Getting regional facilities and services right

Wellington City Council has recently approved the construction of a 1,200-seat convention centre in Wellington, which the Council will lease on a long-term basis from the developer at a cost of $4m per year. The aspect of this deal that has unsettled residents and ratepayers is the projection that revenue from the convention centre is only expected to average $2m per year, leaving a $2m shortfall.  The fact that the Council is embarking on this project knowing, ahead of time, that it will be a loss-making venture, provides an obvious reason as to why we haven’t seen private sector investment in this space in the past, and has led some people to question the business acumen of the Council.

If you build it they will come

One of the marks of a good night out is that the conversation ends up discussing life changing moments. I’ll spare you the details of my epiphanies, but suffice to say a major one happened while cycle-touring across the Spanish meseta – the arid highland plateau of the Spanish interior. Cycle-touring is a healthy, eco-friendly and (for me) life-changing form of tourism, but that doesn’t mean I am not skeptical about a National Cycleway.

Off track with rail

The cost of propping up rail over the past fifty years can probably be totted up but it would be a disheartening job. Whatever the result the message is likely to be that rail, in its present form, is not a viable business in New Zealand. There may well be a case for subsidising urban passenger rail services and it’s not the focus of this article. But it’s well past time to take a hard-nosed look at the rail freight business in this country.