Joyce: My Priorities Now


Greens’ co-leader Russel Norman asked transport minister Steven Joyce in parliament this afternoon the question we all want to know.

What impact, if any, will the outcome of the local government elections have on his priorities for transport funding?

The minister was non-committal other than to make it clear the new council would have to help fund any future projects and those projects wouldn’t happen tomorrow.

“We are prepared to look at further projects over time, but it is important not just to ensure that the current projects are completed—and there is a considerable period of time before they are—but also to make sure the operating costs of those projects are met.

“Frankly, that has not been done yet, and we will need Auckland to work with the Government to ensure that we meet the operating costs of that investment, which is already in place.”

The minister compared use of Auckland roads with the numbers using rail.

“The Government is currently investing about $5 billion in transport in Auckland, with $3.4 billion on roading and about $1.6 billion on rail.

“Roughly about 32 percent of our investment is being made on rail, currently, and of course although rail is growing, it represents about 2 percent of passenger trips to and from work each day in Auckland currently, so there has to be some proportion in the amount given to it.”

On the question of the Puhoi motorway versus rail projects, the minister told the Greens co-leader:

“Firstly, the Pūhoi to Wellsford motorway is, in fact, a multi-regional project between Northland and Auckland; it is not just an Auckland project. Secondly, I again point out to the member that we are spending big sums in the rail area, and I think that that is appropriate.

“But I should point out to him—as I have, I think, once in the past—just to keep a matter of proportion, that that particular road from Pūhoi to Warkworth currently carries more people per day than are carried on the whole of the Auckland commuter rail network. That just gives some form of proportion on that project.

“Of course, we also have very large amounts of freight carried on that highway, as well. So the issue is all about making investments right across the transport network, and each investment has to be considered on its merits.”

Here is this afternoon’s parliamentary exchange in full which included discusion about the National Land Transport Fund,:

Dr Norman put out a statement later saying that central government can fund the smart rail projects that Aucklanders are calling out for by simply shifting money from uneconomic motorway projects.

“Central government is spending billions to fully fund motorway projects that Aucklanders don’t want. We can afford a decent rail system by simply transferring funding from motorways to rail.

“How can you justify spending over $2 billion on the Puhoi to Wellsford Holiday Highway, which is uneconomic, when Auckland desperately needs smart rail and bus projects to reduce congestion and oil dependence?

“Puhoi to Wellsford will be paid for by the fuel taxes of Aucklanders sitting on congested roads every day, because they don’t have smart transport options like better trains and buses.

“The Waterview connection is another example of a waste of at least $2 billion on a white elephant that is left over from the 1950s. Pouring billions of dollars into a few kilometres of motorway and destroying a well-established community will do far less to reduce congestion than the CBD Rail Loop and rail to the airport, so why wouldn’t you do the Rail Loop first?

“The CBD Rail loop can move the equivalent of 10 motorway lanes of traffic into the city at peak hour, with no need for parking facilities in town.”




  1. He Answered well, and professionally.

    I felt sorry for him, he does a good job and he only works with the information he is given.

  2. karl says:

    Anthony, what is that supposed to men? You make him sound like he has no brain/will/own opinions?

    He’s not some lower-level stringer, he is MAKING much of the policy people have now, in proxy, voted against.

  3. I actually got to say Mr Joyce is a genius. Really he is one of our best performing MPS.

    He has some massive responsibilities, looks after Transport Ministry, Communications, Infrastructure and Tertiary Education.
    He does get things done and we’re lucky.

    His ideas are not uncommon.
    Also I don’t think he will be unreasonable in this regard and does have to keep to the governments message as long as he can.

    Really its all about education: we need some more numbers to prove the value of some of these projects.

  4. Cam says:

    He’s saying basically “I’ll spend your money the way I see fit not how you want me to spend it because i know best”

    BTW Anthony if he needed numbers to stack up he wouldn’t be buidling Transmission Gully or Puhoi to Wellsford the numbers for those projects are terrible.

    Saying he’s a genuius is a ridiculous misuse of the word, not to say he’s not a smart man but genius give me a break.

    Personally i don’t fell particularly “lucky” to have Joyce as transport minister.

  5. Ok

    Very clever, astute nice guy.
    Good manager. You’re right. I hate thesaurusolgy

    He gave us a key anyway- About the LTNZ fund having to be spent on roads and that the previous government instigated that.

    So smart, they can remove this and look great to both sides.

    We are lucky to have him in parliament, but He is better suited to some other portfolios.

  6. Jeremy says:

    Farrr from a genius lol. Even the the much revered Obama is not shone with such a light.

  7. Louis says:

    Like Rodney Hide, Joyce does not see Auckland’s mandate for Public Transport (Rail) as relevant.

    Though what are the chances for a change in govt doing any better? At the moment, nil!

  8. William M says:

    Joyce is a smart man, not a genius. What needs to get through to the MOT is the idea that road taxes collected from truckies don’t nearly cover the costs of maintenance of the roads they use. In fact, the private car owner is being ripped off nowadays. Whilst this doesn’t have nearly as much to do with the Auckland transport network, Joyce ignores the potential benefit to truckies and tourism from alleviated congestion in the inner city motorway network from removing commuters from private cars and putting them into what a National MP has coined a ‘loser cruiser’. Invest in Auckland’s rail network, and there are far reaching benefits, in tourism, logistics and of course, environmentally.

  9. karl says:

    The only positive adjective I can find for Joyce is “effective” - in his mission to ram through a program. To all our detriment, at least so far.

    He’s making choices now which, if not averted, will make us even more hostages of the motor vehicle system than we already are - with all its downsides and huge systemic risks. Putting all one’s eggs in one basket doesn’t even cover it. It’s more like putting all one’s eggs in one basket, and then building a pyramid of eggs on top of it too.

    But then, when it all grinds down (whether slowly or suddenly), Joyce is unlikely to be minister of transport anymore.

  10. Scott says:

    “We are prepared to look at further projects over time, but it is important not just to ensure that the current projects are completed—and there is a considerable period of time before they are”

    Sorry Len, Ive already decided how to spend the next decades transport budget. Perhaps you can have a few dollars after I’m finished with my favorites.

    There are a lot of people who agree with Stevens roading policy. I am glad to see the media pressure is on for a more balanced approach.

  11. If you want this fight, some points of attack:

    SH1 Northern Highway to Welsford
    Lockward Smith may be the big driver of this.

    Trucking Lobby, AA :
    Need some data and interviews on their mis-information and perhaps take legal action against some of the way the influence policy.

    Bill English: ask for the 1.5 Billion back.

    Then run a campaign about the cost of society for roading projects and that some funds of NZTA should be routed into general government treasure.

    Such as health bills, ACC costs of road accidents, loose of quality of life for people wanting cleaner environments.

    Get the bus companies to have a share in the rail network, perhaps even all buses to a rail station taking some of the fees.

  12. Sacha says:

    A good performance by the Minister, but with further evidence of his blinkers against public transport and refusal to acknowledge either the massive ongoing subsidy of trucks and cars or the impending reality of peak oil.

    Congestion is about peak usage and the numbers of people moved, not the number of vehicles. Rail also moves freight like the Minister only mentions road does. Auckland’s regional transport plans show that investing in rail brings massive returns for road users too. Truckies would welcome less cars on the road.

    Joshua Arbury cites about 50% of peak Auckland CBD commuters already using public transport. Joyce continues to mislead with figures like 2% for rail, which averages across the region and the whole day and is distorted by many small local car trips that have no impact on network capacity.

    Sure, more sensible cross-town bus routes are needed as well, connecting with rail spines. However, mad mega-roading proposals like the Puhoi holiday highway just do not stack up in cost-benefit terms against future-oriented investments in an integrated public transport network, with the cbd rail loop first on the list. Transport usage will never look like the car-mad 1950s again.

    Changing the priorities now is only a matter of will.
    Joyce and his colleagues can bluster about this as much as they like. Negotiations will take some time but the ground has shifted and Auckland now has other options that the government will simply have to engage with. Or lose the next election.

  13. come get some says:

    Now is the time for labour to stand behind len and make it one of their big policy’s if they get elected next year.

  14. LucyJH says:

    I think Joyce is very effective as a Minister. But I also don’t think he’s entirely telling the truth about the fuel tax being hypothecated under Labour.

    I mean it largely was but I have also seen him speak proudly about how his govt finished this off (and yeah for them being the implication). And, also, I believe that it was his first GPS which said categorically that funds from the NLTP could not be used on building new rail infrastructure.

  15. BD says:

    How can Holiday Highway be a Northland project, the highway lies within the Auckland region so therefore it is an Auckland issue. Besides the highway falls short of reaching Whanagei which is a considerable distance away from Wellsford, making the project even more waste of out our good money!

    I am not at all surprised by Joyce’s reaction towards Brown’s commitment to rail as that guy is the minister of roads not transport. He supports the trucking industry and rich people like himself who have holiday homes north of Auckland and wants to get to the faster.

    I think its about time National should give Joyce the boot as he doesn’t represent what the majority of people want and appointment a minister who wants to sort out transport issues not purely short-sighted roading ones!

  16. karl says:

    “particular road from Pūhoi to Warkworth currently carries more people per day than are carried on the whole of the Auckland commuter rail network”

    Sounds wrong to me - anybody got the actual figures?

  17. Cam says:

    Pretty sure it is wrong and he’s not been pulled up on it before. My understanding is that there are about 30,000 journeys on the rail network each weekday and Puhoi to Wellsford carries about 10,000 vehicles each day.

    Can anyone confirm this?

  18. Sam says:

    I distinctly remember that the Puhoi to Wellsford road carries 15000 vehicles per day, while the Auckland rail network carries nearly 800000 per month- which works out to about 26500 per day, before you even take into account that week days are MUCH busier than the weekend. So i’m pretty sure thats only the reality in his imagination.

    Also, his argument about not investing too much in 2% of the population is crazy when justifying the Puhoi motorway. In a similar way you could argue that “we shouldn’t invest in the Waterview motorway because currently 0% of Aucklanders use it”. The truth is plenty of people use the current alternative routes, and would use the Waterview motorway if it existed, just as plenty (and I mean HEAPS based on the response we’ve had to limited investment so far) currently use alternative routes to the current/future rail network (such as the motorways, Manukau Rd etc) who would use the train if it was quicker, more widespread and had more than 2 major destination stations. In fact, his argument can be used to argue that we shouldn’t ever change anything at all.

    It sounds a lot like he’s saying “its the motorway networks turn now… where should we throw the money??” and Puhoi is what comes to mind. He’s only spending the money because its there and needs spending, not because there is a 2.4 billion dollar problem to fix (theres only a couple of hundred million dollar problem to fix).

    This isn’t a board game. this is life…Its about whats the most important and has the biggest effect, not who’s turn it is.

  19. Sam says:

    800000 per month = current ARTA monthly business report data…15000 vehicles per day was some thing from NZTA I read a while back, and could be a future projection actually!

    By the way, where is Augusts ARTA report?… getting a bit overdue!

  20. Commuter says:

    Ah, once again (see his previous Parliamentary statement re: Auckland-Hamilton passenger rail costs), Mr Joyce is being ‘economical with the actualité’. I think this is called misleading the House.

  21. WestieCommuter says:

    NZTA says a telemetry site on SH1 north near Wellsford carries under 9000 cars per day. More data than you could ever want is here, on Joyce’s ministry’s website, naturally:

    And oh boy, this one ( says monthly traffic on Auckland bridge is DOWN 4% from last year. It repeats that fewer than 9000 cars/day travel SH1 at Wellsford.

    Can anyone figure out if the Wellsford telemetry site is the same Puhoi/Wellsford motorway he’s talking about?

  22. Chris R says:

    ARTA say the August MBR will be available this week

  23. Sam says:

    thanks Chris R

  24. Nutso says:

    What the hell is Russel the Aussie on about. I think you should go back to your aussie mates and stay there and make us all happy. Anyway Russ from Russ, motorways were started in the 60′s and 70′s and the Auckland network was supposed to be finished in the 70′s but alas as per usual they were not. Now I don’t support the reds, but to their credit they got on and started to push along and try to plug the gaps in the Auckland system during their 9 year term in power, but there still is a huge gap between Mt Roskill and Waterview. You cannot have a motorway finishing in the suburbs when the original design was for them to all join up, so Russ my mate, think sensibly. Rail is great I love trains, and they should be encouraged, but the majority of us still use roads and they need to be fixed up first.

  25. Matt L says:

    Nutso - The original plan that was drawn up in the 50′s was for both rail and motorways to be developed (the CBD tunnel had already been planned well before that). Unfortunately those in charge at the time were just like Joyce and put their blinkers on to anything but roads and that has put us in the mess we are today so its not a case of lets get the motorway finished first before we start anything else but having a balanced policy.

    There is also the issue of Joyce being hypocritical, he demands rock solid business cases for rail which is fine but ignores bad roading business cases.

  26. Nick R says:

    Actually the first stretches of motorway opened in the 1930s, although the really massive motorway scheme didn’t pop up until the 50s.
    Some people like to complain they didn’t build them fast enough, but motorways have consumed a huge amount of Auckland’s funds for the last 80 years, and that hasn’t achieved a hell of a lot…

  27. sam says:

    @ Nutso - the reason more people use roads than rail is bacause there in no rail to use for most of us. I, like peobably most people, would love to catch the train to the CBD every day, but there isnt one there to catch… we only use the raods because thats whats there. I Think projects should be weighed up not by ‘which modes turn is it’ or ‘what people use today’, Because if get a bit more specific with that argument of ‘lets build roads because most people use them, not rail’, you could even argue ‘we shouldnt build the waterview connection because currently no-one is using it’..

    Projects need to be compared based purely on the number of people affected, and the amount in which they are affected- otherwise known as A BCR that is as thorough as possible. If the CBD loop comes out with a higher BCR than Waterview (which it may do due to the severe congestion it would releive and time savings due to 4 or 5 massive benefits, each or which alone could probably justify the project), then that should happen first.

    This isnt a battle between motorways and rail, and we now know that drivers WILL change modes if its more efficient (and vice versa), so any argument on current usage is largely irrelevant, as construction based usage of each mode is self perpetuating.Lets do what makes the biggest difference first, and we will know shortly which- the missing link in the motorway network, or the missing link in the rail network.

  28. GJA says:

    I wonder what Key and Brown discussed last night and what they agreed upon or not.

    Brown accepts ‘holiday highway’


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