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Alternative Transport Funding Report Released

The latest report on alternative transport funding for Auckland, prepared by the Independent Advisory Board (formerly the Consensus Building Group), has just been released. The report will form a critical part of the Council’s public consultation on the next Long Term Plan (the 10 year budget), essentially asking Aucklanders two key questions:

  • Are you willing to pay more for a better transport network?
  • If so, then should that extra money be from existing sources (rates, fuel taxes etc.) or from a “motorway user charge”?

We have been highly skeptical of past proposals that request more money to be spent on transport – in particular the first version of the Integrated Transport Programme as well as the initial report on alternative funding prepared last year by the Consensus Building Group. In fact, the Congestion Free Network came into being as a result of our frustration with the transport programme being a “build everything” and we felt a large part, if not all of the $12 billion funding gap could be resolved through removing poor value projects, rather than by requiring additional funding.

Overall, the new report is a clear step in the right direction and combined with the work being done as part of the next LTP and the next ITP it seems as though quite a lot of effort has gone into removing the more idiotic projects included in the original ITP, although there isn’t a huge amount of detail in the information that has been provided. There are, however, still many unanswered questions that the report doesn’t seem to address – plus its key recommendation of suggesting a “motorway user charge” is fraught with problems. But I’ll get onto that in a moment – first to summarise some key points from the report.

A comparison between what is in the two programmes – known as the “Basic Transport Network” (that which can be afforded under the 2.5-3.5% rates increase proposed in the LTP) and the “Auckland Plan Transport Network” (the preferred network, which requires additional funding) is shown in the series of tables below.

Firstly, for bus and ferry investment:

bus-ferry

The main difference between the two networks seems to be in the scale of the bus lane programmes and the provision of additional busways in the second and third decades, supported by service frequency improvements. The proposed Botany to Manukau busway appears to be extended to the airport like we suggested as part of the CFN however more interesting is to see a new proposal for a “cross isthmus” bus RTN between New Lynn, Onehunga and Otahuhu. I wonder what route and form that would take.

Next for rail:

railThe difference between the two networks is fairly stark in the second and third decades, with no investment at all in rail over this period in the Basic Transport Network. I must say the complete lack of rail investment in the Basic Transport Network after 2025 is a bit surprising and raises some questions about the prioritisation process that determines what’s in and what’s out of the Basic Transport Network after 2025. Importantly, CRL is in the Basic Transport Network and therefore does not require alternative funding.

Next, for roads:

roadsLooking at arterial roading projects first, it’s clear that even the Auckland Plan Transport Network is much smaller than what was proposed originally in the first version of the Integrated Transport Programme. In fact it seems like billions upon billions have been shaved off the previous ITP’s numbers, which included crazy things like nearly a billion dollars on upgrading Great South Road. We’ll take a more detailed look at this in a future post, but credit where it’s due to Auckland Transport who have responded to criticisms of the first ITP by ensuring the Auckland Plan Network has been significantly refined to deliver much better value for money.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said about the state highway programme, which doesn’t vary much between the two networks – aside from some rather optimistic “widening to reduce congestion” in the final decade (haven’t they heard of induced demand?) A whole bunch of very dodgy projects (Additional Harbour Crossing, SH16 Port Access, SH1 Warkworth to Wellsford etc.) have been included in the Basic Transport Network for some unknown reason, as well as of course being in the Auckland Plan Transport Network. This is important to keep in mind when considering the resulting “funding gap” – which of course could be a whole heap smaller if we stripped out the $5.5 billion Harbour Crossing and multiple billions on these other unnecessary projects.

Components of the walking, cycling and safety programmes for the two networks are shown in the table below:walking-cyclingIt’s not clear what the cost difference for walking and cycling is between the two networks, but it’s clear that only the Auckland Plan Transport Network goes anywhere close to delivering on the Auckland Plan vision for active transport.

Now for miscellaneous other stuff, like maintenance, renewals and supporting sprawl:

maintenance-renewalsThe shortfall in funding maintenance and renewals under the Basic Transport Network is a real concern, as the last thing we want to do is end up like the USA where infrastructure is falling to bits because politicians want to “cut ribbons” rather than look after what we already have. The lack of funding for developing the greenfield sprawl areas may not be such an issue as this could force the developers themselves to come to the party a bit more.

Overall, as I noted above it’s clear the Auckland Plan Transport Network is vastly improved from what was in the first ITP. A lot of the really poor investment in the arterial network appears to have disappeared, although there are still a few remaining remnants like Penlink and Mill Road, although even with these projects it seems like the bulk of spend has been pushed out into the future. However, the big remaining issue is that a similar exercise doesn’t seem to have occurred with the State Highway network and there are still billions upon billions of dollars in poor value for money projects – most particularly the Additional Harbour Crossing but also other duplicative projects like SH20B, Warkworth-Wellsford and others. NZTA have really dropped the ball on this one and unfortunately I suspect part of this comes about because the under the current situation motorway projects get full government funding while every other transport project has to beg for a slice of the funding pie. More than once I’ve heard council people say we should build certain projects simply because the government are paying for them.

Cut out what I estimate to be around $8 billion in very poor value for money state highway projects and we’re left with a $4 billion funding gap. If we push $8 billion of state highway projects out of both the Basic Transport Network and the Auckland Plan Network, it means we can afford $8 billion more of good projects before we have to turn to Alternative Funding and it means that we only need to find ways of raising an additional $4 billion. Over 30 years, that’s not a particularly huge issue to overcome.

So if we think back to the two questions at the top of the post, it seems as though the answer to the first one is there may well be value from paying a bit more to get a better transport network, but the actual requirement for additional funding might be around a third of what the report highlights. Now let’s turn to the second question of which would be the best way of raising this additional funding.

Essentially the two options proposed are:

  1. Increasing existing funding mechanisms like rates, fuel taxes, development contributions, central government grants etc.
  2. Introducing a charge for entering the motorway network

Some more detail on the “Rates and Fuel Tax” option are shown below:

rates-fuel-taxI must say I was pretty surprised to see how low the additional rates and fuel tax increases would need to be in order to close the funding gap. A rates increase of between 3.4 and 4.4% is actually lower than what was assumed in the 2012 Long Term Plan (that had 4.9%) while a 1.2 cent per litre annual fuel tax hike would probably get lost as a rounding error in typical price fluctuations. It’s a credit to Auckland Transport’s project prioritisation that they’ve managed to develop a network that could be fully funded under the funding assumptions of the 2012 Long Term Plan, and it’s only the political decision to have a much lower rates increase that’s essentially “re-created” the funding gap.

Combine this with the above observation that the “funding gap” could be further reduced to around $4 billion instead of $12 billion and we could see the gap closed by rates increases only 0.3% higher than otherwise or fuel tax increases of a mere 0.4 centre per litre compared to what would otherwise occur. That’s starting to look like a pretty compelling option.

The other funding option is called a “Motorway User Charge” and is summarised below:

motorway-user-chargeThere’s a lot of discussion in the document around the relative costs and benefits of the two approaches – with the report seeming to express something of a preference for the motorway user charge scheme, based on its travel demand management effects of discouraging some trips and encouraging higher levels of public transport use. We’ll look at the details of this analysis in further posts, but note that this option does come with some fairly significant set up and operational costs (~$110 million set up with opex costs of 24c per trip) as well as potentially diverting quite a lot of traffic off the motorway network and onto local roads – which seems quite counter-productive.

To summarise, there’s quite a lot to like in the Independent Advisory Board’s report. It seems like some hard work has gone on by Auckland Transport (although sadly not NZTA) to optimise their desired transport network so it’s far more realistic than what was proposed in the first ITP. Take out a few of the dumber motorway projects and we’re left with a pretty damn good 30 year transport network that can almost be funded from existing sources (just requiring 0.3% higher rates increases and 0.4 cents per litre higher fuel tax increases) or from a very low motorway user charge. Or from other ways we might think up of to find $4 billion over 30 years.

 

Update: unsurprisingly the government has once again poured cold water on the idea of tolling or fuel taxes.

http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/govt-responds-auckland-transport-report

73 comments to Alternative Transport Funding Report Released

  • Good post. Matt is on the button. Don’t let people misrepresent this and tell us that we need tolls to pay for PT. The tolls are necessary to pay for road upgrades.

  • Greg N

    Looks like a targeted transport rate to me is the best option going forward. Business as Usual is not really an option.

    Targeted rate is simpler to collect and should have the lowest administration overhead of any method proposed.

    Motorway user charges or distance charging while a nice idea will only flood local roads with people trying to avoid the tolls.

    We also need a further re-prioritisation of some of the big ticket projects – why are “nice to have” 1B+ roading projects going ahead in Decade 2 when the “essential” cycleway and walkway projects are left to linger into the 3rd decade even under the “Plus” model?

    Surely active mode projects, like CRL and PT improvements itself should be prioritised sooner than later to get the best bangs for the bucks.

  • Ari

    The local roads are already flooded. You only have motorways as an option unless you are just going down the road. Tolls are easier than targeted rates. Who would you target?

    I’m surprised how low the fuel tax is that is required to cover the shortfall. It would be barely noticeable. It’s actually good news. It’s crazy that National removed that option that we had before.

    • Brendon Harre

      It is just a power game. All the big urban areas. Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch….. could have there own taxes and democratic transport bodies. But then Key, English and Brownlee would not be in charge….. It is not part of the National party’s DNA to let cities develop using there own resources and democratic processes.

    • Greg N

      Ari you target because thats the only way that this Council will get the money any time soon. the only other option is to wait and do nothing for 3 more years for the next government to come along.

      There is no way a toll or fuel tax will get a look in under this Government (loved to be proved wrong, still not going to be holding my breath though).

      Since the only option is for a targeted, (transport rate like the ARC did previously) – it will be a a tax on all your houses (and businesses) in Auckland City Council area.

      Won’t capture those outside Auckland City who won’t be charged rates by AC – but you have to draw the line somewhere (be it a fuel tax, rate boundary or toll cordon).

  • A whole bunch of very dodgy projects (Additional Harbour Crossing, SH16 Port Access, SH1 Warkworth to Wellsford etc.) have been included in the Basic Transport Network for some unknown reason

    The reason is that Auckland Council and Auckland Transport accept these central Govt plans even though they have no economic business cases to back them up.

  • Max

    “It’s not clear what the cost difference for walking and cycling is between the two networks, but it’s clear that only the Auckland Plan Transport Network goes anywhere close to delivering on the Auckland Plan vision for active transport.”

    Not even that. The Auckland Plan envisages completing the cycle network by 2030. So by now pushing it out to 2045 – and that only for the big money package – means that within the last 2 years, Council has now delayed the cycle funding by another 15 years.

    Not having any real goals means never having to admit you’re not meeting them, eh?

  • Sydney tolling on private roads uses an electronic device. It is effortless to use with a simple beep when you are tolled and then a monthly statement. These costs are often then passed on to the customers in the case of businesses.

    If you don’t want to pay the charge do not take that route.

    Its works well in Australia

    I can’t see it being too much of a problem here

  • Steve H

    Can anyone explain to me why these sorts of revenues aren’t levied on the number of Kms a vehicle travels between WOFs? That would seem to be the most effectively targeted, user-pays form of RUC?

    • Max

      Welcome to the new growth industry – odometer forgery.

      But seriously, what is wrong with fuel taxes? Those already charge by kilometer (effectively – very effectively in fact). But our government is not willing to accept them for local govt projects, especially if local govt gets to chose where the money goes.

      • Stu Donovan

        fuel tax is not so effective in the long run. As cars become more efficient and travel further per kilometre, then the fuel tax collected per kilometre travelled also declines. You can expect that fuel taxes will go the way of the dodo as soon as hybrid/electric vehicle take-up takes off.

      • Stu Donovan

        RUC linked to an inbuilt and difficult to tamper with GPS seems a reasonable and efficient next step. This seems a natural platform for delivering pricing options, e.g:
        – Basic payment plan: high but flat per kilometre rate that did not vary by time of day and did not record details on where/when you travel, only how far; or
        – Sophisticated payment plan: variable rate that seeks to internalise the costs of when/where you travel. Travel in peak time in urban areas? Pay more. Travel off-peak in rural area? Pay less. etc.

        I don’t understand why, in 2014, transport charging needs to adopt a one-size fits all approach. If someone wants to pay a flat rate then let them, but crank it up to reflect the fact they are insensitive to peak demands (and hence externalities) placed on the network. On the other hand, if someone is prepared to accept variable price signals (and consent to the data collection required for this) then let them. It seems to me that we should be approaching the design of our transport pricing systems more from the *users’ perspective*, which means accepting the fact that consumer preferences are heterogenous. Indeed, there’s no prima facie reason that I can see for why transport pricing could not offer different payment options, much like mobile phone companies.

        I don’t accept the suggestion that levels of transport pricing should be determined by what Government agencies and industry lobby groups like NZCID think should be built. Just because transport is effectively a publicly-owned monopoly does not mean that local/central Government should be allowed to exploit this position. Instead it should be linked back to what people are prepared to pay for, with some built in adjustments for the presence of externalities and other market/strategic distortions. Grrr, my liberal tendencies are getting all het up by this silly report and it’s silly underlying assumptions.

        • Waspman

          Sorry but even in this current climate of giving up and surrendering our privacy I do not want any council linked GPS near me ever! And they had best forget the friendly if you are doing nothing wrong you’ve got nothing to worry about crap as well!.

        • Greg N

          Taking that further Stu, why not tax a vehicle based on length.

          Seems to me that taxing cars and trucks and buses at the same rate doesn’t reflect the relative contribution to those externalities they make.

          A truck and trailer occupies more of the road space at any given speed than any other vehicle so it should pay more, just like RUC charges do based on axles and gross weight.

        • nonsense

          I say it will happen the google way: before you realize your car will be recording your position and send it to Google that will sell the info to interested companies. To imagine how this money goes back to the infrastructure expenditure I would need a glass of wine but I can’t now.

  • What additional charges or tolls will apply to users of non-roading modes? $2 extra for passengers going through the CRL would help pay for it enormously, like the tolls on the Auckland Harbour bridge did. Surely it’s not just motorists to be charged twice for their transport use? Any toll system in which the proceeds are to be spent on all modes, needs to be evenly collected across all modes.

    • Geoff, the counter argument is “Any toll system in which the proceeds are to be spent on all modes, needs to benefit the users of the toll system”.

      Users paying a toll on a motorway would receive a direct benefit of reduced congestion. They would also benefit in increased expenditure on alternatives that take traffic off the motorway.

      I’m not advocating for motorway charges, just trying to provide a balanced argument.

      • “Users paying a toll on a motorway would receive a direct benefit of reduced congestion”

        I don’t buy that argument, for two reasons.

        1) Road congestion won’t reduce, so no, motorists won’t benefit.

        2) Even if road users did benefit, the primary benefactor is the user of the other mode being funded. Your reasoning doesn’t justify excluding the primary benefactor from having to pay their fair share of the additional funding stream. It’s ridiculous to say “the CRL will benefit road users and not CRL users, so only seek funding from road users”.

        • Max

          Nonsense – tolls have been shown to be one of the most efficient tools to reduce congestion, on numerous projects the world over. Because they ensure that people drive less, or more at off-peak times. The congestion reduction is one of the strongest effects known, much better than any other “encouragement” like travel plans, or alternative routes or even increasing PT (though increasing PT – for example with money gained from tolls – can give you a double benefit).

          • Waspman

            So efficient if you aren’t the one stuck with using motorways. And we have been seeing proof on this very website how congestion and car use is dropping so why the hurry now? Until AC has proven they have done everything they can to cut expenditure and collect all the money owing to them such as free loaders on trains, this licence to print money should not be allowed anywhere near them.

        • Dave B (Wellington)

          Eh?? Everyone using the CRL will pay a “toll”. But on public transport tolls are more usually known as fares. Are you arguing that fares for the CRL won’t be high enough? Unfair fares? I can’t actually see what you are arguing.

          • Yes, passengers pay fares. Just as motorists pay road tax. But we are talking about additional funding. It shouldn’t all be lumped on motorists, especially when they are already paying more than their fair share by covering many of their operating costs, whilst PT users ride on the back of large subsidies.

            It’s a moot point though, as no government in this country will ever allow road tolls or congestion charging. They have a thing about wanting to win the next election.

          • Geoff this isn’t about operating costs. This is about five billion for a new harbour motorway, two billion for an east west motorway, etc. That lot certainly isn’t covered by fuel taxes, and it’s big dumb road projects that comprise almost all the so called shortfall of twelve billion.

            If we want twelve billion worth of new motorways then maybe tolls are the most appropriate way to pay for that. Irony is if we toll the motorways enough to actually pay for it we probably wouldn’t need them anymore. That’s the experience in Australia anyway, a legacy of half a dozen failed toll motorways that people don’t drive on because they aren’t really needed and the toll is high.

          • Nick, I’m not sure why you would want a new harbour crossing or the east-west link on Auckland’s funding plan? Those will be state highways, and therefore should be paid for by central government.

          • Greg N

            There is at least about $160m in the plan for East/West connections.(renamed from EastWest link).

            This is to pay for (AT’s share@50% of) the local road improvements there, not the highways that NZTA will pay for 100%.

          • No Geoff the East-West link is a local project. Also part of the problem is the splitting up the planning of projects based on where the funding comes from rather than treating them as an part of an integrated network.

    • C W

      The difference is that additional charges on public transport users would discourage PT use and worsen congestion, making Auckland’s overall transport situation worse. Whereas additional charges on drivers will discourage driving and encourage people towards more efficient forms of transport.

      That said, tolls clearly is not the preferred opinion of the transport blog writers. Matt’s post clearly stated that his preferred option is to reduce spending by cutting out unnecessary projects so that less additional revenue raising is required.

      For any shortfall, I think a regional fuel tax is the fairest and most efficient mechanism for collection, too bad it has been ruled out by the govt.

      • Max

        Too bad? It had been ruled out before. I wonder whether this whole exercise is a fig leaf for Len to say “Well, we HAD to raise rates – you saw what the govt forced us to do”.

  • nonsense

    Paraphrasing Mr Bridges: “aucklanders can talk as much as they want but we don’t care”

    • Max

      “Aucklanders can talk as much as they want but we don’t care, we car”

    • Brendon Harre

      At least Auckland gets to talk. Christchurch has completely given up hope…..

      • Brendon at least with the fuel tax idea everywhere in the country is included; actually gets some benefit from AKL’s leverage. If, that is, it were ever to happen and we know from CHCH’s experience this gov takes any opportunity to decrease local autonomy not facilitate it, so; fat chance.

        I think the fuel tax increase has advantages, it’s Pigovian; ie it de-incentivises FF use, and at least in AKL’s case it will increasingly be less regressive in that PT is improving fast over the next couple of years so that car use will be able to be avoided more often by more people for more trips. And in provincial areas I’m sure the extra income would be spent on driving infra so will suit more auto-depenent areas too.

  • Trundler

    Has there been a public debate on the need for a second harbour crossing? We need to know Len and John Key’s official views on WHY they think this is needed. It should be easy to prove that it isn’t needed since anybody who uses it in peak can clearly see that the blockages are in the the roads that feed the bridge rather than the bridge itself when it comes to motoring capacity to the north shore.

    It seems a lot more effort needs to be made to lobby for the removal of the second AWHC from the budget. Who will lead the charge?

    PS: I personally think that Auckland should built a new landmark dual level bridge to replace the existing one providing public spaces and public transport on the top and 8 traffic lanes below. The current one is an eye sore and does nothing for the image of the city. A tunnel is a waste of money as how do you add clip-ons in the future? But that is off topic and outside of what we can afford.

    • There has been no debate, no business case, nothing. Just the boosterism from interested parties. For good reason, as there is absolutely no case for additional road lanes across the harbour at any price. There is a need for the addition of the missing modes across this route however: first the Active ones; the SkyPath. Then the Rapid Transit route later next decade when the busway is maxed out: rail.

      The two road bridges are doing just fine, with a great deal of help from buses, especially, and ferries.

      • Trundler

        Twitter almost every day has somebody like you singing the virtues of the CRL, but very rarely anybody taking issue with the AWHC. Something needs to be done to stir up the discussion (post like this are good, but they are not often enough) and get the likes of TV expose programs talking about it. At the moment the people of Auckland clearly think the CRL is the primary reason why rates need to increase and/or tolls are needed. Changing this perception is probably the most important thing now for Auckland’s PT as the majority of people want CRL, but many may change their support if they think they are paying for it through increased rates and tolling.

        • Timing brother. Not going to waste breath on something we stop at the moment. NZTA are blowing millions planning it without any public discussion; they are an out of control arm of central government of the kind Stalin would approve: tax and spend, centrally directed. Lovely chaps when you meet them personally, but impervious to bottom-up influence.

          • Trundler

            NZTA can do what they like, but why does Auckland Transport have it in their plan and which they are suggesting tolling to pay for. They must believe in the AWHC as much as NZTA otherwise why go for all the political pain that is going to come Len’s way after today’s announcement?

      • Nicholas O'Kane

        I am not too upset at a second harbour crossing as the price to pay for rail to the North Shore (although a rail only crossing will probably remove the need for the road crossing). What really concerns me about the plan is that the second harbour crossing is not mentioned in the rail section, raising the distirbing prospect of a road only crossing with the rail link (even one just to Akoranga) left out.

        • Nicholas, won’t happen. Rail I mean as a part of a road crossing. It will have to be one or the other, the costs of both are eye-watering. Any talk of doing both together is simply PT-washing. And any talk of building road tunnels while ‘future-proofing’ for rail is an even more obvious load of bollocks.

      • nick1234

        Again, yesterday morning. Some of the worst traffic I’ve experienced driving from Devonport to the CBD (unfortunately I didn’t have a choice!), but the bridge was absolutely free flowing, if it took more than a minute end to end I’d be surprised. In fact, I don’t think I have ever spend more than two or three minutes on the harbour bridge at any time.

    • Trev

      This blog has criticized the Harbour Crossing project many times.

      For example: http://transportblog.co.nz/2014/06/19/how-awhc-is-a-waste-of-5-billion/

      • Trundler

        I appreciate that but unfortunately majority of voters don’t read this blog. There needs to be real public debate on this like there has been on the CRL on mainstream media.

  • mfwic

    Charging $2 or $2.80 is too little as almost everyone would simply pay the toll. The point of congestion charging is to lift it high enough to get a few people to make changes to their travel time or change modes. A $2 toll is optimised for revenue harvesting not changing behaviour.

    • Brendon Harre

      Yes I think tolls have been proven to be effective at reducing congesting. Especially variable charging tolls aim targeting free flowing traffic. As a method of paying for infrastructure it is flawed as it tends to shift traffic to the free (uncharged) parts of the transport system.

    • The point of this toll is explicitly to raise money, not to “solve” congestion by pricing a fraction of people off the road.

  • Nicholas O'Kane

    The rate increases to me seem the best option, so not too upset at the government ruling petrol taxes/tolls out. Petrol taxes/tolls are regressive in nature, while rate increases are fair to low socio-economic groups (the higher your house value (i.e. income) the higher the rate increases and vice versa). Having said that there are issues for pensioners who may have a high house value but low income (one idea to compensate for them would be for the council to use some of the new transport rate money to give super gold card holders free public transport on all services, not just off-peak ones). Tolls also pose the problem of the collection costs eating a substantial portion of revenue, so tolls my least prefered option, but prefer all payment options to doing the basic plan

    Serious consideration should be given to the idea of consulting on an enhanced North Shore Auckland Plan Transport Network, to be funded by an additional $2 toll on the harbour bridge. This will go to fund the completion of a second harbour crossing in the 2nd decade (with construction starting in the first). Significantly the new harbour crossing will include a rail link from Takapuna to Newmarket, with stops at Akoranga, Wynard, Aotea and the University, creating almost a second CRL rail link. Thought could be given to building this rail link as a driverless metro with a 1435mm gauge. a new set of 1435mm gauge track could be built from Newmarket to Penrose, and the Onehunga line converted to this gauge, and the airport extension of the Onehunga line built also to the metro 1435mm gauge/standard. The idea being a London/Paris style metro line operating driverlessly (and seperate from the rest of the network in case of anybreakdown) at 2-3 minute frequencies from Takapuna to the Airport.

    • Greg N

      Whats so special about a 1435mm gauge over the existing gauge that works fine for the rest of the existing network?

      Once the Waterview link is completed you could argue that you could toll possibly SH1 at the bridge as a free route will continue exist courtesy of SHs 20/16/18.
      It would cost the average more in fuel to go the free way than the tolled way. But would also perhaps free up a lane on the Harbour Bridge for dedicated busways to the shore on it.

      But of course the Government has to agree to it, and unless there is a PPP in the offing I can’t see them agreeing to anything anytime soon.

      • Nicholas O'Kane

        1435mm is the gauge used in America, Britain, most of Europe and most of Australia. It is also noticeably wider than our current gauge (1067mm) enabling extra capacity per train. It is used in the vast majority of metro systems around the world, including the ones in Japan (which share our gauge). The main benefit is that there are a large number of driverless trains and systems out there that we can easily order. Whereas very few countries (Japan, South Africa and some parts of Australia being the only notable ones) use our gauge. Meaning that any driverless metro style operation plan will need trains specially designed and built to our gauge.

        I do acknowledge gauge conversion e.t.c will be costly, and may not be the best use of money. A driverless metro system like I suggested could potentially work almost as well. Also keeping the current gauge does allow more route options and future felxibility (say running Manaku-Takapuna trains). I still consider it an option to consider

        • Greg N

          Convince with some facts please, actual costs savings of a special gauge.

          CAF has managed to build EMUs for us with our special gauge without too much trouble and I’m sure they could do the same for a driverless metro when we roll one out.

          Not convinced a special gauge and the required special set of tracks is warranted though for that application.

        • Nicolas as far as I’m aware there’s not really much difference between standard and narrow gauge tracks, the bigger impact is the loading gauge which is the size envelope for trains. As an example the deep tube lines have a very low height loading gauge hence the stubby trains. Even in NZ there is a difference between Auckland and most of the rest of the country. The first parts of the Auckland network were originally built with larger loading and track gauge but were converted when the national network was built. By comparison Wellington is impacted by having smaller and tighter tunnels so their trains are smaller than Auckland’s.

          • Nick R

            Most, possibly all driverless metro systems are standard gauge, not that has much to do with the size of the train. Our narrow gauge trains are bigger and hold more people than the light metro trains used in Vancouver for example, although not nearly as frequent so the capacity is lower. In fact a smaller cross section can be advantageous, it makes for cheaper tunnels and bridges. Track gauge is a non issue except that more vehicles/systems are built as standard gauge off the shelf, so perhaps a little cheaper and easier to source.

          • Meant to add our trains are also capable of being driverless, for the trains themselves they just need a plug in module for it to happen and this was confirmed by the guy in charge of the EMU procurement at the time. The bigger constraint is going to be the securing of the network to ensure they can run driverless without any issues.

  • nonsense

    Ah, seriously, don’t even try tolling motorbikes.

  • Don’t toll the existing motorway

    People will just use the local roads, which just make everywhere congested more

    • conan

      In BCR studies we are told over an over again that a 2-3min saving in travel time is worth untold millions. So no doubt based on this people will pay the toll.

      • Nik

        I think that your assertion that a 2-3 minute time saving is valuable enough to most people for them to be willing to pay for the benefit directly is overly optimistic.

        Most toll roads in Europe are failing and liquidating, so the law of unintended consequences of tolls, which others are alluding to in terms of changes to commuting patterns (more local road traffic) are likely to distort how things work. Whether it will be more PT/Transit or more local road traffic is a hard one to pick.

    • Greg N

      Toll the harbour bridge, at $5 each way – at 160,000 vehicles a day, it will raise 350m a year.
      There is a freew altnerative – the long way round via SH18,16 and once Waterview opens, 20.
      That will cost you more than $5 in fuel, and time, so its a positive BCR for for bridge toll.

      Even tolling the harbour bridge and nothing else will sort the traffic out.

  • Don

    Auckland Council already subsidizes rail, bus and ferry services with rate payers money. No problem if cars have to pay a toll, but public transport users must pay the full cost of their service. Why expect some users to pay extra when the same local people are subsidizing public transport users. No mention of PT users paying the full cost of their service!

    • David B.

      Don, are you sure about that? They only subsidise rail and bus, not ferries. Roading is heavily subsidised by the council (rates pay for non-motorway road maintenance) and by NZTA (building road after road with scant regard for economic prudence)..

    • conan

      Are they doing it out of the kindness of their hearts or potentially because a majority of them have thought this through? No PT uses means an unbuildable amount of roading and parking. And you do seem to imply that PT users aren’t ratepayers also.

    • Don local roads are paid out of rates too, ie are subsidised by ratepayers; no mode is 100% user pays all are subsidised. Some PT routes pay their own way, and state highways are mostly funded out of the National Land Transport Fund, ie from fuel excise and Road user Charges, but not entirely.

      Additionally there are costs and benefits from all modes that are not captured financially, known as wider economic benefits and negative externalities. Rail and separated busway trips in particular have high benefits for road users as they take vehicles off the road and out of the remaining road users’ way. These are not captured financially but are nonetheless real.

      • Don

        Patrick, I accept and believe that capital expenditure for roads, railways, buses, trains and ferries maybe paid out of rates and taxes. But the operating expenses for these services are not fully paid for by those using the service due to the subsidy, and they should not be subsidized. That subsidy should be dropped and users of PT should pay the full operating expense of the service they are using. If they do not pay the true cost then as you mention the economic benefits and negative externalities are skewed. Removal of ticket subsidies will ensure that we can see the actual costs of PT.

        • Don roads are not simply built once then we walk away, the State highway network for example costs $1billion pa to maintain. Local roads cost a fortune to keep operating. And these figures jump considerably every time we duplicate an existing road. The Holiday Highway will not only cost NZTA [us] a fortune to build and maintain but will also cost AT [us] a vast ongoing and unwanted cost of trying to make the existing SH1 road north safe and open for users, as it will be dumped into our care as a result of the new SH. This is a subsidy for drivers from ratepayers. No different to the operating subsidy on PT. Not actually user pays at all.

          Furthermore as a road user in Auckland you really really need as many people choosing to use PT as possible so you are more likely to have a unencumbered drive on the road- do you really think it’s smart to price people of trains, buses, and ferries and back into their cars and in your way? User pays on the surface looks easy and fair but when not employed with sophistication it leads to a great many unintended consequences. 2 million new trips on rail in the last year, bus trips rising too; that’s a lot of cars off the road.

          Of course it’s important to reduce the PT subsidy as much as possible and the best way to do that is to make PT much more appealing and effective so many more use it, so the level of fare box recovery increases. We can do that in AK as we are coming from such a low base, and people are responding with enthusiasm to the upgrades. Fares are high in AK by international standards and may in fact already be a barrier to uptake.

        • Then to be fair the toll on the roads should be at the level necessary to pay for all OPEX on local roads – currently paid out of rates and general taxation. Then we will see the true OPEX of driving captured as well.

          Roads do not pay for themselves. They are a subsidised public service just as much as public transport.
          http://caa.org.nz/general-news/myths-that-hold-back-active-modes/

          The only mode that is really a bargain is cycling as it requires only very small roads that require no controls and absolutely minimum maintenance. Not only that it can massively increase the catchment area of public transport making it much more effective. Most Aucklanders live within 3 kms (10mins by bike) of a train or busway station.
          http://caa.org.nz/general-news/ooops-forgot-about-the-bike-parking/

          However this is the mode that receives the least funding per capita despite the massive benefits and low cost.

  • Anthony

    Cycle spend is pitiful. The $8M waterview cycle path was 100% government funded. The total 454km network was costed at $55M https://at.govt.nz/media/imported/4989/cyclingactionplan.pdf Why are they now proposing to spend less than $1M per year?

    The staged extension of the Onehunga line to Mangere Bridge, and then to the airport is interesting, the timeframe less inspiring. Route protection is long overdue.

    Penlink should be funded wholly by tolls.

    • patrick M

      Yes toll Penlink the true cost of building it in the tried and true Australian manner! It could then be the poster child for NZ PPP tollways – whether it stands or falls. But the true costs must be transparent and the toll users must wear the true costs – no hidden subsidies! All connections and upgrades to feeder roads that serve this toll way MUST be included in the toll. None of this $1.4b for waterview AND not including the costs of the upgrading and widening of the North Western!

      • No private company would touch it; because it simply doesn’t stack up. There are simply not enough users up there, and any toll that might get close to breakeven let alone give a return on capital would kill even the that small number dead.

  • TedF

    I wonder what happened to the idea of putting a cost on Parking?
    It doesn’t seem to have made it into the list of options at this stage.
    (I made a submission on that a while ago) On the basis that if parking is charged for on the basis that at least 15% is vacant at any time and that the charge increases as the period of the parked stationary vehicle is in the slot then the charges would make a a difference to the number of vehicles using the streets and parking buildings and decrease congestion.
    So is the concept wrong?

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