Phil Twyford commits to a toll-free SkyPath

Phil Twyford commits to a toll-free SkyPath with funding from the Government’s Transport budget – listen to him from 8:50 in this Newstalk ZB interview:

The SkyPath design team are now ready to start work on the detailed design in preparation for SkyPath’s delivery phase.  We are in discussions with NZTA and are awaiting their go ahead.

We are also working to expedite SeaPath.  Together SkyPath and SeaPath will transform our Harbour Bridge and provide transport choice for the North Shore.

SkyPath + SeaPath – Let’s do this!

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.

http://www.labour.org.nz/investing_in_walking_and_cycling

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.

Which political parties support a toll-free SkyPath?

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.

Labour commits to deliver 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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

We mustn’t dismiss the Minister’s offer to fully fund SkyPath

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…

Dear 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:

  1. 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.
  2.  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.
  3. 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.

 

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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!