Rodney Hide writes in the HoS:
My research led me to Wellingtonian Tony Randle, who spent months trying to get the analysis underpinning the 2010 Rail Business Case, succeeding only after a complaint to the Ombudsman.
Once Tony got hold of the analysis he found:
1. Basic spreadsheet errors. The spreadsheet fails to calculate the running costs of the second purchase of 26 trains. That ignores $689 million on the train option.
2. Incorrect exclusion of costs from the rail option. The study excludes the necessary funding to extend the Northern Busway into the city centre. Building this access is a necessary part of the rail option.
3. Addition of a second bus tunnel without explanation, adding hundreds of millions to the bus option.
4. Unreasonable assumptions, including a prediction that under the rail option, present bus capacity into the city centre will carry another 20,000 passengers a day without any new bus lanes or busways.
And people wonder why the Government won’t just hand over billions of dollars. I’m not sure what is worse – the massive errors in the analysis, but the fact they wouldn’t release them without the Ombudsman.
The overall impression is that the analysis was slanted to conclude trains over buses, despite the fact that buses may provide a better cheaper service.
The errors and poor assumptions total $1.5 billion. The bias is systematic; each and every mistake favours rail over buses. Correcting for the errors reverses the study’s conclusions and shows the CBD bus tunnel more cost-effective than the City Rail Link.
Tony Randle’s review is damning of Auckland Transport’s report. And it’s damning of the rail option. Auckland Transport’s response? Stony silence.
I’ve blogged on Tony’s work before. I am surprised no Councillor has followed it up. He makes available his detailed spreadsheets freely.
Last December, Auckland Transport released a second report. City Centre Future Access Study also concludes that the city rail link beats the two bus options considered, but now for different reasons to the first report. And, once again, Auckland Transport published the study without the underpinning analysis.
I followed Randle’s lead and requested the spreadsheets and the relevant model output reports. Auckland Transport has refused to supply them to me.
Its latest is a lawyer’s letter explaining that Auckland Transport will provide what I want but only if I pay them $3850.
Oh, and they won’t send me the spreadsheets.
Instead, they will send a printed output. That’s useless to me. It won’t allow me to check the very calculations that Randle showed were so devastatingly wrong in their first report.
I am left to conclude that Auckland Transport doesn’t trust its own analysis. So how can I trust it? And, more especially, how can you?
Very good questions. The spreadsheets should be provided free of charge to anyone asking. They already exist. There is no cost involved in e-mailing them out. The cost of $3,850 demanded is a rort.