Opinion from Kim Campbell, chief executive of the Employers And Manufacturers Association
The argy bargy between Auckland and Wellington over who should decide whether Auckland should complete Auckland’s inner city rail link, or when, is classic comedy, and besides it largely misses the point.
Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee will win no friends in Auckland with comments like those yesterday when the minister said: ‘the Ministry of Transport and the Government’s NZ Transport Agency will continue to work on the best and most cost effective solutions for freeing up central Auckland congestion now and into the future.
Comments like these are unhelpful. They’re Tui moments – yeah right.
The rest of the statement will also only help unite Auckland behind the Mayor’s resolve to get work swiftly underway on the CRL.
Wellington appears to have a strange idea that Auckland’s transport woes are fixed. So why are taxpayer funds going into a report such as this latest one by SKM which the government has no intention of adopting?
It’s obvious to everyone in Auckland that the CRL and the AMETI eastern corridor with an East -West link across the central southern city are urgent, as much to ease transport congestion as to facilitate the growth of the city.
But projects like these have very long lead times, so we need to get into detailed planning of them now, and remind ourselves the world will not always be in recession.
Mr Brownlee and his teams of naysayers in Wellington need to consult the government’s economic growth agenda where it talks of export growth in particular and where and how the government’s aspirations for exports can be achieved.
Without far more investment in Auckland’s transport infrastructure there’s no way we can lift exports from 30 to 40 per cent of GDP by 2025.
Auckland’s GDP is growing at 2.4 per cent a year currently, but long before 2025 the people we need to house and transport to and from work for our export campaign will be stuck in the traffic far from where their jobs are.
But more than this, the CRL is itself an engine of growth for the coherent development of the city.
It’s much more than just part of a transport system – it’s economic benefits must be weighed up using far more than just numbers of people that will travel on it.
It will form part of an integrated system that includes buses, walking, cycling, ferries, and cars too.
The CRL does urgently require a cogent, comprehensive and holistic business case to be made for it, and we are confident once this is done, that a compelling case will be found for it to define Auckland’s inner heart.
Report to Council: Transport network crisis is looming