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2 traffic studies prove transport funding urgency

ARC says two traffic studies prove transport funding urgency
29 October 2003

Two new surveys prove that Auckland must have urgent investment in public transport as well as new roads if it is to stem massive losses to the region’s economy, says Auckland Regional Land Transport Committee chair Catherine Harland.

A survey by the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) claims that traffic congestion costs the Auckland region nearly $4 billion. The survey takes running costs into account as well as the time its members spend each day in traffic.

Another study, by University of Auckland environmental researcher Astrid Jakob, with help from Environmental Science Professor John Craig and NIWA air quality scientist Gavin Fisher, calculates the total annual cost of transport to the region of $1.42 billion. Almost $690 million of that cost is paid back by motorists through petrol tax, motor vehicle registration, transport rates, accident compensation levies, road user charges and central government taxes. But another $736 million - the cost of pollution, climate change, “non-direct” accidents and other factors, is left unpaid by drivers. The Jakob report did not include the cost of down-time sitting in traffic.

“No matter which way you look at the problem, traffic congestion is costing us all dearly,” says Cr Harland. “Both studies certainly support recommendations laid down in the 2003 Auckland Regional Land Transport Strategy that we need a mix of better roads and a well-integrated, multi-modal public transport system.”

The Jakob report indicates that private transport accounts for $711 million per year of unrecovered costs to the region, while public transport contributes only $25 million a year in unrecovered costs. On a per-person-travelled basis, private transport costs are at least three times that of public transport.

“While it is abundantly clear that we need to improve the roading network, the Jakob report highlights the need to invest in improving public transport as well,” says Cr Harland. “The $1.4 billion we need to spend over the next ten years for passenger transport infrastructure is modest compared to the many, many billions we will lose if we don’t.”

Almost 60 per cent of total unrecovered regional transport costs are due to damage caused by air pollution – mainly hospital admissions and other medical treatments for respiratory problems.

Climate change costs makes up 38 per cent of the unrecovered total.

Six per cent is attributable to the unrecovered costs of accidents.

According to the EMA, the region’s 566,000 workers spend an average of more than an hour a day stuck in traffic, costing them $2.7 billion a year in down-time (calculated at the average pay rate of $19.41 an hour). Petrol and diesel costs them another $1.45 billion a year.

ENDS

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