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22nd November 2017

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Government addresses concerns of transport industry

Transport Minister Phil Twyford (file photo).

BRADEN FASTIER
Transport Minister Phil Twyford (file photo).

New and additional sources of funding are needed to help fix Auckland’s traffic congestion and growing pains, Transport Minister Phil Twyford says.

But Twyford believes it is not fair for the rest of New Zealand to pay for its biggest city’s woes.

Rail and coastal shipping will be a focus for both Auckland and elsewhere, he said.

The newly named minister made the comments in his first address at the Road Transport Forum’s annual conference in Hamilton on Saturday. “If we had a decent passenger rail from Auckland to Hamilton paid for out of the Land Transport Fund, then I could have been here much earlier,” he joked, referring to what RTF Chief Executive Ken Shirley had said to him after arriving late to the conference, having got stuck in traffic.

During the conference at Claudelands Event Centre, Twyford outlined the government’s direction on the future of transport throughout the country.

Creating a “resilient and multi-modal transport system, reducing carbon emissions and fixing Auckland’s congestion” were the priorities.

“We know the transport system is about networks and productivity and changes to one mode can have flow-on consequences.”

Transport in New Zealand needs to be resilient in the face of shocks, such as the recent earthquakes that shut down the major north-south highway in the South Island.

To do this, changes to funding is required.

Roading is currently funded through the Land Transport Fund, from road user charges, petrol tax and vehicle registration, which generate $4 billion a year.

“We need to tackle the problem of new and additional funding sources and the challenge of dealing with Auckland’s growth pains is one of the pressures here.”

Decades of under-investment and congestion in Auckland is costing the city $1.3b a year in lost productivity, he said.

Aucklanders want it fixed, but Twyford said it will come at a cost.

“They understand that it costs money to do this.”

The Government is committed to a $15 million, 10-year programme that includes a rapid transport system in Auckland, which will join up with the road and highway system.

“We believe rapid transport should be funded in the same way as state highways and there are benefits for at least part-funding the rapid transport through the Land Transport Fund.

“We need to find additional sources of funding as well and we cannot ask the rest of New Zealand to pay the costs of Auckland’s growth.”

If asked, the Government will pass legislation to allow Auckland Council to levy a regional fuel tax, he said.

“We’ve talked about 10 cents a litre and that would generate about $150 million a year, about 10 per cent of the investment that is needed for the Auckland Transport Plan.

“Aucklanders have to be willing to chip in a bit extra.”

Income from targetted rates on what will be “massive increases” in the value of the land around the light rail network in Auckland could be reinvested in the rapid transport system, he said.

“The Government is going to continue to fund rail above and beyond the national transport fund, but what we want is to generate new and additional sources of revenue.

“In the long term, petrol excise will not be a sustainable way to fund the transport system.”

Previous governments had disproportionately invested the fund into motorway projects, leaving regional roads starved of funds, he said.

“Our coalition partner placed a very high premium on investment in the regions, so that will be a priority.”

Reducing carbon emissions

Another priority would be reducing carbon emissions from the transport industry, which make up 18 per cent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, he said.

Exploring coastal shipping is one way of doing this, he said.

“I believe if we level the playing field, coastal shipping can be a cost-effective way to move heavy bulk freight that is not time-dependent.”

He also addressed one of the biggest concerns from the industry – the shortage of top-class drivers.

Attendees said the driver-licensing system had become complicated and expensive.

Twyford said the government wanted to weave driver licensing into the school curriculum.

“When people don’t get their licence or never graduate to a full licence, it has downstream negative consequences for them to get jobs.”

He said stemming migrant numbers would not affect those in the transport industry.

“You’ll know the intention to change the immigration settings, as we believe the open door policy of immigration had quadrupled net migration.

“We think we can combat this by taking out the rorts and the scams in the education sector, where so-called education providers have been giving back-door visas.”

There are genuine skill shortages and regional skill lists will mean a particular regions can attract people in to live and work in that region, he said.

Ports masterplan: The future for Auckland’s downtown wharves

2 Nov, 2017 5:00am

The days of views to the Waitemata Harbour being spoiled by rows of cars on the downtown wharves could be over under a new masterplan from Ports of Auckland.

The port company has today unwrapped a draft 30-year masterplan for the 77ha of land it owns on the city’s doorstep, which includes a five-storey parking building topped with a 1ha waterfront park accessible to the public.

The carpark and park could be connected to a five-storey hotel on Quay St at the city end of the port.

The draft masterplan also includes plans for a 13m piled concrete extension at the end of Bledisloe Wharf, which the company says is essential for a new berth and the success of the other wharf projects.

 It says the extension of 1.25ha is less than 1.275ha of space it will lose by removing Marsden Wharf and cutting back a wharf on the eastern side of Bledisloe.

The extension is bound to draw attention from critics of further expansion into the harbour for port use, but is in line with the recommendations of Auckland Council’s Port Future Study last year and smaller than previous expansion plans.

Since the Herald started campaigning against a 250m expansion into the harbour in 2012, the port company has gradually shrunk back its plans. Two months ago, Ports of Auckland chairwoman Liz Coutts said it was no longer acceptable to reclaim more land.

“We are listening. That’s the new us. We are serious about the way we behave and the way we change,” ports chief executive Tony Gibson told the Herald.

Last night, Mayor Phil Goff said he did not support further extension of the port into the harbour.

“This is a proposal only and needs to be subject to public discussion. Ultimately it will go through a consent process where public can make submissions,” Goff said.

Gibson said the company accepted its owner, Auckland Council, was undertaking a project to relocate the port but finding the best location, getting consent, securing funding and building would take decades.

“In the meantime, we need to ensure that we can continue to deliver freight for our import and export customers, and to Aucklanders.

“In response we’ve developed a draft 30-year masterplan that we think balances Auckland’s economic, social and environmental needs…it creates space for freight and gives Auckland Council the time it needs to make a sound decision on where, when and how to move the port,” Gibson said.

The masterplan addresses the day-to-day port business, including automation of the Fergusson container terminal at the Tamaki Drive end of the port, to provide additional capacity to serve a population of five million people.

A 10ha reclamation of Fergusson Wharf, approved in 1998, will be completed by 2020.

Ports of Auckland masterplan proposed engineering workshop and head office picture supplied by Ports of Auckland

Ports of Auckland masterplan proposed engineering workshop and head office picture supplied by Ports of Auckland

An architecturally designed new head office building and engineering workshop will be built facing the intersection of The Strand and Quay St/Tamaki Drive to improve aesthetics and provide a legacy if the port is moved.

To address significant capacity issues on the general cargo wharves at the city end of the port, the company plans to build a five-storey carpark to hide away the 30,000 cars a month that come across the wharves. It could be built within five years.

The carpark will free up space on nearby Captain Cook Wharf, which the council has been eyeing as the city’s main cruise ship terminal. It will require an extension at a cost of $50m to $100m.

Gibson said by removing Marsden Wharf, one of several finger wharves at the city end, and part of Bledisloe Wharf, known as B1, will create nearly 1km of new general cargo berth space.

Ports of Auckland

Ports of Auckland

He said the company wanted Aucklanders to be proud of their port and the projects outlined in the draft masterplan, which could be built over the next five to 10 years.

“We’ve tried to develop a plan that fairly reflects the feedback we’ve received and also balances sometimes divergent wants and needs,” Gibson said.

Details of the draft masterplan can be found at: www.masterplan.poal.co.nz

Police chase cash and property from Auckland Transport corruption case

Police are moving to seize property, cars and cash worth $8.6 million from a couple associated with corruption at Auckland Transport.

Stephen Borlase, a former director of Projenz, which undertook contract work for Auckland Transport, was jailed earlier this year, along with Murray John Noone, a former director of transportation at the Rodney District Council and later an AT employee.

Auckland Transport later revealed six other staff left their jobs after investigations into the corruption began.

Police have not named who they are targeting, but said they launched civil proceedings under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act and were looking for restraining orders against a 53-year-old man and his wife “for his criminal activities relating to bribery and corruption.”

Court records show that Borlase is due to appear in the Auckland High Court on the same day the civil proceedings are scheduled to come before the court: October 11.

Police are chasing property including real estate in Mt Eden, a commercial property and a beach house in the Coromandel, motor vehicles including a 2015 Mercedes, Jeep Cherokee and a classic Ford Fairlane and cash in bank accounts.

Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Allan said police investigated and aimed to remove unlawful benefits from those who engage in significant criminal activity.

“This investigation is another great example of the joint Government approach in relation to proceeds of crime with the New Zealand Police, Serious Fraud Office and Auckland Transport working closely together.

“It also highlights how effective the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act can be applied not only to drugs, cash and firearms instances, but top end financial crime that also negatively impacts on our community and New Zealand’s financial reputation.”

It follows a successful Serious Fraud Office prosecution of several people associated with AT – the country’s largest bribery case.

The Serious Fraud Office warned at the time the case had not been completely closed and corruption required a toxic culture to grow.

Borlase and Noone stood trial over eight weeks last year, after pleading not guilty to bribery and corruption charges brought against them by the Serious Fraud Office.

Borlase was found guilty of eight charges of corruption or bribery of an official but not guilty of four charges of obtaining a document for pecuniary advantage.

Noone was found guilty of six charges of corruption or bribery of an official.

The offending took place between 2006 and 2013 relating to roading project consultation contracts Projenz carried out for RDC and AT.

At their sentencing in February, Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey said the offending was on the upper end of the scale and had affected a large number of people.

It had also possibly affected New Zealand’s international reputation as a relatively corruption-free country.

“This type of offending isn’t shoplifting … it’s offending that goes to the heart of New Zealand’s public service and New Zealand’s international reputation,” Dickey said.

Transport system for a growing New Zealand

National Party media release

 

Transport system for a growing New Zealand

National is committed to building the infrastructure and transport system New Zealand needs to ensure our ongoing economic prosperity is secured, National Party Transport Spokesperson Simon Bridges says.

“In Auckland, the commercial capital of New Zealand, we are bringing a number of transport projects online. The latest project, the Waterview Tunnel, has transformed the way people and freight move around our biggest city,” Mr Bridges says.

“We know more needs to be done. That’s why National is committed to ensuring Auckland’s transport needs are met.”

National will:

· Declare the $955 million Mill Road project as a State Highway, removing the responsibility from Auckland Council. This will provide funding certainty for this important project through the National Land Transport Fund and free up capital for Auckland Council to reinvest in other high priority transport projects.

· Work with Auckland Council to accelerate the AMETI Eastern Busway and associated Reeves Road flyover.

· Work with Auckland Council on a mass transit solution between the CBD and Auckland Airport and complete route protection.

· Continue construction of the $3.4 billion City Rail Link project on the fastest possible timeline.

· Start construction on the new East-West Link State Highway.

· Accelerate construction on the: Northwestern Busway; State Highway 16 and 18 interchange; Penlink; Southern Motorway widening between Papakura and Drury; widen State Highway 20B to improve eastern access to Auckland Airport; and add Airport-Manukau bus priority lanes on State Highway 20, including Puhinui interchange.

· Build the Third Main Rail Line and extend electrification to Pukekohe.

· Continue investigations for the introduction of road pricing.

“National’s transport policy will continue to see record levels of investment in Auckland to support the city’s growing transport needs. We have a track record of delivering world-class projects on time and on budget,” Mr Bridges says.

“We are today releasing our transport policy that delivers for all New Zealanders and will provide the country with the transport system it needs.

“Our plan demonstrates that we are committed to building the world-class infrastructure the country needs. We will keep people and freight moving, while supporting our strong economic and population growth,” Mr Bridges says.

National’s transport policy will:

· Deliver the $10.5 billion next generation of Roads of National Significance. These are nation-building, lead infrastructure projects which will encourage future economic growth, rather than waiting until the strain on the network becomes a handbrake on progress.

· Accelerate Regional Roading projects that are important for regional development and growth faster than otherwise planned.

· Complete our $600 million investment in fixing the worst 90 black spots around the country, reducing deaths and serious injuries by 900 over 10 years.

· Continue to invest at record levels in public transport including an additional $267 million investment in commuter rail in Auckland and Wellington.

· Grow our air links with other countries to bring on more flights and cheaper airfares.

· Continue with the $333 million Urban Cycleways Programme that will see 54 cycleway projects built in 15 centres across the country, marking the single biggest investment in cycling in New Zealand’s history.

· Accelerate the uptake of Electric Vehicles, with the Government to lead by example with 1 in 3 vehicles in the Government fleet being electric by 2021.

“National is committed to building the infrastructure and transport system New Zealand needs to ensure our ongoing economic prosperity is secured,” Mr Bridges says.

“We also know that strong transport connections are critical for our growing regions and that’s why we are investing strongly to support their growth.

“National’s plan integrates roads, railways, ports, industrial hubs and air services, ensuring that we have a coherent and balanced approach to New Zealand’s transport needs.”

Funding questions over Labour’s $5b trams for Auckland

Labour is unclear how it will fund a $5 billion plan for modern trams in Auckland, but says Auckland Council will shoulder a “significant” share of the cost.

Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesman Phil Twyford today said he did not know how the costs will be shared between the Government and Auckland Council, except to say council will not pay the majority.

Twyford also did not know whether modern trams, also known as light rail, will sit on the Government or Auckland Council’s balance sheet.

In her first public appearance as Labour leader, Jacinda Ardern promised fast modern trams along two routes from the CBD to the airport and West Auckland within 10 years at a cost of up to $5b. This would be followed by trams to the North Shore.

Labour has promised to fund its Auckland Transport package by a combination of increased expenditure, cancelling or scaling back existing transport projects like the $1.8b east-west road through the city’s industrial belt and giving Auckland Council the ability to set a regional petrol tax.

Twyford said Labour would change the mix and priorities of projects in the city’s 10-year transport plan and spend an extra $2.1b. The overall plan would cost $15b, including the light rail projects to the airport and West Auckland, and had a $6b funding gap, he said.

Twyford said Labour was committed to funding the full $15b programme, but could not say how much Auckland Council would pay towards trams.

“Auckland Council is going to end up contributing a significant amount of that, but probably the smaller amount, not the majority,” said Twyford.

The Government and Auckland Council are sharing the cost of the $3.4b City Rail Link.

Labour Party Auckland Issues spokesman Phil Twyford.

Labour Party Auckland Issues spokesman Phil Twyford.

Asked whose balance sheet the trams would sit on, Twyford said: “We haven’t worked that out yet. That is something we will work out when we sit down with Auckland Transport to renegotiate ATAP (the joint government-council transport plan)”.

With Auckland Council starting work on a new 10-year budget, Twyford said Labour could have a positive impact on council’s ambitions for public transport.

“We are going to front up with some serious resources to fund it and make it happen,” said Twyford, saying the New Zealand Transport Agency would fund rail projects under Labour.

It is unclear how the council, which carries the $3.4b City Rail Link on its balance sheet, could absorb another $5b for trams when the council is right up against its debt ceiling, which, if breached could lead to a credit rating downgrade and drive up borrowing costs.

Labour has said a regional fuel tax of 10 cents a litre would raise $160m a year for Auckland Council. The Herald estimates a 10c-a-litre tax would raise $100m a year.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said Auckland recognises that we need to have skin in the game.

“We’re prepared to share in the costs of investing in transport infrastructure in our city, but we need government to help us expand the base from which we generate revenue to pay for it,” he said.

Goff, the former Labour MP who campaigned during the mayoralty for light rail, said trams to the airport is a priority and the latest ATAP update increases by $700m to $1.2b the money set aside for trams or rapid buses on the isthmus and to the airport.

“I welcome announcements from both parties that central government will contribute a significant share towards Auckland’s transport investment needs.

“I favour road pricing mechanisms rather than general rates increases. That would include options of congestion charging, tolling or a fuel tax to help generate the levels of funding required for transport infrastructure investment in Auckland. We’re also exploring the use of targeted rates and value uplift (higher rates for businesses that benefit from projects).

“I look forward to discussions with whoever forms our Government post-election to progress plans for light rail in Auckland,” Goff said.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges could not be reached for comment.

Northwestern Motorway ‘positively begs’ for a higher speed limit

West Auckland driver Bevan Gracie was disappointed to learn he could only drive up to 80kmh on the upgraded, four-lane ...
DAVID WHITE/STUFF
West Auckland driver Bevan Gracie was disappointed to learn he could only drive up to 80kmh on the upgraded, four-lane Northwestern Motorway.

Amidst calls to slash the speed limit on many New Zealand roads, fuming West Aucklanders are campaigning to go faster on one of theirs.

They’ve set up an online petition to get the four lane Northwestern Highway’s speed limit back up to 100kmh, where it was before the billion dollar roadworks for the Waterview Tunnel began.

Construction has been completed but an 80kmh speed limit, considered by many to be temporary, was made permanent — a decision drivers of the sleek new road have deemed a “ludicrous” recipe for road rage.

Much of one of Auckland's newly upgraded motorways is too slow for many motorists.

JILL ROBB/STUFF
Much of one of Auckland’s newly upgraded motorways is too slow for many motorists.  Especially as motorists further south are poised to legally drive 110kmh for the first time.

 

In April, the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) announced that 80kmh would be the permanent speed limit for the 8km stretch of highway between Rosebank Rd and Spaghetti Junction, spanning the Waterview Tunnel’s entrance.

West Auckland's Saten Sharma, 50, says the 80kmh speed limit on the northwestern motorway is "frustrating".

CALLUM MCGILLIVRAY/STUFF
West Auckland’s Saten Sharma, 50, says the 80kmh speed limit on the northwestern motorway is “frustrating”.

Long time Westie Bevan Gracie said driving down the Northwestern left him fed up now, and that he was sceptical the lower limit would improve safety.

“I think the frustration you feel going so slowly on that road makes it more dangerous,” he said.

His fellow West Auckland motorist Saten Sharma, who signed the petition, said driving 80kmh on the newly-upgraded road “feels like you’re not even moving”.

The Great North Rd interchange heading west along the VSL causeway should be 100kmh, Graham Wakefield says.

JASON DORDAY/STUFF
The Great North Rd interchange heading west along the VSL causeway should be 100kmh, Graham Wakefield says.

“On weekends, the most frustrating thing is it’s empty, and you’re still doing 80kmh,” he said.

“Are we saying our drivers are so unqualified they can’t drive close to 100kmh on the motorway?”

The petition to raise the new speed, which had more than 10,000 signatures to date and would get submitted to NZTA if it reached 15,000, posed the question of why a “brand new four lane motorway” could not handle a higher speed limit.

Sharma says the motorway 80kmh is just 10kmh more than some residential areas and the motorway was not one.

CALLUM MCGILLIVRAY/STUFF
Sharma says the motorway 80kmh is just 10kmh more than some residential areas and the motorway was not one.

NZTA’s system design manager Brett Gliddon justified it as “worldwide best practice” to have 80kmh on approaches to tunnels, to reduce the risk of crashes.

He said the agency had been “monitoring the operational and safety performance” of the network since the tunnel opened. However, he couldn’t comment on whether the petition might impact change.

MOTORWAY SPEEDS GOING UP ELSEWHERE

Last month Associate Transport Minister Tim Macindoe​ announced that speed limits on some of the country’s motorways would be raised by the end of the year.

The Tauranga Eastern Link and parts of the Waikato Expressway would be the first roads that motorists can travel on at 110kmh.

Macindoe said higher speed limits would be “both safe and appropriate” on roads with at least two lanes in each direction, a median barrier, no significant curves, and no access to neighbouring properties.

The variable speed limit on SH16, in green, has a maximum limit of 80kmh, as does the blue.

NZTA
The variable speed limit on SH16, in green, has a maximum limit of 80kmh, as does the blue.

HORSES FOR COURSES

However, calls for speed reductions on many New Zealand roads remain.

Earlier this year, police advocated for the speed limit on the Coromandel’s State Highway 25A to be lowered from 100kmh to 80kmh. Thames roading sergeant Jim Corbett said annual crash tallies of 70 or more were not uncommon on the road, and that high speeds were a contributing factor.

NZTA's system design manager Brett Gliddon says the agency takes on all customer feedback.

SUPPLIED
NZTA’s system design manager Brett Gliddon says the agency takes on all customer feedback.

Residents associations in Canterbury have also called for the same speed reduction on some rural roads in their area, citing safety concerns. Last year, Christchurch City Council cut its inner city speed limit down to 30kmh for most streets.

Cantabrian mother of two Lucinda Rees has been campaigning for speed limits outside schools to be lowered to 40kmh “nationally, across the board” for the last ten years.

She said she was against speed limits being raised on any New Zealand road — including four lane motorways — because the “education and standard of Kiwi drivers just isn’t up to it”.

“I think raising speed limit will just make the road toll even higher,” she said.

But West Auckland driver Graham Wakefield said the “ludicrous” 80kmh section of the Northwestern needed to be moved back up to 100kmh.

“The quality of construction and the number of lanes each way positively begs for it,” he said.​

Iwi at odds over East West Link

Auckland hapū Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei has lashed out at Hauraki tribal support for the East West Link in Auckland.

An image of the completed East West roading project.

An image of the completed East West Link roading project, which would include a four-lane road, cycleway and walkway, between Penrose and Onehunga. Graphic: Supplied / NZTA

The Environmental Protection Authority has been holding a board of inquiry hearing over the past 10 weeks to hear public submissions on the NZ Transport Agency’s plan to build the four-lane highway between Penrose and Onehunga in Auckland.

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei spokesperson Ngarimu Blair said he was encouraged Manukau Harbour iwi were united in their fight to protect the Manukau and Te Hopua a Rangi from further destruction.

He said the project would destroy 25 hectares of habitat for rare and endangered species along the Mangere inlet.

“It angers us … that Hauraki-based iwi such as Ngāti Maru and Ngāti Pāoa who are not ahi kaa here submitted in support or remained neutral on the motorway.

“This is the problem when boundaries are not respected as NZTA conveniently give equal weight to the korero of iwi who do not live here.

“Those iwi should simply leave this to us as we are the ones left dealing with the consequences of this roading.”

Ngāti Maru spokesperson Paul Majurey said Mr Blair was attacking NZTA for engaging with all mana whenua on the roading project.

“It is a matter of record that Ngāti Maru lodged a neutral submission on the project given there are outstanding issues over the protection of spiritual and cultural values and wahi tapu.”

Mr Majurey said Ngāti Maru was one of the 13 iwi of the Tāmaki Collective that are recognised in the collective settlement deed and collective settlement legislation with outstanding claims in relation to the Manukau Harbour.

He said there were also Tāmaki tribes who lodged submissions in support of the roading project, such as Ngāti Tamaoho.

The hearing is due to end on 15 September.

The Big Read: Roads v Rail – political parties at the crossroads on transport

The Big Read: Roads v Rail – political parties at the crossroads on transport – NZ Herald

The wheels are turning in voters’ minds as they consider which party offers the best deal on transport. Photo / Nick Reed

National has returned to a familiar theme with a $10 billion plan to build 10 major highways around the country, while Labour and the Greens have latched onto modern trams in Auckland and long distance trains between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.

Also in the mix is NZ First, with a strong emphasis on upgrading heavy rail, including improved access to Northland and its port at Marsden Pt, trains to Auckland Airport and re-opening the Napier to Gisborne line.

The most visible battleground is Auckland, where congestion is choking the city at a cost of $2b a year and people are flocking to trains, buses and ferries to travel to work. Transport, and the crucial role it plays in housing and growth, is on everyone’s mind – and don’t politicians know it.

National’s record in office dealing with Auckland transport is mixed, from rubbishing the City Rail Link to embracing it, the crazy decision to upgrade the Northwestern Motorway without a busway and completing the $1.4b Waterview tunnel – a huge pre-election success story.

In fact, National is using figures showing the tunnel has halved travel times from the city to the airport to stick with cars and buses to the airport in the foreseeable future, while other parties argue over trains or modern trams along the route.

Trams running on light rail along Dominion Rd to the airport. Source / Auckland Transport

Jacinda Ardern’s first public appearance as Labour leader was to announce the party would spend $3b to build tram lines from the Auckland CBD to the airport and West Auckland within 10 years, and complete the first leg of the airport route to Mt Roskill by 2021.

This would be followed by light rail to the North Shore in the second decade.

The Greens have gone one step further and promised to build the full 21km tram route from the CBD to the airport by 2021. They are also promising light rail from the Wellington railway station to Newtown by 2025 and Kilbirnie and the airport by 2027, and a wholly electric bus fleet for the capital city.

Labour and the Greens would allow Auckland Council to introduce a regional petrol tax – possibly 10 cents a litre to raise $100m a year – to hop on board a more ambitious public transport programme for the city.

The two parties have adopted the tram policy from lobby group Greater Auckland, which has also persuaded them to adopt the first stage of its ‘Regional Rapid Rail’ policy for a $20m trial train service between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.

If it’s a success, Labour and the Greens will invest in stages two and three of Rapid Regional Rail, delivering trains that can travel at 160km/h, new rail lines to Rotorua and Cambridge, and a tunnel through the Bombay Hills to reduce travel times from Auckland to Hamilton to 70 minutes.

Labour’s decision to adopt Greater Auckland’s agenda is blatant pitch into Green territory, but it doesn’t bother Greens transport spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter, who believes voters know who is more committed to implementing the policies, and will vote Green to be sure Labour follows through.

The Greens have also made a pitch for the youth and student vote by promising these groups free public transport costing $70m to $80m a year, which they say is less than 1km of new highways being built by National.

Not everyone is on board Greater Auckland’s agenda, and debate still rages within transport circles over trams versus trains to the airport.

NZ First’s plan is for a 7.5km rail line from Puhinui to provide a 30-minute journey by train from central Auckland to the airport terminal – part of its “Railways of National Importance” programme.

NZ First wants to reopen the Napier to Gisborne rail line.

NZ First wants to reopen the Napier to Gisborne rail line.

The party’s transport spokesman, Denis O’Rourke, says NZ First is not afraid to intervene and invest heavily in rail. The party has 13 immediate investment priorities, including upgrading rail in Northland to allow containers and cars to be moved from Northport to an inland port at Kumeu, and extending commuter rail to Kumeu and Huapai in West Auckland.

The Maori Party has proposed a new “IwiRail” network for freight, tourism and regional employment. The party believes the project has the capacity to add $1b into the regions and will be asking their potential coalition partner to invest $350m.

The plan involves connecting Gisborne to the East Coast Main Trunk Line in Kawerau and bringing back the mothballed Napier to Gisborne rail line to create 1250 jobs on the East Coast.

National’s focus is unashamedly on roads while recognising rail has a role to play. It is centred on extending its “Road of National Significance” – begun in 2009 and largely complete – into a new set of major roading projects.

Motorists would get a four-lane highway from Auckland to Whangarei, the $1.8b east-west link through Auckland’s industrial belt and other highway projects throughout the country.

National has also come up with a $2.6b election transport package for Auckland that includes building a new highway alongside the Southern Motorway costing $955m and $615m for the Ameti transport project in southeast Auckland.

The $1.8 billion east-west link through Auckland's industrial belt. Source / New Zealand Transport Agency

The $1.8 billion east-west link through Auckland’s industrial belt. Source / New Zealand Transport Agency

That’s not to say, National is all about roads and Labour and the Greens are all about public transport and long distance trains.

National has spent $1.7b electrifying rail in Auckland, it is paying half the cost of the $3.4b city rail link, committed $267m to rail over the next three years, a third rail track on the busy southern line between Westfield and Wiri, and $835m for a Northwestern Busway.

Labour has announced it will increase regional transport roading projects from $140m to $280m a year, and will proceed with the east-west link in Auckland, albeit a scaled back version of National’s $1.8b scheme.

One area all the main parties agree on is the need to improve cycling and walking in our cities, with National keen to build on a $333m urban cycleway programme and Labour promising to pay for the $30m SkyPath cycle and walkway over the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Transport policies

National

A strong focus on roads by extending its “Roads of National Significance” to 10 new projects costing $10b, including a four-lane highway from Wellsford to Whangarei and the $1.8b east-west link through Auckland’s industrial belt.

A $2.6b package for Auckland, including a new highway from Manukau to Drury, $615m for the Ameti transport project in southeast Auckland and a $835m Northwestern busway.

National favours cars and buses to the airport in the foreseeable future.

A $267m rail package includes $130m to electrify rail from Papakura to Pukekohe and $37m for Wellington, including double tracking the Hutt Valley line between Upper Hutt and Trentham.

A target of one in three electric or electric hybrid cars in the Government’s fleet of 15,500 cars by 2021.

Labour

Adopted the policy of lobby group Greater Auckland for a congestion free network in Auckland.

The main focus is $3b to light rail for trams from the Auckland CBD to the airport and West Auckland within 10 years, and complete the first leg of the airport route to Mt Roskill by 2021.

This would be followed by light rail to the North Shore in the second decade.

Allow Auckland Council to introduce a regional petrol tax – possibly 10 cents a litre to raise $100m a year.

Adopted the Greater Auckland policy for Regional Rapid Rail, starting with a $20m trial train service between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.

If successful, invest in stages two and three of Rapid Regional Rail with trains that can travel at 160km/h, new rail lines to Rotorua and Cambridge, and a tunnel through the Bombay Hills to reduce travel times from Auckland to Hamilton to 70 minutes.

Fund the $30m SkyPath cycle and walking path over the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Auckland is the main battleground for transport at this election. Photo / Peter Meecham

Auckland is the main battleground for transport at this election. Photo / Peter Meecham

Green Party

Free public transport for students and anyone under the age of 19.

Like Labour, adopt the policy of lobby group Greater Auckland for a congestion free network in Auckland, but put it on a faster track.

Build light rail for trams from the Auckland CBD to the airport by 2021, and light rail from Wellington railway station to the airport by 2027.

Light rail towards Helensville and dedicated rapid busways to Howick and Botany.

A new track on the southern line to speed up commuter and freight trains.

Adopt the Greater Auckland policy for Regional Rapid Rail, starting with a $20m trial train service between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.

If successful, invest in stages two and three of Rapid Regional Rail with trains that can travel at 160km/h, new rail lines to Rotorua and Cambridge, and a tunnel through the Bombay Hills to reduce travel times from Auckland to Hamilton to 70 minutes.

Allow Auckland Council to introduce a regional petrol tax – possibly 10 cents a litre to raise $100m a year.

NZ First

Emphasis on rail on “Railways of National Importance” and potential for modern tram routes in Auckland over the long term.

Wants to upgrade Northland rail, including a line from Oakleigh to Northport; reopening the Napier to Gisborne rail line and progressive electrification of the main trunk line for improved freight and passenger trains with extensions to Dunedin and Tauranga.

Build a commuter rail link between Swanson, Kumeu and Huapai; heavy rail to Auckland Airport.

Toll state highways in Auckland. Opposed to a regional petrol tax.

Investigate Northport taking some of Ports of Auckland business at Marsden Pt from an upgraded freight rail link to an inland port at Kumeu.

Maori Party

A new “IwiRail” network for freight, tourism and regional employment with the capacity to add $1b into the regions. Ask a potential coalition partner to invest $350m.

Connect Gisborne to the East Coast Main Trunk Line in Kawerau and bring back the mothballed Napier to Gisborne rail line to create 1250 jobs on the East Coast.

IwiRail would receive $100m a year for regional line upgrades and maintenance.

Act Party

Increase the use of funding options to better reflect the principle of users pay, such as tolls on new and existing roads, congestion charges, peak time charges and preferential lanes.

Revenue from tolls should be offset by cuts in petrol taxes.

Technology and entrepreneurship should be encouraged in transport, including ride-sharing, car-sharing, congestion charging and high occupancy toll lanes.

Encourage private sector investments in roads. Review regulation to ensure the viability of autonomous vehicles.

Opportunities Party

Transport is very simple, says deputy leader Jeff Simmons, “politicians should get their grubby hands off it” and leave it to New Zealand Transport Agency to decide on a cost-benefit basis taking into account carbon emissions and accidents.

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