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Mayor upbeat over transport funding package

Mayor upbeat over transport funding package

“A very good beginning to the end of gridlock traffic in Auckland. I give the Government 7.5 out of 10,” Auckland City Mayor Hon John Banks said today following the Government’s announcement of its transport funding, strategy and governance package for the region.

“The biggest issue left outstanding is the question of governance,” he said.

“While the Auckland City Council unanimously supports a stand-alone transport entity outside the Auckland Regional Council, the challenge now is to build a robust firewall between the ARC and the proposed Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) and the region’s huge infrastructural assets.”

ARTA was announced today as a single business-like organisation, accountable to the ARC. It is proposed Auckland City, along with the region’s other local authorities, will appoint the members of ARTA’s board. Mr Banks said that much more work is needed on the governance structure to ensure a regional buy-in.

The funding package amounts to an extra $1.62 billion over 10 years for Auckland.

From April 2005 an extra 5c per litre in fuel tax will be nationally collected and regionally distributed on a population basis. Auckland will get 35 per cent of the $207 million raised each year. All new excise revenue will go directly into transport infrastructure and will not be siphoned off to the Crown consolidated fund.

Auckland is also set to get a specific funding allocation of on average of $90 million per year for the next 10 years.

“The existing and new money brings us to about $5 billion. We still need another $5 billion to complete the motorway network with integrated public transport over the next decade.

“So there remains a substantial shortfall but the good news is we now have the ability to borrow and toll, which could substantially bridge the gap. I am also pleased further work is going to be done investigating infrastructure bonds.

“On governance the devil will be in the detail, but having said that I am feeling pretty upbeat today about the Government’s financial contribution and the tools it has given Auckland to raise the cash needed,” said Mr Banks.

Auckland local authorities will formally respond to the government package on 30 January 2004.

Today’s announcement comes in response to the work of the Auckland Transport Strategy and Funding Project, and the final report of the Joint Officers’ Group.

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