When we first developed SkyPath, the Government of the day said there was no way they would ever make such a significant investment in one project. SkyPath would have taken the entire (paltry!) $30 million annual budget the Government allocated for walking and cycling across the entire country.
So we developed the idea of a user pays “PPP” facility to fund SkyPath. However since then, things have changed..
- The Government has realised that significant investment in walking and cycling delivers massive and broad benefits: a healthier society, less traffic congestion, more livable communities and an enhanced environment (plus voters like it)
- The proposed PPP to deliver SkyPath fell over in February when consortium partner Downer Construction advised SkyPath was too small and unique to work as a PPP.
The Trust is now committed to a toll-free SkyPath for the following reasons:
- 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 user pays PPP facility. 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.