Record investment to get Auckland moving

8 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineApril 26, 2018

The Government and Auckland Council has announced it will embark on New Zealand‘s largest ever civil construction programme to create a 21st century transport network.

“Together, we will invest $28 billion over the next decade to unlock Auckland‘s potential,” says Minister of Transport Phil Twyford. “We will be building vital projects including light rail, Penlink and Mill Road, heavy rail and bus upgrades, safety improvements, and more dedicated cycle lanes.”

Twyford says these much-needed investments are made possible by a $4.4 billion funding boost resulting from the Auckland fuel tax, increased revenue from the National Land Transport Fund, and Crown Infrastructure Partners contributions.

“This plan is funded to deliver the projects we are committed to. The previous ATAP report, released by former Transport Minister Simon Bridges in August 2017, had a $5.9 billion funding gap. National had no plan to fix that fiscal hole, which would have meant the projects they promised couldn‘t have been delivered.

“This $28 billion plan will help ease the awful congestion that has been caused by a decade of under-investment. We will create a congestion-free rapid transit network and boost other alternatives to driving to help free up the roads, enable growth, and improve safety for drivers and others,” says Twyford.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says ATAP balances the need to deal with Auckland‘s immediate and pressing transport needs, as well as being transformational for the future.

“ATAP reflects the need for efficient roading for green and brownfield housing development, new transport corridors and major arterial routes. But as Auckland grows we need to move from a focus on roading to a more balanced approach that promotes public transport and active transport networks.

“Auckland has to contribute its share and the regional fuel tax allows us to do that. The more than $4 billion expenditure it unlocks is critically important to progressing a better transport system for Auckland.”

Goff says to raise the same sum from rates would result in a total rate increase of more than 13% this year. Alternatively, to do nothing would see Auckland become increasingly gridlocked.

“New forms of revenue such as an RFT to invest in our transport network and light rail to supplement buses, ferries and heavy rail are critical for an efficient and effective Auckland transport system. Auckland‘s growth means additional investment in these areas is vital for us to tackle congestion problems.

“ATAP represents a significant increase in investment in our transport network, but we still need to find innovative ways to fund further development such as PPPs, special purpose vehicles or infrastructure bonds,” says Goff.

ATAP includes $1.8 billion in funding for light rail. A work programme is underway to leverage sources of investment capital outside of ATAP for light rail, and an announcement will be made soon.

Under ATAP, Auckland is expected to receive 38% of the National Land Transport Fund over the next decade, proportionate with the region‘s growing share of New Zealand‘s population. However, Goff says that this “still falls short of Auckland‘s projected 55% share of the country‘s population growth over the next decade”.

Plans to accelerate the building of the Penlink and Mill Road projects have been welcomed by the National Road Carriers association, but David Aitken, NRC‘s CEO, said they now needed to get on with it and ensure it was future-proofed.

“By the time Penlink is built the two lanes won‘t be adequate, so they might as well build the four lanes straight away.”

Puhinui Road, the southern link to the airport, is also listed for an upgrade from its current two-lane operation. All are designed to ease Auckland‘s congestion problems and cater for the needs of a growing population.

Aitken said while he was happy with the announcements he was still looking for details on the revised lower cost plan for the East-West link between Sylvia Park and Onehunga.

“It is the key piece of infrastructure for greater Auckland and easing the congestion problem.”

Aitken said the NRC could not envisage the East-West link working on a different route from that which has already received Environment Court approval.

New Zealand Trucking Association CEO Dave Boyce said he supported all of Aitken‘s comments.
“What‘s happening up there with the plans for the two new roads is great – anything that improves the roading network is good.
“The East-West Link is something that shouldn‘t be dropped, that‘s for certain. I think it‘s needed, but the government seems to be determined not to worry about it at the moment.”
ATAP major investments include:
  • Committed projects like the City Rail Link and northern motorway improvements

  • Light rail

  • Eastern busway (Panmure-Botany)

  • Airport-Puhinui State highway upgrade, including a high quality public transport link to an upgraded Puhinui rail station

  • Bus priority programme, to more rapidly grow Auckland‘s bus lane network and support faster, more reliable and more efficient bus services

  • Albany-Silverdale bus improvements

  • Lower cost East-West Link to address key freight issues in the area

  • Papakura-Drury motorway widening

  • First phase of the Mill Road corridor

  • Penlink (tolled)

  • Walking and cycling programme to expand the network and complete key connections (e.g. SkyPath)

  • Significant programme of safety improvements

  • New transport infrastructure to enable greenfield growth

  • Network optimisation and technology programme to make the best use of the existing network

  • Rail network improvements including electrification to Pukekohe, additional trains and other track upgrades

More information on the ATAP update is available at