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Funding good news but road blocks ahead

Belinda Vernon National Transport Spokesperson

30 July 2001

Funding good news but road blocks ahead

Transfund's decision to contribute $20 million to the Waitemata Waterfront Interchange is good news for Auckland but raises questions about access to future funding for operating costs, National's Transport spokesperson Belinda Vernon said today.

"The Waitemata Waterfront Interchange is the cornerstone of Auckland's public transport strategy, and is supported by all the region's councils.

"But the caveat attached to half of the Transfund contribution indicates that funding for operating costs for an increased passenger transport uptake has a big question mark over it.

"Ten million dollars is subject to Auckland Regional Council agreeing to an equivalent reduction in future annual funding for increased passenger transport generated by the Interchange. It's giving with one hand and taking away with the other.

"The Government needs to make it clear it's prepared to promote a policy change to address the conflict between funding for capital and operating costs. Without a clear steer from the Government the ARC is hamstrung by underfunding,

"The Transfund statement says that half of the funding 'essentially capitalises some of the future funding Transfund would pay to the ARC under existing funding policies'. It then goes on to say that 'the allocation of further funds would depend on the merits of the applications made and the funding policies applicable at the time.'

"This clearly implies that current funding policies will leave a gap in passenger transport funding. The Government should focus on a policy change rather than threatening and attacking Infrastructure Auckland.

"Auckland City and Auckland Regional Council are both talking about the need for change to Transfund's policy in order to see operating costs funded in the future. The Government needs to indicate its willingness to do so with urgency," Belinda Vernon said.

Ends

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