The NZ Transport Agency – Keith speaks at the Debate on Crown Entitities, Public Organisations and State Enterprises

The New Zealand Transport Agency, in many ways, has done a good job, but it is handicapped. Firstly, the Government sets very strong policy guidelines, particularly from the Minister of Transport, Steven Joyce, who lay down the seven roads of national significance that the New Zealand Transport Agency then had to fund. The most controversially of which is the Pūhoi to Wellsford motorway, sometimes called the Holiday Highway.

It is not really essential to have that turned into a motorway at this stage with the low density of traffic on it, but that would be at a huge cost of a couple of billion dollars over some years. The benefit cost ratio for that would clearly be at the bottom of the heap in terms of priorities for expenditure of Government money on transport, when in the broader Auckland region it is quite clear that the priority should be public transport. But if members look at the expenditure of the New Zealand Transport Agency across the country—it had a 3-year planning horizon from 2009-2012—the total expenditure was to be $8.7 billion over 3 years, and only $900 million of that was for public transport and only $51 million for walking and cycling.

So members can see that public transport and walking and cycling are afterthoughts. The New Zealand Transport Agency still sees itself largely as a roading agency. Although it does mention in its list of national projects a few good public transport projects like the New Lynn transit developments, integrated ticketing for Auckland—which is very important and it should be hurried up, there is some progress being made there— railway station improvements in Auckland and Wellington. It does mention the Dominion Road priority lanes and development of public transport along the important artery of Dominion Road in Auckland. The problem there is that the Auckland City Council, which has some control over things, is cutting back on all of that and putting other things than buses on the bus priority lanes—it is not a very good development.

In the area of cycleways, of course, the Green Party is working with the National Government on a national cycleway. Unfortunately that has not been translated too much into the urban setting yet. The New Zealand Transport Agency is not really helping too much there, and members can see that with the very popular idea of a walkway and cycleway over the Auckland Harbour Bridge. Piles of people went over it when there was a big protest in that direction a year or so ago, which I was on. Even though that walkway, cycleway over the Harbour Bridge has been estimated at approximately $20 million or $40 million—which is minute in the scale of the overall New Zealand Transport Agency budget—the agency has not gone along with that, and the cycling and walking advocates have even said that they would do a public-private partnership and would charge people per ride or per walk and it would virtually pay for it itself, but even then the agency is very reluctant to go along with it. So that is not terribly good.

One of the good projects—and it is mentioned somewhere in the broader New Zealand Transport Agency documents, particularly in the Auckland documents—is the idea of an underground extension of the Britomart terminus underground to connect with the Western Line around Mt Eden Train Station, at least it is mentioned in the transport agency documents that $6 million has been given to look at the route for this rail tunnel. But in terms of the longer-term projections it is in the never-never whether this will ever be built and when it will be built. This would cost a lot less to build than the Pūhoi to Wellsford extensions. It would be roughly $1.5 billion, although it is not fully costed out at this point. The Green Party says to get on with critical public transport infrastructure in Auckland, particularly this loop beyond Britomart to connect with the Western Line. Thank you.

Report noted.


House of Representatives