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Region Wide Public Transport Funding consultation

Region Wide consultation on Public Transport Funding
30 May 2006

Auckland Regional Council received 3223 responses to its Region Wide newsletter and on-line questionnaire about funding public transport developments over the next 10 years – a 78 per cent increase in responses compared to last year’s consultation.

The questionnaire was designed to gauge support for public transport improvements. It also asked how these improvements should be paid for and the level of ARC rates Aucklanders would be prepared to pay.

The results are indicative of regional ratepayers aged 35 and over.

ARC Chairman Michael Lee said he was very pleased with the high number of responses.

“Over half of all respondents want to see some improvements to public transport,” he said, “showing how important the issue is to ratepayers.”

Asked what annual rate increase they would pay to improve public transport, 57 per cent said they would pay more than they currently
do.
o 32 per cent of respondents said they would pay up to a five per cent rates increase each year
o 13 per cent said they would pay up to 10 per cent extra each year
o 12 per cent said they would pay up to 17 per cent extra each year

Eight per cent gave no answer, with 35 per cent saying they do not want to pay any more.

A funding gap of about $700 million exists between the full plans for the region’s public transport infrastructure over the next 10 years, and the funds available to the ARC. Rising operational and capital costs, such as fuel, materials and labour, mean the required investment cost is rising. It would take a full 17 per cent rates increase each year for the next 10 years to bridge the gap.

“Only 12 per cent of respondents supported the 17 per cent annual ARC rate increase necessary to plug the public transport funding gap,” said Michael Lee.

“Thirty-one per cent feel that central government should help fund the improvements. Of those, many thought that funding should come from petrol tax, with only very small numbers supporting road tolls.

“ARC and ARTA believe that in addition to a significant expansion of bus and ferry services, the best long-term approach is to electrify the suburban rail network and purchase a fleet of new passenger trains, and deliver a fully transferable ticketing system.

“It is critical that we make the right choices now, in particular because the Rugby World Cup is coming to Auckland in 2011.

“A quality public transport system will improve everybody’s quality of life – by reducing congestion, improving air quality and strengthening the regional economy.

“ARC is actively pursuing alternative funding sources and calling on the Government to change the rules governing how public transport services are contracted.

“This questionnaire provides another indicator of the public’s thinking. It will help the Council in its ten-year plan deliberations this week to resolve the public transport funding gap,” Mr Lee said.

For further information please contact ARC Chairman Michael Lee on 0274 943 198, or Communications Advisor Glyn Walters on 366 2000 ext 8114 or 021 417 188.

ENDS

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