Alf observes that the Automobile Association is somewhat bothered about public-transport proposals in our deeply indebted Super City.
It is wailing that only the rich will be able to afford to drive in Auckland as the council targets motorists to pay for its public transport plans.
Alf’s own observation is that before long only the rich will be able to afford to live there, anyway, because the Super City is in debt to the tune of $4 billion – the equivalent of about $8000 for each of the region’s half a million ratepayers.
The debt had been steadily growing under the previous eight councils and includes $1.2 billion managed by Watercare Services to build and maintain the city’s water assets.
What’s more, the Auckland Council is looking to increase its debt from $2.8 billion (which excludes the Watercare figure) to $3.6 billion over the next three years to fund its existing programme of capital works. There is no money in the financially strapped budget for new projects, such as Mayor Len Brown’s $2 billion inner city rail loop and a cruise ship terminal.
It looks remarkably like a good place not to live in.
This impression is heightened by the aforementioned public transport plans as reported at Stuff.
The money-grubbing buggers are preparing to slap a price on anything that moves.
The Auckland Council’s spatial plan proposes funding public transport improvements with congestion charges, network access charges, a regional fuel tax and levies on private parking spaces.
AA Auckland transport spokesman Simon Lambourne said the plan also acknowledged that advancing rail and other initiatives would leave critical gaps in the region’s motorway and local roading network.
The AA supports improving Auckland’s public transport system but this Lambourne feller is calling for a reality check on what is both practical and achievable.
“The council’s spatial plan is putting Auckland’s economy and communities at risk, and it means only the rich will be able to afford to drive in the future.”
Labourne is brandishing numbers that show about 80 percent of travel in Auckland is by car, and even with public transport improvements about 68 percent will still be by car in 30 years time.
Presumably those numbers will be thrown out of whack if prohibitive costs bar everybody but the wealthy from driving their own cars.
Lambourne further notes that Auckland motorists have already paid for their roads through petrol taxes and road user charges, and have subsidised the cost of train trips by about 60 per cent and bus trips by about 50 per cent.
“Now the council wants Auckland motorists to pay the billions of dollars it will cost for train, bus and ferry improvements,” Lambourne said.
“Auckland motorists do not have an endless supply of money. They are hurting from near record high fuel costs and they already contribute more than their fair share to the cost of Auckland transport.”
He favours funding the council’s transport ambitions through debt and investment bonds, to spread the repayment costs across several generations.
But Alf sees great merit in whacking today’s generation of motorists with hefty charges.
If the buggers can’t afford it and must abandon their motoring, well and good.
The roads have become congested because everyone is able to buy a vehicle of some sort and go driving.
Back in the good old days motoring was the preserve of the rich, because the bloody hoi polloi could not raise the readies to buy a car.
Among other benefits, Alf imagines the ranks of the boy racers will be reduced and we will only have a few rich-kid boy racers.
The AA’s concern, Alf imagines, is that this will result in a heavily reduced membership.
Lambourne is probably just as hot and bothered about who will pay his wages as he is about who can afford to go motoring.
Alf – on the other hand – imagines that whenever he flies to the Super City he will be able to grab a cab and – joy, oh joy – drive into the city in less time than it took to fly the bloody plane from Wellington to Auckland.