Published 3 September 2018
Transport Minister Phil Twyford – who’s also Housing & Urban Development Minister – said on Friday a record $5.7 billion transport investment over the next 3 years “will get Auckland moving and deliver a safer, better connected & more resilient transport system”.
Mr Twyford’s comments accompanied the NZ Transport Agency’s publication of details of the planned programmes of investment in transport around the country, totalling $16.9 billion over the 3 years.
Auckland projects make up the bulk of the story below, followed by Northland, Waikato & the rest of the national programme.
There’s a lot of it – some brief detail of specific projects, and a number of lists to skim through.
If such an array can be summed up it’s this: Major road spending reduced, more attention away from large metropolitan areas, metro focus on public transport as best option to reduce congestion.
Dollars are generally separated from initial project mentions and I haven’t got them together again. Most of the relevant dollar figures are toward the bottom of this story.
The details are set out in the 2018-21 national land transport programme. The funding will be generated through 3 channels:
- $12.9 billion from the National Land Transport Fund, generated through fuel excise, road user charges & other revenue sources
- $3.4 billion from local government, generated through rates & Auckland’s regional fuel tax, and
- $547 million in other Crown investment.
Mr Twyford said the $5.7 billion for Auckland was 23% more than under the 2015-18 plan and 44% more than under the 2012-15 plan.
The NZ Transport Agency’s forecast for Auckland access infrastructure spending over the next 3 years includes:
- Maintenance & operations $1.2 billion
- Public transport $1.9 billion
- Walking & cycling $149 million
- Targeted at safety, 15%
Mr Twyford emphasised road safety, along with alternatives for reducing congestion other than building more roads, although road-building will continue: “We are putting a much stronger focus on public transport, and making record investments in road safety, local roads, walking & cycling.
“Safety is a top priority for the Government, and $875 million will be spent on programmes & projects in Auckland that will save lives. This will include revamping intersections to stop collisions, installing median barriers in high risk areas and increasing road policing.
“We are committed to delivering a rapid transit network for the city so we can unlock critical housing & urban development opportunities, and give people better access to jobs, health, education & recreation. With the $459 million set aside for the development of rapid transit and $266 million for transitional rail, we’re investing in light rail to Mangere, extending the Northern Busway and supporting the introduction of more electric trains.
“To ease congestion and make Auckland a healthier place to live, $1.9 billion will be invested in public transport, a 56% increase from 2015-18, and $149 million for walking & cycling, a 30% increase from 2015-18. This will create great walking & cycling routes in the city, including the SeaPath walking & cycling connection between Northcote Pt & Esmonde Rd, the SkyPath project across the Auckland Harbour Bridge, and the Glen Innes-Tamaki Drive shared path.
“The significant $1.5 billion investment in state highways in the city reflects the Government’s continued commitment to this vital part of our transport system. The Northern Corridor project will complete the motorway connection for the Western Ring Route to the north, the Southern Corridor improvements will result in a safer route between the city centre & the south, and the Transport Agency will continue to build the 18km extension of the Northern Motorway (State Highway 1) from Puhoi to Warkworth.”
The big public transport projects hinge on upgrades to the rail network, much of it an extension of the network spreading out from the city rail link (listed starting in the south):
- Papakura-Pukekohe electrification
- Puhinui bus-rail interchange
- Wiri-Quay Park corridor improvements
- City centre-Mangere light rail
- City centre-north-west light rail
Other corridor improvements:
- Southern corridor (road & rail)
- Southern & eastern airport access, State Highways 20 & 20B
- Ameti (Auckland-Manukau eastern transport initiative) eastern busway
- Glen Innes-Tamaki Drive shared bike-foot path
- City centre bus improvements
- Skypath over harbour bridge
- Seapath around Northcote foreshore
- State Highway 16, Brigham Creek-Waimauku safety improvements
- Northern corridor
- Ara Tuhono, Puhoi-Warkworth 18km highway extension construction
The transport agency said Auckland’s population was expected to grow by 300,000 over the next 10 years and was forecast to reach 2.3 million by 2043 – an increase greater than the rest of New Zealand’s population growth combined and requiring 400,000 new homes.
The mantra from the agency is this: “For Auckland to be successful, it needs a safe, reliable & integrated transport system, where people have choices about how they move around.
“The national land transport programme 2018-21 focuses on ensuring people have improved choice for how they access employment, education & services, today & tomorrow. This means continuing to develop strategic connections for public transport, private vehicles, walking & cycling into & across the busy urban centre, and shaping more liveable communities with appealing transport links that bring neighbourhoods together.”
The agency said one outcome from the Auckland transport alignment project between Auckland Council & the Government (ATAP) was “a new collaborative culture for prioritising the projects & initiatives that will deliver the best outcomes for Auckland. Together with its local government partners at Auckland Council and Auckland Transport, the Transport Agency is working to ensure the city grows in a smart way, with new communities being safely & effectively connected by a range of transport choices.
“Central to this is the need for a rapid transit network to unlock critical housing & urban development opportunities, giving communities better access to jobs, health, education & recreation.
“The project to deliver light rail between the city centre & Mangere is a first for New Zealand that will provide a modern, integrated public transport system with seamless connections. This is an opportunity to create a great transport system that can be part of the fabric of the city and can improve people’s lives, through transformational projects & initiatives that leave a legacy for future generations.
“The national land transport programme will invest in the infrastructure & operation of the public transport network as patronage continues to grow. This includes extending the Northern Busway and supporting the introduction of more electric trains.
“Key corridors around the city will continue to have strategic importance, especially as the city grows & changes. The Northern Corridor improvements project will complete the connection for the Western Ring Route to the north, the Southern Corridor Improvements will result in a safer route between the city centre & the south, and the Transport Agency will continue to build the 18km extension of the Northern Motorway (State Highway 1) from Puhoi to Warkworth.
“These investments will help to make Auckland a better place to live, work, visit & raise a family by providing safer transport choices, better access & a transport system that is easy to use.”
Rapid transit a network – not a single line
The agency makes it clear that rapid transit is intended to be more than a single light rail line down Dominion Rd and on to the airport, but a network, which started with the Northern Busway in 2008.
“The national land transport programme 2018-21 will invest in expanding Auckland’s rapid transit network. Moving forward, light rail is being investigated for several key routes. The Transport Agency is leading the delivery of the light rail programme. It is working in partnership with Auckland Council, Auckland Transport & the Hobsonville Land Co Ltd to give people more choice about how they travel and to support the creation of more accessible communities.
“The city centre-Mangere corridor will be light rail, and largely unaffected by road traffic & congestion. It will likely have fewer stops than current bus services, but provide a step change in capacity and more frequent, reliable services to improve access to 2 of the biggest employment areas in Auckland. Residents in neighbourhoods along the route, including the city centre, Dominion Rd, Mt Roskill, Onehunga & Mangere will benefit from better connections & amenities.
“Investment from the national land transport programme will also progress work on a second new rapid transit corridor to improve access to the growing north-western suburbs. This will provide a critical connection for these suburbs to provide a high capacity, frequent & reliable public transport service.
“The wider plan is for an integrated rapid transit network. For example, the Auckland Airport area will have more options to travel between the airport, the city centre & the eastern suburbs.”
The agency said its Southwest Gateway programme would build on the investment from the last 3-year transport plan to improve access to the airport & surrounding areas, including Airport-Botany rapid transit and 20Connect (referring to State Highways 20 & 20B, a programme intended to improve journey reliability and provide more travel choices between the airport & surrounding areas).
“Improvements may include bus priority along State Highway 20B to Puhinui rail station, an upgrade of the station, improved capacity & connections along State Highways 20 20A & 20B, interchange upgrades & rapid transit between the airport & Botany.”
Connecting communities as the city grows
The Transport Agency said its projects on Auckland’s public transport, road, walking & cycling networks were “increasingly integrated & creating a safe, connected a system that offers great transport choices”.
It said much of Auckland’s strategic road transport network was complete, but the agency was working to create targeted improvements at the same time as it prepares for the networks that will be needed to connect growth areas.
“In Auckland’s south, the Southern Corridor improvements project will deliver the widening of the Southern Motorway (State Highway 1) between Manukau & Papakura. The State Highway 1 Papakura-Bombay project will begin work to provide a third lane in each direction between Papakura & Drury, aiming to improve journey reliability, safety & network resilience.
“On the North Shore, the Northern Corridor improvements will see substantial progress (estimated completion 2022), completing the final section of the Western Ring Route and providing a new continuous motorway link between the Northern & Upper Harbour Motorways. Improvements along the Lake Rd corridor will provide a better corridor between Devonport & Takapuna.
“In Auckland’s west, improvements will be made to Lincoln Rd to accommodate additional transit/bus lanes, intersection & safety improvements and footpath widening.”
The agency has established the Supporting Growth programme to investigate, plan & deliver the transport services needed to support future urban growth areas over the next 30 years: “Through this collaborative programme with local government, the national land transport programme will invest in the initial preferred network that has been identified, including the Matakana link road connection between Matakana & State Highway 1 near Warkworth.
“The Transport Agency will continue a staged programme of route protection processes, and future delivery of projects will then follow in line with the Auckland transport alignment project’s priorities & the release of new land for growth.”
Improving walking & cycling
The agency said 38% of Aucklanders rode bikes this year – over 518,000 people now cycling: “The walking & cycling programme will be strategically planned & delivered to achieve maximum impact for short trips to the city centre, public transport interchanges, schools and local & metropolitan centres. A new footpaths regional programme will construct new & widened footpaths.
“A number of key infrastructure projects will enable more active ways for people to move safely & easily. SkyPath & SeaPath are key links in Auckland’s walking & cycling network which will both be delivered by the Transport Agency, enabling project efficiencies & improved co-ordination. There will be investment to progress the SeaPath project, a shared path between Esmonde Rd & the Auckland Harbour Bridge, as well as SkyPath, a shared path across the bridge itself. Work will continue on the Glen Innes-Tamaki Drive shared path, and investigations will begin into a Manukau Harbour crossing dedicated to walking & cycling (to replace the old Mangere bridge).”
Enhancing public transport
Auckland’s public transport users are making about 90 million trips/year on buses, trains & ferries, the highest patronage recorded in the city.
The transport plan will continue to invest in Auckland’s public transport network, with new electric trains to provide for growth and reduce crowding that would otherwise occur. The rail line from Papakura to Pukekohe will be electrified, a third main line will be added between Westfield & Wiri and the Westfield rail junction will be upgraded to provide better separation of passenger & freight services.
A programme to improve the performance of the city’s rail network includes an upgrade of the Onehunga line to accommodate higher frequency services & longer trains. The works also include progressive improvement & removal of road/rail level crossings to better manage safety risks, allow for more train services & reduce road congestion.
The agency will invest in city centre bus improvements (with Auckland Transport). They include bus priority lanes along Wellesley St and a new Learning Quarter bus interchange. In the downtown area, there will be new bus interchanges on Quay St East and Lower Albert St in conjunction with the City Rail Link & Auckland Council’s downtown projects.
The Auckland-Manukau eastern transport initiative (Ameti) will deliver new dedicated busways & cycleways to improve access & safety, unlocking housing development opportunities. Over the next 3 years work will focus on the Eastern Busway from Panmure to Pakuranga, including the Reeves Rd flyover.
The Northern Corridor improvements will deliver an extension of the successful Northern Busway to the Albany park-&-ride, running in both directions along the eastern side of the Northern Motorway. A new station is also proposed to be added at Rosedale.
There will also be new & expanded park-&-ride facilities, completion of the future ferry strategy for Auckland and redevelopment & construction of a new downtown ferry terminal.
More resilient & efficient
A key strategic approach of ATAP is to make better use of the existing network, and to explore new opportunities to get more out of what is already in place: “This means looking at the whole Auckland transport system and understanding the way people want to interact with it, as well as a programme of optimisation to improve the efficiency & reliability of people’s journeys.”
The agency said new technology was opening up opportunities to do this: “Transport Agency investment in the intelligent transport systems programme will use emerging technologies to better manage congestion, improve safety and influence travel demand. The network optimisation programme will provide a package of targeted small-to-medium-scale infrastructure projects to optimise routes through synchronisation of traffic signals, optimising road layout, dynamic traffic lanes & managing traffic restrictions. Another key initiative is the bus route priority phase 1, which involves implementation of bus priority measures along the frequent service network to improve capacity & speed.”
While the agency said its Auckland Transport Operations Centre was able to effectively manage incidents & emergencies, there’s a programme to strengthen its capabilities to reduce disruption & delay: “Core technology upgrades will support & enhance systems such as Journey Planner, web & mobile applications, asset management, CCTV & network upgrades to improve performance, resilience & safety of customers.”
As the climate changes, the agency will investigate how to address the impacts of sea level rise on Tamaki Drive, and improve the resilience of state highway & local road networks.
The wide array of budgets includes money under Te Tupu Ngatahi Supporting Growth Alliance collaborative programme, to confirm & protect transport networks needed to support the development of new urban growth areas over the next 30 years. Projects (including those under the alliance):
Ameti improvements, $240 million
Northern Corridor improvements, $500 million
State Highway 16, Brigham Creek-Waimauku safe system enhancement, $67.2 million
Dome Valley north of Warkworth, safety improvements, $33 million
Matakana link road connection $46 million
State Highway 1 Papakura-Bombay, $140 million
SeaPath, $31 million
SkyPath, $67 million
Glen Innes-Tamaki Drive shared path, $56.6 million
Third main line between Westfield & Wiri and upgrade of Westfield rail junction to provide better separation of passenger & freight services, $119 million
Lincoln Rd, $68 million
Northland, $460 million total – $350 million national fund, $109 million local government:
Northland projects include providing funding for an investigation into the opportunities to carry more freight in the region by rail, and enable the completion of improvements to State Highway 1 through Whangarei.
Waikato, $1.6 billion total – $1.27 billion national fund, $270 million local government, $59 million in direct Crown funding:
Completion of Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway, $235 million
Mt Messenger bypass on State Highway 3, $109 million
Local road improvements, $164 million (more than doubled)
Public transport, $75 million, including funding to explore an inter-regional rail commuter service between Hamilton & Auckland
National programme, $16.9 billion:
Regional roads $5.8 billion, up $600 million, reversing the focus of the last 3 years on big-city projects
Metro roading, $5 billion
Regional non-roading projects to improve freight connections to ports, airports & distribution centres, $300 million
Public transport, rapid transit & rail, $4 billion
Walking & cycling, $390 million (including SkyPath & Seapath)
State highway projects, $3.5 billion, maintenance $2.2 billion.
29 June 2018: Cabinet approves 10-year transport spend, and Selwood highlights its inefficiency
19 January 2018: Collins raises scare about “road tax” diversion, but government fund already $½ billion in red
Attribution: Twyford releases, NZ Transport Agency.