Councils must fight for better transport deal
Next week’s Wellington council meetings are a chance for our local representatives to stand and show they’re serious about getting a better transport deal for our city, says the Wellington Chamber of Commerce
"Disappointment and confusion have marked the first few weeks of reaction since the Government’s Let’s Get Wellington Moving announcement," says Chief Executive John Milford
"Wellington’s councillors now have the opportunity to push for a comprehensive and well-funded plan that addresses the most crucial issues our residents have for getting around our great capital.
The Wellington City Council and the Greater Wellington Regional Council are both meeting next week to endorse the Government’s indicative package of transport projects.
"Businesses are concerned that Transport Minister Phil Twyford’s selective choice of projects for his indicative package fundamentally compromises the comprehensive and publicly backed Let’s Get Wellington Moving programme which took over three years to put together," says Mr Milford.
"Motorists are getting a raw deal with none of the early delivery programme projects addressing the city’s chronic congestion.
"Bus priority work is welcomed, but we question why this wasn’t already completed before the new bus network was introduced last year.
"A practical programme would include projects spanning buses, trains, trackless trams, walking, cycling, and roading improvements
"Councils need to stand behind their motions passed last week to ensure a more balanced approach, including allowing Wellingtonians to drive through a new Mt Victoria tunnel.
"The $2.5 billion funding bill shifted from the Government to the councils is a major concern. While businesses and locals are prepared to contribute some funding, the multibillion-dollar commitment could potentially overwhelm councils’ budgets - which will then get shunted onto ratepayers.
"Businesses cannot continue to be used as cash cows by councils, given the wide range of existing cost pressures, including already rapidly rising council rates, increasing rents, insurance premiums, earthquake strengthening requirements, minimum wage increases, health and safety laws … the list goes on
"It seems odd that councils are preparing to sign-off on funding before securing a partnership agreement to deliver the wider LGWM programme with the Government and NZTA.
"We will be watching closely to ensure effective and efficient governance arrangements are established."