Auckland’s top transport priority should be second harbour crossing

The existing harbour bridge is ageing and is at capacity meaning an additional harbour crossing will be needed sooner rather than later. 
  • By Simeon Brown, MP for Pakuranga

The Government’s recently announced proposal to spend more than $14 billion building light rail between the Auckland CBD and Auckland Airport is a colossal waste of money that won’t serve the needs of the commuters it would be built for.

Since Labour took power in 2017, they’ve gone round and round on light rail after promising to deliver something by 2021, only to have ended up with more metres of press release issued than any actual light rail.

Not only is $14b a lot of money for something that won’t benefit the majority of Aucklanders, but it’s also highly likely to see large cost overruns with some estimates indicating that it could be up to $24b.

The number one priority for Auckland right now should be a second harbour crossing. The existing harbour bridge is ageing and is at capacity meaning an additional harbour crossing will be needed sooner rather than later.

A second harbour crossing would ensure resilience in the transport network at one of New Zealand’s most critical points. We have already seen what happens when the Auckland Harbour Bridge is damaged, and the impact it has when this bridge can’t be used.

It’s clear the Government is less interested in proper long-term planning for Auckland and instead cares more about saving face as a result of a campaign pledge from 2017.

The problem with this is that Aucklanders are the ones who will end up footing the bill, with things like the Regional Fuel Tax and inevitable rates increases to cover budget blowouts continuing to hit us in the pocket.

Aucklanders are reasonable people and want to see their money invested in transport projects which help to grow our city, give us better connections, improved access to public transport as well as building the roads we need to keep people moving around our city such as the East West Link and Mill Road.

If National is elected back to Government next year, we will scrap this light rail project, focus on delivering a second harbour crossing and make real investments into a transport network that benefits all Aucklanders through improved connections and better public transport choices.