Submissions on the draft Regional Land Transport Programme close at 5pm on Friday 4 May. Submisions can be made at http://www.gw.govt.nz/regional-land-transport-programme/
Here are some points to include in your submission:
1. The Wellington Regional Land Transport Strategy is the bid from the region’s local authorities and the New Zealand Transport Agency, coordinated by the Greater Wellington Regional Council, for funding from the National Land Transport Fund for transport activities over the next three years.
2. All projects put forward by a City/district council must also be in that council’s long-term plan, so if you’re submitting for or against a project or proposing a new one, you need to do that with respect to both the local plan and the regional programme.
3. This is the only opportunity to submit on whether NZTA should be undertaking the proposed projects or not – NZTA-run consultations (such as on the Basin Reserve) assume that its proposed projects will be built.
4. The proposed activities are divided into those that are:
- committed (approved projects not yet completed)
- non-prioritised (essentially local road maintenance and renewals, and support of existing public transport services)
- first priority (public transport and state highway maintenance and renewals)
- second priority (projects costing less than $5m, and planning for large projects)
- third priority (projects over $5m).
5. Of the total expenditure of $1359.75m, $530.69 (40%) is on the 13 large third-priority projects, so they’re worth looking at in some detail (Table 4, p25). Each project is ranked High, Medium or Low according to whether it
- is the right thing to do, in terms of the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport Funding 2012-22 (strategic fit)
- does it in the right way (effectiveness)
- is at the right time and price (economic efficiency).
6. Of the $530.69m, nearly all is on projects rated High against strategic fit and effectiveness, but 83% ($442.57m) is on projects rated Low against economic efficiency, i.e. ones that NZTA says are inefficient, at the wrong time and price. The relevant projects are the three Roads of National Significance (RoNS) projects in the RLTP – Basin Reserve flyover, Mackays to Peka Peka expressway, Ngauranga to Aotea Quay Active Transport Management System – reflecting their very poor benefit/cost ratios. When times are hard, it’s pretty surprising that NZTA and Greater Wellington are proposing spending nearly half a billion dollars on inefficient projects. That’s surely the sort of wasteful expenditure that should be axed, not promoted.
7. Added to that, projects in the RLTP are supposed to meet the outcomes in the Regional Land Transport Strategy (RLTS), which are:
- increased peak-period public transport mode share
- increased mode share for pedestrians and cyclists
- reduced greenhouse gas emissions
- reduced severe road congestion
- improved regional road safety
- improved land use and integration
- improved regional freight efficiency
- improved links to the north of the region.
NZTA has admitted that Transmission Gully will fail to meet at least the first three of these, and it’s highly unlikely that other RoNS projects will improve on that, so the RLTP is setting the RLTS up to fail on these significant items.
8. The RLTP also lists other significant activities expected to commence within 10 years (Table 5, p26), and $2,477.90m out of the proposed $2,565.15m (97%) is on RoNS and associated projects.
9. But the RLTP is not all bad. It includes some significant sustainable transport projects, such as the Ngauranga-Petone shared walkway/cycleway alongside SH2 and the Hutt Valley railway, part of the Great Harbour Way, and integrated electronic ticketing.
10. However, it does not include projects that would make a sustainable difference, such as:
- double-tracking the North Island Main Trunk railway between Pukerua Bay and Paekakariki
- implementing any recommendations that GW/NZTA/WCC High-Quality Public Transport Spine Study will make about improvements between Wellington Station and Newtown
- implementing any recommendations that the Wellington City Bus Review will make
- supporting the Capital Connection
- electrifying the railway to Otaki
- providing safe pedestrian and cyclist crossings of SH2 at Petone (destroyed by the Dowse to Petone project) and SH1 at Cobham Drive (exacerbated by the ASB Sports Centre).
11. Submissions on the RLTP close on Friday 4 May, and the region’s Mayors and GWRC will consider it. It’s worth asking if they support improving the economic, environmental and social sustainability of the region, or whether they support spending billions of taxpayer and ratepayer dollars that will fail to achieve the outcomes that they are committed to, and make us all worse off.