On this website, access is the most important consideration. The real estate catchcry, “Location, location, location,” relies on your ability to get there.
In Auckland, a 30-minute car journey can take 90 minutes, but estimating timeframes is also hazardous at pretty much any time of day.
The Government resolutely opposed rail innovation until the super-city’s first mayor, Len Brown, won the support to proceed with the city rail link and forged ahead, notwithstanding the funding gap as the Government sat on the sidelines. Eventually, this year, the Government signed up.
Cars have quickly filled the extra lanes on a short patch of the Northern Motorway and will quickly fill the Waterview tunnel & North-western Motorway expansions.
As I wrote 6 years ago about travelling on the western, industrial side of the isthmus: “Occasionally I stray into Neilson St, Onehunga, and quickly realise it was a mistake. There’s no need to be quick about the realisation, of course, because it’s going to be a while before you can escape.”
Construction of the East-West Link, the State Highway 1-20 road route through that western area, is before a board of inquiry, Mill Rd between Papakura & the southern edge of Flat Bush at Redoubt Rd & into Murphys Rd is becoming a more significant arterial and is now the subject of upscale talk, but the arrival of still more congestion isn’t being beaten.
Now, it seems, the third track on rail’s main trunk line will be built, and perhaps the fourth track as well.
Labour’s new candidate for prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, upped the ante yesterday when she said Labour would build light rail between the city centre & airport within a decade, extending to West Auckland in the same timeframe and later to the North Shore.
She would introduce a regional fuel tax, infrastructure bonds & targeted rates.
National’s finance minister, Steven Joyce, again ruled out a regional tax, which he’s previously argued is inefficient. So, too, is doing nothing while Auckland’s population grows by about 50,000/year, with 10-year projections from Statistics NZ of 29,000/year (medium) to 35,000/year (high).
A party in power for 9 years has no room for innovative policy without the audience asking why these policies weren’t already in place and, while both National & Labour issued transport policies yesterday, Miss Ardern had to have the front running.
We are set up, then, for a serious battle of wits over primary infrastructure & housing in Auckland – and the skilful politicians will at least appease the rest of the country, if not produce some sound economic offerings, so the election doesn’t just become about Auckland.
For the voter who thinks more about policy than party allegiance – and these voters, I think, are likely to decide who comes to govern – there are questions not just about policies but about strategies, and particularly funding methods.
Among those questions today:
- Why has it taken so long to introduce new central government funding for extra housing infrastructure support?
- Why has the Government steadfastly opposed new forms of tax, or a greater sharing of tax to support regional initiatives & infrastructure?
- Why have key Auckland transport decisions been delayed so long in the face of record immigration?
- Why is a board of inquiry examining one proposed section of transport infrastructure – the East-West Link – in isolation from other components such as the third & fourth sections of main trunk rail track and the future port location & consequent transport links?
Those are questions which are obviously aimed at the incumbent government. Other parties have released policies on some of these issues.
Labour has a policy to build, or finance the building of, an extra 10,000 houses/year and Miss Ardern talked yesterday of using a regional fuel tax.
The key transport – access – decisions need further input from all claimants for the government benches. The central issue is integrated decision-making, and the absence of such integration has long been a feature of central government (including bureaucrats) versus Auckland.
Attribution: Party speeches & release.