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Community Insisted Te Huia Funding Continued

NZTA Waka Kotahi’s decision on Friday 17th May 2024 to keep but reduce the subsidy for the Te Huia train was both heartening and concerning. It was heartening because it showed communities messages can be heard, but concerning because this will put a greater burden on regional rate payers.

However, the PTUA and Campaign for Better Transport feel that there are other sources of income potentially available to assist the Waikato Regional Council and need to be looked at.

Niall Robertson, Chair of the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) believes that as 22% of the passengers are Auckland citizens then Auckland Transport should pay a portion of the subsidy. Robertson says, “It’s also feasible to build a temporary station at Pokeno in order to increase fare box recovery and to assess the need for a permanent station there”.

Jon Reeves, National Coordinator for the PTUA said, “Temporary stations were common place during the rebuild of the Auckland network, were cheap to assemble and could be made useful in a relatively short period of time”.

At the public meetings, there was a willingness by the superannuitants present to pay more than nothing. Robertson agrees and says, “This is a great service for older people and enables better family connections for them, but they could afford to pay something for the service’.

Robertson knows that most of rails benefits are externalised and says, “...the benefits of rail seldom show up on any balance sheet, but are vitally important on the wider balance sheet of national costs and benefits. Rail lowers road deaths and injuries, greenhouse gas emissions, pollution from tyres and brakes, congestion and even road maintenance bills as well as bringing equity to transport. This is why this service should be enabled to develop. Its future potential is significant and the benefits are wide ranging”.

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