With the new Government in place we’ve seen a number of very positive developments:
1) We recently met with Hon Julie Anne Genter, Associate Minister of Transport and reiterated our goal of a toll-free SkyPath. Per this media release, we now await some very good news for Aucklanders!
2) The Minister of Transport, Hon Phil Twyford is working with MoT to revise its priorities. This will see greater walking and cycling along with improved public transport for better health, safety and environmental outcomes.
3) The new Government is focused on achieving a multi-modal, efficient transport system, where all modes realise their potential and play their part in the overall system. We fully support this approach.
“To create a step-change in walking and cycling accessibility for Auckland, Labour will commit up to $30m for Skypath – a walking and cycling shared path on the city side of the Auckland Harbour Bridge.”
Allowing Aucklanders to use their HOP cards to go free whilst charging tourists to use SkyPath can fund the shortfall in SkyPath’s construction cost – which we estimate to be circa $15m (being the total construction cost estimate of $45m less the Government’s contribution of $30m).
NZTA is funding SeaPath (the connection to Takapauna) and the localised strengthening works required by SkyPath to the harbour bridge which are estimated at $10 – 12m . Council are funding works at either end to accommodate the landings and additional connections.
We asked each of the main political parties whether they supported a toll-free SkyPath…
Labour, NZ First and the Green Party say they support a toll-free SkyPath (ie: publicly funded per usual State Highway investment by Government).
National says it prefers tolling SkyPath (to fund the PPP delivery model estimated to cost $248 million over 25 years) but if that isn’t viable they could consider funding SkyPath as part of a future Urban Cycleways Programme.
We explained to National why the PPP is no longer viable, however we haven’t heard back from yet. We’d really like them to get on board with the only logical solution… a toll-free SkyPath.
SkyPath Trust welcomes today’s announcement by Labour that it will provide direct investment to deliver a toll-free SkyPath.
Project Director Bevan Woodward says “SkyPath has been in hiatus since resource consent was granted late last year. The proposed PPP to deliver SkyPath fell over when consortium partner Downer Construction advised SkyPath was too small and unique to work as a PPP.
“Labour’s commitment of Government investment means we can get on with delivery of SkyPath without the proposed PPP’s 25 years of tolling SkyPath users and revenue underwrite imposed on Auckland ratepayers.”
The Trust’s reasons for supporting a Government funded SkyPath are:
It doesn’t work as a PPP. Downer Construction advised that SkyPath is too small and unique to work as a PPP when they withdrew from the SkyPath PPP consortium in February. The estimated cost of SkyPath as a PPP is $248 million over 25 years. SkyPath’s construction by traditional procurement is circa $40 million (excluding localised strengthening costs for the Auckland Harbour Bridge).
It will provide greater traffic congestion relief. SkyPath’s effect on the Auckland Harbour Bridge is to add an extra lane of peak hour traffic capacity. Tolling SkyPath will reduce the number of users and therefore its effectiveness.
It will provide a greater reduction in greenhouse gases. With the Government’s commitment to the Paris Accord on Climate Change, it would be contrary to toll Aucklanders choosing to walk and cycle.
State Highway projects are fully funded by Government. NZTA’s ‘SeaPath’, the shared path from SkyPath to Takapuna, is to be fully funded by Government, SkyPath deserves the same funding approach.
SkyPath is too important to be a PPP test case. SkyPath is the most critical gap in Auckland region’s walking and cycling network, however Auckland Council’s Investment Office has been given responsibility for SkyPath and they only want to do SkyPath as a PPP. This is because they need a project to experiment as a PPP which they hope could be the solution to Council’s future funding deficient.
For these reasons, SkyPath is not appropriate nor feasible as a PPP. Responsibility for SkyPath should be taken from Council’s Investment Office and assigned to NZTA, who manage the Auckland Harbour Bridge and are specialists in the funding and delivery of transport projects.