$14 billion for a tram is economic lunacy

The quiet announcement by Minister Michael Wood today that the much awaited trundling tram to the airport will cost $14 billion shows it is nothing but economic lunacy, Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins and National’s Transport spokesperson David Bennett say.

“Jacinda Ardern’s first announcement as Labour Leader was that she would build a tram to Mt Roskill within four years. Four years later all she has delivered is a $14 billion price tag,” Ms Collins says.

“$14 billion is an astronomical amount for a tram that will be slower than the Sky Bus was. It is hardly a compelling case for improvement to Auckland’s transport system especially when years of interruption to businesses and roads are factored in.

“This would be by far our biggest ever infrastructure investment and for what? A leisurely trundle up Dominion Road.”

“To put this figure in perspective, it is $600 per millimetre of track or over $600 million per kilometre,” Mr Bennett says.

“It is more expensive than the price of a new Auckland Harbour crossing or the Roads of National Significance and it is double the entire NZ Upgrade Package.

“It is enough taxpayer money to build 28 Christchurch hospitals or over a thousand schools.

“Most astoundingly it is more money even than Finance Minister Grant Robertson has wasted from the Covid fund on non-Covid projects.

“According to the Minister’s numbers, the project might support about 10 percent of Auckland’s growth between now and 2051. Such a huge spend needs to be to the benefit of Auckland and not a political decision of the Prime Minister and her Labour colleagues.

“The Auckland Trundler Tram is clearly a vanity project for Jacinda Ardern who wants to save face from her utter failure to deliver on her election 2017 promises.

“The $14 billion is only an estimate at this stage and no doubt will go higher effectively sucking up a decade of transport investment on a project that will do little to help our country.

“Now is the time to be strategic. There is so much more that could be achieved with such an astronomical sum. New Zealand needs infrastructure, but the slow tram is not it.”