CBD Loop: More “Get Lost” Talk


The Government has yet to formally respond to the business case for the CBD link, released last week, yet continues to tell Aucklanders to forget it.

Minister of Transport Steven Joyce spent last week dampening hopes for the link when approached by various media but in the Sunday Star Times he spells out in his own op-ed piece why he won’t approve it unless it becomes someone else’s financial problem:

“Local body wish lists for $2.3b CBD rail tunnels on top of all this need to be fully tested; and someone else besides taxpayers (and international moneylenders) will have to put their hands in their pockets if they want to bump those sort of projects up the queue. We also should be wary about putting too much faith in a mode of transport that currently carries less than 2% of Auckland’s commuters to and from work each day, even after some quite spectacular growth.”

It’s not even worth trying to wave around rail transport patronage growth figures, cherry pick the graphs from the business case or start to argue with someone who has clearly made up his mind and won’t listen to his views being challenged.

Two media outlets in the last week have furthered speculation that the next Key Cabinet reshuffle will see Joyce promoted to finance minister.

With Joyce holding on to all the money bags, this would ensure there will be no more money for pet rail projects, although there will always be money for the Puhoi road. A road economic writer Rod Oram had revealed a week previously had a cost benefit ratio of only 0.4% according to the government’s own documents. It was that Oram article headed “Going down the wrong road” that promoted Joyce to respond.

The government’s Auckland local government shakeup was suppose to enable Auckland authorities to work comfortably with the government to grow Auckland as a world-class economic hub.

Instead it is shaping up to become very ugly - especially when you read the rest of Joyce’s article about how Auckland should grow - which is again in contrast to how some Auckland local body leaders will view the way the city’s spatial plan should be developed.

Meanwhile the morning newspaper editorial rejects the “Build it and they will come” argument - even though that’s exactly what has happened with Auckland’s rail growth (including re-establishing the Onehunga line) and notes:

Transport Minister Steven Joyce seems to know what to look for: figures based on guesswork for wider economic benefits (webs). This report, said Mr Joyce, has “webs on steroids”….

Before Mr Brown, Mrs Fletcher and the rest try to convince Mr Joyce of the merits of this proposal, they should put it to Auckland - with an honest price on it.

Then, if ratepayers are as excited as they are by the case for an inner city rail circuit, they could have a proposition the Government would find hard to refuse. As it is, it sounds like business as usual - Auckland’s voice whining like a demanding child expecting a treat from the taxpayers.

Interesting times, one year out from a general election.




  1. Cam says:

    Sounds like he’s feeling the pressure a bit - good. It rachet up from here until we get what we want. The more he digs in the stupider he looks, he’s in a corner now with nowhere to go.

  2. karl says:

    Roads, roads, roads. is there something in the bitumen that they have been sniffing? I can understand a PREFERENCE for roads - but such a hate for even the very best rail projects, and such a dogged persistence on even the most ridiculous money-wasting motorways?

    Why? Why is this government stuck in a time-loop?

  3. Jon Reeves says:

    Steven Joyce should use the CORRECT numbers are REAL evidence in his “opinion” pieces.

    I agree - he’s feeling the pressure for his ridiculous PUFORD extension plans.

  4. antz says:

    Well im glad he is feeling the pressure, the cbd rail loop just needs more attention before he might give in altogether.

  5. LucyJH says:

    I actually think this is great. A year ago the idea that Steven Joyce might actually feel the need to write an op ed for one of the biggest papers in NZ defending the transport funding choices he is making would have been so unlikely.

    I realize it’s not enough progress but it’s certainly a big step forward.

  6. Nick R says:

    Something will have to give. Cabinet cannot continute to push their pet road projects (which are ‘top down’ government led initiatives) without giving something to Browns pet rail projects (which have a huge groundswell of popular support).

    They would risk looking arrogant, autocratic and out of touch with the people. Too much of that is a great way to lose a bunch of urban Auckland swing seats.

    With MMP, National is only ever a few percent of the popular vote away from losing to a ‘coalition of everyone else’ on the left side of the house. They should bear that in mind when pooh poohing popular urban rail projects in favour of rural highways.

  7. Jennifer says:

    His attacks on the spatial plan are bizarre.
    Along with opposing decongesting the cbd, ferocious wider opposition to an Auckland-Hamilton commuter rail link is not helpful to freeing up natural expansion and movement within Auckland-Waikato regions, labour mobility, lifestyle choice with access to jobs and tertiary education opportunities and permitting the MUL to remain intact. Satellite towns such as Te Kauwhata and Tuakau could be greatly revitalised and wealth spread by way of commuter corridors not residential sprawl.

  8. karl says:

    Further, his sprawl idea is actually making that rural NZ he claims to argue for disapear in a sea of cookie-cutter McMansions.

  9. Andrew says:

    “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.” - Mahatma Gandhi.

    I believe we’re well and truly into the “they fight you” stage now.

  10. Doloras says:

    No, it’s: “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then they steal all your best ideas and pretend they were theirs all along.”

  11. karl says:

    Doloras - that actually works for me, too. It would show they can adapt. Sadly, some of them are dinosaurs, and we know how apt they are at adapting.

    I see two potential positive scenarios that could occur here: In the leadup to next year’s election, National cuts a deal with Auckland, and proposes to fund the city tunnel if we shut up about Puhoi (they’ll find the extra money somewhere).

    Second positive scenario - National goes hardline, and loses a number of “in play” Auckland seats in the next election (it’s still early enough for the current lefty / pro-PT boost in Auckland to carry over, and not long enough till the election for people to get frustrated with Len not being able to succeed quickly against Welly opposition to the tunnel). Whether or not this backlash will be enough to topple them from power (I think likely not), they then grudgingly come to the party.

    There are also less positive scenarios, but there’s no real use thinking of them. We need to think of how to make the positive ones happen.

  12. Kurt says:

    Steven Joyce is right in that there are a number of roads that do need substantial improvement . SH1 aka the holiday highway is one for no other reason than the Dome Valley is the valley of death for too many motorists because the road is inadequate.

    But he misses the point in Auckland and why there a ground swell for a decent public transport system.

    A lot if not most of us have had an absolute guts full of years of sitting in gridlock traffic, not even at so called peak times, created by too many cars and never enough road space, coupled with no decent alternative to cars.

    And there will never be enough roads, the roads only policy of last 50 years has proven this.

    If he tried negotiating Auckland every day it may dawn on him the roading policy National are wanting is badly flawed.

  13. Matt L says:

    And he is now claiming that running the trains will push rates up 7.5% or more. Where did he get this figure from?

    “The Minister of Transport has pointed to the existing operating shortfall in rail funding and the proposed extention will push rates increases to 7.5% or even higher”

  14. tim says:

    I think this is going to become an election issue. Auckland and Len Brown need to keep this issue in the limelight and keep putting pressure on the government to counteract all the lobbying being done by the trucking fraternity, who need even better roads so they can run bigger trucks at higher speeds and make more profits.

    Old man Joyce seems to forget that his Government was brought in under MMP, and guess where most of the votes are! Auckland will vote for the CBD tunnel at the General Election if it isn’t supported beforehand.

  15. AKT says:

    An Auckland “economist, dairy farmer and wannabe internet entrepreneur’s” blog adda a bit of fuel to the fire

  16. DanC says:

    It is a shame that Aucklanders have to face such an up hill battle to reduce congestion.


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