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Land Transport Bill heads in right direction

Land Transport Bill heads in right direction at snail's pace of Auckland's traffic

The Land Transport Bill is welcome for heading in the right direction, but it fails to ensure Auckland's transport gridlock will be managed back from crisis point anytime soon, the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) says.

"Transport Minister Paul Swain deserves congratulations and brickbats for this Bill," said Alasdair Thompson, EMA's chief executive.

"We're also alarmed that under the Transport Strategy motorists could end up subsidising rail passengers. "Congratulations are due to the Minister for finding a way to allow private sector participation in our roading projects. Private funding is plainly needed as Government finds it cannot commit more road user funds to road construction, no matter how critical it is for sustainable growth.

"Brickbats are due for letting the Greens make the running on critical components of the Bill.

"We want clarification on the difference between Build, Own, Operate &Transfer (BOOT) schemes commonly used elsewhere in the world, and the homespun Design, Build, Operate, Maintain and Fund scheme in the Bill.

"For example under Government's form of Public Private Partnerships (PPP's) does the private sector carry more risk and stand to gain a high rate of return if the project is successful?

"We also wanted to see allowance for congestion pricing on existing roads -there's no sign of this.

"Other reservations we have on the Bill include the removal of the need for economic efficiency in developing transport infrastructure, and the increased powers given to the Minister to direct Transit and Transfund.

"The guiding principles of the Transport Strategy will impact heavily on how the Bill is interpreted, which will require considerable further study.

"In particular, Transit and Transfund becoming involved in all aspects of land transport means we will be watching closely to ensure funds collected from road users are not used to prop up projects like marginal rail routes.

"We will be examining the Bill further to see whether the restrictions written into it to pacify the Greens make private sector investment less attractive, which would delay the easing of Auckland's traffic congestion and its huge economic costs."

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