Tag Archives: Auckland Transport

GUEST BLOG: Mike Lee – Auckland Transport’s March of Folly « The Daily Blog

Source: GUEST BLOG: Mike Lee – Auckland Transport’s March of Folly « The Daily Blog

 

Historian Barbara Tuchman’s acclaimed ‘March of Folly – from Troy to Vietnam’ published in 1985 was about ‘the pervasive presence, through the ages, of failure, mismanagement, and delusion in government – contrary to its own self interest.’

I think about Barbara Tuchman’s book whenever the question of rail to Auckland airport comes up.  There could no clearer example of Tuchman’s thesis than the boards of Auckland Transport (AT) and NZTA marching in lockstep to rule out even the possibility of future trains to Auckland Airport. And, it’s not just words, over the Christmas holidays AT demolished Onehunga’s Nielson Street overbridge rebuilding the road at grade, thereby physically blocking the rail corridor to the airport.

Deliberately sabotaging the rail corridor to Auckland International Airport is one of the most irresponsible acts I have witnessed during my time in local government.

Auckland International Airport is of critical economic importance to Auckland and to New Zealand – it is the gateway to the country. Despite hundreds of millions spent in road construction, congestion on the route to the city is already near where it was 10 years ago, chronic at peak times, periodically at grid-lock.  With airport passenger movements currently 17 million per year, and predicted to increase to 20 million by 2020 and 40 million in 2044, this congestion can only become more dire.

Following on from work initiated by the former Auckland Regional Council, in September 2011, a multi-agency study involving Auckland Council, Auckland Transport, NZTA, KiwiRail and Auckland International Airport Ltd, with consultants GHD, after examining light rail (trams), busway and heavy rail (electric train) options, concluded that heavy rail from Onehunga 10km to the airport and 6.8km from Puhinui on the main trunk line would be the ‘most economically efficient’ solution – providing a fast, single-seat journey from airport to downtown Auckland (including the CRL stations), and all points on the rail network including Newmarket, Henderson, Glen Innes, Pukekohe, and ultimately Hamilton.

In 2012, this recommendation, after public consultation became a commitment in the Auckland Plan: ‘route protect a dedicated rail connection in the first decade (2011-2020); construct in the second decade (2021-2030).’

However in November 2014, Auckland Transport ‘planners’ (un-named) announced to the NZ Herald their preference for light rail.  A year or so after AT came up with a business case ‘proving’ extending (non-existing) light rail from Dominion Road to the airport would be more economic than extending (existing) heavy rail from Onehunga. As an example of the credibility of this business case, it claimed a second track for the 3.5 km Onehunga Branch Line would cost $578m, (notwithstanding it cost KiwiRail $9m to build the first track in 2010). It also claimed a tram coming from the airport via Dominion Road, despite stopping at 20 tram stops and numerous intersections while keeping to a 50kph speed limit, would get to the CBD within one minute of an electric train travelling at 110kph!  There are other claims which stretch credibility but let’s leave that to one side.

Melbourne is one major Australian city that does not yet have airport rail but it does have the most extensive light rail system in the world.  Unlike Auckland however, the Victorian government is not planning on light rail for Melbourne Airport but heavy rail. This on the grounds that trains as international best practice demonstrates, provide a faster, more predictable journey-time and carry a lot more people and luggage than street-running trams.

However I should point out that the argument in Auckland between light rail and heavy rail is something of a sham; (one of the few people still taking it seriously is Mayor Phil Goff), given the government’s recently announced answer for Auckland Airport’s transport problems: light rail in 2047, good old buses in the meantime.   I should add the only other supporters for trams to the airport are the bloggers at Transport Blog – self-styled experts who obligingly changed their Congestion Free Network ‘vision’ from trains to trams in line with the corporate position of Auckland Transport and NZTA [funny that isn’t it].  Vision on demand?

Rather than facing up to the growing transport crisis at Auckland Airport, the government is pushing the bizarre ‘East-West Link’ along the Onehunga foreshore, at $1.8b the most expensive road in New Zealand history with no cost benefit analysis (and the reason why the rail corridor from Onehunga was blocked). The only demonstrated benefit of the East-West Link would seem to be better truck access to the Penrose ‘inland port’ owned by the Port of Tauranga. Given Auckland’s long list of infrastructure priorities that would seem a rather expensive gift to the shareholders of the Port of Tauranga. (What electorate does the Minister of Transport Simon Bridges represent again?)

Last month AT’s ‘Project Director Key Strategic Initiatives’ Theunis Van Schalkwyk, whose responsibilities also happen to include the East-West Link, and who commissioned the business case that ‘proved’ trams superior to trains, and who along with his boss David Warburton persuaded the boards of NZTA and AT to exclude heavy rail from any consideration for Auckland Airport, announced to bemused Auckland councillors that ‘mass transit’ services will begin at Auckland Airport in 2024. When questioned on what he meant by ‘mass transit, he answered ‘advanced buses.’

However in arguing Auckland Airport’s transport problems can solved with more buses (‘advanced’ or otherwise), the government and AT’s bureaucrats have apparently forgotten their own Centre City Future Access Study of 2012, the modelling in which revealed that inner Auckland streets will be so congested with buses by 2021 that average road speeds will be down to 7kph.  Now they are proposing to add ‘platoons’ of airport buses to the city in 2024!  What confidence can Aucklanders have in these people’s advice?

Barbara Tuchman made up some rules on how policy decisions get to qualify as a ‘March of Folly’.  First the policy must be contrary to self-interest, [check]; secondly a feasible alternative policy must be available [check]; and finally the policy must be that of a group (not an individual (mad) ruler) [check].

The feasible alternative option of connecting Auckland International Airport by rail to the electrified main trunk line at Puhinui 6.8 km away must be carried out urgently before that option too is sabotaged.

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The East West Link is back….

ROCC_Onehunga

Yes, you read that right. The East West Link is back! This time it’s been rebranded as East West Connections. It now covers a new road in Onehunga(which all interested parties are keen to point out, is not a motorway – more on that later) and some new bus/truck lanes (we don’t know how those work either) and walking/cycling provisions(i.e: share the footpath, as we do now) in Mangere and Otahuhu.

Representatives from ROCC attended two of the four open days held by Auckland Transport and NZTA to promote their project and identified several concerns:

– This new motorway will not fix congestion, either on SH1 or SH20, or through Onehunga. Many supporters of this believe it will ease congestion, NZTA themselves say it won’t. It is proven all over the world that more roads don’t mean less traffic. In fact, they encourage it.

– Furthermore, there is no clear plan to decongest the bottleneck at the bottom of Onehunga Mall. More trucks will be getting pulled into this choke point.

– This project will cost in excess of 1.5 billion dollars. Future generations will be paying for this. Research already shows that young people are driving less, and are not as keen on buying cars as previous generations.

– The investigative report commissioned by AT and NZTA clearly states that more could be done with regard to public transport and lessening the number of private vehicles on roads. Why is this not being done first?

– The current safe cycling and walking facility along the foreshore is not part of the NZTA plan – the planned road is between the current path and the foreshore, with multiple road crossings.

– NZTA and AT have said that only 15% of traffic in this area is trucks. In that case, the funds could be better spent on lessening the other 85% of traffic through public transport initiatives. Furthermore, the 15% who will be served by this expensive road could contribute the money themselves, or the road could be tolled to recoup funds.

– The road is being touted as a beneficial thing for the harbour yet NZTA appear to have very little information about the problem they are looking to solve. What is the current water quality like in the Manukau Inlet? What provisions will be made to filter the run-off from this motorway?

– There has been very little effort to engage the public, particularly younger people who will be saddled with this debt.

– Why are we trying to ruin the Manukau Inlet with a major road, when it could be a major entertainment destination? The wharf could be a precinct similar to North Wharf – this will not be possible with various off-ramps and a ‘limited state highway’ surrounding it.

What can you do?

– Submit your feedback by Friday, July 17. You can do this online at http://www.nzta.govt.nz/east-west-connections
– You can also use Generation Zero’s handy and super easy web form: http://transportblog.co.nz/2015/07/16/submit-on-the-east-west-connections/
– You can also give feedback by e-mail – send your submission to eastwest@nullnzta.govt.nz
– You can write to your local representatives:
– Maungakiekie MP Hon Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga: http://www.lotu-iiga.com
– Councillor Denise Krum: Denise.Krum@nullaucklandcouncil.govt.nz
– Maungakiekie-Tamaki Local Board Chairperson, Simon Randall: simon.randall@nullaucklandcouncil.govt.nz

Connect with ROCC on Facebook or Twitter, and come to our monthly meetings.

We will continue to provide updates on this page, and on Facebook.

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Media Release – ROCC Welcomes Auckland Transport Admission

Respect our Community Campaign (ROCC) welcomes Auckland Transport backdown on East-West motorway proposals.

ROCC welcomes Auckland Transport’s admission that it should have consulted South Auckland communities earlier about options for an east-west motorway link to speed freight transport.

In its media release yesterday afternoon Auckland Transport and the New Zealand Transport Agency acknowledged they got it wrong and should have talked much earlier about their plans.

ROCC chairman, Roger Fowler said “These agencies have treated the people of Mangere, Otahuhu and Otara with contempt – they were proposing to bulldoze hundreds of homes and carving up our communities without the common courtesy of talking to us. They would never have done this in the flasher Auckland suburbs and we won’t put up with it either.”

“It’s good that they now acknowledge that they have made a big mistake by attempting to plough a motorway through our neighbourhoods behind our backs. But if they think they can try to sweet-talk this community into accepting a motorway – they will need to think again. They would just be making another big mistake.”

“If this change of heart is a genuine move, NZTA & Auckland Transport will need to drop all preparations for East-West motorway construction and start afresh with genuine, open consultation with the community, and seriously consider other options, such as expanding rail, upgrading public transport, night-time trucking and safe cycling & walking facilities. The failed mantra of ‘more motorways’ is so 1950s. No city has ever succeeded in tarsealing its way out of gridlock. More motorways just create more traffic chaos, destruction and pollution.”

“Modern cities put their freight on rail and commuters on affordable & efficient public transport – that’s the sensible way to address these issues, at a fraction of the cost of motorways. We urgently need to develop practical ways to make our city livable – to strengthen our communities, not destroy them.”

Our Mangere MP Su’a William Sio is taking the views of his constituents to Parliament today, armed with our 4246 signature petition demanding ‘respect for our community & to stop the East-West motorway.’

ROCC welcomes the opportunity to make our case to Auckland Transport. This is an opportunity for Auckland to step into a new era with transport solutions for the whole community – (not just businesses which are pushing for these crazy motorways proposals).

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Auckland Transport Disingenuous

Letter to the Editor NZ Herald, published Sat 23 November.

Auckland Transport’s Rick Walden is being disingenuous in saying the public will be consulted about the proposed east-west link motorway after routes have been assessed.

What he means is the public will be told what is going to happen, whether they like it or not, and the residents who remain in Mangere and Otahuhu will get a say on what colour the sound barrier will be.

This is not consultation. The lack of information available to the residents whose lives will be disrupted is disgraceful.

It is impossible to believe Auckland Transport would contemplate behaving in this manner if the suburbs involved were inhabited by wealthier citizens.

Auckland is already one of the most socio-economically stratified cities in the developed world.

Secretive planning and inappropriate transport projects such as the east-west link will make this even worse.

Donna Wynd, Otahuhu.

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