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Historic Passenger Transport Network Programme

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE:

Auckland Regional Council and Auckland Regional Transport Authority
19 April 2006

Historic Passenger Transport Network Programme Takes Auckland Region to 2046
The Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) today launched a ground breaking programme for the Auckland region, which will give the region a linked Passenger Transport Network aimed at doubling the number of public transport journeys from the current 50.7 million boardings to over one hundred million in 2016.

Chief Executive of the Auckland Regional Transport Authority, Alan Thompson said, “ The draft Passenger Transport Network Plan has been developed by ARTA to provide, for the first time in the Auckland region’s history a clear, step by step plan for a passenger transport network for Auckland along with a comprehensive programme of work to achieve that plan.

“The programme aims to free Auckland from its stranglehold of car congestion and make it ‘normal’ behavior for Aucklanders to use passenger transport rather than jumping in their cars to travel to work, much like other comparable international cities”.

Mr Thompson said, “In order to normalize the use of passenger transport we have to help travelers. They have a number of basic requirements. They want a Passenger Transport system which is reliable- the services run on time, frequent- lots of services mean short wait times for commuters, direct- fast, direct journeys rather than meandering routes; integrated- co-ordinated services, easy transfers and one ticket for a journey and easy to use- a simple fare system and route structure and good and accessible information.

“If we can give commuters this system, the there is every reason they will step out of their cars. Classic examples where we have delivered this to customers is the Northern Express Bus Service on the Northern Busway. The service is fast, frequent and reliable; you don’t even need a timetable.

“The service has been so popular, after just three months, we had to move the frequency during peak times from fifteen minutes to every ten minutes to keep up with demand. In March this year there were 51,000 journeys made on the Northern Express. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many of the users are new to the public transport system. We are currently conducting research to investigate the origin of the customers.

Mr Thompson said, another success story was revising the train timetable in October last year and increasing the number of services. “In March this year we exceeded half a million train passenger journeys which is the highest level for the Auckland region since records began in 1992. Month on month rail patronage is growing at 30 per cent.

“These achievements in the sixteen months in which ARTA has been in existence serve to prove that give Auckland commuters the passenger transport services they want and they will come in droves.

“ARTA’s next step is to create a linked passenger transport network for the region that takes us through to at least 2046 when the population of Auckland is projected to reach over 2 million people.
“We want to create a legacy for our generation, our children and our children’s children and for our region,” Mr Thompson said.

Chairman of the Auckland Regional Council (ARC), Michael Lee said, “ ARTA’s programme of work reflects the ‘High’ level of Passenger Transport Services outlined in the 2005 Regional Land Transport Strategy.

“There is a funding challenge. The ARC has already indicated in its draft 2006/7-2015/16 Long term Council Community Plan (LTCCP) that it has a shortfall in terms of funding ARTA’s Passenger Transport Network Plan.

“As Land Transport NZ’s funding is dependent on a matching contribution from local/regional funds, the ARC’s funding shortfall will have a substantial impact on ARTA’s proposed programme of work.

“The funding currently available means that Auckland’s rail network and trains will not be able to be upgraded as quickly as we would like. Expansion of bus and ferry services will also be more gradual.

“Success is a fortunate problem to have and it is very heartening to have the people of Auckland behind public transport. But given the patronage success we are seeing, funding decisions have to be worked through now so we can maintain momentum in our city.

Mr Lee said he strongly requested government transport funding agencies to lift the quantum of available funding to the levels proposed in ARTA’s Plan, “so Auckland can actually have a world class foundation level passenger transport infrastructure and services.

Mr Lee said the ARC would be working closely with Central Government on finding solutions to the funding shortfall facing transport service development in Auckland.

“This is a crunch time for Auckland and we need a commitment from Central Government to work with us to help us achieve our goals, “ said Mr Lee.

ENDS

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