Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Aucklanders want Govt cash for rail

Survey finds most want loop link built now and see direct funding as best way to pay for it.

The survey found a majority of Aucklanders supported improved bus-rail transport. Photo / Steven McNicholl
The survey found a majority of Aucklanders supported improved bus-rail transport. Photo / Steven McNicholl

A majority of Aucklanders want the Government to make a significant contribution to the $2.86 billion city rail link, a poll has found.

The poll, by Horizon Research, also found that 30.4 per cent of Aucklanders support tolls to help pay for the rail link and 24.9 per cent support targeted rates for those who benefit most.

They are more lukewarm about a regional fuel tax, asset sales, higher rates and a higher departure tax as funding mechanisms.

This is the first poll on funding options for the rail link since Mayor Len Brown issued a discussion paper in February on new funding sources to stop dodging what he said were the tough decisions to get Auckland moving.

Mr Brown has encountered a brick wall of resistance from the Government for the 3.5km underground route from Britomart to join the western rail line at Mt Eden. The Government refuses to back the project beyond designating the route and successive Transport Ministers have said there would be no tolls or a regional petrol tax.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee declined to comment on the poll.

Mr Brown has established a "consensus building group" costing $1.1 million under the guidance of environmentalist and political activist Guy Salmon to try to persuade the Government to support one or more funding options.

The poll, of 1099 Aucklanders, found that among those who supported the rail link, 64 per cent wanted it built as soon as possible, 22 per cent by 2020 and just 3 per cent did not think it needed to be completed by 2020.

The poll also found that 75 per cent of Aucklanders wanted better integrated bus and rail services.

Last night, Mr Brown said it was no surprise Aucklanders overwhelmingly continued to support major transport projects, including the rail link, and wanted them built as soon as possible.

However, the left-leaning Mr Brown continued to rule out the sale of core strategic assets - "they bring in tens of millions of dollars a year, taking pressure off rates" - but would not rule out using the proceeds of non-core assets, such as surplus property, to fund transport.

The poll was taken between October 31 and November 12 and has a margin of error of 3 per cent.

The NZ Council for Infrastructure Development has proposed a regionwide toll on every on-ramp to the motorway of $3 in peak hours, $1 in the off-peak and $2 at other times.

Getting around Auckland

Main findings of survey
* 75 per cent support for improved bus-rail public transport
* 64 per cent support for city rail loop
* 14 per cent opposition to city rail loop

Of those who support the rail loop
* 64 per cent want it built as soon as possible
* 22 per cent want it built by 2020
* 3 per cent do not think it is needed by 2020

Funding options
* 56.2 per cent significant government funding
* 30.4 per cent tolls
* 24.9 per cent targeted rates
* 17.6 per cent asset sales
* 16.9 per cent regional fuel tax
* 8.3 per cent higher rates
* 7 per cent higher airport departure tax
Source: Horizon Research

- NZ Herald

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