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Reducing congestion Transfund's focus for Auckland

Reducing congestion Transfund's focus for Auckland

Reducing Auckland's severe congestion continues to be a focus for Transfund New Zealand in the National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) for the coming year.

Transfund today announced it has allocated $1.42 billion to transport in New Zealand and, of this, $404.84 million is allocated for investment in Auckland's land transport network. This comprises:

* road maintenance for state highways and local roads ($113.88 million)

* state highway and local road construction projects ($196.54 million)

* passenger transport services ($73.31 million)

* travel demand management, rail and barging (alternatives to roading) ($18.12 million)

* promotion of walking and cycling ($0.05 million).

Transfund chair Dr Jan Wright says the money allocated to the region is likely to increase during the year should Auckland's local authorities and Transit New Zealand make applications for funding transport activities meeting Transfund's requirements.

A large proportion of Auckland's allocation is committed funding for projects including the recently announced Mt Roskill and Manukau extensions on State Highway 20 and the North Shore busway on State Highway 1, an extension of the automated traffic management system on SH1 and State Highway 16 north, signal pre-emption for the Auckland region's bus networks and refurbishment of Auckland's passenger rail rolling stock.

Other projects which may be funded during the year include construction of the SH1 ALPURT B2 extension from Orewa to Puhoi, development of traffic demand measures on the northern, southern and north-western motorways, and the widening of Rodney's Whangaparoa Road, from Red Beach to Viponds Road, and Auckland's Fanshawe Street to accommodate busways between the CBD and the northern motorway, Dr Wright says.

Other smaller state highway projects that may begin during the year include bus priority lanes north, south and west between Waterview and Te Atatu interchanges and SH1 Upper Harbour to Greville Road northbound, and the Queenstown Road off-ramp roundabout, linking with SH20 west of Onehunga.

Passenger transport funding increases by $13.21 million, with $73.31 million being allocated to Auckland for 2004/05. This funding includes Transfund's ongoing commitment to bus, ferry and passenger rail services, support for the total mobility scheme and funding for the North Shore busway.

Dr Wright says the increase in funding reflects anticipated improved services in the Auckland region, particularly for an increased frequency of rail services. Bus signal pre-emption and real-time passenger information has been trialled on some Auckland bus services and will now be rolled out to other services.

Under the travel demand management, rail and barging (alternatives to roading) activity class, Transfund has received a number of indicative bids for the improvement of passenger rail transport services and travel demand measures.

These range from the continued upgrade of Auckland's passenger rail rolling stock and investigation and development planning for a rapid transport rail system to funding of travel plans for education facilities, including walking school buses.

And under the promotion of walking and cycling activity class, Transfund has received funding requests for the construction of the south western cycleway between Penrose and Onehunga, a cycleway from Auckland Airport to Mangere Bridge in Manukau City and various cycleway and pedestrian facilities for North Shore City Council, Waitakere City Council, Papakura District Council and Rodney District Council.

Dr Wright says that also being released with the NLTP is Transfund's 10 year financial forecast. This forecast shows a significant increase in funding for the transport sector over the next 10 years, and includes the extra funding announced by the government last December which will be available from April 2005.

She says this funding will be distributed to regions on a population basis but has not yet been allocated through the NLTP as policy has not yet been finalised.

"This extra funding, which is a huge increase for transport in New Zealand, will accrue to each region.

Authorities will need to plan in advance so they can take advantage of this window of opportunity," Dr Wright says.

"This will require the sector to step up to a new level of activity. There are already signs this is happening with funding commitments for 2004/05 and beyond totalling more than $1 billion, a significant increase on the level a year ago."

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