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Passenger transport funding review announced

Transfund NZ announces passenger transport funding review

The patronage funding scheme for passenger transport had been an outstanding success and was helping the government meet its aim of getting more people on public transport, Transport Minister Paul Swain said today.

The minister today attended a breakfast meeting at which Transfund NZ announced a review of the scheme. It has been in place since 2000.

The patronage funding scheme provides regional councils with an incentive to increase the number of people using public transport. The more journeys taken on buses, ferries and other passenger transport, the more funding Transfund NZ provides.

Mr Swain said the scheme was being reviewed and that the government had not made any decisions yet about future funding arrangements.

“When the Labour-led government was elected in 1999 passenger transport was on its knees,” said Mr Swain.

“The government recognised the importance of passenger transport and boosted funding in order to improve passenger numbers.

“Since 2000 the number of journeys taken on passenger transport has increased by 24.9 per cent. In that time we have seen some major regional passenger transport initiatives, thanks to the financial contributions of councils and Transfund.

“These include the popular Orbiter bus service in Christchurch, the Britomart Centre in Auckland and the Lambton Interchange in Wellington. Green bus lanes are now a common sight in regional centres and work has recently started on the North Shore Busway project in Auckland.

“As a result of the success of the scheme central government funding for passenger transport has almost doubled from $36.3 million in 1998/99 to $71.2 million in 2002/03.

“The excellent results to date have been in line with the objectives of the New Zealand Transport Strategy, which I released last year. However the current funding system was never expected to continue indefinitely. When the patronage funding scheme was introduced in November 2000 Transfund said it would review it in 2003.

“The current scheme will continue to June 2004 to allow time for this review to be completed.

“Transfund is seeking the views of local government, stakeholders and the industry on options for a new funding system. The proposal does not represent Transfund or government policy. The results of the consultation will be carefully considered before any decisions are made.

“Regional councils are invited to make submissions to Transfund by 30 June, 2003,” said Mr Swain.

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