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Reaction to the leaking of the CCFAS

When news like the leaked CCFAS report comes out, it is always quite interesting to see the response from various groups or organisations.

First up the project has plenty of support from Steven Selwood and the NZ Council for Infrastructure development

In the eyes of infrastructure experts, Auckland desperately needs the proposed city rail link.

A draft report by transport engineers Sinclair Knight Merz says in terms of existing roads, by 2021 most bus networks near and in the city centre will be at capacity or overloaded, and traffic slowing to 8km/h.

New Zealand Council for Infrastructure chief executive Stephen Selwood says if nothing is done, people will be deterred from moving to Auckland.

He says by international standards Auckland is a small city, and already out of its depth.

“For us to be suffering the level of congestion that we do across the city, and certainly accessing the city centre, is abnormal for a city this size.”

Stephen Selwood says it will take a collective approach and suggests small motorway charges be put in place to act as a disincentive for people driving their cars at peak times.

But then this is not really a surprise as their goal is just to get as much built as possible. So next we have the Employers and Manufacturers Association.

Auckland employers say that traffic flows will grind to a halt before any major changes to the city’s public transport system are agreed on.

The Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) says that a proposed rail project has been delayed too long.

EMA chief executive Kim Campbell says the rail project has taken too long to get underway because it has been delayed by futile reports on what transport options are best suited to Aucklan

The EMA and its members obviously see the benefits of being able to move more people around faster and the business growth that enables. The CEO of the EMA even appeared on the CRL video that Auckland Transport put together.

So what about the other side of the fence. Well we have George Wood who despite not having seen the report is claiming it must be wrong.

There’s criticism over the leaking of a report on Auckland’s future transport options.

A draft document by transport engineers Sinclair Knight Merz has backed the idea of an underground rail loop, and paints a grim picture of what the city would be like without it.

Councillor George Wood doesn’t agree the rail tunnel is the best option, and he says the Council should have been given the report first.

“Disappointed that it’s come out in the media in the way it has as a draft document.

“I don’t think that the kind of findings this document has come up with really are correct, and I want to see more background information.”

And lastly a group who oppose rates claiming it could bankrupt the city. Of course this group are a massive hypocrites who are just lobbing against the project because its a rail. If they were serious about their claims they would also be criticising the council for planning to spend 60% of the transport CAPEX budget ($5.3 billion) on roads.

Today’s media story of a ‘leaked report’ on the Central Rail Link is yet another attempt to convince Aucklanders that the Central rail Link is inevitable and vitally necessary.

There is no mandate for the expenditure of more than $3 billion on the proposed Central Rail Link in Auckland over the next seven years.

Despite Mayor Brown’s frequent claims that Auckland supports his Rail Link, and his use of an unscientific ‘phone-in’ survey to back his claims, most ratepayers do not support significant rates increases to pay for this project.

And ratepayers are aware that there will be permanent demands for subsidies to bridge the negative difference between fare revenue and cost per passenger.

While many ratepayers may approve of a Rail Link at some time they will not give full support until they are given the true picture of the impact on rates.

Recent public transport usage statistics do not indicate the level of growth in passenger numbers which would be needed to support a business plan strong enough to attract Government into paying for half the cost.

There has been no convincing evidence so far that forecast passenger growth could be achieved.

Who will these passenger be – shoppers, workers, tourists, – where will they be going to and from?

About the only thing I do agree with from the comments I have seen is that it would be good to actually see the report but as it sounds like it is still in a draft state, lets at least allow it to get finalised first.

32 comments to Reaction to the leaking of the CCFAS

  • RHarris

    I’m waiting for the government report on all these reports and the report on that report………let’s waste some more time.

  • Jacob

    There is no sense to this inner city rail loop when just 13%of people work in the cbd and the other 87% work elsewhere or is there some cunning plan to make land in the cbd cheaper or to give rates breaks at everyone else’s expense to get people there

    • Peter M

      Plus one impact of the project would actually be to significantly increase the value of land in the CBD.

    • So, Jacob, what’s your solution to the accepted reality that the CBD’s roads will be pretty much full to capacity within the next decade? Come on, give us your expert opinion, what should be done? And don’t say “decentralise”, because that’ll have a negative effect on Auckland’s economic effectiveness. The CBD is already the highest-value employment centre in the whole country, by quite a significant margin, and the last thing we want to do is follow a path which will discourage that from continuing.

    • Stu Donovan

      Jacob, your comment is both wonderfully incorrect and vacuous at the same time. Why?

      Well, if you look at the wider city centre, i.e. Parnell, Ponsonby, and Newton, then you’ll find that it’s home to approximately 30% of Auckland’s jobs. Second, if you weight jobs by their contribution to GDP, then you will find that those jobs probably contribute 35-40% to regional GDP, i.e. they are high value. Third, percentages are useless statistics in this context – it’s the absolute number of people the CRL carries which is important. Let’s say that only 5% of the U.K.s jobs were within cooey of the London underground: Does that make it a poor investment? No, because 5% is still a shed load of people and London has bad congestion.

  • Glenn C

    Put simply, the link will open up capacity for cross town trips as well as trains to and from the central city (as Bryce’s post explains)

    That extra capacity also provides opportunities to extend the network to other parts of Auckland.

    Calling it a loop conjures up images of trains going around in circles – rather than trains coming from one branch, going through the central city and onwards to another branch without the need to ‘back out’ at Britomart’s dead end.

  • KLK

    It also allows eventual expansion of the network – you know, like a real city.

    Want modern electric rail running frequently to/from the north shore? Through the south west to the airport? Servicing the PT-barren south east? Then you need the CBD link to open up Britomart.

    I can’t believe the argument still raises the concept of a loop……groan.

  • The “CBD on has xx% of jobs” complaint really needs to be knocked on the head aggressively by AT. They need to consistently and regularly point out the CRL will effectively double the capacity across the entire network, and perhaps double down on this by saying yy% jobs are accessible by the rail network – incl places outside the CBD like Grafton, Newmarket, New Lynn, etc etc.

    • But also, clearly, for those who live [or work] in say Pukekoke, or Swanson, or Meadowbank, or Onehunga, and travel to and from the CBD each day, and there are thousands, does it make any sense to say that the City Rail Link is only ‘about’ the CBD? Isn’t it also ‘about’ every place on the lines and all those other places connected to them by bus and park’n’ride? Yes. It is simply wrong, absurd even, to claim that this system is only serves the land above where the new work will be.

      Is is like claiming that the Harbour Bridge should never have been built ‘cos it only serves the harbour.

      • The CRL is also of little direct utility to people to the south or east who travel to the CBD, to be fair. Where it is useful is for people travelling between the east and the west. That it’ll allow higher frequencies is of less use to people who only go to/from the CBD than is the use as a through station that becomes possible between the east and west. Suddenly it’s feasible to use the train between, say, Glen Innes and New Lynn, whereas right now that involves some seriously convoluted, time-consuming bus work or, more realistically, a journey in the car.

        Even the possibility of airport rail being contingent on the CRL being completed is less tangible than the reality of through traffic. Trains at five-minute frequencies will be years into the future while 10-minute frequencies on nearly every line will become a reality once the EMUs are fully on-stream, but through traffic will be an immediate benefit, as will the dramatic shortening of journeys from the west into the CBD.

        • David O

          5 minute frequencies on all lines – west, south, east – do make a difference to all of those areas. There’s a real difference that far outweighs the time savings in a turn up and go timetable, which requires the CRL for it to happen.

          • It will be many years post-CRL before we can justify those frequencies, I suspect, so trying to use them to justify the project is dangerous. Better to explain to people what the very narrow CRL project itself will change what they can do with rail transport as soon as it is completed and opened.

          • Probably not many many years. There wouldn’t be much point in opening the CRL and leaving things at 10 minute frequencies as that won’t magically make the trains less full (we are building it because the existing network will be at capacity after all). While it might not go straight to 5 minute frequencies it will be better than the 10 minute frequencies that will exist before it opens.

        • Mr Anderson

          CRL is very useful for trips from the south/east to the city centre. At the moment their only station is at Britomart. With CRL they have great access to the whole city centre and city fringe.

          • From the east, certainly, as part of the east-west linking, but very arguable for trips from the south because it’s unlikely that there will be trains routed through the western end of the CRL from the south so those passengers will still have to travel all the way through the CRL. It’ll be a bit quicker, sure, but not anywhere near the time savings that’re going to come the way of those to the east and the west.
            Plus, if the current abomination of a plan for the western portal is what gets constructed there’ll never be much improvement for those on the Southern Line in terms of connectivity to the western end of the CDB. As for access to Grafton and Mt Eden, unless that unlikely routing actually eventuates it’ll be significantly quicker to change at Newmarket for either a bus or a train.

      • That was what I was getting at – it is not just about the CBD, and not just about those who work there. We both know the CRL will be a whole of network improvement, I was more just venting some frustration about that selective and misleading statistic that gets wheeled out as a criticism.

  • LucyJH

    I’d like to see the next census (or other data) to see if the 13% figure is still accurate. Anybody know if it is actually based on more accurate info than 2007 census data?

  • Greg N

    Lets start by redefining what the letters in CRL CRL stands for,
    The C is not standing for Central, CBD or even Citizens (as in Citizens and Ratepayers …).
    Just as we redefined what the “L” stands for (its not Loop, its “Link”).

    So the C actually stands for (now that the CCFAS draft confirms it to be so), “Critical” so lets stop referring the CRL as “Central”/CBD or whatever Rail Link and call it for what it actually is:

    The “Critical Rail Link”.

    And while we are at it, lets redefine the R while we are at it, it should be “Rapid (Transit)” not “Rail”.

    So the correct term for the acronym CRL should be “Critical Rapid Transit Link”.

    Now, does that make it clear to all the yay and naysayers whats it for, and why we need it now?

  • Swan

    The no more rates guys are correct that it has not been made clear to the public that the project is never expected to be viable financially. Not even close. Even with high patronage growth fares are not even expected to cover the OPEX on a very capital intensive project.

    • Greg N

      Swan – Your point being?

      “viable financially” is a vague definition subject to all sorts of caveats and subjective rules for whats included or excluded from the definition – and all hinges on whether the *full* costs are all paid for “up front” or amortised over time or just left as externalities to be paid for by us all some other way in health costs, pollution or whatever.

      Regardless this fact has never stopped any government (local or national) from undertaking large construction projects with dubious financial viability even with the wildest set of forecasts of “growth” backing them up – Roads, Railways, bridges, you name it.

      Example: The Auckland motorways program would never have covered its OPEX – how could it there were/are no tolls on the roads except for the harbour bridge and using fuel taxes or general taxes is a form of rating to pay for it CAPEX and OPEX.

      For a more recent example – none of the RoNS, despite at least one being a PPP (with tolling no doubt) would stakc up either and that hasn’t stopped the Government pushing ahead with them. And if the RoNs are “financially viable” then so is a collective build of the CRL, a Bus tunnel and a second harbour crossing even if all built at the same time!

      The presumed OPEX savings used to justify the RoNS and other schemes flies in the face of falling traffic volumes worldwide, with reduced fuel tax take one obvious result.

      So all you can say is that even the most “financially viable” project today may well prove to be the next folly in a decade or so.

      • Swan

        Pointing to the wrongs of other projects does not make it ok.

        Auckland motorways however did and do pay for themselves via petrol tax and RUC

        • Swan financially is the wrong question. The right question is economically. They are not the same. That some things can capture their outcomes and montetise them does not automatically make them better economically than other projects that can’t do this so well.

          Most transport infrastructure is very poor at the financial capture of their outcomes, both in terms of costs as well as benefits. Especially as they both involve externalities that are pretty hard to even quantify let alone control and tax.

          Do motorways really pay for themselves? The road network as a whole is taxed to a level that is then spent on part of the driving infrastructure; State Highways, half of the rest of the road networks and a bit of other systems to help keep the roads flowing. But this funds none of the vehicles, none of the fuel, none of the parking amenity that is absolutely necessary for this system to function at all. This fund does not pay drivers for their time nor cover other social costs such as policing. And certainly doesnt compensate society for whole lot of other outcomes of this system like the negative health and air quality outcomes nor the dis benefits from degraded land use and so on. Or how about the lost rates for the city of that prime inner city real estate lost to the CMJ?

          No road makes a profit. The existence of a fund from fuel tax and RUCs does not show that road based systems have the best economic outcome, merely that there is a structure to tax these activities. There are taxes on alcohol too and if that money went into one fund it wouldn’t prove that drinking is self funding either.

          When evaluating the costs of the CRL a whole lot of different costs are are included like the vehicles that will run on it, the fuel to power it, the operation of the system. There are no sums added to it for the improvement to air quality, use of electricity instead of carbon belching fossil fuels, or health outcomes etc. Nor will the lift in land values around the stations be captured by AT, these benefits accrue to private landowners….

          I know user pays appeals as an idea but the world is much much more subtle than that and any such arguments are prone to extremely distorting over-simplifications.

          By the way I have seen calculations that conclude that the efficiencies of electrification plus the passenger growth offered by the CRL and expansion of the network are likely to lead to a huge increase in opex recovery on the AK rail network- to close being revenue neutral. There is also a very good chance that this could be greatly increased by dropping the fares significantly. Although right now that couldn’t be achieved because there isn’t the capacity to meet the demand growth that this calculation involves.

          And such a rise in use would have huge benefits to land use and other movement systems especially the road system where billions would be saved from deferred/cancelled projects but these savings would never show on any rail balance sheet…..

        • Peter M

          Public transport has positive externalities for road users and for land values as well as providing a social service to those who can’t (or don’t want to) drive. All those things make it extremely justifiable for us to fund PT from more than just fares.

          Or are you suggesting that nothing is worth public funding. Health, education, social welfare, police… etc. etc.?

        • Uh, the motorways don’t collect road taxes, they merely provide an outlet for spending those taxes. Without the motorways there would still be vehicles driving, consuming fuel and expending RUC kilometres. In fact, if one thinks about it logically, the motorways reduce road taxes by allowing the efficient movement of large volumes of vehicles instead of forcing cars to idle along while consuming large quantities of petrol and making RUC-taxed vehicles take long, round-about paths to their destinations. The motorways don’t pay for themselves at all.

  • What are Stephen Selwood and the Council for Infrastructure about? Building things, anything- they don’t care as long as we’re building something?

    He came to a Local Board meeting last year and did a big presentation of all of Auckland’s wishlist and encouraged us to prioritise projects and decide on the level of spend (i.e. If we spend $10BN no change in rates, $15 x% rise, $20 y% rise etc)

    I haven’t quite worked out their ‘angle’, are they subservient to anyone?

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