The City Rail Link is pretty popular among most of the people who read this site but it is also pretty popular amongst the general population too. Yet another survey has been completed showing that the project has strong support. The NZ Herald reports:
A majority of Aucklanders want the Government to make a significant contribution to the $2.86 billion city rail link, a poll has found.
The poll, by Horizon Research, also found that 30.4 per cent of Aucklanders support tolls to help pay for the rail link and 24.9 per cent support targeted rates for those who benefit most.
They are more lukewarm about a regional fuel tax, asset sales, higher rates and a higher departure tax as funding mechanisms.
This is the first poll on funding options for the rail link since Mayor Len Brown issued a discussion paper in February on new funding sources to stop dodging what he said were the tough decisions to get Auckland moving.
Mr Brown has encountered a brick wall of resistance from the Government for the 3.5km underground route from Britomart to join the western rail line at Mt Eden. The Government refuses to back the project beyond designating the route and successive Transport Ministers have said there would be no tolls or a regional petrol tax. Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee declined to comment on the poll.
Mr Brown has established a “consensus building group” costing $1.1 million under the guidance of environmentalist and political activist Guy Salmon to try to persuade the Government to support one or more funding options.
The poll, of 1099 Aucklanders, found that among those who supported the rail link, 64 per cent wanted it built as soon as possible, 22 per cent by 2020 and just 3 per cent did not think it needed to be completed by 2020.
64% support is pretty strong for a project that the government has been so hostile towards it and who even went to the effort of getting their own agencies to complete a dodgy review of the original business case. What’s more there was only 14% opposition to the project from those surveyed. Horizon Research who conducted the poll also say that the only part of the region that didn’t see more than 50% of respondants support the project was in Rodney however even then there were still more people who supported it than those who didn’t. Of those that supported the project , 64%want it built immediately while a further 22% want it by built by 2020 which is roughly the current timeline. This shows that it is not just people supporting the project at some point in the future but people actually recognising that the need for the project is fairly high.
The poll also highlights what is perhaps a marketing issue for Auckland Transport. Horizon say 6% of respondents indicated that if the City Rail Link had the effect of increasing train frequency to every 15 minutes in peak hours, they would switch to using rail to travel to work. We already have peak frequencies at 15 minutes on all of the major lines with Auckland transport planning to move towards having 10 minute all day frequencies once we have electric trains running. The CRL would allow for those peak frequencies to be increased even further and 5 minute peak frequencies should be achievable.
Of course Gerry Brownlee is not commenting but National will know full well from their own polling that the project is very popular. I also suspect that some of Gerry’s officials have probably been passing him notes under the table that the City Centre Future Access Study could very well come out showing a strong need for the project. My understanding is that the final version of that study will be sent to the minister in a couple of weeks and has a good chance of showing that the CRL is the best option. Combine a potentially strong need for the project with strong public support and continuing to say no to the CRL will increasingly look stupid.
There is lots more information from Horizon here.