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Transport Expert Warns Against Budget Blow Outs

MEDIA RELEASE 16 June 2000

TRANSPORT EXPERT WARNS AGAINST BUDGET BLOW OUTS IN SOLVING TRANSPORT PROBLEMS

Auckland - and other major cities - run the risk of overshooting transport budgets by up to 400 per cent if they let themselves be rushed into implementing solutions to transport problems.

A visiting international transport expert says he's seen instances where councils, pressured by outside interests, have raced into solutions which have subsequently collapsed, costing a fortune.

Dr David Stupples, from PA Consulting in the UK, says that Auckland seems well positioned to get it right, providing they plan it properly up front.

"The complexity of the programme, and the highly sensitive political and business environment means there is a minefield of issues to be overcome. Key stakeholders must not let themselves be bullied by politicians, contractors and others with vested interests," he says.

"If a complex project is not managed properly then schedules and costs can be derailed, often by between 200% - 400%."

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Responsible for helping sort out transport systems in Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok as well as being involved with the modernisation of the rail network in the UK and European air traffic control, Dr Stupples has been talking to public transport organisations while visiting New Zealand this week.

He estimates Auckland will need to spend more than $1billion to sort out its transport infrastructure alone. "That sum on its own means it is probably the biggest project the region has ever had to handle." He says the planning stage could be completed within nine months and the new transport system up and running within five years.

Some of the other hurdles which cities face in planning transport systems include funding options and public backlash. "But these can be overcome with careful planning." Dr Stupples said.

His recommendations for success include implementing a socio-economic study which looks at the city as a whole, how it is likely to grow and its requirements, developing the best transport scheme possible to meet these criteria and then assessing funding options.

"Funding can be one of the most problematic areas and needs careful consideration. A recent major study found that output-based funding, where you get paid based on delivery - was the most successful in getting projects off the ground and working."

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Dr Stupples also says stakeholders should not underestimate the power of the public in either helping or hindering the process. He recommends that communication with the public begin as soon as possible because "unless you have the public on your side from the outset, the whole process will slow down".

PA Consulting's New Zealand public sector practice, headed by managing consultant, Sally Pedersen, brought Dr Stupples to New Zealand to share his expertise in complex projects with transport and government bodies. PA's country head, Stephen Barclay, is well versed in working with organisations on financing complex projects.

Ends

For further information, please contact: Sally Pedersen/Stephen Barclay Claudia Macdonald PA Consulting Beyond PR Tel: 09 303 2743 Tel: 09 306 1804 Mob: 021 466 965/021 620 439 Mob: 025 932 418


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