Brewer sounds warning over SkyPath

Councillor says usage targets are "pie in the sky stuff." Ratepayers will have to foot the toll shortfall.

Auckland's SkyPath has won resource consent but one councillor is sounding a warning.

Cameron Brewer says the proposed covered pathway under Auckland Harbour Bridge could result in unforeseen costs for ratepayers if usage of the tolled route falls short.

"I'm all for the private sector funding new capital projects but the worry with SkyPath is that ratepayers could be liable for any operational shortfalls if very ambitious patronage targets are not met," Mr Brewers says.

“In the past it has been proposed that perhaps ratepayers could make up the financial shortfall if patronage numbers fall below 75% of forecast. That’s a real worry when the promoters have forecast annual numbers at 781,384 – that’s more than 2000 users a day on average in the first year alone," he says.

"What’s more, promoters believe numbers will then continue to rocket to supposedly over 2.1 million users annually. It’s pie in the sky stuff."

Although resource consent has been gained, Auckland Council also still has to approve the business case for the project.

The council's analysis on the business case will then be presented to the NZ Transport Agency, which would use it to form a decision on whether or not to approve a licence to occupy.

SkyPath opponents, who include the Northcote Residents Association,  have 15 working days to appeal the resource consent granted Friday. 

The association fears its North Shore suburb will be mobbed with people coming out of the Skypath, which would accommodate both pedestrian and cycle traffic. It is feared drunks could be among the disembarkers some evenings – although with a distance of 4km from CBD bars to the closest Northcote homes, it would only be determined boozers who make the trek.

The application received 11,586 submissions with 11,413 in support, five neutral and 168 in opposition.

The Residents Association says it is considering an appeal to the Environment Court to overturn the consent.

If it goes ahead as planned, the covered pathway will be a minimum of 4m wide, extending to 6m at five viewing platforms and is expected users will have to pay a toll of between $2 and $4 each way.

The budget for building the public-private project is put at $33.5 million.

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