John Key has confirmed the Government will make a contribution to the Auckland CBD rail loop, with construction starting in 2020.
The details will be released on Friday, and it seems there will be some other announcements also. What will be of interest is how much the Government is contributing.
I first blogged on the CBD rail loop in 2009, and commented:
The key thing is, it is not a choice between improving roads and public transport. They are not substitutes, but complementary.
Labour and Greens have been trying to say that it is one or the other – that one must cancel the Puhoi to Wellsford motorway extension to fund the rail loop.
I also noted at the time:
If it can be done for that much money, the economic argument really stacks up.
But the cost has grown from that initial $1.5 billion.
In 2010 I blogged:
I think it is the most sensible of the proposed rail projects for Auckland.
Let’s assume ratepayers will pay 3/4. Work out how much that is, and consult Aucklanders on whether they are happy with that investment. Then you can talk to the Government about its contribution.
The details of the cost split is critical. I have said people outside Auckland should not be significantly funding the Auckland rail loop. However if the Govt’s contribution can be funded from the approx Auckland share of the National Land Transport Fund (ie through petrol tax paid by Aucklanders), then that is fine with me.
I suspect that is why the start date is 2020. Up until 2020 the NLTF is funding the various road of national significance, and as they get completed, my guess is the CBD rail loop will be the next priority.
Incidentally as far as I know, the Government has never refused to fund the CBD rail loop. They have always been careful with their language, saying there is not currently enough money in the NLTF for it. Unless I have missed something, they have never said never (to paraphrase James Bond).