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Transport major focus of ARC long-term plan

Transport major focus of ARC long-term plan
28 March 2006

The Auckland Regional Council is proposing significant increases to spending on public transport over the next ten years, while also signalling major challenges ahead.

The ARC’s Draft Long-Term Council Community Plan (LTCCP), which was adopted last night, proposes a $1.6 billion investment in public transport over the next ten years. The LTCCP proposes an average 4.9 per cent rates increase.

The ARC's transport spending has increased from $36m in 2001 to a proposed $137m for 2006/07. Approximately half of the rates collected by the ARC are spent on public transport each year.

The Draft LTCCP clearly shows which public transport improvements can be funded and those that are necessary but currently unaffordable. There is a funding gap of at least $700 million between the two.

This means significant increases planned for some public transport services will be delayed five years.

The ARC’s funding gap also means electrification of the rail network is not possible.

All Auckland households and businesses are encouraged to give the ARC their feedback on its proposed public transport spending and the Draft LTCCP. This can be done through Region Wide, delivered to all households and businesses, or by visiting www.arc.govt.nz.

ARC Chairman Michael Lee says the region’s public transport system will continue to improve but not at the rate necessary.

“This isn’t the public transport system the region is crying out for. But it is a practical and affordable option allowing immediate progress while keeping our options open until we secure additional funding.”

The ARC’s Draft LTCCP proposes an incremental approach to upgrading the rail network. This would see:

- A further three refurbished SA/SD trains to provide additional capacity by 2009
- 13 additional refurbished SA/SD trains to provide 10 minute services by 2011
- Station upgrades
- Train maintenance and stabling facilities.

The following rail improvements are not funded:
- Electrification of the rail network
- Introduction of rail services to Onehunga
- Major upgrade of Britomart Station
- CBD loop tunnel

To remain within available funding significant improvements to many bus and ferry services would be delayed five years. Instead of occurring in 2007-09, the following improvements would happen in 2011-16:

- Increased bus services on major bus routes
- Increased bus services to growth areas, eg Albany, Flat Bush, Mt Wellington
- Increased bus services between Airport-Manukau-CBD-Botany
- Increased ferry services to Bayswater, Devonport and Gulf Harbour.

The ARC is able to provide approximately $1.6 billion funding for public transport over the next 10 years. Just over $1 billion for operating costs and $560 million towards capital expenditure.

The Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) has sought ARC funding of approximately $2.3 billion over the next 10 years to deliver the transport network set out in the Auckland Regional Land Transport Strategy (RLTS).

An additional $200m would be needed to cover increased operating costs and at least $500m for capital expenditure.

Covering the funding gap through rates would require an average annual increase per ratepayer of 17 per cent for the next 10 years.

Chairman Michael Lee says: “Those sorts of increases are well beyond what the public would accept and are also unfair. This council’s aim is to keep rates increases both modest and predictable year after year.”

Mr Lee says Auckland’s transport network is coming under increasing pressure as population grows.

“Trips by private car are expected to double over the next 20 years. To deal with these additional demands there needs to be a significant investment in the public transport system over the next 10 years.

“The ARC wants to meet community expectations for improving public transport, but we don’t have enough funds to do all that is necessary,” Mr Lee says.

The ARC is looking at a variety of alternative funding sources to achieve the level of investment necessary for public transport.

The Draft LTCCP will be released to the public for formal consultation following Audit NZ approval. Public submissions will be received between 3 April and 4 May.

In summary
- The ARC's transport spending has increased from $36m in 2001 to a proposed $137m for 2006/07. Approximately half of the rates collected by the ARC are spent on public transport each year
- The ARC’s proposal to provide $1.6 billion funding for public transport will allow ARTA to make significant improvements to the existing system through increased levels of bus, rail and ferry service
- It will also allow significant improvements through capital investment in the public transport system by providing more trains, improved stations, ferry terminals and other bus facilities, along with integrated ticketing and real time passenger information systems
- However approximately $2.3 billion over the next 10 years is needed to fully implement the system identified as necessary in the Auckland Regional Land Transport Strategy
- To remain within available funding the ARC is proposing an incremental upgrade of the rail network and a five-year delay to significant improvements to a range of bus, rail and ferry services
- An incremental rail upgrade is not the option that either the ARC or ARTA believes the region needs in the long-term
- It is a practical and affordable option allowing immediate progress while keeping long-term options open until additional funding is secured.


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