It’s no real mystery that providing better public transport has a lot of support among the general public. Firstly we saw Len Brown’s mayoral victory last year, with much of his support due to his push for making a “transformational shift” to Auckland’s rail system in particular. Then earlier this year the NZ Herald conducted a poll, asking people whether they preferred to see the Puhoi-Wellsford road or the City Rail Link proceed. The results were fairly conclusive:
Public backing for a central Auckland rail tunnel is more than twice as strong as for the Government’s proposed new “road of national significance” north from Puhoi.
Although a Herald-DigiPoll survey has found support for the tunnel strongest in Auckland, the $2.4 billion project is also enthusing other New Zealanders, who are taking an even dimmer view of the highway proposal than the city’s residents.
The 3.5km tunnel proposal between Britomart and Mt Eden won support from 63.3 per cent of Aucklanders, compared with the highway, which was backed by 24.8 per cent.
Although tunnel support weakened to 48.1 per cent among non-Aucklanders, only 19.2 per cent said they believed the highway should get higher priority. That compared with 27.5 per who did not know and just 5.2 per cent who did not back either project.
Another poll, this time undertaken by Colmar Brunton for the World Wildlife Fund, has found similarly strong support for increasing public transport funding:
A national Colmar Brunton public opinion poll released today shows seven out of ten New Zealanders want to see more Government money going to fund public transport improvements in major towns and cities. Only 1 percent of total land transport spending is allocated to new and improved public transport.
In Auckland the rate is even higher with 78 percent of people in agreement that the government should spend a greater percentage of its Land Transport Budget on improved public transport infrastructure in major urban areas or cities over the next decade.
I think some of the result is due to the way the questions were asked, which highlighted to respondents that 59% of transport funding (as outlined in the Government Policy Statement) over the next decade will go into new and improved roads, while barely 1% will go into new public transport infrastructure. Of course as the GPS excludes rail capital funding (for some bizarre reason), in reality we will see more funds going to public transport improvements of one kind or another than 1%. (Plus I really don’t have any sympathy for the government on this issue as rail capital projects should be able to be funded from the NLTF).
Nevertheless, the poll simply reinforces what I do think is widespread support, particularly in Auckland, for a more balanced approach to transport funding. I suppose the real question though is what weight people will give to transport when choosing their vote in the upcoming election.