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Brian Gaynor: Winston Peters’ port plan fails to make grade

One of the more intriguing aspects of the general election campaign is New Zealand First’s policy “to move all container operations from Ports of Auckland to Northport by the end of 2027”.

According to NZ First leader Winston Peters, “the days of the Ports of Auckland as a container port and as a car yard are numbered”.

He went on to say that “New Zealand First will bring forward legislation to move all operations from Auckland to Northport. This will start with vehicles on Captain Cook Wharf ahead of the America’s Cup. Aucklanders want their harbour back while Northlanders want the jobs and opportunities that would come from Northport’s transformation”.

Peters added that this policy “is a cast iron commitment from New Zealand First but it needs New Zealand First to be in a pivotal position to demand it”.

Not surprisingly, Peters hasn’t released any details on the costs of moving Ports of Auckland to Northport.

There are three ports involved in this proposal, directly or indirectly: Ports of Auckland; Port of Tauranga, which is 220km from Auckland; and Northport, which is 144km north of the main Auckland port.

Auckland

Ports of Auckland (POA) listed on the NZX in October 1993. This followed the sale of 39.8 million shares, or 20 per cent of the company, by the Waikato Regional Council at $1.60 a share. This gave Ports of Auckland a total sharemarket value of $318 million, with the Auckland Regional Services Trust retaining its 80 per cent stake.

In April 2005 Auckland Regional Holdings announced a takeover offer for POA at $8 a share, valuing the company at $848m. This compared with the pre-offer price of $6.44 a share and Grant Samuel’s value of between $7.69 and $8.55 a share.

The $8 a share bid was successful, POA delisted and is now 100 per cent owned by Auckland Council Investments.

POA has been a disappointment under 100 per cent Auckland Council ownership. In the 13 years since 2003-04, its revenue has increased by only 35 per cent, to $222.4m, and net profit after tax by 36 per cent to $60.3m.

Tauranga

Port of Tauranga (POT) was listed in 1992 after issuing 20 million new shares at $1.05 each and the Waikato Regional Council selling all its 12.6 million shares at the same price. After the initial public offering, the company had a sharemarket value of just $80m, based on its $1.05 issue price. The Bay of Plenty Regional Council had a 55.3 per cent holding.

POT, which now has a sharemarket value of $2,960m, has been one of the most successful listed companies over the past 25 years.

For example, since 2003-04 POT’s revenue has increased by 69 per cent to $255.9m, compared with POA’s 35 per cent rise, and POT’s net profit after tax has swelled 148 per cent to $83.4m, compared with POA’s more modest 36 per cent profit increase.

Northland

Northland Port also listed on the sharemarket in 1992, shortly after Port of Tauranga. This followed the sale of 10 million shares, representing 24.1 per cent of the company, for $1.25 a share. This gave Northland Port a sharemarket value of $52m at the $1.25 IPO price, just slightly below POT’s listing value.

The Northland company provided ship handling services to the NZ Refining jetty at Marsden Point and at Port Whangarei.

In 2002 the port activities at Marsden Point and Port Whangarei were transferred to Northport, a 50/50 joint venture between Northland Port and Port of Tauranga. NZX-listed Northland Port subsequently changed its name to Marsden Marine Holdings.

Marsden Marine is now an investment company with a 50 per cent stake in Northport, valued at $46.1m, and investment properties valued at $66.4m. These include freehold land, a marina and a commercial complex adjacent to Northport.

Its largest shareholders are Northland Regional Council, with a 53.6 per cent holding, and Ports of Auckland, with 19.9 per cent stake.

Marsden Marine has been a disappointing listed company, with a sharemarket value of only $215m. The company’s directors received $198,000 for the June 2016 year, a large figure for an investment company with few employees.

Chairman Sir John Goulter, who is also chair of the hugely disappointing Metro Performance Glass, received director’s fees of $54,000 for the June 2016 year and an additional $40,000 as chairman of Northport.

The opportunity to rationalise the port sector, and reduce commercial shipping activity at the Auckland port, was missed when Ports of Auckland withdrew from merger talks with Port of Tauranga in March 2007.

The Mount Manganui based port was clearly disappointed and chief executive Mark Cairns had this to say: “The economic and financial modelling demonstrates that the merger would generate significant financial benefits to be shared with customers and shareholders alike.

“The merger would also generate substantial public benefits: reducing CO2 emissions; facilitating better opportunities for coastal shipping; and making a start on the inevitable port rationalisation that needs to occur in New Zealand in the future with the advent of larger, faster container vessels.”

He went on to say: “In a country with a population of approximately 4 million people (similar to Sydney) New Zealand’s tax base simply cannot sustain the funding of high quality road and rail infrastructure connections to all 13 ports.”

The proposed merger between Ports of Auckland and Port of Tauranga made far more sense than the Ports of Auckland/Northport scheme. There are several reasons for this, including:

• The cost of building an extensive road and rail network from Marsden Point to Auckland would be prohibitive and take decades to complete. Coastal shipping could be an alternative, but these ships would continue to use Ports of Auckland

• Northport is small and would need substantial expenditure on its facilities, particularly container handling facilities

• The move from Ports of Auckland to Northport would put huge pressure on the Marsden Point facility. For example, 673 container ships visited Auckland in the June 2017 year compared with only 36 berthing at Northport. In addition, Auckland had 181 vehicle carrier visits while Marsden Point had none in the same 12-month period. Thus, if Ports of Auckland moved its container ship and vehicle carrier operations to Northland, the Marsden Point facility would have to facilitate 854 of these vessel arrivals every year instead of 36 at present

• There is a mismatch between Northport and Ports of Auckland because the former is a bulk port and the latter is predominantly a container port. Northport had export log volumes of 2,808,000 tonnes for the June 2017 year, representing 77 per cent of its total bulk exports, while Ports of Auckland container volumes were 952,331 TEU (one TEU equals one standard 20-foot container).

The obvious solution to the Ports of Auckland issue is the partial privatisation of the company and a listing on the NZX. There are two main reasons for this.

Port of Tauranga and Auckland International Airport have been great performers as listed companies and are paying large dividends to their council shareholders. By contrast, Ports of Auckland has been a disappointment since the Auckland Council acquired its 100 per cent holding.

Under a sharemarket listing, there is a far better chance of a merger, or a joint venture agreement, between Ports of Auckland and Port of Tauranga. This is because local body politicians, who are usually opposed to these commercial agreements, would have a limited influence.

An Auckland/Tauranga agreement could lead to a sharp reduction in commercial ship visits to Auckland and enable Auckland importers and exporters to switch their business to a well governed and well managed port facility at Mount Manganui.

A merger between Ports of Auckland and Northport doesn’t make sense from a commercial or cost point of view.

• Brian Gaynor is an executive director of Milford Asset Management.

More needs to be done for transport infrastructure say CEOs

By James Penn

No doubt many CEOs were cheering on the opening of Auckland’s Waterview tunnel in June, but they say there is more to be done: Auckland’s congestion woes were ranked as the most impactful domestic factor for business confidence in New Zealand.

The adequacy of transport infrastructure was also chief among the concerns of business leaders.

Over half of Mood of the Boardroom survey respondents rated the issue an eight or above on a 10-point scale, ranging from no concern to extreme concern. An overall average concern rating of 7.4 tells the story.

The third and fourth ranked factors were “growth pressures in Auckland” and “housing unaffordability” respectively – both coming in at above 7 on the scale – speaking to concerns about a city that many consider to be bulging at its seams.

For Anthony Healy, CEO of BNZ, housing affordability was the top issue facing the nation. Healy had a wide variety of policy prescriptions for the issue: “Increase supply, RMA reform, more thoughtful immigration policy, overhaul local government funding model, incentivise regional migration and development, and increase infrastructure investment.”

As one leader sitting on the boards of a number of organisations headquartered outside Auckland explained, “Although Auckland issues are not so concerning, we are all interlinked and there are impacts and consequences direct or indirect.”

Craig Stobo, chair of the Local Government Funding Agency, said “the shortage of labour skills and pressures on growth city infrastructure” were constraints to further growth.

“Central government needs to rethink immigration policy and to share revenues with local government to incentivise them to invest in infrastructure,” he suggested.

The latter of those suggestions, in the form of a policy sharing GST on construction costs, has been proposed by Act this election, and rated highly among CEOs – 3.47/5, on average.

“ACT is right on the button,” said Stobo. “Sharing central government tax revenues with local government will incentivise local infrastructure investment currently constrained by Council’s debt to revenue ceilings.”

Stephen Selwood, chief executive of Infrastructure New Zealand, wants even broader reform: “We need to rethink how local government is structured and funded, in parallel with RMA and planning law reform.”

“This requires some powers being aggregated at a regional level – economic development and infrastructure planning and delivery – and others powers devolved to communities – social issues and local amenities in particular.”

Ross Buckley, Executive Chairman at KPMG, says much of the work is finally being done, but it’s the timing that matters: “Recent investment in Auckland infrastructure (such as Waterveiw) is making a positive difference and paying dividends – it just always arrives 10 years late.”

Other leaders point out the funds for these investments requires economic growth, and New Zealand’s productivity has been flagging.

This reality was reflected in a rating of 6.3 on the concern scale for the labour productivity factor.

Indeed, after housing affordability Healy’s next top issue facing the nation was productivity. “Incentivise investment in R&D, develop and grow ICT sector, encourage more VC and start up capital funds,” suggested Healy.

Michele Embling’s Top Three Issues

Infrastructure pressures in Auckland including housing and transport: the Government needs to step in.

 The future of work has the ability to increase inequity in our society: Direct intervention from Government in partnership with the private sector is needed to equip the next generation to be resilient. We can’t leave this to the teaching profession alone.

 Clean and Green. We need to lead the world on environmental issues but must address our own shortcomings.

The Herald’s Mood of the Boardroom 2017 Election Survey attracted participation from 118 respondents. The results were debated this morning by shadow finance spokesman Grant Robertson and National’s Finance Minister Steven Joyce.

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.”

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.

New round of RONS will help NZ catch up

Press Release – Road Transport Forum

Road Transport Forum Chief Executive Ken Shirley has welcomed the National Partys announcement of a new round of roads of national significance.21 August 2017

New round of RONS will help NZ catch up
Road Transport Forum Chief Executive Ken Shirley has welcomed the National Party’s announcement of a new round of roads of national significance.

“The fact is that New Zealand still faces a major transport infrastructure deficit,” says Shirley. “These new RONS will go a long way to helping us catch up, while improving resilience and safety.”

“Of course, there will also be the usual detractors to these projects, but it is worth reflecting on the success of the first round of RONS and the positive impact they are already having on communities and the economy.”

“I am glad that both major parties have now made formal commitments to finding an enduring solution to the Manawatu Gorge, it is a vital freight route that links the eastern and western sides of the lower North Island.”

“The East West Link is a similarly critical project to freeing up freight movements around Auckland, says Shirley. “But currently there is a lot of uncertainty with it before in the Environment Court. It is encouraging that the political commitment is there to see it through however.”

“The Katikati to Tauranga project is absolutely necessary from a safety point of view, just recently that road was identified as one of the most dangerous in New Zealand. If we are serious about getting the road toll down we must address such routes.”

“Finally, the extension into Northland with the Wellsford to Whangarei route is a natural progression to further realise the potential of the Northland economy and improve its connectivity to Auckland.”

“The road transport industry looks forward to the certainty of other political parties committing to these projects also, they are far too important to be treated as political footballs,” says Shirley.

RTF is joining with a number of other transport organisations including the AA, the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, New Zealand Shipping Federation and Bus and Coach Association to host the Election 2017 Transport Summit at Te Papa tomorrow. This is a great chance to hear directly from the political parties on their transport policies and quiz them on issues important to the broader transport sector. Information and tickets are available at www.transportsummit.org.nz.

Ten new roads of ‘national significance’ announced by National, costing $10.5 billion

Ten new roads for the country, costing an estimated $10.5 billion, have been announced today by the National Party.

‘These are vital for the country’ – Bill English says new roads will help grow economy

Prime Minister Bill English announced the new major routes during a visit to Hawke’s Bay.

The new roading projects have been labelled the ‘next generation of Roads of National Significance’, adding to seven previous roads created in the project.

National Party Transport Spokesperson Simon Bridges said, “The time has come for the next generation of nation-building projects so today we are announcing that 10 of the country’s most important routes will form the next generation of Roads of National Significance”.

New Zealand Transport Minister Simon Bridges at a New Zealand Transport Agency event in Auckland.
New Zealand Transport Minister Simon Bridges at a New Zealand Transport Agency event in Auckland.

 

The new roads would be: 

·         Wellsford to Whangarei

·         East West Link in Auckland

·         Cambridge to Tirau

·         Piarere to the foot of the Kaimai Range

·         Tauranga to Katikati

·         Napier to Hastings

·         Manawatu Gorge

·         Levin to Sanson

·         Christchurch Northern Motorway

·         Christchurch to Ashburton 

“The new roads are expected to cost around $10.5 billion, on top of the estimated $12 billion invested in the initial seven,” Mr Bridges said.

“The chosen projects are our highest volume roads and they are a sensible and logical extension of the original seven projects. Together they will help provide a strong safe highway network that links our regions effectively with our major cities.”

“Like the first tranche, they will be funded from the National Land Transport Fund and the use of Public-Private Partnerships,” Mr Bridges said.

“The initial funding will come from our record infrastructure investment of $32.5 billion announced in Budget 2017.”

Atkins and Inrix team for transport data revolution

Agreement means Atkins’ engineers and project managers will have access to real-time traffic information across five million miles of road

Millions of miles of road data will help to improve master-planning

Millions of miles of road data will help to improve master-planning

Design, engineering and project management consultancy Atkins has entered a global partnership agreement with connected car services and transportation analytics firm, Inrix.

“Atkins recognises there is a growing need for tools to identify trends when planning, monitoring, assessing and communicating the performance of transportation networks,” said Scott Sedlik, general manager, global public sector, Inrix.

“This partnership enables Atkins’ project teams to carry out ground-breaking analysis that will not only improve urban mobility but also help drive cost efficiencies for their clients.”

This agreement means Atkins’ engineers and project managers will have access to Inrix XD Traffic, which delivers accurate real-time traffic information across five million miles (eight million kilometres) of road in over 47 countries.

Additionally, Roadway Analytics offers access to in-depth roadway performance analysis and visualisations; and Trips, which provides accurate insights to better understand the movement of people and the journeys they take.

All of this will help improve master planning, influence the design phase of transport modelling and meet the demands of new intelligent mobility opportunities.

With predicted global infrastructure investment set to reach $3.3 trillion annually across transportation, power, water, and telecommunications systems, the need for using insight derived from a variety of data sources is critical for creating smart and future proofed cities.

“From new smart highways enabling connected and autonomous vehicles, to designing the latest masterplans – we are now able to provide a hybrid of our people’s expertise combined with the rich data insights from Inrix,” added Lee Woodcock, global product director for intelligent mobility, Atkins.

“By fusing the two together, we provide a globally progressive offering into the intelligent mobility and infrastructure sector.”

Atkins has already been applying Inrix data on several projects:

  • In the UK, its real-time traffic flow data is being used to provide improved insight on travel times for large infrastructure projects
  • In Colorado, North America, data has been providing insight into the need for operational improvements on state highways, understanding how to relieve traffic congestion and prioritise the implementation of traffic control technology
  • Also in Colorado, on the US Highway 85 (US 85), data is being used to measure before and after travel times
  • Data is supporting Atkins to evaluate existing traffic conditions in several planning and environmental linkage (PEL) studies in Colorado.

 

If you like this, you might be interested in reading the following:

Calgary selects Inrix for traffic data services

City planners can perform before and after studies to quantify and communicate the impact of road projects

smartcitiesworld.net/news/news/calgary-selects-inrix-for-traffic-data-services-1701

LA named as most traffic clogged city in the world

Study reveals that Los Angeles drivers spend on average 104 peak hours in congestion last year

smartcitiesworld.net/news/news/la-named-as-most-traffic-clogged-city-in-the-world-1402

Slow down, you’re going too fast

New Dangerous Slowdowns service uses real-time data from vehicles to warn drivers of sudden stops ahead

smartcitiesworld.net/news/news/slow-down-youre-going-too-fast-1641

 

Billions needed as Auckland transport funding gap grows

A short-term $1 billion funding plug is needed for a widening gap in Auckland’s future transport needs, a leaked report says.

Population growth has led the Auckland Council and the government to agree to an earlier start on light rail and a fleet of electric trains, but this has left open the question of how to pay for the infrastructure.

AUCKLAND - FEB 13 2017: Traffic jam in Auckland, New Zealand.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff has conceded rates may have to rise higher than his 2.5 percent election promise, and that an interim transport levy on ratepayers – due to lapse next year – may have to be extended.

An updated version of the Auckland Transport Alignment Project, which was leaked to Labour’s Phil Twyford, showed the funding deficit for the next decade blowing out by $1.9 billion to reach $5.9bn.

Read the leaked document: (PDF, 805KB)

About $1bn of that needed to be found for a three-year period starting next year. Most of that came from accelerating – by four years – the completion of the first leg of a light rail line from downtown to Mt Roskill.

Another big ticket item will be the second expansion of Auckland’s electric commuter rail fleet, expected to be needed around the opening of the City Rail Link tunnels, earmarked for 2023-24.

The city hopes to order 17 new trains for service in 2019, costing $207 million.

The big unanswered question is how the growing funding gap will be plugged, especially for 2018-21 when the deficit rises from $380m to $1.3bn.

Mr Twyford said National had rejected all of Auckland Council’s proposals for generating extra revenue to cover the funding shortfall, but hadn’t come up with any answers of its own.

“National won’t say where the money is coming from for its plan. Either they don’t want to be honest with Aucklanders about how the funding will be raised, or they are going to force the rest of New Zealand to pay for Auckland’s growth.”

Mr Twyford said it was “completely irresponsible” of the government not to come clean on the funding.

“Last week they announced $2.6bn worth of new, mostly roading projects, and they said nothing about how they are going to fund that … So, where’s the money?”

Minister of Transport Simon Bridges, in response to a question in Parliament from Mr Twyford on Thursday, said:

“I’m very confident we can do the job required. We’ve already got strong revenue from petrol taxes and road user charges – more than we thought – and more coming in than forecast.”

Mr Goff and the Labour Party have called for a 10 cents a litre petrol tax in the city to bring in an extra $160m a year, but the government has rejected the idea.

Mr Bridges told RNZ that while the government would pick up the lion’s share of the investment, the council would not get off “scott-free”.

Mr Goff told Morning Report he would prefer not to extend the transport levy of $114 a year on households, nor to raise rates further, but that could happen.

“I’m dealing in a good faith negotiation with government, and they want me to look at all of the options, and I’ve agreed to look at all of the options,” he said.

When asked about his 2.5 percent average rate rise pledge, Mr Goff pointed to the city’s rapidly rising population.

“Nothing is ever set in stone, but we have had a really fast increase in population, and that has to be in the mix.”

Mr Twyford said Aucklanders should have to put their hands in their pockets and pay their fair share, and it was reasonable to expect they would be willing to chip in.

“That’s important because you can’t ask people in Whanganui, Invercargill and other regional centres to just write a blank cheque to fund Auckland’s growth.”

He said Labour would use a regional fuel tax, targeted rates and infrastructure bonds to cover the shortfall if it was elected.

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