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Transit - Unacceptable & extremely disappointing

22 February 2006

Transit Draft 10-year Programme – “Unacceptable & extremely disappointing.”

Holding a “toll gun” to the heads of Aucklanders as the only option for building the Western Ring Route by 2015 is intimidation, unacceptable and a huge distraction to getting Transit NZ focused on the job it should be doing – constructing the missing links in the region’s strategic network with speed and urgency.

“We are being treated in Auckland as if tolls are the only viable option to address the funding gap and ensuring Transit remains focussed on its job of building the core motorway network by 2015,” said Auckland Business Forum chairman Michael Barnett.

Putting forward a Draft programme that fails to confirm the goal agreed with Government last year to achieve major progress over the next decade is unacceptable. “Transit’s Draft shows a total lack of understanding of the economic goals and commitments that Government has confirmed for Auckland.”

“Giving some comfort is the strong likelihood that Government will find this document as unacceptable as we do,” he said. “Some radical changes will be likely before the draft is finalised.”

An obvious backstop solution is for Transit to make greater use of debt funding. “They have $12 billion available of which a small portion could be used to service a borrowing programme to ensure the Auckland programme proceeds without any threat of delay or need to toll the western corridor projects.”

Giving certainty to Transit’s programme is now critical, and it is reassuring that the Minister of Finance Michael Cullen is on record as saying that any cut back in Transit’s programme will be unacceptable. “Strong Government intervention is clearly required.”

ENDS

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