Friday, 4th June, 2021

The Auckland Business Forum says the updates announced today to the Government’s flagship NZ Upgrade Programme (NZUP) reinforce concerns in the business community about the quality of transport planning and delivery in this country.

The Government today announced a re-configured approach to the programme, taking into account increased costs and climate commitments.  

Auckland Business Forum Chair Michael Barnett says it is deeply concerning to see major projects – including Mill Road, Papakura to Drury South Stage Two, Takitimu North Link and Whangarei to Port Marsden – scaled back or cut out altogether.

“Eighteen months ago these were considered critical projects. Now, without any consultation, the Government’s taken the axe to them.

“Down-sizing Mill Road in particular is going to have massive implications for congestion, and for our ability to unlock land for affordable housing. Where is the analysis to justify the decision? Simply pointing to climate change targets isn’t enough.”

Mr Barnett adds that the current situation is yet another example of the Government over-promising and under-delivering on infrastructure.

“NZUP was announced amid great fanfare last year, but it turns out they didn’t do their homework, and the projects are going to cost far more than anyone thought – now, they’re having to claw back money.”

Mr Barnett says it is outrageous to cut back other areas of the programme, and talk about keeping down debt, while at the same time proposing to spend close to $1 billion on a cycle way across the Waitemata Harbour.

“We all want to see a walking and cycling connection across the harbour, but the idea of spending $800 million on it is crazy – there’s no other way to describe it. It will only benefit a tiny proportion of users.

“There comes a point where the costs just can’t be justified, and most Aucklanders would agree that, at $800 million, we’ve well and truly reached that point.”

Mr Barnett also questions the decision to make the new bridge walking and cycling only.

“If we’re going to go to the trouble of building a new stand-alone bridge, it seems absurd not to include at least a couple of lanes for public transport and general traffic as well. It wouldn’t add a huge amount to the cost, in proportional terms, and the extra benefits would be massive.”

The revised approach continues a worrying trend of under-investment in general traffic and freight in Auckland, at the expense of public transport, walking and cycling.

“Growing public transport, walking and cycling is great, but you also have to support the modes of transport the carry the bulk of the load – and private vehicles do 95% of the travel in Auckland. The Government doesn’t seem to understand that the current approach will only lead to more congestion; and more congestion doesn’t just harm Auckland’s liveability and productivity, it means more emissions.”


 About the Auckland Business Forum:

The Auckland Business Forum is a group of Auckland-based business organisations formed to advocate for greater urgency around the planning and delivery of the Auckland transport programme.  The group was formed out of concern for a long-running decline in the standard of Auckland’s transport infrastructure, and the subsequent impact on productivity and quality of life. The Auckland Business Forum’s membership incorporates broad-based user and industry perspectives on transport issues, and consists of:

  • Auckland Business Chamber
  • Civil Contractors New Zealand
  • Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern)
  • Infrastructure New Zealand
  • National Road Carriers Association
  • The NZ Automobile Association (Auckland District Council)
  • Ports of Auckland Ltd

For more information, contact:

Michael Barnett
Chair, Auckland Business Forum
E. mbarnett@chamber.co.nz
M. 027 5631150
 
Barney Irvine
Coordinator, Auckland Business Forum
E. barney@irvineandpartners.co.nz
M. 027 8399309