Aucklanders must ‘chip in’ extra for roads
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.