Two years on from the prime minister’s pledge to have light rail from Auckland’s CBD to Mt Roskill within four years, the project is on the fast track to nowhere.
All the signs point to this being yet another broken election promise from Labour.
Jacinda Ardern said her slow tram down Dominion Road would be a ‘game-changer’ but it has turned out to be slower than a game of Risk with the basic first step of a business case still not done at what was supposed to be the project’s halfway point.
When she was asked last week what transport projects her government had started, this was the only one she could name – but it hasn’t started.
The government’s ineptitude has been on full display throughout with ministers unable to agree on whether the extended line to M?ngere will cost $4 billion or $7 billion.
The business case was supposed to be ready by November 2018. The delay suggests Phil Twyford is struggling to stack up an economic case for spending that much taxpayer cash.
There’s also the looming problem of APEC and the 2021 America’s Cup. The disruption that construction would cause may mean the project can’t begin until 2022, if at all.
The government’s dilly-dallying on this couldn’t have come at a worse time. It has pulled the handbrake on our economy by cancelling dozens of infrastructure projects that were ready to go under National, and it hasn’t been able to get anything off the ground itself.
This is why New Zealand is at an ‘infrastructure crisis point’ according to the Business Council. The government has shut down this country’s infrastructure pipeline just so it can press ahead with an ideological dream it cooked up during the election campaign.
Phil Twyford has now placed the construction sector in a precarious position. If the business case for light rail doesn’t stack up – and that is a real possibility – what will he do? Push on regardless and waste billions of taxpayer dollars, or scrap it and leave the country in a huge infrastructure hole?
This term of government has been littered with Labour’s broken promises: KiwiBuild, a cancer agency, free doctor’s visits, police numbers, a capital gains tax – the list goes on.
Light rail to Mt Roskill within four years is on track to wind up on that list.