As we’re getting pretty close to the end of the year, we have the opportunity to look back at 2009 in a holistic manner. I suppose that overall it has been a topsy-turvy year for transport – with some particular highs and particular lows. I’m curious about analysing what people think was the biggest (or perhaps the series of biggest) transport stories for 2009.
Here are some ideas I have (going somewhat chronologically):
- The opening of the Orewa-Puhoi Motorway. Massive traffic jams and Steven Joyce’s announcement that he wanted to extend the motorway to Wellsford.
- The cancellation of the Regional Petrol Tax, throwing into doubt rail electrification, integrated ticketing and a variety of other projects.
- Changes to the Government Policy Statement, shifting masses of money into state highway building and away from other transport areas.
- The Super City announcements (partly related to transport!)
- The changes to the Waterview Connection route (which have subsequently largely been reversed).
- The Harbour Bridge Crossing. My word that was an enormous amount of fun – for one morning we stuck it to NZTA and took back the Harbour Bridge.
- The announcement of changes to the Public Transport Management Act. This will most likely be a bigger story during 2010, and didn’t get much press, but could certainly have some significant repercussions for Auckland transport.
- Integrated ticketing contract awarded to Thales. Although there was certainly a lot of drama surrounding this initial announcement in June – before things were finalised just a few weeks back.
- The bigger trucks debate. We still haven’t had it confirmed whether these larger trucks will be allowed on New Zealand’s roads yet.
- Announcement of a study into the CBD Rail Tunnel. Perhaps this could win the award for the most under-recognised transport story of the year.
- The Puhoi-Wellsford Motorway debate. Mike Lee’s “holiday highway” term has spread like wildfire.
- The establishment of the Auckland Transport Agency as the transport branch of the future Super City. Originally I thought this was a good step, now I’m very much not so sure.
- Possible cutbacks to electrification. Fortunately these didn’t happen quite so harshly in the end.
- Slow progress on the Onehunga Line. A source of much frustration for public transport campaigners, it finally looks like progress is being made on building the stations for this line.
- The $860 million widening of the Northwest Motorway. This one came rather out of the blue, and I think is an enormous waste of money due to induced traffic.
- The debate over prioritising projects. Otherwise known as the ARC versus the government.
- The release of the draft Regional Land Transport Strategy. Most probably Auckland’s best transport strategy in 60 years.
- The debate over whether Auckland’s next harbour crossing should be a bridge or a tunnel. Personally I vote for a rail tunnel and that’s it.
- The bus lock-out. I wonder if the NZ Bus public relations person has lost their job yet? What a botch-up that was on their behalf.
- The announcement of funding for Auckland’s rail electrification. Yay!
- The end of the Helensville train service. Many say it was doomed from the start and I would have to agree – Helensville is probably just not big enough to justify a rail service.
- Another change to the Waterview Connection route! We’re almost back to where we were pre-May, which I guess is a good thing for the local community.
- Transmission Gully gets the go ahead (not Auckland I know). This is despite it having an incredibly low cost-benefit ratio of around 0.3-0.5.
- The Snapper/Thales battle over integrated ticketing. I think in the end Thales have won – although that will depend on the extent to which the PTMA is gutted next year.
A pretty busy year all up actually. The two issues which drove the most traffic to this site were, interestingly enough, the May Waterview Connection announcement and the October bus lockout.
Your thoughts? Top story? Top 5? Anything I’ve missed?