Banks vs Brown On PT


Auckland supermayoral candidate Len Brown today accused main rival, Auckland City’s John Banks as engaging in “wishy washy backdown” over transport policies.

Brown promised the CBD rail loop, airport rail and rail to Albany in 15 years while Banks promised a CBD rail loop.

The two leading supermayor candidates, Auckland’s John Banks and Manukau’s Len Brown debated on TV3′s Campbell Live tonight - and were asked about public transport.
Brown accused Banks of retreating on the issue of public transport while Banks said we should do only projects we can afford.
Here’s for the record - so we can remind them later-  is exactly what they said in two parts of the debate when transport came up.

Brown opened by fingering transport as the election’s key issue.
Brown: The one thing this city needs is real backbone around our transportation delivery and that’s the issue our people and our communities have given me most of their view on. We need to deliver on transport. My opponent who has been has been very supportive of my transport policy & the spending within that has started to soft shoe on this issue. I’m not.  I’m totally focussed on the one thing Auckland is united on and that’s transport, especially public transport.
Banks: We’re talking about taking making it work from day one, taking very tough decisions from day one about ordering priorities: about affordable progress, about making no reckless promises. Committing to transport yes; committing to motorway network yes but within a budget. Ordered priorities because we’re coming out of the second bounce of a global recession and people have no spare cash and I’m not going to use the ratepayers of Auckland as an ATM machine.
Brown: It’s just wishy washy backdown. This is showing a lack of backbone in the most critical issue that our community is delivering a message on this election, aside from the issues of the virtues or otherwise of leadership. It’s about transport. That type of positioning is not going to deliver the transport type we need. It’s got to be firm and resolute and it’s not in this case.
Banks: There’s been no mayor in NZ that’s put more efforts into building roads, roads ,roads in my first term here 2001-2003 and integrated public transport 2007-2010.There’s more investment going into bus transport, ferry transport and integrated train transport with electrification, modern rolling stock so we can get people out of cars and into modern transport.
Campbell (to Banks): If it’s about getting people out of their cars… where was the public transport prioritisation earlier on?
Banks: It wasn’t to be absolutely fair. I had a focus on roads, roads roads and there’s been more roading built in the last 10 years than in the last 50 years and we have a programme to complete Auckland’s motorway network as well as integrated public transport. That has to happen as well as integrated public transport.
Vox pop punter: What are you going to do to get public transport better in Auckland?
Campbell: It ought to be better.
Banks: Over the next 10 years, finish the motorway network build. Push through the Britomart so we have a train set that goes through the Britomart. We don’t drag trains out so we go back to Mt Eden, we get 36 trains an hour. Finish the busway network.
Campbell: Just a minute. 36 trains an hour?
Banks: We have 18 trains an hour going into the Britomart We’re pulling them out backwards, underground. They’re diesel trains.We’re going to electrify them, we’re going to have double tracking, we’re going to push through the Britomart, up Albert St. under K Rd, back to Mt Eden and we can carry a lot of people. We’re having huge success with integrated public transport. Buses alone we’ve been able to get an 18 per cent increase in buses alone. If we took everyone out of buses this morning and let them drive cars into the city, we’d have another 19,000 cars on the road in CBD in Auckland this morning.
Brown: Total commitment to three primary projects.

  • First of all, we’re going to complete that inner city loop that John has been talking about.
  • Secondly, we’re going to do rail to the airport.
  • Thirdly, we’re going to do bridge across the harbour as our second crossing. And we’re going to put rail through to Albany.

We want to do that in a 15 year timeline. Got to be commited.This is a transformation of Auckland’s transport projects.




  1. jarbury says:


    1) Funny that Banks started talking about motorways in answer to a question about public transport.

    2) Odd that Brown is talking about a rail bridge. Is that even possible?

  2. Nick R says:

    The funniest thing is how Banks keeps calling it “the” Britomart.

  3. Matt L says:

    Nick I agree, I don’t know why he always says “the britomart”, I always cringe when he says it as it just sounds so stupid.

    Also not impressed with Brown referring to a new bridge for the next harbour crossing, which would actually be a third not the second, I would much rather see tunnels so we don’t destroy tank farm with a massive bridge next to it.

    To be fair, both are as bad as each other and neither deserve to be mayor but there isn’t really anyone else of quality to vote for.

  4. Michael Wood says:

    Matt L - just can’t agree that there’s no difference. On transport Len has committed to prioritising major public transport projects around the region beyond the inner city loop (which is pretty much compulsory for any candidate to support). Banks just won’t go there because deep down he doesn’t believe in public transport.

    Len isn’t just hot air either, he has driven the first proper extension to Auckland’s rail network in decades (the line into Manukau).

    I’m not saying he’s perfect, but there is a clear political choice to be made here, and if public transport matters to you, Brown is streets ahead.

  5. Matt L says:

    Michael, that is just complete party rubbish dripping out of you. While I know that Banks doesn’t really support PT and is a smarmy prick, Len Brown doesn’t have a stellar record either. The rail extension wasn’t initiated by him and crucially doesn’t really get into the Manukau CBD, instead stopping at the edge of it in a park and while there are plans for a campus there it doesn’t really change the fact that it would have only been about an extra $10 mil from memory to put it in a more ideal location. Also there is no link being built from the extension to the south so anyone from Takanini wanting to go to Manukau would have to transfer at Puhunui. Why is there no talk about extending the new link up places like Te Iriangi Dr?

    Also where are the bus lanes and other bus priority measures around Manukau, what has Len done about changing the massive car fest that is the areas around Botany and Danemora

  6. Jeremy says:

    The $10 mil was a good saving because it wouldn’t have extended the manukau rail much further (60m?). I think the extra cost was because they had to tunnel through rock, but in any case it gives people more of an opportunity to use the park which is a good thing.

  7. karl says:

    Matt L, I actually agree that Brown’s record on PT is not stellar. Contrary to Banks however, he doesn’t have a record of cutting and sabotaging public transport, walking and cycling budgets and projects left and right either - he just didn’t do as much of these projects as we would like (though Manukau built tons of cycle lanes in the last couple years, for example).

    If you are saying that neither candidate is perfect (or perfect for you), welcome to democracy. There’s always a bit of “lesser evil” in ANY election, and I don’t think this one has more of it than the average. I know Brown isn’t going to fulfill all that I want from him, but at least he’s promised to try, whereas Banks is already signalling me loud and clear he’s not really going to.

  8. Joshua says:

    “Len isn’t just hot air either, he has driven the first proper extension to Auckland’s rail network in decades (the line into Manukau).” - I think you’ll find he had little to do in that arena. In-fact while Len Brown has been in Manukau he has done very little to improve PT, why the sudden change in priority, unfortunately because of his lack of Action in his current term, he doesn’t have my support for extended responsibilty. PT apart from the Southern Line is appauling in Manukau.

    Unfortunately for me I will have to vote according to what they have done in their last term, Banks has done more for PT than Brown, it might not be much more but still more. Hence I would go for don’t get your hopes up Banks, than can’t deliver talk Brown. Brown is obviously not concerned about not delivering on promises, so I’m concerned on what projects he will drop, but if he does get in hopeful he won’t build another fricken bridge!

  9. Commuter says:

    In actual fact, neither Banks nor Brown have done much to encourage or develop public transport in their particular cities because responsibility for PT has been held at a regional level and we have Mike Lee and ARTA to thank for the improvements we have seen over the past few years. It’s noticeable though that in those areas of PT where Banks has had responsibility he has done very little in terms of delivery. Notwithstanding his recent ‘conversion’ to the PT cause (and subsequent supine retraction under ministerial pressure) Banks and the C&R dominated council have implemented very little: the only completed PT scheme I can recall offhand, the so-called ‘Central Connector’ was originally conceived of as a light rail scheme under his predecessor Christine Fletcher. What we have been given is a half-baked, stripped down compromise that for all the infrastructure costs involved in rebuilding Symonds Street, etc, hasn’t really improved the quality or speed of PT in the inner city. To the contrary his tenure at the ACC has been characterised by a regime of cost cutting and the implementation of grandiose memorials to C&R interests (Monte Cecilia park being a classic instance); the car remains the focus of transport in Auckland. Brown at least has shown some backbone in standing up to Joyce and, hopefully, now that PT falls within his remit, he’s ready to follow through with his promises. The trouble with Banks is that he’s too beholden to his party’s interests and it’s the shareholder rather than the ratepayer or the resident who dominate his concerns.

  10. Jeremy says:

    People should stop comparing the transport needs of Auckland City with Manukau City. Too me Manukau is still growing and have very few apartments and at the moment very easy to get around by car.

  11. Andrew says:

    Jeremy, Manukau is easy to get around by car because Sir Barry Curtis oversaw a design that made it very easy to get around by car. Hence his nickname, Bitumen Barry.

    The catch is it’s created a city with masses wide roads and lots of parking. The land this takes up means there’s huge distances and difficult roads to cross even between adjacent buildings, making it difficult to get around by any means other than by car.

    Sir Barry had 24 years as Mayor to build his vision of Manucar, and you can’t fix that in just one term.

  12. Simon says:

    What didn`t impress me from the debate was John Campbell failing to pick up John Banks when Banks took credit for a number of PT projects in the last few years. Campbell should have cut him off right then and there and informed him most of those projects were overseen by ARTA and the ARC.

    Also, off topic but very much relating to the mayoralty race and the candidates records is John Bank`s record on protecting heritage sites and making sure development that matches the local surroundings happens. He has shown no leadership on the issue of Coopers attempt to build a high rise hotel in the middle of the Britomart precinct. Add to that the rabbit hutches he allowed during his first term. If I was brown I would have attacked him hard on that area. Unfortunately neither Brown nor Campbell brought that up.

  13. joust says:

    It mightn’t be so much an ideological bias against Public Transport from Mr. Banks. Instead a politically calculated higher priority on keeping rates from climbing and consequently less spending promises. Local politics is much more about turnout than ideology. The people who are most likely to make sure their votes count are the ones who actually get a rates bill, not indirectly through rent etc. If a mayoral candidate can win most of them and pick up a few other interest groups along the way, its in the bag. The turnout is so incredibly low the voting sample will not be at all representative of overall residents wishes. Opinion polls showing them neck and neck could have huge error-margins compared to the vote.

  14. karl says:

    “It mightn’t be so much an ideological bias against Public Transport from Mr. Banks.”

    Actually, it is. I have heard from people closer to him than myself that while he’s (relatively) keen on trains, he (and Ken Baguely) really think buses are a poor cousin of any sort of transport…

    “The turnout is so incredibly low the voting sample will not be at all representative of overall residents wishes.”

    In my opinion that is wrong. If you don’t express an opinion (by voting), then in my mind you don’t have one worth considering. Lost your chance. If you don’t vote, you have no moral rights to complain.

    Also, I think this local election might have a higher turnout than people expect based on the past.

  15. Matt says:

    “Unfortunately for me I will have to vote according to what they have done in their last term, Banks has done more for PT than Brown, it might not be much more but still more”

    As others have said, neither Banks nor Brown can claim much credit for anything related to PT in Auckland, as their councils hold no purse strings to fund it.
    If you think Banks is better than Brown based on recent history rather than grandiose promises, consider this: Brown has done precious little, of any sort. Banks, on the other hand, has denied bus lanes along Remuera Rd because car-driving rich voters from the Central-Eastern ‘burbs complained, and has implied support for the Dominion Rd T2 idea. On that basis you’re better to go for Brown, because I suspect you’d rather someone ineffective than someone negative.

    I’ve found it interesting how widespread the discontent with PT in Auckland is, and how significant is the support for improving it generally and rail in particular. Joyce would do well to pay attention, because these are the people who’ll be voting in the general election next year.


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