Herald criticises Labour’s light rail pledge

The editorial:

’s first big shot in the Mt Roskill byelection – a pledge to invest $680 million in a system – has rightly been labelled “pork barrel” politics by senior government figure Steven Joyce. …

In reality, all the players should be holding off pledging funds to the big-ticket items which Auckland is going to need in the coming years.

Last year’s Auckland Transport Alignment Project had much going for it in that it got all the key parties together to settle on the direction of the region’s transport system over the next three decades.

The light rail project, meant to run from Wynyard Quarter to Mt Roskill, is a component of the strategic plan, which budgeted for a $23.7b investment in the first 10 years alone.

Clearly the numbers are sizeable, and most likely subject to change.

Just yesterday the Greens were highlighting congestion problems with a road-only additional harbour crossing, saying some form of rapid transit was essential to future-proof the $4b tunnel to be built sometime between 2030 and 2050.

Who can say with conviction that the transport technology in use today will still be with us in 10 or 20 years?

Pushing ahead with the Dominion Rd light rail scheme might, or might not, be the right project to lift up the pecking order.

Such however are the scale of the transport pieces that it would be a mistake to cherry-pick one when it could simply create costly snarl-ups in another part of the Auckland transport mosaic.

And the experience in Australia is the huge cost blow outs occur when politicians do cherry pick.

In my view you should leave politicians out of it, and have any transport project with a BCR greater than say 1.5:1 automatically funded.

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