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Transit highlights wider funding problems

Transit highlights wider transport funding problems

22 February 2006

Transit New Zealand's draft forecast for roading highlights wider issues with transport funding, says the Auckland Regional Council.

ARC Transport Policy Committee Chairman Joel Cayford says Transit has given Auckland roading projects the national priority the ARC thinks they deserve, but he accepts some delay is inevitable.

"The ARC is facing a similar significant funding gap for public transport. We have a growing gap between what the region needs and what we can pay for."

Decades of underinvestment in the Auckland region's transport system means we have to move fast to catch up, Cr Cayford says.

"But we need to find ways to avoid delays to the improvement of Auckland's transport system. Both in roading projects and public transport upgrades.

"Fast approaching deadlines for sorting out Auckland's transport before the 2011 Rugby World Cup make this a matter of urgency. The last thing we want to see is chaotic traffic congestion and public transport that can't cope when the city has thousands of visitors.

"The ARC is sympathetic towards other regions around New Zealand facing an even longer wait for the roading upgrades they need. Cost increases have forced Transit to make difficult decisions.

"Some of the extra costs are due to Transit trying to balance economic, social and environmental considerations. It's a consequence of doing the right thing."

Operating costs for public transport have also increased significantly, the ARC Group's cost of doing "business as usual" increased $12 million last year.

"The cost of expanding rail, bus and ferry infrastructure across the region is beyond the ability of ratepayers to fund," Cr Cayford says.

"It's time to think creatively about how to pay for the transport system Auckland is crying out for.

"The ARC is keenly awaiting the Government's work on road pricing. It may show Transit's tolling proposal for SH20 is not the best option for bridging the funding gap for roading, let alone public transport projects," Cr Cayford says.

ENDS

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