Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Transport body demands thousands for rail study figures

Hide said he was "disgusted" to be told he must pay $3,850. Photo / NZPA
Hide said he was "disgusted" to be told he must pay $3,850. Photo / NZPA

Auckland Transport has been accused of using a "crude delaying tactic" to avoid releasing the cost of an inner-city rail link.

The agency wants thousands of dollars to disclose the numbers in its City Centre Future Access Study released in December. It assessed rail infrastructure as the most cost-effective solution to Auckland's transport woes.

Wellington analyst and transport advocate Tony Randle took apart a previous study on the Auckland CBD rail link after its release in 2010.

Randle complained to the Ombudsman after Auckland Transport asked for almost $4,000 for access to the analysis used to write the business case. It then agreed to hand over the spreadsheets, in which Randle found previously undisclosed information that put the benefits of a rail link in doubt.

The running cost of a second purchase of 26 trains was omitted and the cost of a second bus tunnel was included without explanation.

Herald on Sunday columnist Rodney Hide, the former local government minister who passed the Auckland SuperCity law, applied the same scrutiny to the December study. In February, he asked Auckland Transport to release spreadsheets and model output reports under the Official Information Act.

Hide said he was "disgusted" to be told he must pay $3,850 and even then it would be in a format that would not allow him to check its accuracy.

"That analysis should be instantly available. I was sceptical of the report, now I'm doubly so. They should be upfront and allow scrutiny."

Randle said he wanted the public to have the all the information on bus and rail options. Charging was a crude delaying tactic.

Auckland Transport communications general manager Wally Thomas said the organisation had not refused to provide Hide information. He said officials had "bent over backwards" for both Hide and Randle.

Read Rodney Hide's column this week: Trains over buses? It doesn't add up

- Herald on Sunday

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