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Record Investment Welcome But Is It Sufficient?

“Auckland’s record ten year transport investment programme is an impressive achievement one year after lockdown crippled the New Zealand economy, but clearer national direction and new ideas and solutions will be required to achieve the outcomes Auckland and the Government want,” says Hamish Glenn, Policy Director at Infrastructure New Zealand.

“The 2021-31 Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) package represents the combined investment programme of the Government (including Waka Kotahi) and Auckland Council and signals $31.4 billion over ten years, up from $28 billion in the 2018-28 programme.

“Pleasingly, the package is expected to see a reduction in per capita emissions of 13 per cent and of deaths and serious injury by 60 per cent. In addition, there will be an improvement in accessibility to jobs by 30 minute car journey of 14 per cent, an impressive 60 per cent improvement to employment by 45 minute public transport journey and delivery of 17,000 homes will be brought forward.

“These are good indicators reflecting considerable commitment from authorities in difficult conditions, but they are balanced somewhat by expectations for worse congestion on motorways and a total increase in carbon emissions due to expanding population.

“A bigger question surrounds what the investment programme will actually deliver against the things that really matter to Aucklanders and New Zealand – productivity, equity, incomes, cost of living, health and sustainability.

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“Is the city finally going to perform to its productive potential, or will congestion continue to reduce the competitiveness of businesses trying to access labour and markets?

“Will lower income Aucklanders pushed to the margins of the city by a deepening housing crisis have access to employment?

“And is 17,000 homes enough to tackle the housing crisis or will access to land continue to thwart scale development and affordable housing supply?

“The Government needs to identify what role it thinks Auckland should play in the wider New Zealand story and start using transport as the enabler to achieve that, rather than as an end in itself.

“Clearer national direction will in turn help answer the really big questions not tackled by ATAP today like what form and function a new harbour crossing should take and who should fund any decision on light rail.

"It will also catalyse much needed debate on the really big solutions the city needs, including road pricing, value capture and how best to transition the city to electric and less carbon intensive travel options.

“Such an approach would be consistent with the Government’s Wellbeing Agenda and would help Auckland tackle stubborn housing, economic and social challenges,” Glenn says.

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