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North Shore supports emphasis on public transport

March 24, 2005

North Shore supports regional emphasis on public transport

North Shore City's Mayor George Wood says his council is strongly in support of the Auckland Regional Land Transport Committee's decision this week to adopt the "high passenger transport" option for the region's draft new Regional Land Transport Strategy.

"Our council supported this package because it means more funding will be allocated to bus and ferry services, and it includes the Harbour Bridge to City (Victoria Park Viaduct) roading upgrade project," says Mayor Wood.

"We believe this is a balanced approach. This option includes $3,700 million to roading and $2,700 million to road maintenance. But it also puts a big emphasis on the need to really boost our investment in developing a credible public transport system. We are way behind the eight-ball as a region in terms of having a public transport system that people have confidence in," says Mayor Wood.

"We need to be convincing in our commitment to public transport - and build a reliable alternative to car travel for Aucklanders," he says. "It also makes sense when we are investing millions in public transport infrastructure - $250 million on the Northern Busway and stations - to match that with investment in improved services.

"There is no point in spending all this millions of dollars of public money on creating swept-up bus stations and new ferry terminals along with high-speed bus lanes unless we also put in frequent services that take people where they want to go," says Mayor Wood.

On the topic of the Avondale section of SH20, and its exclusion from the 10-year plan, Mayor Wood says Aucklanders and the business community need to get realistic about what can be achieved within 10 years with the current public funding available.

"I agree with the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development's view. If there isn't enough central and regional funding for both public transport and roading improvements, it's time to look at alternative approaches such as funding some roading projects through tolling, jointly funded by public private partnerships, and in the future, road pricing systems. Plus there is still an enormous amount of planning work to be done for that particular project, " says Mayor Wood.

"The regional 10-year plan supports funding for the Harbour Bridge to City project, SH20 Mt Roskill, the Manukau Harbour Crossing and the SH20 connection to SH1 at Manukau City. The committee has given those strategic roading upgrade projects priority. There is not an unlimited transport funding pot. You have to prioritise projects - and I think Aucklanders realise that public transport has been underfunded for decades and we now have to make a concerted effort to build a credible network not just for roading, but for public transport too."

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