We’ve had some push back from Auckland Council’s ‘Investment Office’ staff who are very keen on trying out a PPP, so we sent this open letter to all Councillors…
We are most grateful of your support for SkyPath to date. Without your support SkyPath would not be a consented, feasible and iconic solution to solve the most critical gap in Auckland’s walking and cycling network.
However we are concerned that Council’s ‘Investment Office’ is being dismissive of the Minister of Transport’s offer to fully fund SkyPath if the PPP’s various issues cannot be resolved.
As you will be aware, earlier this year Downer Construction withdrew from the PPP because SkyPath is too small and unique to work as a PPP. We subsequently became concerned at the PPP’s estimated $248 million cost over 25 years to be underwritten by ratepayers and paid for by SkyPath users through increasingly more expensive tolls (well above the $2 each way originally proposed). In a recent update to their Board, NZTA recognised that tolls for SkyPath users are an unresolved equity issue.
Here are some key points to be aware of:
- When the SkyPath Trust met with Transport Minister Simon Bridges, the Minister said that if the PPP issues cannot be resolved then he could fund SkyPath in the next round of Urban Cycleways Programme funding. The Investment Office has seized on the word “could” and used it to be dismissive of the Minister’s offer. The Investment Office was not at the meeting and hence are unaware of how genuine the Minister’s offer to fund SkyPath really is.
- It is incorrect of the Investment Office to claim that match funding would be required. Projects on NZTA’s State Highway network are fully funded by Government.
- The Investment Office claims “the project is progressing well has never been in better shape to proceed as a PPP.” The reality is progress on SkyPath’s development has stagnated since late last year when resource consent was granted. With SkyPath Trust’s withdrawal, the PPP does not have the right to use the Trust’s intellectual property for the design, engineering and development of SkyPath. The proposed PPP has no project.
Given the problems with the proposed PPP and the Minister’s response of offering to fund SkyPath, we are committed to a toll-free SkyPath for Auckland. We ask for your ongoing support and welcome the opportunity to work with Council and Government to ensure the timely and efficient delivery of a toll-free SkyPath.
The feedback we have is that the majority of Councillors support the offer of Government funding to enable a toll-free SkyPath for Aucklanders. With the demise of the proposed PPP and the offer of funding from Transport Minister Simon Bridges, we are fully committed to ensuring a toll-free SkyPath!