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Mayor Brown Announces Plan To Save Public Transport From Cuts

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown has announced that public transport will be a focus when councillors consider his final proposal for the council’s Long-term Plan (LTP) this week.

The mayor’s proposal would see most Aucklanders pay no more than $50 a week in public transport fares and expand Auckland Transport’s Fareshare scheme to give any Auckland-based business with at least five employees the ability to subsidise a proportion of their staff’s public transport travel costs.

“I’m listening to Aucklanders who asked for more spending on public transport in the LTP consultation.

“It’s time we got on with making buses fast and reliable. That will ensure a smooth transition to Time of Use Charging, which is needed to decongest our roads,” Mayor Brown said.

Under the mayor’s proposal Auckland Transport would receive $5.8 billion in funding for operating expenses over the next 10 years, and $14 billion in capital investment.

This includes extra funding to protect existing bus routes from cuts and fund essential track maintenance, as well as a package to deliver more dynamic lanes, and other low-cost network improvements.

“I’ve put a stop to some wasteful spending on low-value projects that Aucklanders have said they don’t want, such as raised pedestrian crossings on arterial roads and gold-plated cycleways, while retaining budgets for sensible lower-cost initiatives.

“We’re going to focus on simple improvements to make our public transport better, faster, cheaper,” Mayor Brown said.

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Bus driver safety is also a priority for the mayor, with $6.5 million set aside to rapidly install security screens on AT buses. The prioritisation of bus driver safety follows the mayor’s recent announcement of more funding for safety patrols in town centres and transport hubs.

“Without this funding, it would take up to 10 years to ensure that every bus driver is protected by a security screen. That is unacceptable, and under my proposal, we’ll do 80% of buses within two years,” Mayor Brown said.

Auckland Tramways Union president Gary Froggatt says the union is hopeful the proposal on bus driver safety goes ahead.

"We welcome this because something needs to be done. Drivers will be pleased this has been progressed in the Mayor's final proposal. We will be watching the GB meeting with interest."

As well as a focus on buses, the final mayoral proposal will provide funding for council to contribute to the removal of railway level crossings in Takanini. The removal of these crossings and their replacement with overbridges is necessary to realise the full benefits of the City Rail Link (CRL).

“The four level crossings at Takanini see the highest number of rail traffic in Auckland and already contribute to road congestion. This problem will only get worse when the CRL opens.

“So, it is crucial that we get on with the work now. We’re budgeting for our share of the $550 million to make sure it happens, although I acknowledge there is still a lot more required for level crossing removal in Auckland. I’m working with the government on their share, as well as a much-needed change to the funding and delivery model for these projects,” Mayor Brown said.

The Budget Committee, chaired by Mayor Brown and comprising of all 20 councillors and two members of the Independent Māori Statutory Board, will meet on Thursday, 15 May to consider the mayor’s final proposal.

Mayor Brown’s plan to save public transport:

  • $50 weekly fare cap for buses, trains, and inner-harbour ferries. The Fareshare programme extended to all Auckland businesses with five or more employees.
  • $600 million for network optimisation, including dynamic lanes and small capital works to make bus travel faster and more reliable;
  • $6.5 million for bus security screens to be installed on 80% of AT buses within 2 years.
  • $550 million for Takanini level crossing removal and $5 million to ensure tracks are properly maintained.
  • $70 million additional operating spend for Auckland Transport, $10 million more than the central proposal consulted on, to maintain and enhance bus services, fund track maintenance, and ensure no Auckland suburbs lose bus services.

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