Some North Shore residents have begun muttering about having to contribute towards Auckland's central rail link on the basis that they will get no direct benefit from it. Thus there was a political element when John Key yesterday declared the Government's backing for the city's three top transport priorities - the rail link, the Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative (Ameti), and another harbour crossing in the form of a tunnel under the Waitemata. The latter left North Shore residents devoid of an argument that they would gain nothing from the $10 billion to be spent on the three projects.
In fact, there was no need for the Prime Minister to hold out an olive branch. All Aucklanders contributed to the harbour bridge and, later, the Northern Busway. That, in itself, deprived the North Shore of any right to feel aggrieved. The Government's support for another crossing, no matter how short on substance and specifics, merely reinforced that.
All that Mr Key made clear was that it would be a tunnel which would be needed between 2025 and 2030. A second bridge has, rightly, been ruled out. One bridge decorates the Waitemata; two would deface it. Inevitably, the go-ahead for the inner-city link raises the question of whether rail should be included in the tunnel. That should be resisted. The Northern Busway's success points the way to the best use of the tunnel.
It would make no sense to compromise its timing or funding for a rail option that the North Shore does not need.