The madness of our current transport spending priorities have been highlighted a lot in recent weeks, even getting a pretty good airing on the National Party aligned Kiwiblog, thanks to a superb Guest Post by Green Party transport spokesperson Julie-Anne Genter. Behind the scenes, Labour Party transport spokesperson Phil Twyford has also been digging up a whole pile of interesting information through written questions to Minister of Transport Gerry Brownlee. In particular, a series of questions compare the amount of money NZTA is spending on new and improved state highways in Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury with the amount of money being spent on public transport infrastructure in each of those three cities.
I think it’s good to focus on NZ’s three biggest cities, as obviously that’s where the need for public transport infrastructure is always going to be most concentrated. The numbers are, shall we say, mind-bogglingly lop-sided: While it’s important to remember that rail track infrastructure is not included in PT infrastructure spending – for some strange reason – there’s a huge imbalance here. The public transport infrastructure funding pool is used for things like integrated ticketing, bus priority projects, ferry terminal upgrades, rail station improvements and similar projects. Let’s put the difference between the two funding totals in another format: Even I am surprised to see how unbalanced the spending is between these two funding pools.