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Govt must fill gaps in Auckland transport system

Mayor Curtis calls on government to help fill gaps in Auckland transport system

Manukau mayor Sir Barry Curtis is appealing to the government to provide new ways of funding transport improvements which the Auckland region desperately needs.

He’s urging changes to the draft legislation now before the Transport Select Committee which is going to be vitally important for transport planning in future. The committee is considering the Land Transport Management Bill.

Sir Barry said, “At the moment our hands are tied. The bill is a good start but falls short of what we need and changes are required to give us more tools.

“We’re between a rock and a hard place. We have plans drawn up to complete the roading network, build new motorways and improve public transport over the next ten years. That will give the Auckland region the 21st century transport system it deserves.

“But currently there isn’t the money to do all of it. It can be found, but not without government help.

“We want to get the planners planning and the bulldozers revving as soon as possible, but first we must find more money. At the moment we are $2.6 billlion short of the $5 billion required to do everything needed to provide a modern transportation system, including public transport.

He said, “The bill as it is will allow toll roads and private sector involvement in road building. That’s positive but those changes will not solve Auckland’s problems alone.

“We also need a higher regional petrol tax, congestion charging, the ability to borrow, and funding agreements between local authorities, Transfund and Infrastructure Auckland.”

“A regional petrol tax is easy and quick to bring in. It could be introduced tomorrow, but other changes such as congestion charges take time. Tolling is an effective way of raising finance which targets those who benefit from a road. An agency needs to be given the powers to raise loans, and that should be Infrastructure Auckland.

“I believe that the large government surpluses, running to millions of dollars a year, are one obvious option we could use for funding essential transport projects in our region. Auckland has been underfunded in transport for years, and it’s time for a catch-up. The public have had enough of talking – they want action.

“And if the government is not prepared to increase and allocate more national funding to Auckland then we need to move with urgency to identify regional sources of funding. I believe Aucklanders would be prepared to pay more to complete the region's transport system.”

Sir Barry says Aucklanders have had a gutsful of sitting in traffic going nowhere or crawling at a snails pace and want the essential improvements made as fast as possible. “But we need more funding options. That is where the government must step in. The legislative changes we need to allow us wider funding options should be introduced through this bill.

“The state of the roads is undermining Auckland’s economy and dragging down our quality of life. Companies are leaving because of the costs and delay from our overcrowded, gridlocked roads.

“They are going to where they don’t face the same handicap and can move their goods about freely.

“Every day it gets worse. The poor state of our transport network is the most serious issue to ever confront the Auckland region. We can overcome it but not without the changes we are seeking from the government.”

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