Yesterday Prime Minister John Key gave a speech outlining the government’s priorities for 2011. Of relevance to this blog is what he said about transport. Starting with what he said about State Highways:
We will continue building New Zealand’s transport infrastructure.
It is vital that New Zealand exporters and producers can move their goods efficiently throughout the country, and that New Zealanders can get efficiently from A to B. That requires a solid transport network that anticipates future needs.
In 2011 work will progress on developing New Zealand’s State Highway Network with priority accorded to progressing the seven Government-designated Roads of National Significance.
Construction on four of these is already underway, and this year construction is scheduled to begin on projects such as the Waterview Tunnel, the Ngaruawahia Bypass and the Rangiriri Bypass.
I must get around to asking NZTA what the cost-benefit ratios of the Ngaruawahia and Rangiriri bypasses are.
And public transport gets a mention too:
The Government will build the effectiveness of New Zealand’s public transport networks.
We want public transport networks that are efficient, affordable and future-proofed. To achieve this we will work particularly closely with the Auckland and Greater Wellington Regional Councils on plans to build improved metro rail and bus services. It is important that these cities pay their fair share for the infrastructure their ratepayers need. The Government sees itself as an important partner in their plans, provided they are realistic and necessary.
The formation of the Auckland ‘Super City’ Council provides a significant economic opportunity for New Zealand, and the Government will be working to maximise this opportunity in 2011. We will be working closely with the Auckland Council as they develop their strategic vision for the City through the Auckland Spatial Plan.
This year we will support efforts to build financial durability for Kiwirail, by shoring up its capacity to operate commercially-viable freight operations. We want Kiwirail to be able survive on its own two feet, and that means ensuring it can provide a competitive service that Kiwi businesses want to use and pay for.
The AKT blog interpreted what Key said somewhat negatively, a sign that the government would only reluctantly look at ‘realistic’ rail plans. I’m not sure whether I have the same interpretation – as I actually think there are a number of positives here:
- There isn’t specific reference to “we’ve paid for Project DART and electrification so now shut up” as has been the case previously.
- There’s a commitment to working closely with the Auckland Council to help give effect to the spatial plan. The fact that this paragraph is surrounded by rail discussions suggests that the CBD tunnel might be in mind.
- The government does accept it’s a partner in rail projects that make good sense.
I just wish the government would apply the same scrutiny to its roads of national significance. Is Puhoi-Wellsford efficient, affordable, realistic and necessary? I think not.