Prime Minister John Key's recent claim that building the Kapiti Expressway will create "about one thousand jobs" means the project is a costly taxpayer subsidy of about $500,000 per job, say youth environmental NGO Generation Zero.
Mr Key made the job claim last week at a visit to the site of the proposed expressway, also posting it on his public Facebook page.
Last October, a leaked report by engineering consultants BECA prepared for the New Zealand Transport Agency found the Expressway had a benefit-cost ratio of just 0.2. The report was commissioned as part of the NZTA's legal case for resource consent, but was never submitted as evidence to the Board of Inquiry or released to the public.
Generation Zero spokesperson Louis Chambers says:
"If the benefit-cost ratio is 0.2, that means we are only seeing $127 million of value for the $635 million spent. Mr Key's best justification for wasting the remaining $508 million is that it will create 1,000 jobs, but at $508,000 per job, that's a hefty price for New Zealand to pay.
"If the Government is building the Expressway to create jobs - which to be honest is a better reason than some of the others they have given - then we can think of much more sensible ways to do that."
"Instead of creating temporary jobs to fund uneconomic motorways, the Government could increase its investment in decent public transport infrastructure."
Studies from the U.S. show that public transport creates more jobs per dollar invested than motorways. In one study of American stimulus spending, the authors found that investing in public transport created two times as many jobs as investing in highway infrastructure programs.
"The Government likes to say it doesn't pick winners with its economic policy, but that's exactly what they're doing with their road-building agenda. It's time the Government started investing in durable jobs in low carbon sectors, which will be the real winners for New Zealand in the long-term."
Generation Zero believe it's not too late for John Key to pull the plug on the Expressway and go with the original, more cost-effective solution of building the local Western Link Road and making improvements to the existing SH1. The group want the savings of $450 million to go towards projects like the Auckland City Railway, or light rail or rapid bus transit in Wellington in order for New Zealand to be able to work towards a low carbon future.