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Transport Bill welcomed, but more help needed

Transport Bill welcomed, but more help needed

The transport legislation changes proposed in the Land Transport Management Bill just reported back to Parliament are just the first step in building better transport for the Auckland region and more help is needed on the funding front, says North Shore City Mayor George Wood.

The North Shore City Council is developing a Transport Strategy to guide road infrastructure decisions, and is seeking the views of its residents to help it decide a strategic direction for the next 10 years. North Shore City has the highest number of cars per household in the country and year on year traffic growth of four per cent.

Mayor Wood says the Bill doesn't address some key issues like regional funding and implementation hold-ups due to too many bodies being involved in the planning and delivery of transport in Auckland.

"Our council was the first to raise the issue of the need for a dedicated transport body for the region with the power and funding to get things done quickly and efficiently. We've been lobbying for that since the year 2000. It's good to see other councils in the region now heeding our call and joining the chorus. We need to see something happen on that front now with urgency."

Mayor George Wood says the new Bill is positive because it enacts the principles of the New Zealand Transport Strategy. "It gives councils a clear steer for the direction of planning transport around the country," he says.

"We'll be looking at the Bill closely over the next few weeks to clarify the implications for our city. But we don't have any major concerns with what is in it and we expect more legislation will be needed. We have a greater interest in looking at the longer term funding requirements of our region's transport - both for building and upgrading infrastructure and for funding new and improved public transport services."

George Wood says North Shore City supports the need to take a multi-modal (public transport, roading, walking and cycling) and integrated approach to transport, which is now enshrined in the Bill.

"But we want to see more money from Government to help Auckland 'catch-up' on its transport projects and support local investments being made in projects like our North Shore Busway. Auckland, as a region, hasn't had its fair share of funding in the past and we need a boost from Government that recognises that," he says.

Mayor Wood says it is vitally important that the Auckland region puts an emphasis on improving its public transport system. "If, in the future, we want to start looking at introducing things like toll roads or congestion pricing system to manage our traffic congestion and fund investments and services, we have to first have in place an affordable and efficient alternative to people using their cars for every journey," he says.

"We support the need to think long-term in our planning of our transport networks. But we have a long way to go in terms of providing new sustainable mechanisms for funding of roads and other transport infrastructure so that we can plan for 10 to 20 years ahead, rather than just one or two years on," he says.

"We have an important project well under way in the region looking at funding and planning for all Auckland's transport needs. By December we hope to have a package agreed with Government that will make a difference to moving things forward at a faster pace in Auckland and give us some certainty about funding and planning all the work that needs to be done here," says Mayor Wood.

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