Auckland Council has boxed itself into pushing on with an agenda to build a public transport network entirely based on three strings of rail corridor and the CBD. The key plank in this plan is to build a tunnel in the CBD that is 3km long and costs $3 billion or more.
Now that there are cracks appearing in the form of budgetary constraints the Council has taken the drastic step of reducing capital budgets to keep the rail tunnel alive. And it’s coming at the expense of affordable housing and other transport projects. But why?
There are plenty of arguments for and against the tunnel itself. The Auditor General has warned Auckland Council about committing to the tunnel without resolving its full funding package. The Government is unconvinced that the tunnel is needed and has set targets on patronage for the Council to achieve before it will even bother thinking about it.
But the question is whether the tunnel is the best first expenditure for Auckland Council to make if it intends to build a public transport network.
The planning around this whole idea sprung from Len Brown who politicised the tunnel as an election promise. It didn’t come from analysis and cost benefit analysis as it should. It’s a politically driven project not a needs driven project.
But even then, there isn’t even a sound plan for how public transport should be developed over a period of time in Auckland. The planning is piecemeal, uncoordinated and lacks any complete picture of what the city is going to do over 50 or 100 years.
And that’s an important matter to consider. Read more »