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Huge step forward for region's transport problems

9 July 2001 2 pages Media Statement

Local bodies' consensus on Auckland rail corridor a huge step forward for region's transport problems

The government is welcoming the agreement by Auckland's local authorities on a preferred option for the use of the region's rail corridor, says Minister Assisting the Prime Minister with Auckland Issues, Judith Tizard.

The choice agreed on at a workshop of city councillors involves light rail running up Queen Street and out to West Auckland, conventional rail for the southern and eastern suburbs, and efficient busways on the North Shore.

"I hope that the agreement the local body representatives have reached will be endorsed by their councils, so that plans can be made and funding considered for this important step ahead in solving Auckland's transport problems," says Judith Tizard, who is also the Associate Minister of Transport.

"I'm delighted that the latest patronage figures from the Auckland Regional Council confirm that more Aucklanders are using public transport to enter the Auckland CBD than in April last year.

"With more people recognising the value of public transport and making the choice to use it, Auckland needs an integrated passenger transport system.

"Though many organisations have some power, no one body has clear responsibility for Auckland's roads and public transport issues. Local government's consensus on the rail issue is a huge step forward."

At a central government level, Finance Minister Dr Michael Cullen signed off a letter to Tranzrail last week on behalf of the Ministers who are responsible for negotiating an acquisition agreement for the Auckland region rail corridor.

"As well as working on securing the rail corridor for Auckland, we are also helping to ensure that other projects identified are funded and under way," says Judith Tizard. "This means helping local government with governance issues, working with Transit NZ over state highways, and with Transfund on funding for Auckland projects.

"Transfund's recently-announced National Roading Programme for the Auckland region featured $188.59 million for maintenance works, construction projects and passenger transport services over the next year, with the potential for more than $1.1 billion in funding for other projects into the future.

"This is a ten percent increase on last year's allocation to Auckland. Projects definitely going ahead include access to the Auckland Port via Grafton Gully, increased capacity on Spaghetti Junction, and the North Shore Busway."

Judith Tizard says Auckland's transport future lies in a combination of better planning and co-ordination, safe engineering, good management and greater investment.

"Though it has taken some time, sustainable solutions are finally on the way."

ENDS

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