The Auckland Council has just released their Draft Regional Land Transport Programme for 2012-2015. This is where Auckland Transport sets out what their priorities are for the next 10 years and, most importantly, what they’re going to spend money on in the next 3.
What’s in it for cyclists?
Overall, the Regional Land Transport Programme is pretty bad, from a cycling perspective. It’s not dramatically bad. It’s just that there’s nothing proposed which will rapidly increase cycling rates or make cycling much safer or more pleasant.
There’s lot of pretty words about health, the environment and allowing for all modes. But none of the key projects relate to active transport.Â Instead it’s just the usual – electric trains, AMETI, completing the Western Ring Route, funding the CBD rail link and upgrading various regional arterials.
The list of cycling projects they have put at the top of the document (p.25) sounds good.
But it doesn’t match up with the list of projects they’re actually planning to fundÂ on (p. 47).
To be fair, some of the projects listed at the start are included in other sections of the budget because the cycling and walking investment is part of a larger roading project. For example, the cycling paths that will be built as part of the Waterview Connection don’t show up in this section because they are included in the Western Ring Route funding.
But some projects just don’t seem to show up at all. For example, as far I could see, there is no mention anywhere else in this document of a walk and cycle way across the Harbour Bridge.
So why list this project if they have no plans to fund it? The positive part of me likes to think the council is being aspirational and ambitious. But the cynical part wonders if it’s mainly just there as a form of greenwashing.
Funding proposed for walking and cycling is minimal – 0.8% or $37.6 million. As this graph shows, the amount the council is planning to spend on walking and cycling over the next 10 years is literally so small you can’t even see it in most years. It’s the tiny white line, right down the bottom of the graph.
This seems less than generous, especially since around 16% of all trips in Auckland are made by foot or by bike.
On the other hand, they’re proposing to spend $4.8 billion on state highways or 42% of the budget.
So, how does this match up with the Auckland Plan’s aspirations to make Auckland the world’s most liveable city? Or their goal to have 37% of trips in rush hour happening by public transport, walking and cycling by 2040 (that’s up from 23% today)?
Well, it doesn’t basically. This is because the council is being driven to invest in certain types of projects by the government’s priorities as set out in the Government Policy Statement on National Land Transport Funding.
I’ve blogged about this before but just to refresh your memory – the GPS is a document the Minister of Transport writes that sets out how the government will allocate funds from the National Land Transport Fund. This influences what councils invest in because if they choose to build a project that the government won’t fund from the National Land Transport Fund they have to pay for 100% of the cost themselves.
The previous Minister of Transport set the budget for walking and cycling at just 0.7% of the total fund, and put most of the rest into building huge new state highways such as the Puhoi to Wellsford Holiday Highway.Â The council can’t change that state highway expenditure.
This is why Auckland Transport is proposing to spend so little on walking and cycling themselves and so much on motorways. It’s also why they don’t have enough money to build the CBD rail link.
They point this out, although in a pretty mild way on page 38 where they say: “A more flexible funding system is also required, to enable national funding to be allocated more responsively to local needs.”
This is civil servant language for: “Stop giving us money for all these stupid motorways and fund some of the public transport projects we actually want to build, you #@!##!”
While it’s fairly bad news for cycling and walking, the plan is pretty good news for public transport, with the council remaining determined to fund the CBD rail link and increase funds for public transport services.
What do you think? Could they do better? What cycling projects would you like to see prioritized?
Submissions: Are due on the 23rd of March. You can use this online form (although then you have to submit on the whole long-term plan, not just the transport part). You can also email them a submission atÂ rltp at aucklandtransport dot govt dot nz. They don’t list submitting by email as an option butÂ they can’t refuse to accept your submission if you include: your full name, postal address, local board area, phone number, the plan you are submitting on (The RLTP for Auckland, 2012-2015) and whether you want to speak to your submission.