Vic Crone –
It is pretty clear by now that Auckland’s transport system is at boiling point.
Getting around is increasingly frustrating.
It is stressful, requires extensive planning and most importantly, it is time (wasted that) we will never get back.
If we do not take urgent action, it would get worse with around 800 new cars on the road every week.
The good news is that we are starting to see the government and the Council working together at a high-level.
The bad news is that at this rate, we will not see change anytime soon.
Recently, the government and Auckland Council released the second stage of their joint Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP).
It is just the kind of refreshing approach that we have been waiting for and the report shows that we need better coordination between Auckland’s transport and housing planning. It is clear that we must lift our game around future options as well.
The big point of discussion was around road charging in areas of high congestion. I must make the point road charging in this report is not meant to raise funds, it is solely to change existing behaviour. There’s plenty of evidence that congestion charging raises a very small amount, and what money it does raise is taken off a small group of users.
Fundamentally, the bottom line for me is that congestion charges are absolutely unfair as long as Aucklanders have poor, and often no transport alternatives. As well as reliability problems (a) A rising number people are living or working away from public transport in new housing and business areas (b) A lack of good connecting services to stations or people can’t find a park at the station (c) Even when people live within walking distance of good public transport, they don’t feel safe walking in the dark and (d) For some, their jobs and family life mean they’re on the move during the day and need their cars.
The immediate focus should be on making sure there are good options by fixing what we’ve got, delivering crucial projects on time and on budget, and making sure we are ahead of the future planning.
In light of this I announced the first part of my transport policy to get Auckland moving. This initial focus includes six key projects that I will accelerate and finally introduce into Council’s programme. Works for these projects will all start within the 10-year plan timeframe.
- Accelerating the remainder of AMETI works for higher capacity on the Panmure to Pakuranga route. This will also include making sure work on the dedicated busway starts sooner than currently planned (2021).
- Committing to the electrification of rail to Pukekohe for better reliability and less hectic journeys.
- Accelerating Mill Road upgrades as a viable alternative to SH1 between Manukau east and Drury.
- Committing to the North Western Busway serving a fast growing population in north-west Auckland.
- Committing to Penlink for an alternative route from the Whangaporoa Peninsula.
- Upgrading and improving Lake Road capacity on the North Shore.
So let us talk about funding these projects.
My financial policy targets at least $500 million reduction in Council spending over the remainder of the 10-year plan. A majority of this will be re-invested in these projects, alongside seeking government funding options and where appropriate public private partnerships.
We will not see results overnight, but with good leadership, it can happen much sooner than currently planned.
Vic Crone is a multi-sport competitor and has more than 20 years of business experience in IT and communications, two of which were as Managing Director Xero New Zealand. She is a Mayoral candidate for Auckland.