A question I often ask myself is, what transport projects would I build if I had $10 billion to spend? (say over a 10 year time frame). Well in this post, with the help of the list of projects in the ITP, I will attempt to answer that.
First up though, it is perhaps worth mentioning that $10b over the next 10 years is not an unrealistic figure. The current National Land Transport Programme tells us that over the next 3 years alone, $3.4 billion will be spent on transport. Included in that amount is money for maintaining roads and running public transport however with a little extra funding, as is being investigated as part of the consensus building group, $10 billion seems about right. Further The major road and PT projects listed in the ITP, a 30 year document, come in combined at just over $31 billion so $10 billion over a 10 year time frame is not an unrealistic figure.
So what would I spend it on?
Believe it or not I do actually support a couple of roading projects. Waterview and the upgrade of SH16 are already under way and should really be finished. I think there is value in “completing the motorway network” and would consider these the last major state highway project in the region. Next I think it is quite important that we still do work to improve some of our local roads through projects like AMETI and as pointed out a few days ago, removing rail level crossings. All up lets allocate $2.5 billion towards those. This would mean that there would need to be some serious prioritisation of roading projects which would likely upset some groups
Walking and Cycling
This seems to be the forgotten cousin of transport and it wasn’t even mentioned in the ITP presentation. One of the great things about improving the walking and cycling network is that by comparison it is cheap to do and a little money can go a long way. Spending decent amount of money can give us a pretty kick arse network so lets bite the bullet and get it done.
With those other two areas budgeted for, that leaves us with $5.2b to be spend on improved PT infrastructure. The first project on my list is obviously going to be the CRL. The costs for it listed above are inflation adjusted and include other projects like grade separation and extra trains so lets stick with the actual construction cost that we know about which is ~$2 billion.
From my post about how we could run trains post CRL we would need a branch line to Mt Roskill. Seeing as the route is already designated, and most bridges already built with it in mind, it would likely only cost in the vicinity of $100 million. At the other end of the network we know the business case for electrification to Pukekohe stacks up so we will add in the $140 million listed above.
The last project on this list is rail to the airport. What surprised me was how cheap it was for the northern link compared to the eastern link. The more I have thought about it, the more I wonder if perhaps it excluded the connection to Onehunga so lets bump up the cost to $700 million, like was suggested a few years ago. These four rail projects, along with the trains needed to run on the tracks come in at a combined $3.9 billion.
There are a number of small items on the list, ferry terminal upgrades, integrated ticketing, upgrading the real time system and so on. Lets allocate $100m to these and other small PT infrastructure projects. That leaves us with about $1.2b for buses.
We know from the CCFAS that even with the CRL, we will need to improve bus infrastructure in the city and the ITP suggests that we need $250 million for that. Dominion Rd is a pretty important bus corridor and post upgrade is expected to have the bus lanes almost to the quality of a full busway. However we know from when the upgrade was announced that it is now only budgeted to cost $47 million so I’ll use that figure.
On the North Shore I think we definitely need to extend actual busway infrastructure to Albany, the ITP suggests that the $750 million listed is to get it all the way to Silverdale. I don’t see the Albany to Silverdale section being needed in 10 years so I’m going to to make a guess and suggest $200 million to get it to Albany. We also need the South Eastern busway from Panmure to at least Pakuranga. As mentioned in the ITP sheet above, the costs largely come under the roading project but for the purposes of this I will include part of the bus costs separately, lets say $500m. That leaves us with around $150m which can be used for new bus lanes around the city, although some of that may also come as part of local road projects
So to review. Below is a rough guide of what I would spend. Over a 10 year period it would leave us with a completed motorway network, a kick arse walking and cycling network, a largely completed rail network with exception of rail to the shore and finally some massively improved bus infrastructure. What gets dropped off the list is a lot of the big and expensive motoway esk arterial upgrades like the Mill Rd corridor and many of the motorway widening projects
- Waterview – $2b
- Local roads – $2.5b
- Walking and Cycling – $300m
- Rail – $3.9b
- CRL – $2b
- Mt Roskill branch – $100m
- Electrification to Pukekohe – $140m
- Rail from Onehunga to the Airport – $700m
- Bus – $1.2b
- City Centre Bus improvements – $250m
- Dominion Rd – $47m
- Northern Busway Constellation to Albany – $250m
- South Eastern Busway – $500m
- New buslanes – $150m
- Other – $100m
I’m interested to hear what projects you would go for if you had $10 billion to spend.