Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Mayoral candidate Mark Thomas: Tolls not the answer to fund city rail link

Tolls are not the answer to fund big transport projects in Auckland like the $2.5 billion city rail link, says mayoral candidate Mark Thomas and the Taxpayers' Union.

Mr Thomas has taken issue with Mayor Len Brown's claim that motorway tolls in Auckland are "absolutely justified".

Mr Brown yesterday said it was important to keep the discussion live about tolls after Prime Minister John Key said the Government remains lukewarm about the idea.

Read more:
Aucklanders could pay tolls to fund city rail link

The Government had not ruled out tolls, Mr Key said, but the council would need to justify them.

Mr Thomas, a right-leaning candidate for the mayoralty, said additional funding was essential to resolve Auckland's transport log-jam but Aucklanders were sceptical about handing over more money to Auckland Council.

Mr Brown said 57 per cent of Aucklanders supported tolls during consultation on last year's 10-year budget as a way of seriously funding transport rather than sitting on carpark motorways.

But Mr Thomas said this was incorrect because of the 27,000 Aucklanders who submitted on the budget, just 13,700 commented on the toll option. Of those, just 34 per cent clearly supported a motorway charge, he said.

Mr Thomas said to advance transport projects he was committed to finding savings across the council, such as inefficiency and "gold-plating" at Auckland Transport.

Savings could help fund the next phase of the Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative (AMETI), Penlink, resolving Lake Rd congestion, addressing future rail needs in the centre and out west, as well as southern transport pressures.

"We need to get the Auckland Council house in better order before jumping to add further council costs to Aucklanders," Mr Thomas said.

The Taxpayers' Union is slamming the latest calls for the introduction of new motorway or congestion taxes for Auckland, and calling on the National Party to stand by its election promise and rule out new taxes.

Said executive director Jordan Williams: "With Aucklanders paying less than $1.85 per litre for petrol, more than half of what we are paying at the pump is tax. Add a potential motorway toll to that and there is little doubt that motorists are being treated as cash cows.

"Auckland Council piled on to rates a last minute transport levy last year and now politicians want motorists to stump up even more. The National Party would be breaking a promise if they let them do it."

The Taxpayers' Union and its sister organisation, the Auckland Ratepayers' Alliance, have called on Auckland local body candidates to find efficiencies and cut wasteful council spending before any increased charges are proposed.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 17 Jan 2017 20:24:16 Processing Time: 688ms