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Time for Transit to be moved aside?

Auckland Business Forum
10 May 2004

Media Release

Time for Transit to be moved aside?

If Government is in tune with the urgency of Auckland's transport crises, it will be on the phone to Transit New Zealand today telling them it is unacceptable to ease off the gas on the Eastern Transport Corridor.

Michael Barnett and Alasdair Thompson, co-chairmen of the Auckland Business Forum, were responding to a Herald report that Transit is not guaranteeing future support for the eastern highway.

Transit's comments follow a report last week by the new Minister of Transport that the eastern corridor is not part of the Government's $1.6 billion transport package for Auckland announced late last year and due to kick in from July next year.

"If government was 100% committed to solving Auckland's gridlock they would encourage Transfund and Transit to make an immediate start on six key network projects that Transit have informed the new minister are 'ready to start,'" the ABF joint spokesmen said.

"It borders on the reprehensible that Government is reporting a $7 billion surplus yet showing no urgency to get the $1.6 billion transport package brought forward to enable Transit to start projects it has ready.

"It is as if the Government is giving up on Auckland.

"Transit should not be allowed to forego the $1.5 billion o0f economic benefits identified in a BERL report on the outcomes of connecting the eastern corridor to major urban projects planned in the region.

"The Auckland Regional Council notes the region is gaining 50 new residents every day bringing in 35 more motor vehicles; 21 new houses are completed each day.

"The $1.5 billion of economic benefits identified by BERL from the Eastern Corridor include:

* 6000 new homes proposed for the Mt Wellington quarry area;

* 6000 more students at Auckland University's East Tamaki college over the next few years;

* Construction of the southern hemisphere's largest retail centre at Sylvia Park;

* Major knowledge-based business development at Innovation Park; and,

* Projected growth in existing manufacturing businesses, which account for a majority of the 300,000 container freight movement a year between the Ports of Auckland and eastern suburbs and Manukau businesses.

"This economic growth is threatened by the poor transport links to the eastern suburbs. Messrs Barnett and Thompson cited an Environment Court ruling in respect of the Mt Wellington residential development project giving approval conditional on the eastern corridor decision.

"Let's get real. If the Government and Transit as its provider do not want the job of moving Auckland forward, then they should think very hard about the consequences in coming months," they concluded.

ENDS

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