No it’s not, it’s about hiking rates for another eight years and bankrupting the city to pay for the train wreck that is the City Rail link (CRL)
Brown looks with envy at the public transport system of a metropolis such as London with its underground and overground railway networks. He forgets that this network was there first, long before the car became popular. In London they tried, and largely gave up, trying to retrofit the capital with a road system to aid commuting by car. The system couldn’t cope so London reverted to investing in public transport. Quite right.
One of the dangers of looking at other cities as models for the future of Auckland is that their history is not ours. Auckland’s growth coincided with the advent of the car. Trying to retrofit the city with rail, especially an underground ‘Circle Line’, the City Rail Link (CRL), won’t work - too expensive, too unnecessary, too unrealistic in terms of commuting and travel patterns as pointed out by one of the few sane heads amongst Auckland Councillors, Dick Quax.
Auckland travel patterns challenge the need to fund Mayor Len Brown’s election promises, according to an Auckland councillor.
Dick Quax said research commissioned by the Ministry of Transport demonstrated what Aucklanders have known all along.
“Around three quarters of Aucklanders travel to and from work by car whereas less than two percent of workers take the train. Around 80 per cent of people live in the suburbs and 70 per cent of people work in the suburbs.
“In other words the Mayor is serving up a lifetime of crippling debt and compounding rate increases in order to fund infrastructure that few people need or use. The denial of evidence by the Mayor is astounding, and the cost will be borne of generations of ratepayers,” Dick Quax said.
The Ministry report prepared by consultant Richard Paling examined Census data to determine trends in commuter behaviour from 2001 to 2013.
“This compelling research further erodes the flagging argument for the City Rail Link. Few people live in the central city, only a minority of people work in the central city, and those who go there generally travel by car or bus.
“Trains don’t travel to and from North Shore, or my community in the eastern suburbs. In fact very few people will ever benefit from the City Rail Link, even though generations of Aucklanders will pay for it if the Mayor gets his way.
“It’s time for Auckland Council to review the objective evidence about consumer habits and travel patterns as we develop the forthcoming Long Term Plan,” Cr Quax said.
Before bankrupting the city and its inhabitants on this one project, the focus should be increasing patronage on the existing rail network, still at an appallingly low percentage of total work trips. Once demand is up supply can follow, at a rate and cost that the city can afford. The problem Auckland has now is that borrowing and debt interest is so great it threatens every project, great and small.
Brown needs to get back to basics and realise that rates are primarily to pay for roads, parks and community services, the very things being sacrificed for his train wreck.