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19th April 2018

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Twyford says there is a “great deal of interest” in investing in New Zealand’s transport infrastructure

Minister of Transport Phil Twyford has sent a clear message to would-be investors in New Zealand’s transport infrastructure – “the Government is open for business.”

He is sending Associate Transport Minister Shane Jones on a fact-finding mission to Australia tomorrow to investigate the best ways investors can work with the Government on public-private partnerships (PPP).

“The message from our Government is we’re open for business,” Twyford said after addressing a business and local Government summit on the “changing direction in transport for New Zealand.”

Twyford says it is likely projects, such as Auckland’s light rail and rapid transit, will be funded in collaboration with the private sector through PPPs.

He says it’s too early to put a figure on how much the Government is expecting private capital providers to stump up with but says it’s likely to be on “multiple billion-dollar projects.”

Twyford says there has been a “great deal of interest” from parties looking at getting involved in a PPP with the Government.

“We’re very happy to work with private capital to make these big investments.”

The Government has previously indicated it would be looking at PPPs as a way to meet some of its investment expectations but, at the moment, the process for investors is too complex.

This is the reason Jones is heading off to Australia tomorrow.

“We need to configure ourselves better within the state so there is less static when either foreign or domestic investors approach the state to play a role in our infrastructure turbocharging,” Jones says.

 

But PPPs would require more debt from the Government.

Twyford says there are options when it comes to new revenue streams to help pay for this – for example, through land value capture and infrastructure bonds.

But the projects would be long-term and, according to Twyford, it would be “nuts to try and pay for it out of next year’s road user charges or a petrol tax.”

“We should be spreading that debt over multiple generations who are going to benefit from the infrastructure.”

But taking on more debt would be problematic.

As it stands, some of New Zealand’s council’s – including Auckland’s – are close to their debt limits and the Government has committed to reducing net core Crown debt levels to 20% of GDP by 2021/22.

But Twyford says there is a way the Government could take on more debt to fund the PPPs without abandoning its debt target and pushing councils over its limit.

“We intend to build on some of the work that was done by the previous Government in establishing Crown infrastructure partners as a special purpose vehicle.

“It’s a balance sheet that’s not council or Governments – it’s a public purpose hybrid if you like.”

He says through this, a lot of capital could be borrowed to pay for the infrastructure needs the country is facing.

Hamilton to Auckland transport corridor ‘near top of list’

Waikato's transport corridor to Auckland is a priority for the Labour-led government.

NZTA
Waikato’s transport corridor to Auckland is a priority for the Labour-led government.
 Transport Minister Phil Twyford has called mayors from Waikato and Auckland to the Beehive to discuss the commuter rail plan, in the most concrete sign yet of central government support for an Auckland Hamilton link.

Hamilton City, Waikato District and Waikato Regional councils will meet with New Zealand Transport Agency bosses, Waikato-Tainui, Auckland Council and KiwiRail for a 2-hour hui at Twyford’s Beehive office on February 26, said Hamilton-based Labour List MP Jamie Strange.

“It will be with Minister Phil Twyford particularly, as minister for housing and transport, and Nanaia Mahuta,” Strange said.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford is meeting with key players in the Hamilton to Auckland transport equation.

BRADEN FASTIER/STUFF
Transport Minister Phil Twyford is meeting with key players in the Hamilton to Auckland transport equation.
“The Minister is keen for investment in our region around transport particularly rail but roading and housing as well.”

Waikato Regional Council included commuter rail in its draft long term plan in January. Hamilton City Council has already made investment in a park and ride site and want 75 per cent of funding, for the proposed interim service, to come from central government.

Hamilton City Mayor Andrew King is confident the commuter rail initiative will go through.

TOM LEE/STUFF
Hamilton City Mayor Andrew King is confident the commuter rail initiative will go through.
The meeting will look at integrating light and heavy rail with roads and housing to capitalise on Hamilton and Waikato’s growth.

The transport corridor between the cities offers huge untapped potential, Strange said, and will be an important location for the government’s KiwiBuild programme which aims to roll out 100,000 new homes in 10-years with half of them in Auckland.

Collective work done with Waikato councils – the Waikato Plan and the Future Proof document – have mapped a path for central government to follow.

Waikato Regional Council chairman Alan Livingston says work around transport in Waikato is dovetailing nicely.

STUFF
Waikato Regional Council chairman Alan Livingston says work around transport in Waikato is dovetailing nicely.

“There is a strong sense of unity in our region among councils. This certainly building on what’s been done there.”

The Labour-led government is prioritising rail between Hamilton and Auckland. In a list of rail projects government is looking at, the Hamilton to Auckland corridor is “near the top of the list”, he said.

Hamilton Mayor Andrew King said things are moving in the right direction.

The Rail Opportunity Network spokeswoman Susan Trodden is surprised by the speed the government is moving.

KELLY HODEL/STUFF
The Rail Opportunity Network spokeswoman Susan Trodden is surprised by the speed the government is moving.
“I’m confident we will get there,” King said. “It’s something central government wants and Hamilton City Council is working very closely with neighbouring Waikato District and Waikato Regional councils and between us all, I think we are all aligned.”

Waikato Regional Council chairman Alan Livingston said the transport corridor is a strategic look at opportunities that could open up for the region.

“Everything is dove tailing nicely, Livingston said. “Central government is looking for support and direction and it’s working, from a timing perspective, ideally.”

Spokeswoman for rail advocate group The Rail Opportunity Network Susan Trodden is not surprised by the meeting but is moving faster than anticipated.

“Government are really wanting to make it happen this year, as promised, and now it’s been built into the 10-year plan for the regional council, and Hamilton City Council are committing time and money and space, there is the opportunity to step forward,” Trodden said.

Congestion charges on table in fight against Auckland gridlock

Commuters have been warned Auckland’s gridlock nightmare is set to dramatically escalate, and the thorny issues of congestion charges is back on the agenda as Auckland Council grapples with solutions.

Aucklanders already spend the equivalent of four working weeks, or 160 hours, in traffic, but a new council report prepared for Tuesday’s planning committee meeting reveals motorists should brace for even longer trips to work.

The report said severe congestion is expected to increase by 30 per cent at peak hours, and 50 per cent between the morning and evening peaks.

And while the Waterview Tunnel has successfully reduced congestion, the report warns that could be short-lived.

“This means that Aucklanders’ access to jobs, education and other opportunities will become more difficult,” the report says.

Thousands of Aucklanders have already packed up and left town in the face of the traffic chaos and expensive house prices.

But one of the options mooted to reduce congestion – congestion tolls – could be up to a decade away.

The report is the first in a three-step project which could lead to motorists being charged at different times of the day and in different locations across the city.

The report is the first phase of investigating ways of easing congestion by charging motorists to encourage them to change the time, route or way in which they travel.

The first phase updates the growing congestion problem facing the city, looks at models overseas and recommends moving to the next phase of developing options by August this year. The third phase is expected to recommend a final option. No date has been given for the final report.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson, Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff have approved the project to proceed to the second phase.

A spokeswoman said Goff had not read the report and could not comment at this stage.

While the first phase found congestion pricing would have a greater potential impact on transport than any transport project, the report said Auckland was heading into “uncharted territory” when it comes to introducing congestion pricing.

If Auckland does proceed with congestion-busting tolls, the report recommends a “bespoke” approach reflecting the city’s geographic, social and transport characteristics and introducing any system in steps.

The report said a number of international cities have successfully introduced congestion pricing but “no ‘New World’ cities with dispersed trips patterns and relatively low density of housing has yet introduced congestion pricing”.

The latest plan for tolls in Auckland comes after the former National Government and Auckland Council decided last June to look at the “taboo” subject of charging motorists at different times of the day and different locations across the city.

Three years earlier the council worked up a tolling scheme that would have seen motorists pay $2 each time they used the motorway, which the Government rejected.

Alarming figures released last year by Auckland Transport show a quarter of the city’s busiest roads, including Lake Rd, Lincoln Rd and routes to the airport are already clogged during the morning and evening peaks and one in three main roads will be congested by 2020.

The morning crawl from Westgate to Nelson St also doubled from 15 minutes to 30 minutes between 2012 and 2016 and the evening peak journey from Hobson St to Te Irirangi Drive has gone from 18 minutes to 24 minutes.

The report to be tabled to the council committee again highlighted congestion levels had appeared to have stabilised since the opening of the Waterview tunnel last July, but the authors revealed they expect that continued growth in demand for travel will see congestion levels increase again.

Journeys from the airport to the CBD via the tunnel in the afternoon peak now take 25 minutes, compared to between 35 and 44 minutes via Manukau Rd and Gillies Ave, according to the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Automobile Association's principal infrastructure adviser Barney Irvine. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Automobile Association’s principal infrastructure adviser Barney Irvine. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Barney Irvine, the Automobile Association’s principal infrastructure adviser, said congestion charging had potential to help get Auckland moving, but warned it was a “complex and controversial business”.

Some of those concerns had come through via survey work of the AA’s Auckland members.

“There’s a lot of impact on the people who can least afford to pay,” he said. “There are also a lot of folk out there who don’t like the idea of paying to drive on roads they have already paid for.

“Congestion charging is a complex and controversial business – that’s why plenty of cities around the world talk about it, but very few have actually implemented it, and none in car-oriented, low-density cities like Auckland.”

He added if politicians could make a strong case for the introduction of congestion charges, then the programme shouldn’t take 10 years to implement.

National Road Carriers boss David Aitken said the industry would be in favour of road pricing on the proviso it made a difference and freed up journey times.

Something had to be done, said Aitken, who was concerned at the prospect of many roading projects in Auckland being canned by the new Government.

Building public understanding and acceptance will be critical to successfully introduce congestion pricing, the report said.

The project was originally called the ‘Auckland Smarter Transport Pricing Project’, but has been renamed ‘The Congestion Question’.

Tim Kerwin new driving force at Glenbrook Vintage Railway

Tim Kerwin, a 30 year old born and raised in Waiuku, is the new General Manager for the Glenbrook Vintage Railway.
Tim has been at the Glenbrook station since he was ten years old and the station’s provided a lot of guidance for him. “I was a bit of a hell-raiser,” said Tim, “but I always wanted to be a train driver. I applied to Kiwi Rail when I was 17 and became a ‘shunter’ and worked my way up from there.” By the time Tim was 18 he was driving trains and was the youngest person in the Southern Hemisphere to do so.
Tim did 13 years work with Kiwi Rail before leaving to become the Operations Manager at Glenbrook Vintage Railway and now, three years on, is the general manager.
Tim wanted this role because he feels emotionally attached to the place. Reflecting on his life Tim says “Glenbrook Vintage Railway gave me a start. It provided so much guidance and everything I’ve achieved has been made possible through what it taught me.”
Tim now says that “the station is at a make or break point really. We either scale back what we’re doing or we build on it.”
In his new role Tim hopes to engage with everybody in the community and region. Tim says, “It’s a huge task really. Anybody can manage but to lead is a skill. The people around me are the assets and I’m just here to lead.” After the initial consolidation his aim is to provide a gateway to tourism. “We want to work with the region and engage with everyone to provide a real gateway to tourism,” said Tim.
Tim loves the ‘giving back’ feeling at the Glenbrook Vintage Railway Station. “There is nothing stronger than the heart of passion to volunteer. Nothing matches that. I get to live off people’s dreams which is pretty cool!”
Tim is also very conscious of future generations and their involvement with the railway station. The team has developed training to keep the younger generations interested and now, of all the people that volunteer at the station on a Saturday and Sunday, 60 percent are under the age of 35.
If anybody is interested in volunteering at the Glenbrook Vintage Railway they can contact Tim at tim.kerwin@gvr.org.nz or via the GVR website.

Improvements for Southern motorway

The New Zealand Transport Agency is advising motorists of the lane changes on SH1 at Takānini and near Papakura, Auckland, from early February.

NZTA’s Senior Manager Project Delivery, Chris Hunt says there will be no lane closures, but the road layout will be different.

“Drivers are encouraged to drive with care as they get used to the new layout and keep to the temporary 80km/h speed limit through the active construction zones.”

The purpose of the changes is to improve safety and journey reliability on Auckland’s Southern Motorway by creating extra lanes.

Motorists will notice the lane changes from February at Takanini where a third lane is being added to the overbridge crossing on Great South Road. The two existing lanes will be split just before the Takanini off-ramp for 800-meters and will re-join south of Great South Road before the on-ramp.

“The new single span bridge will be more resilient and safer for motorists. Completing the work while also keeping the motorway operating will require careful planning and a staged approach,” says Hunt.

A temporary bridge for traffic heading south has been built alongside the existing bridge. Next month north and southbound lanes will be diverted to use the temporary bridge to allow demolition of the old northbound bridge to build a new one.

This process will be duplicated to replace the southbound bridge and once it’s completed the new bridge will have three lanes in each direction.

“In all, it will take three separate shifts of traffic over the next 18 months for the bridge work to be completed but no lanes will be closed. We’ll simply be shifting traffic lanes so work can take place on either side,” says Hunt.

“The Transport Agency asks motorists to be vigilant and patient during this time of change. The outcome will be improved safety, journey reliability and traffic flows on our main highway.”

Once the Southern Corridor Improvements project in 2019, it will provide an extra southbound lane on SH1 between Manukau and Papakura and an extra northbound lane between Papakura and Takānini.

Auckland Transport throws out its own plan

2 Feb, 2018

Auckland Transport produced this image of how light rail would look but ranked it so low it would not get funding. Photo / Artist Impression
Auckland Transport produced this image of how light rail would look but ranked it so low it would not get funding. Photo / Artist Impression

Comment by Simon Wilson

How embarrassing. The board of Auckland Transport (AT) has rejected the draft of its most important planning document, prepared for it by AT staff. The reason? The recommendations in the draft ignored AT’s own policies. They also ignored the policies of Auckland Council, which AT is supposed to answer to. And they ignored the clearly stated wishes of the new government, which has a say because it co-funds so much of the city’s transport programme.

Will heads roll? Unlikely, but possible.

It started last week, when AT published, under the signature of Shane Ellison, its brand-new CEO, the draft of its new 10-year plan. Nearly half the funding for commuter rail was gone, light rail was ranked so low it would not get any funding at all, and the cycling and walking budget was slashed by 90 per cent.

Cue immediate scrambling for cover. The chair of the AT board, Lester Levy, even rang the Minister of Transport, Phil Twyford, to apologise. Twyford tweeted: “I’ve had sincere apology from AT chair Lester Levy for internal ‘budget’ document mistakenly made public. The doc certainly doesn’t reflect my conversations with @phil_goff and @AklTransport board and our shared commitment to building a modern transport system for Auckland.”

Well, good. But this was not some simple “mistake”.

The document was a new draft Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP), which is written anew every six years and refreshed every three. This is a refresh year, although with Labour and the Greens determined to keelhaul National’s transport planning, the right time for a full rethink by AT is now. The document even says as much, although without doing it.

What did it get so wrong?

One, it ignored Auckland Council’s guidelines, which are also AT’s own priorities. Through a “Statement of Intent” agreed with council, AT has prioritised public transport, active transport (cycling and walking), road safety and carbon reduction. The draft RLTP just set all that aside.

Two, it ignored the government’s own signals. Twyford and associate minister Julie-Anne Genter, who looks after active transport and safety, have both been clear. In particular, they’ve told us light rail will be a priority and some of National’s expensive new roads (including the East-West Link from Penrose to Onehunga) will not happen. The draft RLTP, however, effectively pretended Twyford and Genter don’t exist.

Three, the draft wasn’t leaked or released casually. It was an official public document prepared for the AT board and posted online in what is usually a carefully managed process. Damningly, it was signed off by CEO Shane Ellison and two of his senior executives.

 

Four, it included a fabricated “introduction” from Levy. He didn’t write it, which isn’t uncommon, but nor did he see it before publication. That’s astonishing: who releases a statement by the boss without getting it cleared by the boss?

In a lengthy conversation on Wednesday, Levy told me he was especially upset about this and “I have made that very clear to the CEO”.

I asked him if it was humiliating to have to apologise to the minister. He said, “Yes. I spend a lot of my time having to apologise for things I didn’t know about. This is the job, and yes it is embarrassing.” (Levy is also the chair of Auckland’s three health boards.)

The offending draft had two main parts. One was what Levy calls a “narrative”: it described the work of AT in language very much in line with other recent AT documents and with the thinking in council and the new government.

“Our priorities actually align very well with what we know of the Government’s,” Levy told me, and he repeated that at the board meeting. “This government has got some great aspirations,” he said.

But the second part was a list of all the transport projects, both underway and proposed. It ranked them and recommended specific levels of funding for each. It was the guts of the document. Free of rhetoric and wishful thinking, it appeared to reveal what the officials who wrote it think AT should do.

When it got to the AT board yesterday afternoon, Cynthia Gillespie, head of strategy and one of the document’s signatories, attempted an explanation. AT has 320 projects it could be working on, she said. If they did them all, over 10 years they’d cost $19 billion. So obviously they’re not doing them all.

To help choose the best they have a “calculator”, a piece of software that assesses each project against a set of objectives. The calculator reflects the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP), an agreement about transport priorities signed by the previous government and the previous council. Gillespie blamed the calculator for scoring light rail and cycling very low.

ATAP is now out of date and under review. And yet AT officials used it produce recommendations that would have suited the old government but were profoundly out of line with the new one, and with council, and with AT itself.

To the board’s credit, they threw them out.

Still, they had a problem. By law, AT must adopt a new draft RLTP, put it out for public consultation and sign it off by the end of June.

But the government will not produce its official transport policy statement until late March. If AT has to wait till after then to produce the new RLTP, the public input phase will suffer.

Board member Sir Michael Cullen saved the day.

“We are pretending we don’t know what we really do know,” he said. He listed various projects Twyford and Genter have said they want prioritised and added, “I don’t think it would be improper for staff to prepare a new draft RLTP that reflects what we can reasonably expect will happen.”

They will now write a new plan, in the expectation it will align with the government’s policy statement when it arrives. Which is what should have happened in the first place.

Meanwhile, Lester Levy still wants to know how all this happened.

I asked if he felt let down by some of the senior management. “I don’t know but I will certainly let you know when I find out.”

He also said, “We have given our new CEO a mandate to deliver culture change in the organisation.”

That’s very good to hear.

Amazon will be a game-changer

New Zealand’s e-commerce boom and the arrival of Amazon in Australasia will accelerate demand for warehouse space in Auckland, and drive the redevelopment of inner-city brownfield sites into “last-mile” delivery centres, says Scott Campbell, national director, industrial and logistics for Bayleys Real Estate.

This country’s annual online retail spend is estimated to be $4 billion, and though  online shopping represents a relatively small proportion of overall retail spending in New Zealand it is growing at a faster rate than bricks and mortar retail.

Campbell says the growth in e-commerce has forced retailers to reassess their property requirements.

“To fulfil customers’ orders quickly, they need warehouses, with international studies showing that ecommerce businesses need three times as much warehouse space as traditional brick-and-mortar retailers.

“Industrial property in New Zealand is already in high demand, as evidenced by the fact the sector comprised 56 per cent of commercial property sale transactions in 2016 in the country’s largest market of Auckland. E-commerce has the potential to turn it into the hottest component of commercial property market.”

Amazon’s entry into the Australian market is set to be a game-changer for retail in the region. The company announced in August that it is opening a 24,000sq m fulfilment centre on the outskirts of Melbourne, and has committed itself to “fast delivery”.

Amazon has not said whether it will establish a presence in New Zealand, but brokerage firm Forsyth Barr has advised its clients that New Zealand presents a logical extension to Amazon’s investment in the region.

Campbell says location is the key to success. “To stand out in a crowded market, retailers are competing aggressively on reducing delivery times, which is creating increased demand for last-mile logistic,” he says.

E-commerce fulfilment is in its infancy, really, and there are a lot of different strategies being employed. One of the more popular approaches is the “hub and spoke”, whereby a main distribution centre — the hub — sends out material to smaller centres — the spokes — for last-mile delivery. Scarcity of land favours this approach.

True Commercial - Amazon fulfilment centre in Germany.jpg

One of Amazon’s giant fulfilment centres in Germany. Photo / Supplied

“Overseas, retailers are increasingly seeking out warehouse space close to consumer hubs and residential centres. And since competition for land in these areas is fierce, warehouses will need to grow upwards rather than outwards to accommodate stock, as many in Asia already are. For same-day deliveries, smaller distribution centres will spring up near CBDs.”

Campbell says we can also expect warehouses to assume some of the characteristics of stores as more retailing activity starts to happen inside distribution centres.

“It’s easy to write-off warehouses as just big boxes or sheds, but they can be technology-rich and sophisticated in their use of space. For example, some logistics premises offer no-aisle-racking — whereby the product is dropped down on to a buggy for automatic transfer to the staging/loading area.”

New Zealand retailers are already responding to the disruption in the industry. The Warehouse Group — which includes The Warehouse, Warehouse Stationary, Noel Leeming and Torpedo7 — recently partnered with NZ Post to trial a new shipping service for online shoppers, Shipmate, as part of its push to drive e-sales. NZ Post’s network gives it significant last-mile delivery reach and it is talking to a wide range of companies about partnering opportunities.

Already, it handles logistics for food delivery service My Food Bag.

“More and more New Zealand brands are seeking to do business with us on e-commerce projects,” says a NZ Post spokesperson. “We have more than 1.9 million delivery points across the country. We operate in a highly competitive market.”

The launch of Shipmate follows NZ Post’s opening of two processing facilities for logistics services. The 2500sq m Taranaki Operations Centre is  a  hub for the Taranaki region while the purpose-built 14,600sq m,  $8m Southern Operations Centre at Christchurch Airport’s Dakota Park, is a  hub for the South Island.

Other large logistic facilities include the 35,000sq m centre in Highbrook, South Auckland, operated by  Courier Post.

“That facility also has a satellite pick-up location closer to Auckland city in Morningside, which is likely to become a popular location with other logistics-type operators as large land parcels for large format developments open up across South Auckland, including the Airport Corridor, Wiri and Drury,” he says.

Campbell says competition for land in desirable locations, coupled with the push for last-mile deliveries, will encourage developers to transform  land and warehouse stock in brownfield sites into more modern facilities. “Brownfield sites in Mt Wellington, Penrose and East Tamaki will be ripe for regeneration,” he says.

Listed property group Goodman says it is intensifying its industrial development programme, and undertaking a significant proportion of new projects on an uncommitted basis, “to address current capacity constraints and to meet forecast demand”.

Logistics companies form around 30 per cent of Goodman’s customer base in New Zealand and occupy more than 300,000sq m of space within its portfolio.

Chief executive John Dakin says modern distribution warehousing needs to be in the locations close to the end consumer and this is one of the reasons  Goodman’s is focusing its industrial portfolio in Auckland.

He predicts distribution warehouses will evolve as online retail sales grow. “Existing third party logistics businesses with good distribution channels and/or specialist services will benefit but competition will intensify. We also expect that infill locations, close to consumers and key infrastructure will become increasing sought after,” Dakin says.

Rail has saved New Zealand $1.5 billion a year, study shows

Transport Minister Phil Twyford said the report showed the benefits of investing in rail.

STUFF
Transport Minister Phil Twyford said the report showed the benefits of investing in rail.

New Zealand’s rail network has save the country $1.5 billion by reducing congestion wait times, accidents and emissions, a report has found.

The total cost avoided by having passengers off the roads and on rail was $1.19b alone, according to consultancy firm EY.

Their report was produced in 2016, commissioned by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) but the former government never released it.

A year-old study, just released by the Government, shows $1.5b in savings of congestion and safety incidents, by having ...

STUFF
A year-old study, just released by the Government, shows $1.5b in savings of congestion and safety incidents, by having a rail network.

New Transport Minister Phil Twyford said the study supported further investment in rail, and reinforced the Government’s plans to do so.

EY found the net benefits provided by passenger rail amounted to $1.2b in savings from reduced congestion, $8.2m in safety benefits and $3m in reduced emissions.

For freight, there was an estimated total net benefit of $354m.

“The implications of these findings for passenger rail is that the support it receives from subsidies (central and local government) is highly likely to be acceptable because passenger rail is calculated to add significant value by reducing congestion on Auckland and Wellington’s arterial roads,” the report said.

“The implications of these finding for freight rail is that the Government funding it receives is likely to be acceptable as the total benefits (both quantitative and qualitative) could be greater than the Government support it receives.”

However, the study had a number of limitations across all measures, said EY, and a more analysis was needed to confirm freight rail’s benefits outweighed the subsidies afforded it by Government.

The study also broke down the time delay costs for the two major cities; Auckland and Wellington.

In the capital, it found that even with its passenger rail system, 19.8m hours worth of congestion came in at a cost of around $303m in time delay. In Auckland, the traffic situation was more complex.

The net time delay cost was about $882m, and the report’s writers said that represented an 57m extra vehicle hours on Auckland roads.

Twyford said rail was a “great way to travel and move cargo”.

“It takes both passengers and freight off the roads, improving the travel experience of road users and reducing their costs.”

The Government would “restore balance” to transport funding and boost investment in rail infrastructure both for passengers and freight.

“This will include significant investment in regional rail via the Regional Development Fund, as set out in the Labour-New Zealand First coalition agreement.

“The establishment of a light rail network in Auckland will significantly increase the $1.3b a year of benefits that road users, including freight companies, experience from reduced congestion,” Twyford said.

STACEY KIRK – Stuff

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

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