Auck­lan­ders must ‘chip in’ ex­tra for roads

Marlborough Express - - NEWS - PHILLIPA YALDEN

New sources of fund­ing are needed to help fix Auck­land’s traf­fic con­ges­tion and grow­ing pains, Trans­port Min­is­ter Phil Twyford says.

But he be­lieves it is not fair for the rest of New Zealand to pay for its big­gest city’s woes.

Rail and coastal ship­ping would be a fo­cus for both Auck­land and else­where, he said.

The new min­is­ter made the com­ments in an ad­dress at a Road Trans­port Fo­rum con­fer­ence in Hamil­ton on Sat­ur­day. ‘‘If we had a de­cent pas­sen­ger rail from Auck­land to Hamil­ton paid for out of the Land Trans­port Fund, then I could have been here much ear­lier,’’ he joked, re­fer­ring to what fo­rum chief ex­ec­u­tive Ken Shirley said to him af­ter ar­riv­ing late to the con­fer­ence, hav­ing got stuck in traf­fic.

Creat­ing a ‘‘re­silient and mul­ti­modal trans­port sys­tem, re­duc­ing car­bon emis­sions and fix­ing Auck­land’s con­ges­tion’’ were pri­or­i­ties, Twyford said.

‘‘We know the trans­port sys­tem is about net­works and pro­duc­tiv­ity and changes to one mode can have flow-on con­se­quences.’’

Trans­port needed to be re­silient in the face of shocks, such as the earth­quakes that shut down the ma­jor north-south high­way in the South Is­land but changes to fund­ing were re­quired.

Road­ing is funded through the Land Trans­port Fund, from road user charges, petrol tax and ve­hi­cle reg­is­tra­tion, which gen­er­ate $4 bil­lion a year.

‘‘We need to tackle the prob­lem of new and ad­di­tional fund­ing sources and the chal­lenge of deal­ing with Auck­land’s growth pains is one of the pres­sures here.’’

Decades of un­der-in­vest­ment and con­ges­tion in Auck­land were cost­ing the city $1.3b a year in lost pro­duc­tiv­ity, he said.

Fix­ing it would come at a cost. The Gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to a $15 mil­lion, 10-year pro- gramme that in­cludes a rapid trans­port sys­tem in Auck­land, which will join up with the road and high­way sys­tem.

‘‘We be­lieve rapid trans­port should be funded in the same way as state high­ways and there are ben­e­fits for at least part-fund­ing the rapid trans­port through the Land Trans­port Fund. We need to find ad­di­tional sources of fund­ing as well and we can­not ask the rest of New Zealand to pay the costs of Auck­land’s growth.’’

If asked, the Gov­ern­ment would pass leg­is­la­tion to al­low Auck­land Coun­cil to levy a re­gional fuel tax, he said. ‘‘Auck­lan­ders have to be will­ing to chip in a bit ex­tra.’’

Trans­port Min­is­ter Phil Twyford said rail and coastal ship­ping would be a fo­cus.

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