NZ Govt Has Wrong Transport Priorities for AK
City Vision-Labour Councillors - Auckland City Council
For Immediate Release
Monday 23 March 2009
NZ Government Has Wrong Transport Priorities for Auckland
City Vision-Labour councillors are “deeply disappointed” by the Government’s recent decision to put Auckland’s transport funding back in the melting pot and say they have the wrong priorities for Auckland’s transport.
City Vision Western Bays Councillor Graeme Easte said, “The Government should allow Aucklanders to determine their own transport priorities. Auckland needs heavy investment in its public transport system which has been allowed to stagnate for half a century. By all means let the regions have better roads for milk tankers and sheep trucks but Auckland’s need is for much greater emphasis on public transport.
“As a region we have been stymied by the Government at every turn. For years they insisted on seeing the business case for the electrification and associated track and station upgrades. When a convincing case was delivered, we were told that funding was dependent on re-aligning our transport strategy with new legislation. They also required a new body to coordinate transport planning - so ARTA was set up.
“Finally we were given access to funding, but only if we agreed to tax ourselves through a regional fuel levy. Although the tax was accepted reluctantly, having an assured source of money did allow long delayed work to proceed onto more detailed planning and negotiations with potential suppliers. Now at the 11th hour the Government has waded in like a bull in a china shop and set everything back by months at a critical time.
“We need more than improved rolling stock. Beyond the three big station developments at Newmarket, New Lynn and Wiri, about half of the tired old suburban rail stations are still waiting for a makeover. The Onehunga line is set to re-open in 9 months time but still has no stations! Work on replacing the ancient signal system is barely started.”
Councillor Easte has some specific advice for the Government, “If cancelling the regional fuel tax leaves a funding gap then the Pen Link motorway should be deleted from the Government’s new funding package. This is a locally promoted project of questionable value that has never been a regional priority. In fact, the Auckland Regional Transport Committee (the statutory body responsible for the Auckland Regional Transport Strategy) pointedly wrote to the Government some years ago to make it very clear that Pen Link was not a priority for the region. It was the Government and their Wellington based advisors who insisted on ignoring the wishes of Aucklanders by including PenLink in the petrol tax package. Deleting it now would free up $160 million.
“This money would secure both the crucial new railway stations and the long-delayed integrated ticketing system that Aucklanders need to continue to flock to ferries, buses and, above all, rail transport,” Councillor Easte concluded.
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