Central government has put together an official response to the Council’s Auckland Plan. While in many areas there’s support and agreement, one obvious place where the two views don’t match up is in relation to transport. Discussion around the government’s position on the Council’s transport plans for the next 30 years is quite extensive, but a little bit hard to comprehend. Firstly, this section of the transport response can’t even quite get right the proportions between intensification and expansion the Auckland Plan signals:I had thought the final position of the Auckland Plan on this matter was to provide for either a 70/30 or 60/40 split, with the goal being to achieve the 70/30. Reading back up the govt response a bit actually confirms this matter, so I assume the mistake in this section is just another example of the Ministry of Transport being useless:
Moving along, it become obvious pretty quickly that the government response is pretty much based on the results of various transport modelling exercises undertaken, which suggest that despite us building a huge amount of additional transport infrastructure over the next 30 years, congestion is still going to get worse. We’ve questioned previously the accuracy of this modelling, with the Council also highlighting that it might be worried about some of these future projections, but despite this it seems for now, the modelling is gospel: I’ve yet to see a city build its way out of congestion, so in a way perhaps these numbers aren’t particularly surprising. Remember that the final version of the Auckland Plan proposes to spend around 57% of transport dollars on roads over the next 30 years compared to 40% on public transport. Perhaps a split giving more to public transport might lead to a better outcome. But for some reason I don’t think this is what central government’s response is hinting at.
Adding to this, the response then takes a particularly strange step in criticising the Council’s efforts to raise additional money to try and construct the big projects to at least ease the extent to which congestion worsens over the next 30 years:The focus on ensuring value for money is achieved from the transport package before embarking upon looking for additional funding sources is sensible, but once again I would suggest that central government should be careful not to be throwing stones while living in the glass house of the RoNS programme. Plus a couple of the projects which are likely to provide least value for money are also roading projects: namely an additional harbour crossing (a BCR of around 0.3 last time we looked) and the “East West Link”, a $1.5 billion solution to a $100 million problem. Yet I once again somehow doubt this is exactly what the government’s thinking while writing this feedback.
I suspect this argument isn’t going to go away any time soon. But it’d be good if central government would tell the world what it thinks the transport solutions for Auckland might be – a Dominion Road motorway perhaps? All their criticism without any useful suggestions, plus criticising the spending of extra money while at the same time presumably criticising the lack of spending and its resulting congestion, when put together it just quite bizarre.