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Auckland transport investment package finalised

Auckland transport investment package finalised

Cabinet has confirmed a $1.62 billion investment in Auckland's transport system and the establishment of a single 'business-like' transport organisation

Cabinet has confirmed a $1.62 billion investment in Auckland's transport system and the establishment of a single 'business-like' transport organisation for the Auckland region.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Michael Cullen, and Local Government Minister Chris Carter met with the chairs of the Auckland Regional Council, the Auckland Mayoral Forum, the Auckland Regional Transport Network Limited and Infrastructure Auckland yesterday to outline the final decisions on the Investing for Growth package, announced by the Government before Christmas.

"We have worked carefully through the finer details of our original proposals with the Auckland region, particularly those relating to transport governance," the ministers said.

"We have arrived at a package that delivers an unparalleled, long-term investment by central government, and a clear, fair solution to the confused and inefficient lines of responsibility that have inhibited Auckland's transport development for so long. Legislation introducing most of the package was tabled in Parliament yesterday.

"This is a watershed event for Auckland. Providing regional and territorial authorities in Auckland continue to meet their responsibilities for transport funding, Aucklanders will finally see the steady development of a world class, well integrated transport system," the ministers said.

The key aspects of proposals announced before Christmas included:

A 5 cent increase in the fuel excise levy, and an equivalent rise in road user charges for vehicles five tonne and under,

raising an estimated $200m annually for investment in transport around the country, including about $72m for Auckland per annum;

An additional specific funding allocation for Auckland transport of an average $90 million per year over ten years;

The development of options for raising revenue from tolls and borrowing in the future;The establishment of a single organisation accountable to the Auckland Regional Council (ARC), named the Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA), with key responsibilities for land transport in Auckland.

The establishment of an 'appointments panel', comprising seven representatives from the Auckland territorial authorities and eight representatives from the ARC, to select an independent 'business-like' board to run ARTA;

The transfer of the assets held by Infrastructure Auckland into a new body called Auckland Regional Holdings (ARH), also under the auspices of the ARC.

"Consultation with Auckland's councils and further discussions by Cabinet have resulted in some refinements to the original proposals," the ministers said.

"In attempting to resolve the tangled transport governance arrangements in Auckland, we have sought to strike a balance between the need for a regional approach to transport, and the need for input from the region's territorial authorites.

With this in mind, the panel appointing the independent directors of ARTA will be chaired by the ARC but a majority of 10 members of the panel must agree before an appointment can be made," the ministers said.

"ARTA's role will be to make operational decisions that give effect to Auckland's Regional Land Transport Strategy. ARTA will issue a public statement about what transport initiatives are needed to comply with this strategy, and it will decide (other than for state highways and the national rail network) where and when the initiatives will be put in place. ARTA will be responsible for seeing that they are implemented and funded according to plan.

"We believe it is crucial to link Auckland's land use to its future regional needs, including transport. Consequently, Auckland's key planning documents are to be aligned with its Regional Growth Strategy and Regional Land Transport Strategy. ARTA will have to consider these strategies and planning documents in its decision-making," the ministers said.

"The Government has directed the eight Auckland councils to prepare changes to their planning documents and to publicly notify the proposed changes for joint hearings in early 2005. The aim of the joint hearings is to encourage greater consistency in planning across the councils."


ENDS


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