Opinion by Julie Anne Genter of the Green Party
The City Centre Future Access Study released today confirms the best use of taxpayer money is to invest in sustainable public transport for Auckland, rather than frittering away billions on National’s low-value motorway projects.
The study commissioned by Auckland Transport warns that, even with currently planned projects completed, Auckland faces a transport crisis by 2021 without new investment in the central city’s transport capacity. It confirms that the only option to meet the increased transport pressure in Auckland’s central city over the coming three decades is the City Rail Link integrated with increased investment in surface buses.
These measures would have a combined cost of $3.5 billion in today’s dollars. In comparison, National’s planned spending on low-value projects including Transmission Gully, the Kapiti Expressway, and the Puhoi to Wellsford ‘Holiday Highway’ totals $5 billion.
The City Rail Link combined with better bus infrastructure will deliver the best bang for buck and get Auckland moving.
The National Government will claim that the cost is too high but that is not really a barrier. The current National Government is planning to waste billions of dollars on low-value projects including Transmission Gully, the Kapiti Expressway, and the Puhoi to Wellsford ‘Holiday Highway’ that would only lead to more sprawl and increase congestion by inducing more commuter traffic.
These few pet projects, which National selected without conducting business cases or examining alternatives, are sucking up the lion’s share of the transport budget.
Despite the study’s warning that Auckland faces a transport crisis if nothing is done, National has no plans to invest in central Auckland. National’s transport policy is a recipe for gridlock in Auckland.
We should redirect the money that National is wasting on its extravagant motorway building programme into the City Rail Link, buses and safe walking and cycling. These projects will deliver a sustainable transport system that benefits Auckland and New Zealand as a whole.
The City Rail Link will have profound benefits for Auckland. It will more than double the capacity of the rail system meaning more and faster services for Aucklanders. It will get cars off the road, relieving congestion for commercial transport operators and people who choose to drive.
Investment in rail and buses is the only way to prevent Auckland becoming gridlocked in the coming decades. It is the smart and environmentally sustainable option for the future, which we can’t afford to ignore.