Tauranga's transport advocacy groups have applauded the Government's multi-million dollar investments in rail, infrastructure projects and the creation of 11,000 green jobs.
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In Budget 2020, the Government has pledged an additional $1.2 billion for New Zealand's rail system network, including money to help replace the Cook Strait ferries.
Further investment in rail infrastructure was a critical part of the country's integrated transport network and our economic recovery, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said.
One of the other big-ticket items in the budget is a $3b infrastructure investment package, full details of which are yet to be revealed.
Greater Tauranga spokeswoman Heidi Hughes said: "We are pleased to see the Government's investment in rail creating a solid foundation to build from.
"A sustained commitment to regional rail both for freight and passenger travel needs to be a priority if New Zealand if the country is going to meet its legal obligation to reach zero emissions by 2050," she said.
"We cannot continue to invest in more and wider roads and at the same time hope to reduce emissions from transport.
"Investment in road safety - yes, better public transport - yes, active modes such as walking and cycling - yes.
"But just as New Zealanders have demonstrated a remarkable commitment to halting business as usual during the Covid-19 pandemic, we need our Government to help us make a rapid transition to travelling around in different ways in order to respond to the climate crisis, " Hughes said.
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"The people of Tauranga have taken to their bikes and to walking during the lockdown so we know we can do it when our streets are quieter and safer.
"There is a fantastic opportunity being presented to us that as a country we can build upon but we need investment by our government in permanent and safe infrastructure."
Glen Crowther from the Sustainable Business Network said the 2020 Budget "rightly" prioritised much-needed investment into New Zealand's railway system.
"A sustainable economy requires rail infrastructure that meets the needs of businesses, plus passenger rail on key routes," he said.
"Years of neglect are being turned around by the billions invested into the rail network by this government. This will benefit the Bay of Plenty region which increasingly relies on rail to get freight to and from the Port of Tauranga."
Crowther said the 2020 Budget highlighted the huge gap between councils' wish lists and central government funding - Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty councils recently applied for about $4b of infrastructure funding.
"This is more than the $3b infrastructure funding announced in the Budget for the whole country. That massive funding shortfall and the impact of Covid-19 means some councils need to urgently review their expensive urban growth plans," he said.
Crowther said the Sustainable Business Network was also pleased about the $1.1b funding to create 11,000 environmental jobs in the regions.
The package included regional environmental projects, biosecurity and pest control roles, and Department of Conservation "job for nature" fund, he said.
"We strongly support investing in jobs for the increasing number of New Zealanders out of work. It is far better for everyone if people are employed in paid work that improves our natural environment, rather than stuck at home on a benefit."
Crowther said he was also happy to see a big investment for disability services, which would benefit some of our country's most vulnerable people.
Bike Tauranga advocacy group chairman Kevin Kerr said: "While the Budget was short on detail regarding the $3b for infrastructure projects, I'm optimistic that when this is added to the $12b pre-Covid announcement it will create some much-needed funding opportunities for addressing Tauranga's transport congestion problems.
"Covid-19 has bought about significant change and the world as we knew it has gone and a new normal will evolve.
"If we are going to spend billions on stimulating the economy then let's spend a bunch of that money on a Covid-19 Green response to our transport problems."
Kerr said it was important the Government was "very careful" it did not allocate money to projects that would result in the worse traffic congestion.
"We require some major investment into safe cycling infrastructure in Tauranga," he said.