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Quick fix will not solve Auckland transport

MEDIA RELEASE

2 November 2000


Quick fix will not solve Auckland transport

Auckland needs more than a transport “quick fix”, says Auckland City Mayor Chris Fletcher.

“We’ve had quick fixes for 30 years – as long as people have been talking about and
planning a better public transport system for Auckland. We have made – and are continuing to make incremental improvements to Auckland’s public transport.

“It’s time, now, for a long-term commitment to a public transport system of international standard, to protect Auckland’s future.”

Mrs Fletcher was commenting on Minister of Transport, Mark Gosche’s, statement that Auckland should concentrate on immediate improvements rather than its proposal to acquire the leases of the region’s rail corridors.

She said there are some immediate improvements to make. “We are moving as fast as we can to introduce bus priority schemes, and the bus companies are moving as fast as they can to keep up with increases in passengers. Additional refurbished rolling stock and passing loops on the Western rail line are also being investigated to increase rail service levels as quickly as possible.

“The reality is, that while our roads are becoming more congested and our existing bus and train services become more heavily patronised, the rail corridors are vastly under-utilised. For the regions’ long-term future it is vital we make much better use of the existing corridors.

Mrs Fletcher says the decisive influence on the success of investment in public transport is not the specific mode that would be used on the corridors but the political commitment to an overall strategy for improving public transport.

“The Auckland Region has that strategy in the Passenger Transport Action Plan agreed by all its councils last year. It has the political commitment to achieving its goals.

“The missing ingredient is access to the existing rail corridors.

The Region’s proposal to buy the leases was equivalent to buying the land for a new road, or new rail corridor, with all the infrastructure and planning consents in place, she said.

New information available shows it would cost at least $230 million and take at least 700 homes and businesses to duplicate 37 km of rail corridor. This was the equivalent of the corridor leases the Auckland Region would acquire under the agreement currently being negotiated between the Region and Tranz Rail Limited. It did not include the lease of the North Island Main Trunk Line between Papakura and central Auckland, proposed to be added to the deal being negotiated with Tranz Rail.

The $230 million cost was based on using land already publicly owned wherever possible. It did not include the cost of compensation to property and business owners nor does it include the cost of rail tracks and signals.

Also, it could take two to three years longer to a new rail corridor established, because it would involve lengthy Resource Management designation and consent processes.

“We don’t have the luxury of that sort of time,” she said.


Mrs Fletcher says the one-off upfront payment of $112 million for the proposed “full assignment” variation had to be considered very carefully.

This compares to $65 million upfront for the existing deal and annual payments for train running times. Under the proposed variation the region would be buying the lease of an extra 52 km of rail track and Tranz Rail Limited would buy back time slots in which to run freight trains.

“While there is a higher upfront cost for “full assignment”, I believe there could be greater long term benefits for Auckland. It could be our only opportunity to ensure that all of Auckland's rail corridors are developed and used for the benefit of Aucklanders.”


Ends


Contact:
Hon Chris Fletcher
Mayor of Auckland City
Tel. 025 276 0013

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