Joyce: Why I Reject CBD Loop Case


Steven Joyce doesn’t yet buy the Auckland CBD rail link business case.
He said it “could be a good project for Auckland” but in his mind there are too many unanswered questions from the recently released business case.
And asked in parliament this afternoon if there is any other political figure less enthusiastic than himself, the transport minister said “Possibly the minister of finance (Bill English)” - whom he then noted was nodding his head.

He said the CBD link could be a good project for Auckland but there are questions he insisted that are not covered in the business case that needed to be answered first:

  • The business case appears to assume a level of existing infrastructure which doesn’t exist
  • It appears to under account the additional infrastructure that is required
  • It doesn’t say how many extra people would use the project compared to the electric network without the tunnel
  • It doesn’t tell us how many cars would it really take off the road and would it really reduce congestions
  • It doesn’t tell us when Britomart would run out of capacity without it

The Minister said all these questions need to be answered before the Government gets out its cheque book and starts waving it around.

And when Labour’s transport spokesman Darren Hughes asked Steven Joyce: Which project has the higher benefit cost ratio: the Auckland CBD rail loop or the Puhoi to Wellsford Road of National Significance, the minister oddly insisted “neither” and that they were both 1.1 at the Treasury discount.
” I refer the member to table E-1 on page 6 of the recently released Business Case Auckland CBD Rail Link, which states that at an 8 percent discount rate and including wider economic benefits, the benefit-cost ratio is 1.1. The benefit-cost ratio calculated in exactly the same way for the Pūhoi to Wellsford road of national significance is also 1.1, and it can be found on page 8 of the project’s summary, I say to the member.”

The minister then launched into his ongoing argument that the “transformational” method used to calculate the benefit in the CBD business case, according to Treasury, has “no theoretical or evidential underpining whatsoever.”

JOYCE: Clearly not a fan

Here is the full discussion.




  1. Draco T Bastard says:

    Joyce doesn’t like it because it’s not a road and so will not benefit the Road Transport Forum. Rail in cities is the only logical means of transportation as roads only create congestion and, due to pollution, ill-health.

  2. Nick R says:

    Interesting to note that the WEBs on “Table E-1 on page 6″ account for a tiny proportion of the benefits.

    Excluding the WEBs entirely and going on transport benefits alone, the CBDRL gets a cost benefit ratio of 1.0.

    I wonder what would the ratio be for the holiday highway with the WEBs removed?

  3. Mike says:

    Why are these questions not answered and who will actually answer them?

  4. Jon Reeves says:

    Welcome Minister Joyce to $2 a litre of petrol… once at $2 a transformational change occurs in drivers habits…they spend the same on petrol but drive less.

  5. Andrew says:

    Interesting to note that 91 unleaded petrol went above $1.90 per litre today.

  6. Andrew says:

    And Table E-1 on page 6 is all fine and dandy, but did the Minister care to read on all the way to Table E-2 on page 7? Or did he just pick the figure that suited his argument?

  7. Andrew says:

    Between those tables, the report says:
    The benefits of the CBD Rail Link far exceed travel time savings due to enhanced transport efficiency. The essential long-term benefit of the CBD Rail Link, which a traditional evaluation approach does not fully take into account, is a “place making” benefit, enabling urban regeneration to take place.

  8. Cam says:

    This guy is not going to spend 2 billion on any rail project regardless of BCR. This is not about economics, if it was he would have waited for a BCR to be completed for the holiday highway before putting a bunch of money into it.

    This is about politics and an ideology that says one mode of transport is always positive for the economy no matter what and another always isn’t no matter what. We need to also realise that we are dealing with an ego of monumental proportions here, this is someone who will not admit they could be wrong or consider that perhaps there are merits in other points of view. You can see the arrogance in the way he refuses even look at those questioning him in parliment.

    Ignore all his talk about unanswered questions, it’s just trying to stall and muddy the waters because as far as he’s concerned the government will contribute to this project over his dead body.

    Those people who bought into the polly speak about all modes of transport should realise that was so he could avoid the debate, now it’s being forced on him he’s having to dig in. He wont back down on this and he knows that at the moment it’s not a big enough issue to really threaten the grip they have on power. Sadly on this he’s right, there are many who will disagree with him on this issue but still vote National next year.

    All this while petrol races toward $2 a litre. You’d have to laugh at the ridiculousness of this if wasn’t going to be so damaging for the country.

  9. tim says:

    Rather than backpedalling a showing a bias, old Joyce would be better submitting to an independant panel to review and at least keep the appearance of having an open mind.

    Someone should remind Joyce that we have an MMP system! LOL, I can see National losing this election already!

  10. antz says:

    it’s amazing how smaller cities like Timaru are actually looking to improve thier bus route dispite not much people using the system, this is because they knew the the petrol was going to spike again.

  11. antz says:


  12. Patrick R says:

    Right, what a twat. I used to have some begrudging respect for the man, but what a childish response. He’s had grown men pouring over the documents to cherry pick disparate figures and summarily dismiss anything inconvenient. That’s not an argument that’s just peurile self gratification. And so arrogant, he clearly feels they are electorally safe on this issue. They need to get out more.

  13. Jb says:

    Cam is dead right. Any arguments about finance are simply there to disguise Joyce and Nationals’s underlying fundamental preference for roads.

  14. AKT says:

    Even if those questions are in the business case - or get answered - there will come another 6 reasons why we can’t have the CBD link.
    The most interesting thing about the discussion this afternoon in parliament was confirmation moneybags Finance Minister Bill is even more adamant that Steven that he won’t give a cent towards it - so even if Steven did come around, to thinking it should happen or run out of excuses, English will make the final decision that it’s not going to happen because there are more pressing financial needs - like the Puhoi road..

  15. max says:

    Exactly. Stalling is all we will ever get from this bunch. I think there’s two ways remaining, short of throwing them out of office at election time as such (the two ways don’t necessarily exclude each other):

    First: Convince John Key (not SJ) that he’s risking losing Auckland for good to the left wing at the next election (people will NOT be so tired of Len Brown and his fight for the CBD tunnel by next year that National can hope for that to counteract itself).

    Proceed as much as possible without National’s go-ahead. i.e. work on designations (that could be tricky though, seeing that KiwiRail is under Joyce), make sure the District Plan / Spatial plan cover the CBD tunnel in no uncertain terms, start buying those properties and rights which will be clearly required, proceed with the technical design etc…

    Third ways is the wildcard, i.e. fuel pices spike again, traffic flows drop, rail continues to boom, and eventually National is so embarassed it agrees. Though a couple months of high prices alone won’t do that.

  16. John Dalley says:

    In Stephen Joyce’s tiny brain the earth is still flat. This guy is a complete W***ker and Bill English is no better.
    I is now time for the Auckland Council to ramp up the pressure on National as they seem to forget that pissing of Auckland voters will see them lose at the next elections.
    These pricks need to be taught a lesson which is do not pee of Aucklands voters.

  17. Patrick R says:

    you can hear the sound of Joyce et al ignoring the price of oil [since 2004], the declining traffic on the state highways [since 2005] so that ain’t going to change them….

  18. AKT says:

    One small point John. It’s “Steven”. “Stephen Joyce” is a smalltime actor who played a part in Miami Vice and is a Canadian travel consultant

  19. DanC says:

    What a shame. Who ever gets behind this project wants what’s best for the country (Economy, health….) and I’ll vote for them.

  20. I think perhaps Aucklanders could devise away to pay for this ourselves.

    Perhaps a new way could be increase the rates for petrol stations in Auckland about 20% which effectively would be a local fuel tax.

    I feel a bit sorry for Mr Joyce, I think there are a lot of pressures from other places to make sure this Puhio Northern Motorway gets built.

  21. karl says:

    “you can hear the sound of Joyce et al ignoring the price of oil [since 2004], the declining traffic on the state highways [since 2005] so that ain’t going to change them….”

    I am not talking of convincing THEM. They will need to be forced into this with the prospect of electoral loss. The mammals do not have to kill the dinosaurs to win. Just to corral them.

    “I think perhaps Aucklanders could devise away to pay for this ourselves.”

    Anthony, we already tried that. Steven Joyce IS the very same person who cancelled the regional fuel tax. He hates this project so much, he’d work overtime to find ways of sabotaging that too - be it via fiat (i.e. via laws created just for that purpose) or other ways. No, he has to be “convinced” (see my comments above) or replaced (either in his post, or with his whole government). Until that stage, we won’t get anything.

  22. Patrick R says:

    Karl. It’ll have to be the lot of them, he’s about as high up as they get in this govt. Only Key is above him and he’s a complete cipher. In fact Key is the only hope that they might turn around on this [simply for expediency]. It’s clear they only talk to each other [never met someone who might use a train] but they do have fairly feverish pollsters….

  23. AKT says:

    @Patrick R Their pollster (if asked for advice) called Joyce a smart man when he talked of webs on steroids. as often “these assessments are little more than guesswork”
    He concluded: ” I don’t have a problem with the Auckland Council being given the power to have its own regional petrol tax. I do have a problem with people from Oamaru, Napier and Dunedin being the major funders of an Auckland CBD rail loop.”

  24. John Dalley says:

    Stephen Joyce, small time actor. Sounds about right. As competence goes, he is only an actor a very poor one.

  25. Rationale says:

    It will never happen on Joyce’s watch, however yesterday’s Herald article will put further pressure on him. It’s now at the point where a skillful political opponent should be able to at the very least force him out of the transport portfolio and keep him away from the government cheque book. His position is close to untenable.

    I notice that the price of fuel issue is yet again raising it’s ugly head. Now here’s what Dunedin has managed to come up with. It’s a city that at one point had a better subbie(train) service than Auckland.

  26. Andrew says:

    Actually, I have no problem with the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF) tax stream being split in two, with petrol taxes collected from Auckland going instead to an Auckland RLTF (Regional). Then Auckland can have some autonomy in its decisions as to what to spend that money on, and the rest of the country need not worry.

  27. Cam says:

    I thnk we need to get real about this effecting their election chances. Currently they are polling around 50% Labour and the Greens combined about 37-38% this is not hurting them much at all and it wont.

    Like I said earlier there are those who disagree with him on this but will still vote for them. For example do you think Christine Fletcher will be voting Labour at the next election? Don’t think so.

    Then there is the vast majority of people who don’t follow this stuff closely some of them may have voted for Brown because they though a rail system was a good idea, they will tune out for a few years and them blame the mayor when nothing has happened.

    Joyce is aware of all this and he knows he can get away with stalling and confusing the argument. Most people i’ve spoken to who are not that informed on the subject think it’s the soley council’s fault our public transport is so bad.

    BTW all of the questions he said we unanswered were addressed in the report, once again he pretty much lies and nobody challenges him.

    The CBD loop will not be built for at least a decade, this government will get a second term and there is no way they will give this project a cent. You can bet on that.

  28. Matt says:

    Andrew, Aucklanders would be thrilled to be allowed to keep all the road taxes generated in the region. Absolutely over the moon.
    Sadly, Joyce won’t be having with that, either. He already scrapped the specific regional fuel tax, because that would give Auckland far more independence than National are happy with, and he’s definitely not going to deprive the rest of the country of Auckland road tax dollars .

  29. Patrick R says:

    yes Matt because this is the Country Party, they are at the very least mistrustful of the city. CBDRL is an urbanising project, Puford helps spread AK out so it will be more like a big clogged bland provincial town. A bloated and flatulent mega zone of underachievement and dystopia. All they can imagine then. This is a battle of ideals, too.

  30. Cam says:

    “I feel a bit sorry for Mr Joyce, I think there are a lot of pressures from other places to make sure this Puhio Northern Motorway gets built” - What do you mean? There is far more pressure on him about the CBD loop. Puford is his baby, it’s all him.

  31. Rationale says:

    It will never happen on Joyce’s watch, however yesterday’s Herald article will put further pressure on him. It’s now at the point where a skillful political opponent should be able to at the very least force him out of the transport portfolio and keep him away from the government cheque book. His position is close to untenable.

    I notice that the price of fuel issue is yet again raising it’s ugly head. Now here’s what Dunedin has managed to come up with. It’s a city that at one point had a better subbie(train) service than Auckland.

  32. Simon says:

    @Cam Rail was a burning issue for many people in the local elections but maybe it is seen as a “local election” issue. The challenge is to bring it forward as a major general election issue and particularly to put the heat on national so that it@s not seen by Aucklanders as a “mayor failed us” thing in a couple of years. Maybe National will get back into power. But if things went sour for them in AKL they would have a much reduced majority and they`d much more pressure on the likes of Bill English to help otherwise a 3rd term would be very unlikely.

  33. One Eyed Joyce says:

    Why I reject CBD loop case? ….Because the Road Transport Forum (trucking lobby) and roading lobbies have bankrolled my political party at the last election, and will do so again next year…

    They say…build more roads and kill the rail network. I say….build more roads and quietly kill off portions of the rail network…and totally oppose anything rail related the public want.

    Roads at any cost I say.

  34. Matt says:

    Cam, it kinda is the councils’ (as in the old conglomeration) fault that public transport is so bad. It took a long time before ARTA took it seriously.
    However, once they took it seriously Labour seriously made the money available. Even Cullen could be persuaded by being taken to New Lynn for the morning traffic peak to see what a shambles the intersection was, which is more than can be said for Joyce.

  35. AKT says:

    I see Herald columnist Fran O’Sullivan says today:
    “Tell Len Brown to get the Auckland Council to fund its own rail investments..
    Disclosure: As an Auckland ratepayer myself, it would be simple to jump on board the “beat the Government up on transport funding” bandwagon. In truth, the Auckland Council’s balance sheet is big enough to fund the CBD rail loop via debt (yes Len, Auckland Council bonds are debt).

    If the council was smart it would simply sell down its Auckland International Airport Holding and/or Ports of Auckland and realise some equity to invest in 21st-century infrastructure. But hard-headed realism is mysteriously absent in our commercial city.”

  36. Luke says:

    So the RONS are ‘hard-headed realism’.
    Come on Fran, realism seems very absent in the Minister of Transports office.
    She’s just pushing her same old ideological views, and has found another reason to do so.

  37. Patrick R says:

    Fran is a prat, and an unthinking repeater of the neolib line. She used to regularly exhort us with how we should be more like Ireland, funny she’s gone quiet on that now, but never a recant… completely ignorable.

  38. Kurt says:

    The impression I get of Fran O’Sullivan’s perfect society is the early 19th century, that is the market knows best. Think 1840′s in England, child labour, no labour laws, conservative friendly parliament. Misery for the great unwashed.

    And yes the Trucking lobby is foremost in this governments thinking ’cause their “donations” don’t come for free.

  39. Matt says:

    If the Council sells its commercial holdings, holdings which return dividends, it’ll have to increase rates even further in order to repay debt.
    Genius, Fran, genius. Your short-term thinking is right up there with the numpty who said, paraphrased, to the Herald’s question about raising the retirement age: “Bring back interest on student loans and cut benefits to the young. Who deserves more taxpayer money? A young person who can’t be bothered getting a job, or the elderly who’ve paid taxes all their lives?”

  40. Nick R says:

    Not to mention the strategic loss of 100 hectares of downtown waterfront land. Recent suggestions were that the port would sell for 300 million. Regardless of the issue of trading regular income for a one off cash injection, Is it really wise to sell downtown land for three million a *hectare*, thats about 30 grand to the quarter acre or a tenth of what youd pay in the suburbs!!

  41. Matt says:

    Nick, industrial land tends to have much lower value than residential. It’s a bit weird, but that’s how it is.

  42. Nick R says:

    Matt, that is my point. Currently it is industrial land and ‘low value’, but strategically it is a lot more valuable.
    Take Tank Farm as a precident. Ten years ago is was low value contaminated industrial land. Ten years from now it will be some of the most valuable in the city.

  43. Matt says:

    For that to change, POAL would have to shut down (since they’re hardly going to move). That’s no more likely to happen without the Council as a major shareholder than it is under the status quo.

  44. Nick R says:

    POA would have to move, not shut down. Like they moved out of Wynyard Wharf and how they are planning to vacate Queen Wharf and Cooks Wharf.

    There is a reserve on the Maukau Harbour next to the airport which is held as one possible location.

    It would be a lot more likely to happen under the council, as sometime in the future the council could relocate the port and develop the 100 hectares of waterfront land at a huge profit. A private logistics company divided among several major shareholders is unlikely to be interested in property development.


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