Gareth Hughes

Paying for CBD rail and Christchurch

by Gareth Hughes

Lately I’ve had quite a few people ask me whether it’s realistic to continue pushing for the government to fund the CBD rail loop in the after-math of the Christchurch earthquake.

I can understand what they’re thinking. After all, the CBD rail loop is an expensive project and the reconstruction of Christchurch will also cost billions. That’s one of the reasons why Russel has been advocating using a levy to pay for Christchurch. We think that is the fairest way to spread around the cost of paying for Christchurch without cutting investment in essential state services and desperately needed new public transport projects.

It’s also important to remember that, even if the government did approve funding for the CBD rail loop in the 2011 budget,  construction likely wouldn’t start until at least 2013 or 14.

After all, before the loop is built Auckland Transport will have to do a lot more planning and then apply for resource consent. That’s a slow process with any big project.

Then, once the loop does start construction it will take 5-7 years to construct. What all this means is the expenditure on the loop will be spread out over a period of many years. And the most expensive phase (the construction) probably won’t start until after a lot of the most urgent infrastructure repair work in Christchurch has been done.

But finally, we shouldn’t let ourselves get sucked in by the government’s spin. They do have the money to build the loop. They just don’t want to spend it on better rail – instead they want to spend it on uneconomic motorways.

As Steven Joyce loves to say, the government is spending $10.7 billion on motorways over the next 10 years. A lot of those are being built now or (like Waterview) will be built over the next 2-3 years – at the same time as the Christchurch rebuild peaks.

Many of these motorways (Puhoi to Wellsford, Wellington motorways) have a benefit cost ratio of less than 1. That means for every $1 we spend on them we won’t even get $1 of economic benefits back. The loop, in contrast, has a benefit cost ratio of $3.50.

In the context of rising oil prices, dropping vehicle numbers on our state highways, and sky rocketing public transport patronage I think our need for the loop is more urgent than ever.

Green Party volunteers will be getting out and about around Auckland at different railways stations over the next 3 weeks getting signatures on our CBD rail loop petition. If you’d like to join them check out the times and locations below.

Thursday, 14th April
  
 4.30 – 6 pm  Henderson Station
Friday, 15th April    8 – 9 am  Britomart, Queen St
 Thursday, 21st April  4.30 – 6 pm  New Lynn Station
 Thursday, 28th April
 4.30  – 6.00 pm  Mt Albert Station
 Monday, 2nd May  12 – 2 pm  Auckland University

Published in Economy, Work, & Welfare | Environment & Resource Management by Gareth Hughes on Wed, April 13th, 2011   

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