Mayors Transport Talks Take Their Toll

Len Brown’s transport talking tour of Auckland is confirming the huge gulf that exists between his transport plans for Auckland and the priorities of its residents.

I’ve been to four of these Transport Talks now in Massey, Balmoral, St Heliers and Parnell and hearing the discussion between the Mayor and those attending must be what it is like occupying a parallel universe.

The Mayor speaks about the huge progress he thinks is being made around Auckland. However locals respond with why their local concerns are not being addressed.

In Massey they were worried about whether the huge housing growth planned for the North West is going to be met with appropriate transport connections and what the future plan for the rail corridor. In Mt Eden they were frustrated that years of arguments over upgrading Dominion Road resulted in the agreed plan being side-lined because of the prospect of trams. In St Heliers, they wondered why the Mayor had even bothered to sign the Tamaki Drive Masterplan in 2012 when he had failed to support the key separated cycling/shared path proposal. In Parnell, they were irate that the replacement plans for the Sarawia Street level crossing appeared gold plated and Auckland Transport was accused of misleading residents.

Many of these local issues seem to come as a surprise to the Mayor but they reflect the inadequate priority setting at the heart of his transport budget. Regional priorities are not adequately scrutinised and local projects are sidelined.

Only $10M of Auckland Transport’s $620 million capital budget this year is provided for local board transport projects. This needs to change.

A further failing of the Transport Talks was the lack of planning with local boards. This weeks meeting in Parnell clashed with the monthly meeting of the Waitemata Local Board, a date that had been set at the start of the year. This meant none of the board members could attend.

The lack of planning meant only 10 members of the public attended the event, nearly matched by the mayoral and transport staff who were there.

The Mayors had five years to agree with Aucklanders what his plan is to fix transport. He missed a big opportunity with the 10-year budget to get information out early, get Aucklanders engaged and get a clear steer on the regional and local projects. The Transport Talks seem to be a belated attempt to make up for this.”

The Mayor finished last night’s meeting saying he was a big fan of roundabouts. The irony wasn’t lost on those attending.

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