Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Road tolls won't happen soon in Auckland, says Key

Auckland City Rail Link, future Karangahape Rd station.  Photo / Auckland Transport
Auckland City Rail Link, future Karangahape Rd station. Photo / Auckland Transport

Aucklanders will not pay congestion charges in the short-term, says Prime Minister John Key.

He was speaking about a new transport strategy for Auckland, which could be released as early as Wednesday this week.

For the past year the council and the Government have been working together on the strategy through the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP).

Key said the ATAP report, considered by cabinet today, contained wide-ranging recommendations of how Auckland's transport needs would play out over the next 30 years.

He said changing technology will provide opportunities for the future, but reassured motorists would not be facing congestion charges any time soon.

Key did not elaborate on the details in the report before it is made public, but said a way had to be found to consider the best way of paying for the transport needs for a growing Auckland.

Labour MP and leading mayoral candidate Phil Goff wants to use his political experience and skills to work with central government to pay for infrastructure to cope with the city's rampant growth.

Goff and his main centre-right candidate, Vic Crone, are open to public private partnerships and other private sector tools to fund the growth. Goff is keen on a petrol tax, followed later by congestion charges.

Key said the ATAP report was a thoughtful way of looking at all the issues, which did not bind governments of which prescriptions they might use.

The cabinet also discussed a business plan for the $2.5 billion city rail link.

In January, Key announced a plan to make an early start on main works for the rail link with the Government paying half the cost of the $2.5 billion project.

Since then, the Government and the council have been negotiating a contract setting out how project costs will be shared, timing of payments and how the rail link will be owned and managed.

In June, Key predicted the rail link will "almost certainly cost more than they thought".

The Auckland Council has called an extraordinary meeting of the governing body on Wednesday to discuss ATAP and the rail link.

The meeting is expected to take place behind closed doors. A council spokeswoman said details about the city rail link and the ATAP report are expected to be released after the meeting.

- NZ Herald

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