In today’s Sunday Star Times, Joyce has an unsurprising reply to Rod Oram’s excellent piece last week (which critiqued the NZTA’s dodgy business cases for the Roads of National Party Significance). It’s a bit ironic because Joyce starts off making the case that we are in debt and we need to get out of debt.
Standard and Poor’s came along last Monday and reminded us of that very fact. Householders, businesses and the government have together been writing out too many IOUs to the rest of the world. We need to trade more to lower that debt.
Of course, his solution is to borrow billions to fund the very projects that are supposedly going to get us out of debt by making it easier to get our natural resources to ports so we can sell them to the highest bidder. (So we can spend more money importing cars and fuel to run them just to get around, repeat ad infinitum … or until we don’t have anything left to sell off.)
The piece is very revealing though, because in the end it’s clear that he just doesn’t understand the economics of transport. Instead of presenting evidence or arguments that support the claim that the most cost effective way to deal with “bottlenecks” and get freight from Northland to Auckland is by building a $2b inland motorway (which all the evidence suggests is not the best use of our precious transport dollars), he demonstrates that his world view is locked into the ideology of cars = personal freedom to live on a quarter acre section.
Some people believe the way our cities have grown is wrong. They think the quarter acre section is a fool’s paradise. People should live more in apartment buildings and less with a backyard, or heaven forbid, in a small town outside of the city.
It’s a philosophy that argues that urban planners should have much more say about how we live our lives; and it’s an agenda that the old ARC had in Auckland for a long time…
He doesn’t realise that it was actually planners and traffic engineers from the 1950s and 60s that set in place the standards that led to car dependence in the first place.
His suggestion that we shouldn’t invest in rail because only 2% of Aucklanders currently commute by rail displays an ignorance of marginal costs vs average costs.
We also should be wary about putting too much faith in a mode of transport that currently carries less than 2% of Auckland’s commuters to and from work each day, even after some quite spectacular growth.
The question isn’t about who uses what now, it’s what is the most cost effective way to accommodate additional trips. How can we move the most people and make the best use of the valuable land in the centre of our city, going forward?
Update: After penning this rather late last night I noticed that Jarbury had also blogged on the same topic, but in more depth.