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Shortfall for region’s transport needs

5 July 2004

Half a billion dollar shortfall for region’s transport needs

For immediate release: Monday 5 July 2004 An extra $500 million will need to be found over the next decade to implement transport projects that are “absolutely critical” to the Bay of Plenty’s future.

Environment Bay of Plenty’s Draft Regional Land Transport Strategy, which is open for submissions from today (Monday), prioritises the region’s transport projects and estimates how much they will cost over the next 10 years. It will be a key guiding document for regional, city and district councils, Transfund, Transit NZ and other groups involved in its development.

Land transport committee chairman Athole Herbert says the strategy highlights “a substantial gap” between what the region needs and the funds available to pay for it. Just over $1 billion is likely to be available over the next 10 years. The work outlined in the strategy totals $1.5 billion, a $500 million shortfall.

“But it is all extremely important and necessary work,” he explains. “Otherwise the region’s roads will just get more and more clogged up, which will have a huge impact in social, environmental and economic ways.”

Mr Herbert says the Government will “almost certainly” be approached for extra funding. “There is a large gulf between the identified funding needs in the region and the provisional allocation that Transfund has made to the region over the next 10 years. Transfund has agreed to a top-up for Auckland and Wellington because of their funding issues. We think we have a strong argument for a similar kind of package for our region because of the strong growth in the western Bay of Plenty in particular.”

However, any extra allocation from Transfund will still not be enough, he says. “We will need local money, and we will need to be innovative about how we get it.” Options include local capital input, borrowing and tolls.

Tauranga City Council councillor Stuart Crosby says the importance of the Draft Regional Land Transport Strategy “can not be underestimated” in terms of the future funding of essential roading and other transport needs. “All our transport requirements, and the funding of them, are signalled through it to Transfund’s National Land Transport Programme.”

The strategy encompasses all forms of land transport, including roading, rail, public transport, cycling and walking. It focuses not just on roads but on transport ‘corridors’ where the need for roads is weighed alongside alternatives such as rail and public transport. It also contains a travel demand management strategy. It will replace Environment Bay of Plenty’s current Regional Land Transport Strategy.

The draft strategy is open for submissions until August 10. After hearings, it will be formally adopted by Environment Bay of Plenty on September 23.

ENDS

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