Joyce: Yes To CBD Loop


Transport Minister Steven Joyce today confirmed that the CBD loop and a third Auckland harbour crossing will be the next big transport projects for Auckland - but not for a few years.
Speaking on TV3′s The Nation, he called them “the next big two cabs off the rack.”
“There are two things that basically come after the current tranche of projects which will get us through till about 2014 I suspect, and by then we will have quite a significant step change in Auckland transport.
“People who have been travelling to and from the Airport in recent times will know that the harbour crossing at Mangere Bridge has made a huge difference and I think we’ll see a very significant step change once those current rail projects are sorted, and also once the Western Ring route is completed.
“So moving on from there I think there are two big projects that Auckland will have to look at pretty quickly after that with central government help. One is the CBD rail tunnel, and one is the third harbour crossing.”
He said it was too early to say when the loop could be completed and as he hadn’t yet seen the business case, numbers were “so rubbery we have no idea actually what it’s gonna cost” but they were higher than the $1.6b or so earlier thought.
“it’s around the two billion dollar mark just to build it, and then beyond that there’s the operating costs which is the bit that everybody likes not to talk about when it comes to these projects.”
And Joyce revealed that he had told Auckland’s new Mayor, Len Brown, when they met to discuss Brown’s pet rail projects, that there was a financial issue that needed to be sorted out first.

“We actually have an issue in Auckland right how in that with all the electrification we’re doing and all the extra timetables and things, there’s actually a shortfall starting 1 July next year, of around $30m dollars a year to run the Auckland rail network that should be being paid for, in fact is underwritten by what was the Auckland Regional Council, and now the Auckland Council.

“I’ve said to Len, at the very least let’s sort that out first, because that’s actually some reasonable dosh, and if people are going to take it seriously about expanding this thing further, then they’re gonna first expect central and local government together to have sorted out how to pay for what we’re already building.”

Duncan Garner asked the minister if he was meaning that Auckland should not be asking for any more until this shortfall was sorted.

“All I’ve been saying is let’s do that first, because logically you know if you’re a ratepayer in Auckland or a taxpayer in New Zealand you’d say well let’s make sure we’re actually paying for what we’ve got before we go on from there, and currently it’s about 30 million dollars a year shortfall from 2011/12 onwards. Some of that’s made up with the cost of actually maintaining and renewing the network that’s already been buil.
“We’ve seen in Wellington what happens when you don’t do that. In Wellington the problem is the network’s been neglected for a long time, everybody in Wellington has been long on ideas and short on pockets.”

Emphasising the council would also have to make a contribution to the loop project, he said the government this year is borrowing 13.3 billion dollars just to keep the country running, and at the moment our debt is projected to double from around 27 billion to getting up towards 60 billion over the next three or four years so transport projects competed against hospitals and other requirements.

“As somebody who talks with our Finance Minister (Bill English) on a regular basis, I know the pressures that he’s dealing with in terms of making the country actually able to balance its books.”

Mr Joyce said he wasn’t opposed to the suggestion of a private public partnership for the loop.

The minister continued his opposition to an airport rail link and North Shore rail other than they could be very long term projects.

On the question of an airport rail link , the minister said it was all very well advocates drawing maps of where they thought it should go.

“I mean we can all draw lines on a map, I used to do that as a school kid, I was always interested in drawing out where roads and rail went, I was obviously pretty strange and preparing myself for a job as Transport Minister in later life, but the reality is then you have to decide who’s going to pay for it, what’s it gonna cost, all those sort of practical things. You can’t just say well I’d like to do something therefore I’m gonna write out a cheque for it.”

And on the question of rail across the harbour and through the North Shore, he said: “The challenge for the heavy rail advocates in that respect is that what I’ve seen so far which again is all back of the envelope stuff, so to put heavy rail to the North Shore would be 5 to 7 billion dollars, and if it runs up the busway which is the suggestion, would only lead to an extra 480 passengers a day, over what the buses are providing.”

The video of the TV3 interview is here




  1. Andrew T says:

    That is good news - and he actually sounds fair & considered about the other projects. Brown has always said airport rail and North Shore are down the track.

  2. William Ross says:

    Excellent news and much firmer than anything we have heard - to say thats the next cab off the rank (cute) is definite. I would have thought he would have gone Puhoi, Harbour Crossing then maybe CBD.
    And not a mention of Puhoi.

  3. jarbury says:

    I wish someone would ask him why another harbour crossing is such a priority when traffic vehicle numbers across the bridge are falling.

  4. Matt L says:

    Interesting that he says it will be $2bil but hasn’t seen the business case for it. Also I wonder if he is being a bit economical with the truth on that figure i.e. we all know some land will need to be purchased around the Mt Eden station to drop the tracks into a tunnel, some of those factories might need to be taken down in the process. Of course once the project is done the land could be resold .

    I also find it interesting that he is indicating he won’t even consider this until 2014. Does that mean that this was to come back with a BCR well above any roading project he will still stick his head in the sand and ignore it? It is also no coincidence that 2014 happens to be an election year so is he giving us an indication that it will be an election promise then or that National will be voted out and the new Labour government will fund it.

  5. Sam says:

    I think the issue with the second harbour crossing is that we have to get rid of the clip-ons shortly, isn’t it? I’m not sure the number of drivers will halve in a decade or two unless we do something drastic…already I believe about 40% of peak harbour bridge trips are by bus- so surely most of the rest are people who arent going to the CBD or have to take a car for some reason.

    By the sounds of it, Joyce could possibly see the CBD loop as more pressing than the crossing, as he consistently listed it first in the above article (that may be slightly far fetched!). He does seem to be slowly coming around, and is now talking about a ‘significant step change in transport in Auckland’ rather than ‘road transport currently accounts for over 90% of trips, and this will continue to be the case’. Chances are that the BCR will be better than he expects due to his apparent lack of knowledge of our network and its benefits- that couldbe just enough to tip him. Also fascinated to hear he has had a genuine interest in transport all his life (map drawing and stuff)- sort of like I imagine most of us have.

    The way I see it, if we don’t get the loop built shortly, we are effectively forcing people to drive to work, increase congestion, and travel less efficiently as the rail network will be completely packed in just a couple of years. We don’t need any campaign, a push, or a pull to get people onto trains- they are changing modes unaided- we just need to allow them to.

    Once its done, I think there will be a massive shift by commuters to train travel due to the huge capacity, trip time , reliability and convenience it will deliver. The pressure to expand the rail network will become huge.

  6. Luke says:

    whats he on about with increased operating costs with the CBD loop tunnel?
    surely it will result in a big patronage increase = increased fares?
    Also I wonder if this $30 million a year figure takes into account rapidly increasing patronage, probably based on outdated data.
    Also wonder if its been worsened by the govts delay in introducing electric trains?
    With the $2 billion cost I wonder if Joyce is lumping in all these extra costs like he did for the Waterview Tunnel option.

  7. JCNZ says:

    Good to see him getting on board. But with regards to another harbour crossing, I think it should be one of the top priorities…has anyone ever wondered how the whole of Auckland would cope if something were to happen to the Harbour Bridge? TRAFFIC CHAOS for the next five years while they get something built. Or…we finally get something done to get an efficient and convenient PT system.

  8. Matt L says:

    JCNZ - There would would be chaos for a few days/weeks but people will pretty quickly fall into a new pattern and life would go on. PT use will probably skyrocket for personal trips across the harbour which will could help to provide justification for better PT only links.

    Luke - Things aren’t likely to get any cheaper with electric trains unfortunately, the government only loaned the money to Kiwirail to buy them with and they will probably pass those costs on to Auckland to pay. Kiwirail are also looking at passing more track access charges on to the region which is estimated to increase costs by about $15mil. Increase patronage will help offset some of these new costs but the question we don’t know the answer for is what patronage would need to be at to do that.

    There is also another video from show which is a story explaining quite a bit about the tunnel and who supports it (including the AA who says that it probably won’t be big enough)

  9. Kurt says:

    A replacement harbour crossing is a serious priority because the Harbour Bridge is stuffed.

    Try driving over the outside lanes north bound at night and you will see they are closed, to try and eek out a bit more life out of them. You cant drive trucks on the outer lanes because of the structural problems.

    All that welding to repair stress fatigue cracks on the clip on lanes is a good enough reason to replace it. They are well past their use by date and really all that is occurring is putting patches on patches. Safety must be becoming a concern.

    That part of SH 1 must be the most expensive piece of road to maintain in NZ and its time is up.

  10. Matt L says:

    Kurt - the NZTA are about to let trucks back on the outside lanes as they think they are strong enough again

  11. Rationale says:

    Great that Mr Joyce is more positive about the CBD Loop now. PPPs have been mentioned but I doubt if the fare could handle the $5 + per fare that I believe a PPP would want to add to the fare. I doubt whether passengers would pay much more than $1 per person to enter the loop.
    On the lighter side - please lookout for the first real estate to start advertising that the property that they’re selling will benefit from the CBD Loop (and send it to Jon).

  12. nzbcfanboi says:

    @Jarbury *turns on optimism* maybe he’s only taking the rail bit and it’s nice to know that I wasn’t the only who drew transport maps and daydreamed about good rail networks and better road links and to eat lunch at school

  13. Richard says:

    We keep hearing that the ring route motorway when connected up will be the panacea for our travel problems and the new Mangere Bridge has freed things up.

    Why cant our transport people see that when the complete ring route is completed from Albany to Manukau centre that this will become our version of the London M25. All the truckies going south will go that way to bypass the centre congestion and people from the northern North Shore, like me, will go to the airport that way etc..

    Add to this the bad design of our motorways and you have it ……congestion. There are too many interchanges and they are too close to each other. This problem is being perpetuated at Hobsonville where there appear to be two interchanges at Brighams Creek Road and Monterey museum, then another at Trig Road a short distance from Westgate. The LTA answer is to put lights on the ramps!!

    All motorways and additional lanes work well when first built, but they soon fill up and you need more and more

    Get off the treadmill go by train or bike

  14. antz says:

    hmmm, i wonder if he is only saying that to keep the votes….

  15. Luke says:

    The clip-ons are fine for another twenty years, a whole lot of money has been spent strengthening them.
    There is not point whatsoever adding extra capacity to the harbour bridge because none of the rest of the system can cope.
    I hope Joyce scrutinises the business case for the harbour crossing as much as the one for the CBD tunnel….

  16. karl says:

    “hmmm, i wonder if he is only saying that to keep the votes….”

    As long as he only DOES it to keep the votes, I don’t actually care about the distinction as much.

  17. jarbury says:

    My Dad was telling me that the Mangere Bridge has filled up with traffic again at peak times ALREADY.

    Anyone else use the bridge northbound in the evening peak recently?

  18. joust says:

    yes every day and no it hasn’t filled up. trip north in the afternoon peak is consistently down to 15min from over 1hr before the changes.

  19. Joshua says:

    jarbury - during the peak times going southbound the traffic can now build up because of the new section of road works started up - the Walmsley Upgrade, however apart from that I’m traveling at 110km/hr everyday in peak times. Once the Walmsley Upgrade finishes next year it will reduce again.

    However once the Western Wing Route is fully complete I can imagine it will get congested.

    Buses are still not using the Bus Lanes as they don’t need to, don’t imagine they will for at least a couple of years.

  20. anthony says:

    when i was in auckland a month ago, i noticed that travel times are down a bit. however if the paper says that it might influence people to use the cars again.

  21. karl says:

    “however apart from that I’m traveling at 110km/hr everyday in peak times.”

    Tsk, tsk… you shouldn’t.

    Also: Induced demand, here we come! I mean, SH1 is already stuffed as a result of this, from what we hear in the papers of the Sh1-SH2- interchange. We are now talking of “completing our motorway network” by doing SH1 widening southwards to the Bombays. Too bad this will allow Joyce to poo-poo airport rail all the better.

  22. joust says:

    the problem with the 120 link and delays on 1 are that people that used to join 1 elsewhere distributed along the from western side of the highway now all go barreling along 20 instead joining all in one go. Delays commonly felt by SH20 users are being transferred elsewhere in the network. Thats where this idea of induced demand really shows itself, clearing one bottleneck shows up another previously existent but un-noticed which then needs work and so on. What it doesn’t appear to be doing is congesting the new road itself in the short term of a few months since anyway.

  23. joust says:

    another good indicator is that during construction, ramp signals were consistently on in the mornings, since the bridge opened I haven’t seen them operating except after an accident (5-car nose-to-tail in lane 3 at neilson st off-ramp 6 weeks or so ago).

  24. Matt says:

    joust, given that the Southern on-ramp at Grafton Gulley had the signals off consistently for well over a month, I wouldn’t take the absence of ramp signals to mean much. We all know that the CMJ through Grafton is some of the most-congested road space in the country, no matter what the ramp signals might say.

  25. joust says:

    coming back to the OP - great news. Quite a gradual warming to the idea,

    though seems like first he says they have no idea, then when trying to make it sound unaffordable claims to know the cost plus the operating costs haven’t been divvied out yet. I’d not be surprised that Mr Joyce has an inside line to early executive summaries from the study into costings.

    Would be good to have that kind of scrutiny into the cost of a certain new motorway being planned to the north. Seems like that is a political calculation - delaying a much needed rapid transit project in Auckland won’t lose as many votes as hurrying along the approval of the highway will win. If it comes down to a tradeoff National wants to deliver for people who’re likely to swing votes their way rather than appease others who won’t anyway.

  26. Joshua says:

    Matt - for the Manukau Project I would, the lights are now hooked up to the loops on the motorway, so once the motorway flows slow down to the trigger speed they will switch on.

    Unless someone at control decides to turn them on for fun :)

  27. karl says:

    “The way I see it, if we don’t get the loop built shortly, we are effectively forcing people to drive to work, increase congestion, and travel less efficiently as the rail network will be completely packed in just a couple of years.”

    Actually, once the electric trains come on steam (what a misnomer! ;-) ) we will have enough new capacity for a few years solid growth in rail patronage. The issue with that is that we can’t WAIT that long and defer the discussion until patronage levels again start to exceed capacity - not with a 5-10 year build&design timeframe for the tunnel.

    What worries me on all Joyce’s talk is the hints that some time in the future, he will give us such straw man choices like “Okay, you can get your tunnel - but in that case we won’t have any money for work on hospitals or schools in Auckland for a few years - now go and chose!”.

  28. Luke says:

    why will the electric trains give us large new capacity?
    They are only six car sets, maybe a little bigger but not by that much.
    I understood Britomart was going to be pretty much full at peak times from when the new timetable comes in next year.

  29. Matt L says:

    Luke - most of our trains are 4 cars long with each carriage 20m in length. We only have four 6 car trains at the moment which will go to only 6 next year. The new EMU’s will have three 24m long cars and hold almost as many passengers as a current 4 car train. That means that one 6 car EMU will have the capacity of an a 7 - 8 car SA set.

    Whats more there should be enough EMU’s to run most peak services as 6 car units which is quite a big jump on what we have now considering that some peak services are only using 2 car DMU’s


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