Councillor Brewer continues to play politics with the CRL as reported in this morning’s Herald; here. I guess this isn’t a surprise as he wants the mayor’s job and Brown’s mayoralty is identified with the CRL. Brewer has in the past made the now common National Party claims of ‘supporting’ public transport while going out of his way to attack any real steps towards meaningful change in this direction. Here is the wonderfully vague waffle on his website:
Promoting transport solutions
Gridlock traffic has long been the number one complaint about Auckland. With the roads only set to get busier, the Auckland Council will need to find sustainable transport solutions, while making sure our neighbourhoods are protected.
Cameron has worked effectively with the New Zealand Transport Authority, the Automobile Association, rail authorities, public transport providers and advocates. He is committed to leading the charge on addressing local transport issues.
This is after the article congratulating himself and other retrogrades like Ken Baguley for getting the bus lanes on Remuera Rd downgraded to uselessness.
But enough on political game playing; there really is nothing duller, the interesting point is not that Brewer is going to spend the next year painting the CRL as black as he can but rather that his current complaint exactly expresses the reverse of what I believe the Council ought to be doing with the CRL. Here is his big idea:
Orakei councillor Cameron Brewer yesterday said it was crazy to spend $112 million in the coming financial year on land purchases for the rail loop when it had no funding certainty.
Well of course buying property is a really exchanging one asset for another, so not really ‘crazy’ unless a particularly poor deal is made. And here’s the thing, transit stations transform land use and value positively, so the Council is in a strong position to make good deals through the purchases around the CRL. Two of the financially most successful transit systems in world, in Hong Kong and Tokyo achieve this success through the very act of investing in and developing property around subway stations. A recent article at Atlantic Cities on the Tokyo system begins with this observation:
Twice during my recent trip to Tokyo, once at Shibuya and again in a suburb to the west of the city, I exited a subway platform only to find myself swaddled in a massive department store. This was the Tokyu store.
Really innovative councillors, especially from the supposedly business savvy right, should be pointing out the investment opportunities for the Council Property CCO especially around Aotea station and at the Downtown Centre that the CRL offers. The article continues:
…the Tokyu Corporation. Established in 1922 as a regional development company, Tokyu today is a massive “rail-based conglomerate” of nearly 400 companies that employs 30,000 people, only a tenth of which work directly for the railway. Beginning in the 1930s Tokyu surrounded its hubs with commercial and retail buildings and sold land near its intermediate stations to universities at good prices, to create reliable residential (and thus passenger) corridors.
My compliant with the Council is not that it shouldn’t buy property where it intends to change that property’s value through transport initiatives but rather that the Property CCO seems rather lacklustre and lacking in sufficient energy to maximise these opportunities. I guess it doesn’t get any such lead from the Council itself.
No surprise as we certainly don’t seem to be blessed with much quality from the C&R ticket. I am most disappointed with Councillor Fletcher, to whom all Aucklanders owe a debt of gratitude for the construction of Britomart, as she is reported as observing:
C&R leader Christine Fletcher said the time was not right for a big budget and a big spend-up.
Well Sydney built much of its metro in the Great Depression, and in many ways it is the perfect time, interest rates are low, especially for local authorities, the construction industry is largely idle, the city and country needs investment in game changing infrastructure, and property can be easily bought. And we are only talking about getting ready to start the real work later which gives a few years for things to change in Wellington.