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Transport Bill's objectives excellent, but...

Transport Bill's objectives excellent, but...

Transport Minister Swain won strong support from business interests and road users for the objectives set out in his Land Transport Management Bill but they're now pointing out the Bill won't achieve its objectives.

"Everyone can see roading in New Zealand is grossly under funded," said Alasdair Thompson. EMA's chief executive.

"The number one problem is finding more funds to build better roads.

"Public funding for the job is in short supply. Using private funds for the purpose is not currently permitted.

"So we were pleased the Minister recognized the need to change the law to remedy this. Private sector investment in roads is common in many countries.

"Now the Minister has invited business to advise him on how the Transport Bill can be made to deliver on its objectives.

"A major issue with the Bill is the debate over economic efficiency, and the benefit-to-cost ratios used to measure it. On this the Minister is correct to note that the B C system is not the be-all and end-all in deciding road building priorities. Dealing with congestion and implementing network strategies are just as important.

"Funding must therefore follow strategy, with economic efficiency retained as an important determinant of priorities.

"The Minister is right also to note roading has been grossly under funded for at least 13 years, since 1989 when the BC funding hurdle rates were set at ridiculously high levels. Benefits have had to exceed road costs between four and five times.

"Business is grateful for what Government has done already to increase funding for roads. The increase in petrol tax last year was a good start though the extra $227 million raised across the whole country won't solve Auckland's congestion problems within 10 years.

"The estimated cost to do that is $5.4 billion which, despite funding from Infrastructure Auckland and Transfund's contribution, an unfunded deficit remains of over $2 billion.

"The Greens say no amount of funding would solve Auckland's transport issues but this defeatist attitude is not acceptable to Auckland's commuters. They know public transport on its own won't solve the problem.

"Mr Swain has called for constructive suggestions to ensure the Land Transport Management Bill can achieve its objectives. Our recommendations therefore are:

1. Put economic efficiency back into the purpose of the Bill as part of the criteria for assessing funding grants under clause 23.

2. In Auckland funding needs to follow strategy irrespective of whether a BCR of 4 is met or not, provided the BCR equals not less than 1:1.

3. Keep the Bill's focus primarily on roading. Limit the provision of funding for other purposes.

4. Review the consultation requirements in the Bill to eliminate doubling up of consultations and further delays.

5. Ensure the owner/funder roles for public transport stay separate.

6. Modify clauses 52, 53, 61 and 62 so the Minister can delegate implementation of tolling and concession proposals to the appropriate controlling authority.

7. Allow for the controlling authority to seek from the Minister

preliminary approval for tolling and concession projects prior to

tenders being sought.

8. Allow for network and congestion tolling in Auckland to help fund the completion of Auckland's motorway and highway network.

9. Amend the Bill to encourage public/private partnerships further

by allowing greater flexibility including allowing BOOT schemes,

and a fairer balance of risk between the public sector and

private enterprise.

10. Seriously consider raising excise taxes on fuel to increase the

level of funding for New Zealand's roading network.

11. Abandon the Road Traffic Reduction Bill.

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