Saturday, May 15, 2010

Take the Money and Run

"Greater Wellington is only marginally larger in population than greater Christchurch but has received roughly 13 times more Government funding towards public transport infrastructure than Christchurch"

Reading the news the other day I see Christchurch East MP Lianne Dalziel (Labour) is campaigning to keep the new Bus Exchange above ground and to use the extra $21 million saved to build suburban exchanges. These have had to be canned because of lack of Government funding. Without a clear and well thought through "mass transit" strategy, one that will secure funding because it knows where it is going (from the next Government if not this one) this sort of ping pong game with relatively small amounts is inevitable.

I 'd like to put this amount in context of spending on public transport by the only other city of similar size in New Zealand, Wellington. It is my experience that most people in Christchurch have absolutely no idea how many of their tax dollars have been shipped north to fund commuter rail and busway infrastructure in Auckland and Wellington, now well over $2.2 billon spent or in process of being spent.

Allowed this is a simplification, it nonetheless stands in the larger moral sense, that 13% of this funding came from Canterbury taxes - about $265 million. In return as far as I can figure out we have received one sixth of this amount to spend in Canterbury - about $47 million [promised].
Even pathetic amounts for bus lanes and cycleways have now been seriously chopped.

Greater Wellington is only marginally larger than Christchurch in population but has received roughly 13 times more Government funding towards public transport infrastructure than Christchurch !! Two reasons
(a) Greater Wellington does has a stronger case because of its geographic footprint ...but thirteen times stronger?? Yeah right.
(b) Christchurch/Canterbury has no case! Literally.The city has evolved no major rapid mass transit strategy beyond a conventional bus system with part-time bus laning on some arterial roads (so those services can run on time). No projects = No funding; Result good bus service attracting minimal peak hour commuters! Crazy; we have the resources here already to build the best small city bus system in the world crying out for vision.

Here are some bits and pieces brought up from files I made after 2004 (earlier ones were lost in a computer melt down) just to give an idea of how hugely expensive rail is to implement - and remember this only an upgrade, not starting from new.


WELLINGTON (metropolitan population c415,000)

[s] note some amounts may be subsumed in larger payouts/agreements to pay and are therefore bracketed to avoid confusion and not included in running total . Some amounts, or increases on original amounts not included - actual total is likely to be less than full amount.

Purchase and rebuilding of 18 former British carriages for Wairarapa Line $10.6 million one-off grant from Labour Govt; balance from Tansfund $25 million (running total .. $25 million ....) Dominion Post Nov 20 2004Upgrading of stations and lengthening of platforms on Wairarapa regional line . ($5 million) (running total .. $30 million ....)
$30 million for (trolley?) buses [s?=$65 million for trains] Funding boost from Labour Govt - Dominion Post 28 Jan 2005 (running total $60 million) [note NZ Bus Ltd also spent $45 million on new trolley buses]New trolley bus overhead $13 million "the greater share" [a guesstimate $9 million?]...Greater Wellington Regional Council "the rest" .(... running total ...$73 million) Dominion Post Feb 13 2006
* Ninety-six new rail units now being built in Korea, arriving in 2010 and 2011. Cost $235 million. (... running total ...$308 million)
* Extension of double tracking and electrification from Paraparaumu to Waikanae. Work began in December 2008 and is due to finish by the end of 2010. Cost $92m. (... running total ...$400 Million)
* Eleven extra substations and upgrade work to the 14 old ones. Work began in January and should finish this year. Cost $30m. (... running total ...$430 Million)
* Overhead wiring upgrade. Old wooden poles replaced with steel ones and an extra 400 kilometres of wiring over the 102km network. Work to continue until 2011. Cost $30m. (... running total ...$460 Million)
* Signalling upgrade: 30 per cent of old signal circuits being replaced with fibre optic cables. Cost $20m. (... running total ...$480 Million)
* Platforms rebuilt or resurfaced and tracks moved at other stations to accommodate new trains. Extension of platforms on Johnsonville line. Work to start soon at Epuni platform and then at Petone from September. On the Paraparaumu line, work will begin before the end of the year at Redwood and at Pukerua Bay in 2010. Cost $22m.(... running total ...$502 Million)
* Johnsonville line - making tunnels bigger, changing track alignment and extending passing loops to allow for longer trains. Job done. Cost $10m. .(... running total ...$512 Million)
* Third line into Wellington allowing reduction of peak-hour bottlenecks. Work began February 2008 and should be operational mid 2010. Cost $40m. .(... running total ...$552 Million)
* Extra storage for trains and an upgrade to the maintenance depot at Wellington. Cost $35m. .(... running total ...$587 million)
* Additional storage for trains on the Kapiti Coast. Cost $15m. (... running total ...$603 million)
SOURCE for all above current projects  Dominion Post. Wellington, New Zealand: Aug 3, 2009.

CHRISTCHURCH metropolitan population c390,000

(running total $0.0 million) As far as I know Christchurch funded its own first Bus Exchange, which cost $20 million, out of rates in some sort of redevelopment or lease back deal with a well known developer.

New Bus Exchange The New Zealand Transport Agency has agreed to contribute $45m, for the above-ground facility, which is estimated to cost $85m (but not a further $21 million to built the facility underground) . (running total ....$45 million) The Press 11 May 2011
Bus lanes on nine routes $5.5 million towards creating on-street bus laning agreed under previous Government reduced under National Government to maximum of $1.64 million. (running total... $46.6 million)
Cycleways $2.5 million towards creating new cycleways agreed under last Government cut by 80% to $510,000 (running total ... $47.1 million)
Suburban Bus Exchanges - no money

Note; I am only a part-time amateur "bus and train spotter" and may miss or misinterpret information. Please feel free to email corrections or additions to this list, sending to  Mail received and comments made off line are always treated with absolute discretion, recognising 80% of people seriously interested in public transport are employed in the industry or elected officers (another 28% are trainspotters in love with steel rails!) who can not freely or publicly comment without risking compromising their career! -DW

1 comment:

  1. While Chrischurch should be getting more money for public transport project, don't hold your breath under the current national government.

    Remeber Wellington has a far great mode share using public transport than any other city in New Zealand. More people relay on public transport in Wellington than anywhere else in the country. Land use in Christchurch has made transport cheaper and more people are accessable to cycle lanes and shorter distances to the CBD (unlike those who live in the suburbs of Wellington). Wellington also has a far greater CBD thanks to the government being located in the city. Much of the money going into the Wellington system is because it has been run down over several decades.

    Finally, Wellingtons topography also does not make building infrastucture cheap. Similar populations maybe, but different cities!