trunk rail line to serve the commuter and freight rail traffic.

“We’ll free up funding by getting better value for money from the East-West Link, and give Auckland the ability to fund its share of the investments through a regional fuel tax, infrastructure bonds, and targeted rates.

“Investing in high quality modern public transport is the best way to unclog our roads. This will ensure Auckland can grow and meet the needs of all who live and work in this great city.

“It’s time to get on with it. It’s time to get Auckland moving. Let’s do this,” says Jacinda Ardern.

Labour will:

  • Build light rail from the CBD to Auckland airport. This will be part of a new light rail network that will be built over the next decade with routes to the central suburbs, the Airport, and West Auckland, and will later be extended to the North Shore.
  • Build a new Bus Rapid Transit line from Howick to the Airport, starting with a bus service which will connect Puhinui train station to the Airport in one year.
  • Invest in more electric trains and build a third main trunk line urgently between Wiri and Papakura,
  • Allow Auckland Council to collect a regional fuel tax to fund the acceleration of these investments, along with infrastructure bonds and targeted rates.
  • Scale back the East-West Link to a reasonable cost with better value for money.


National is committing up to $267 million of investment over the next three years in the Auckland and Wellington commuter rail networks to support future passenger growth, National Party Transport Spokesperson Simon Bridges says.

The package includes the electrification of the Papakura to Pukekohe rail line, adding a Third Main Line from Wiri to Westfield and double-tracking the Wellington commuter network between Trentham and Upper Hutt.

“Commuter rail has experienced strong growth in Auckland and Wellington. The National-led Government is continuing its already considerable investment in public transport with a further $267 million investment in commuter rail,” Mr Bridges says.

“In Auckland we will invest $130 million to electrifythe track between Papakura and Pukekohe to support these important growth areas in the south and provide a more reliable and efficient services for commuters.

“Electrification is a key element of the National led government’s focus on supporting a cohesive, efficient transport system for Auckland.

“Auckland’s population growth has meant more commuter trains using the rail network around Auckland and competing with the growing number of freight trains using this important corridor.

“We’re committing to invest $100 million for a Third Main Line from Wiri to Westfield providing a dedicated freight line. This will increase the efficiency of this important corridor, allow for greater frequency, improve travel times and provide more reliability for commuters.

“We’ve worked closed with Council to come up with a long-term, fully costed plan to deliver the transport system Auckland needs over the next 30 years.

“This means we’re investing in the right projects, at the right times. Projects like the City Rail Link which will deliver a step change in Auckland’s commuter rail network.

“We are also announcing a $37 million Wellington Commuter Package. This will further enhance the reliability of Wellington’s commuter rail network and builds on Budget 2017’s $98.4 million investment in Wellington’s commuter rail network.

Wellington’s commuter rail package includes:

  • A full double track on the Hutt Valley Line between Upper Hutt and Trentham - $22 million
  • A third platform for Porirua Station - $3.5 million
  • A turn-back facility at Plimmerton - $2.5 million
  • Upgrade of bridges and slopes - $9 million
  • Upgrade of ‘Park and Ride’ facilities for the Kapiti and Hutt Valley Lines
  • A programme to integrate and optimise rail and bus services.

“The Wellington commuter rail package will enable a more reliable, efficient and frequent commuter service in Wellington. These improvements will support the growing the patronage of these services, Mr Bridges says.

“Together these projects represent a $267 million investment in commuter rail in our biggest cities commuter rail networks.

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Plain and simple... the national party sat for 9 years watching the infrastructure creek and they did nothing.. time to move on... to late to spill your bullshit anymore

Either way you look at it , Auckland has a dysfunctional expensive price-rigged , ratepayer-subsidized bus service , owned by a handful of rich - listers.

It is so expensive to use the bus , that its way cheaper to use your car.

And its BS that we allow it to continue

Public transport is subsidised by ratepayers because it provides benefit not only to the people who ride it, but to the people who drive the roads which are clearer because not everyone is driving their own car. Shared benefit, shared cost.

If it's privately owned, it arguably shouldn't be - fair call.

either way it will lead to improvements in the local transport system. Both need to invest more and faster however, add in more non car transport options to free up the roads for commerce.

Procrastination, equivocation, vacillation and why not a dollop of trepidation as well, for good measure.Thank god any of these modern governments were not around in the formative days of NZ otherwise there would be no Homer or Otira tunnels, main trunk line, state highways etc, etc & etc and keep counting. Believe I read once that the lowest list MP nowadays has more staff attached to their office than Keith Holyoake had when PM. Sort of sums up the whole bureaucratic quagmire that rules all of our lives these days.


If national intent was to act to solve Auckland problem should have acted in last 9 years. Infact they are the reason for this problem.

Election year

One does wonder if their election year transport promises will be only as substantial as their last election period transport promises...the ones that resulted in Simon's last name being amended to No-Bridges.

National is right on the money in solving the country's traffic congestion problems, especially in Auckland. Let's do this Bill!

CBD to airport fast rail has been a no brainer for the last 30 yrs. Vested interests (Auckland Airport parking for one) lobby has stopped this from happening. I have been a National voter but Im thinking I might just change that. If Jacinda can manage her team to get stuff done she has my vote. Im just not sure she can. We need a fresh approach.

maybe she needs an overwhelming vote of support which will give her confidence to command her team

Don't sit on the fence having an each-way bet

er, no. Just look at Sydney*. They added rail to the airport and everyone went bust doing it. It had to be rescued at great expense by the taxpayer - and it is still losing vast amounts of money. And their system is neatly integrated within a much larger commuter rail system.

Adding a non-integrated spur to Auckland Airport will never cover its costs of operation, let alone its capital investment.

But it would be great for those using it. They would get the advantage of convenience and only pay a tiny fraction of the cost - which will be picked up by general taxpayers, forever. This will be another subsidy of the higher-earning middle class by those that do not use the airport much, or if at all.

(* ditto Brisbane.)

And I forsee an issue with light rail to the airport. If it stops all the way down Dominion Road, it will take forever to get from the CBD to the airport - an hour or longer? It is a trip I can do most times in 20 mins by car - or 35 mins by the Airporter bus. Just on the inconvenience factor, I doubt may people will ride the $1 bln+ system. Think of it like this: at $20 per ride, a system like that will require 50 mln rides just to recover its initial cost. At 50 people riding per trip, that is 1 mln trips ! (And don't talk about the operating costs ...)

I agree. Rail is great to use and all that, but the cost is just astronomical. It just doesn't add up. It's a money pit.

$ 260 million for rail, $2.5 billion for road. Yup , the cost is astronomical .
Studies overseas oput the cost of building rail as about the same as adding a lane to a motorway, yet rail can carry 10 times more people than a lane of motorway.

"rail can carry 10 times more people than a lane of motorway"
Are you sure about that ? What do you base this statement on ?

Yep it is true. a 3.5 m wide lane can transport about 2000 people in cars. Trains/metros up to 20,000 people. For Auckland sized trains -double sets -about 500 passengers -that is 40 trains an hour which is a bit tight. But trains are often bigger -so they could be less frequent -if each train/subway carried 1000 people and they were 3 minutes apart they could move 20,000 people an hour.

David, I don't have a car. By your logic I am subsidizing you to drive to the airport. Is that fair? Please remind me what are the tolls on the Waterview tunnel?

Like I do most times, use the $18 Airporter SkyBus (and its not subsidised). Fast, direct. And you don't have to go to Britomart to catch it (which can be a mission these days).

But the inherent problem with public transport is that it only goes where it is set. On a total journey basis, it wastes time, lots of time. Which, if it is other people's time, is not a problem (for public officials who exhort others to take it and who never value that).

Have to agree with you David. These think-big commuter projects are often a financial disaster. When I took the skybus from the airport to the CBD I was blown away by both the cost and travel time - it was far superior than I expected.

Last time I travelled to Auckland Airport for a departure I commuted via rail from Lincoln to Mt Eden rail station, 100 metre walk up to Mt Eden Rd and caught the Skyway bus to the airport. Easy. No problem at all

Yes but how long did that take you. My car takes 40 mins from shore to airport in light traffic. Same amount of time in rush hour from Melbourne CBD to Melbourne airport by car and that's bigger than Auckland

The point is private car users don't pay the full cost of public roads (either direct capital costs or indirect pollution costs), so why should public transport have to compete on that basis?

I guess it depends what you do with that "wasted time", I walk to the bus which is exercise I wouldn't otherwise do and get a lot of reading done instead of my blood boiling over listening to Mike Hosking on the car radio. Now that is a win-win situation!

er, change the station. Seems simple enough. But I though you said you don't have a car?

Sorry I guess humor is wasted on this site. I don't have a car, like I said, I don't have to listen to MH because I catch the bus.

@David Chaston , eventually the rigged , ratepayer subsidized bus cartel will be overtaken by events and collapse under its own weight when it becomes so hopelessly unable to service the city.

At that point we can introduce 20 seater un-subsidized owner -driven commuter mini buses to go anywhere and service the market more efficiently .

Until then , we will just continue to use our cars and add to the congestion .

Its a pity Roger Douglas is not around , he would sort it out smartly for us , by opening up the entire city transport system to real market forces .

David, the light rail to the airport is simply a sound bite with no market segmentation.

Just how rail ex the CBD is going to help a typical group / couple from say St Heliers I do not know

The thought we are going to be dragging suitcases through the rain at some early hour to catch a non-existent bus to CBD then drag to don't know where - Wynyard Quarter in the rain again

This is total madness and it will end up like Brisbane rail link going bust and now carrying just 6-8 % of Airport traffic.

Uber is door to door and won't be much more expensive than the train for two or more..

Having just seen the " light rail " in Sydney and massive infrastructure required for foundations this is going to be a boondoggle the likes of which we have not seen since Think Big.

Sorry - duplicate post

The Waterview tunnel has saved me (and I imagine many others living in Central Auckland) about 5 minutes to drive to the Airport. (I'm a regular commuter). It's awesome and it makes the expensive rail option unecessary

As the Auckland Airport CEO has identified, the unnoticed consequence of the Waterview Tunnel, however, is an ability to increase the rate at which volume can arrive at the airport. There are limited ways in and out of the airport, and it's increasing the risk of major congestion near the airport.

In other words, there will need to be efforts to increase access beyond just cars streaming into and out of Auckland Airport. Public transport will be part of the mix. It's just finding the right mix of public transport that remains to be done.

As I understand it, AIA favours a dedicated bus lane to the nearest rail station (5km away) in the meantime, as a cheaper interim measure to achieve an airport to city centre connection. This is certainly something you see overseas too, a combination of rail and transfer bus.

An additional route to the airport from the southwestern motorway would also assist. There are too many intersections and roundabouts on the current route. Not to mention the congestion going into the domestic airport, that's purely down to poor design

@yvil , the Waterview tunnel has cut an hour out of a peak time trip between Greenhithe and the Airport Industrial zone for me , not just 5 minutes

A dedicated shuttle bus from Puhinui station to the Airport?

I can't see that an Airport to Puhunui link would be very expensive. Flat, short and not a lot in the way.

aaaah Memories of the Brisbane Clem Jones Tunnel disaster

How to turn $3 billion into $600 million

and even worse was the Brisconnections airport link fiasco,_Brisbane
A lot of people lost a lot of money on that one

David :- PKchew refers to the original concept of Fast Rail or Rapid Rail not just Light Rail

Rapid transit network - Auckland Transport
The proposed rapid transit network includes rail, light rail, and busways that are ... trains to operate, more frequently, with faster travel times for all of Auckland.

David if car users paid their true cost (eg land rent) there would be no need to subside public transport. But while we gift loads of expensive land for people to drive and store their cars on, a more spatially effective public transport network finds it hard to compete on cost. Maybe the government should privatise roads and public transport and remove subsidies from both?

Just think how much cheaper and easier it would have been to incorporate a rail line to the airport at the same time that they built George Bolt Drive and state highways 20 and 20A.
You are right about the impediment being the airport trying to hang onto the parking fee income.
May be the airport company should be asked to fund a big part of the access to the airport now, seeing that they probably obstructed earlier rail options. If they don't want to maybe the best option would be to promote an alternative airport at a site that could be easily accessed by rail and leave the present air port to suffer the consequences of their interference. The present airport needs massive expenditure in future for enlarged infrastructure, so should alternatives to the present airport be considered. May be a bit of lateral thinking from Infratil could produce a much better proposal from a wider perspective.
Auckland Airport holds 1500 Ha of land that was valued at $3.2 B. How many dwellings could be built on this land if it AA were cashed up. The equation becomes $3.2B (Lost opportunity cost of land) plus $2.5B for the proposed airport expansion plus $1 B for light rail to the airport. Total $7B approx, versus the cost of setting up on a green fields site and routing the rail system to it. (note green field sites are always far cheaper and if it were out west then there are proposals for a light rail route there anyway.)

ahh that's the way we do things in NZ no fore site, short term planning which costs more in the long run

I think that it may have been a more active process than a lack of foresight. I.e. powerful vested interests probably obstructed it.

Never attribute to malice etc.
New Zealand, and Auckland particularly, is exceedingly fond of digging things up that were just put down because nobody spent the five minutes to look ahead.
The "she'll be right" attitude has infested every area with a desire to build now whatever can be done the cheapest, without bothering to consider that a little extra spent now would reap dividends in future.

Commuter rail to the new Hong Kong airport (1998) was running before the airport was operational.

....air travel. So they want the last(first) part of their travel service subsidised, this to be added to the tax free booze and the absence of fuel tax. Another legal 'benefit' for the 1% ers?

"Flying is still cheap and budget airlines make it even more attractive, partly thanks to an international agreement reached in 1944 that prohibits tax on aviation fuel for international flights"

Why would they pay tax on aviation fuel anyway? Doesn't sound like a subsidy to me. Pay GST on the ticket don't they?

..umm yes is is when the alternatives are getting hit with it. Unless you are of the camp that denies there is a cost to carbon?

And one plan to rule them all - the Unitary Plan makes these largely irrelevant. Auckland's future land use is for more people driving more cars from further away.

Reading the two plans, one was aimed at 20 years ago, and one is aimed at today.

None are aimed for 20 years in the future - which is when these ideas will eventually come to fruition.

It seems whoever we vote for they will continue to only plan in hindsight.

The last person to look ahead was Dove Meyer Robinson, but he was slapped down. A lot of time and procrastinating has passed since his day. It is probably far, far too costly to look too far into the future now as we still paying for having to catch up on the past.

When considering the price tag of grand infrastructure projects than span a decade, it's possibly wise to at least triple the politician's stated cost projections. And given the state of our mental health services, maybe we shouldn't talk about ongoing running costs at this time.

I suspect a lot of punters support huge and costly rail projects because they hope other people (the unwashed masses) will use the trains, leaving the smugly entitled class free to cruise along the uncluttered motorways in their SUVs, sipping coffee and imbibing the warm glow of Mike Hosking and Larry Williams.

Or maybe they would like to be sitting on a nice train doing work or reading a book rather than driving at 10km/hr with steam coming out their ears. I know which I'd prefer.

Rather than either of those, they'd probably prefer to be working from home using their high speed internet and a modern company that embodies sane management practices.
There's no longer a need for all the worker bees to be commuting in and out of central areas en masse daily.

That sounds pretty horrible to me. May as well just hook you up to the matrix.

Depression is what you experience when you wake up and don't want to get out of bed for the day

I reckon - in the not too distant future - if nothing is done, the populace of Auckland will be queuing up offering to donate $20 per tank full of petrol, desperately pleading for someone to do something, anything, to relieve the daily grind of total-grid-lock

Open the entire city to 20 seater go -anywhere- direct- to- destination commuter buses , and get rid of the mess we are in where it costs a fortune , takes 3 bus trips and takes hours for a simple journey

Auckland, world's most livable city.. LOL..

Used to leave Newmarket Train Station at 7:05 am and get to Manukau City Centre at 8:30 am for a 18 km journey. Leave work at 5:30 and if I was lucky I could be home before 7
Somehow I don't miss that part of Auckland life!

Its a pity Roger Douglas is not around , he would sort it out smartly for us , by opening up the entire city transport system to real market forces , instead of the rigged system we have right now

Public transport can be great if it is fast and goes places people want to go. Public transport works best in densely packed cities, but Auckland plans not to be one of those. Auckland builds lots of sprawl and makes the isthmus too expensive to build on. We are not going to have the density of customers to justify building a rail link to the airport.

Auckland will have to increase density though, even if over the dead bodies of NIMBYs. It makes good sense to have more Newmarkets (apartments near public transport), rather than only building more roads.

Good point David Chaston .... let me throw in a different perspective -- I think that Labour came up with the Airport rail project as a point of difference and because National said that it is not a priority - I am sure that there was no extensive cost evaluation / projection done in sufficient details to sustain the feasibility of such a big ticket project -- just like any major project in NZ we lack the critical mass to get it to financial efficiency , hence we keep our project small and smart ...
The fact that they want this to be (partly funded) by petrol tax ( i.e. spreading a big expense on more people in the region ) speaks volumes of its ill start and dubious running costs in future - As I said before , this project should be user paid so that travelers and visitors would contribute to funding both the infrastructure and the running costs.

No-one has mentioned the Jumbo in the Room: is there gonna even Be long-haul air in 20-30 years' time? Because, as the Oracle of Omaha once calculated, the profit of all airlines aggregated over the almost-century they've been around is zero.

Go back to 2008 when crude was $148US a barrel and airlines were struggling to say the least. Then say to yourself, what happens when US shale output drops and the mbpd drops globally as a result? Even if oil can go that high again the global economy cannot afford to pay it for long and we'll see another financial crisis.

For me economy class mass transit airlines are dead, this left flying 20 years from now will be 1st class or Govn on "urgent" business.

No problem - we can make Jet fuel from Limestone plus nuclear energy. Synfuels has done that for years - just uses the methane from a well rather heating Limestone.

We can make Methane from Co2 no problem. Also CO2 neutral !

Humans are very adaptable which is why we rule the roost on Earth.

GET RID OF THE PRICE - FIXING RATEPAYER - SUBSIDIZED CARTEL THAT OPERATES THE BUSES ,and open the entire market to owner -driven 20 seater commuter buses who MUST NOT be subsidized.

Jeepneys and Tuk-Tuks, maybe.

No , Eurpoean built Mercedes Benz 20 seaters like you see all over German cities , or 20 seater buses being Ford Transits you see all over UK Cities , or the Iveco 20 seater you see in Italy , Spain and Portugal ....

You can drive your Tuk-tuk and we won't stop you Boatman but PTOM will eventually take over in the quest to improve Auckland PT.

No , not Tuk Tuks , but proper 20 seater commuter buses , like the European - built Mercedes Benz 20 seaters like you see all over German cities , or 20 seater buses being Ford Transits you see all over UK Cities , or the Iveco 20 seater you see in Italy , Spain and Portugal ....

Seems a pretty decent idea, actually.

Thank you Rick , its been tried and tested in Europe and it works , so why dont we just do it ?

I'll tell you why , because vested interest bus fleet owners will not have a bar of it

Four of these can carry the same as one double decker bus. So 4x the number of buses on the road. Sounds ideal. Of course without subsidies no one will use them so there will be 80 single occupant cars instead of each double decker bus.

@Jimbojones ...............Nonsense , they wont run empty, because the free market will dictate the price of a fare, and it will come DOWN .

Basically scores of Asian and Indian migrants will become owner drivers , and the market will be very competitive , and the consumer will win

Right now the bus fares are so high its cheaper to use your own car

With the amount of urban sprawl in Auckland perhaps it would be better to divert some of the traffic to Whenuapai. While we're at it let's relocate the Navy and ports of Auckland to the firth of Thames. Better than the band aid approach we have at present.