Region scrambles to get moving

By Andre Hueber


Auckland's 21 local boards are mulling over "Getting Auckland Moving", a document that reveals that in 30 years Auckland will be home to 2.2 million people. Right now it doesn't have the transport infrastructure to cope with that.

The council must work out how to bridge the $10 to $15 billion gap in funds it says it needs to pay for its priority projects. Options include general rates, targeted rates, vehicle registration fees, visitor taxes or higher carparking charges.

Then there's the option of a regionwide motorway toll or a regional fuel tax. The Government disagrees with the fuel tax, saying it would result in higher prices and give local councils authority to spend Government taxes. In June, Auckland Council will decide which options to investigate, following the hearings it's undertaking now.

We asked each of the 21 local boards what they thought of the projects identified as priorities, and their fundingpreferences. We also asked if they think the Government should contribute.

Thirteen of 21 boards replied. In this the second part of our special feature, we hear from those north of the bridge.

Paul Downie, chair, Great Barrier board

We're happy with the priority of projects. The link between downtown and Auckland Airport is particularly significant - it will be our main entry point for visitors. Personally, I'm not sure whether the rail link is affordable. The majority of Auckland won't be well connected so that creates other issues and costs to council. Already we've seen Park and Rides filled up. For Aucklanders to benefit from rail they'll have to get there by car - which potentially means considerable costs of providing Park and Rides. I'm concerned some of these schemes will leave a death legacy for our children and grandchildren. A regional fuel tax won't work because once you set boundaries you pick winners and losers as far as fuel related business is concerned. The only reasonable way to fund projects is through motorway tolling because it's a direct transport related cost/benefit. The Government is borrowing lots of money already. The climate isn't conducive for tapping them on the shoulder for a whole lot more.

Julia Parfitt, chair, Hibiscus and Bays board

We're very pleased with a couple of our key projects being in the 10-year plan, namely the extension of East Coast Bays Rd to Curley Ave to provide an alternative entrance to Silverdale - and Penlink (road from SH1 at Redvale to Whangaparaoa Peninsula). Our only concern is it's not happening soon enough.

We all believe that central Government is going to have to come to the party. You need to have an excellent integrated transport system to have the type of city we believe the Government is wanting to see Auckland become.

I think Mr Joyce, the Minister of Transport and the Prime Minister need to really get their heads around this. The danger with some of the methods of collection proposed is that the amount collected is actually used up in charges. The cheapest way to apply any regional tax is to apply it on the fuel.

Lindsay Waugh, chair, Kaipatiki board

We do not support targeted tolling on limited parts of the network such as the existing harbour bridge. Instead, the Board supports network charging if it is widely spread across the network. This will mean equity for the communities that contribute to the enhanced roading network.

If Auckland is to absorb 60 per cent of NZ's growth then the Government needs to provide commensurate financial assistance to recognise the extra investment required to meet the needs of our growing city.

Chris Darby, chair, Devonport-Takapuna board

We're not sold on every project but we support the city rail link as a priority. A phenomenally successful busway and three of our ferry services link to Britomart, which is a cul-de-sac station that needs unblocking.

A city rail loop would allow it to be a through station with reduced travel times across the network, and set us up for future rail to the Shore.

We've expressed an interest in seeing a deeper analysis of the South Western Corridor to East Tamaki $1.1 billion Neilson St Project. It's popped up late and we're not convinced it has a business case robust enough for inclusion at this time.

We support further work on a third harbour crossing, future-proofed with rail. It'll cost around $4-5 billion. It's not an affordable project to plough ahead with right now, but we should move swiftly to undertake route protections and designations.

When the Western Ring Route is fully operational in 2016 we'll get a better idea of when to push go on construction. We're concerned there's a bus network review being undertaken and a lack of resources will be a constraint to early delivery. We'll only see the benefits in 3-5 years.

There's too much emphasis on capital projects and not enough on creating more efficient use of bus services - the priority needs to be a spend on public transport infrastructure first. It's time we made the quantum leap to mass transit. Auckland has been stuck in a 1950s transport policy time warp.

More thought needs to be given for preparing for 2050. If we don't make that leap, we face economic and social ruin. We need a deeper analysis of all funding options. We need to come to an agreement with central and local government and it needs to endure future governments. There seems to be a case of political soundbite rejections but I'm interested in hearing rejections based on evidence.

* Last week we said 12 boards had replied, but 13 did.

Read last week's story here.

WHO DIDN'T REPLY?

Faye Storer (Waiheke) and Vanessa Neeson (Henderson Massey) contacted The Aucklander to say their boards hadn't discussed the issue so couldn't comment.

Board chairs or deputies who didn't reply to either the original request or the follow-up email were:

Manurewa (Daniel Newman)

Upper Harbour (Brian Neeson)

Papakura (Brent Catchpole)

Otara-Papatoetoe (John McCracken)

Howick (Michael Williams)

Rodney (Bob Howard)

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