The Government is extending half-price public fares for most Aucklanders by two months and making a "community connect" half-price pilot scheme permanent for people who hold community service cards.
Manukau Harbour is also back on the table with funding allocated for feasibility studies for the long-awaited shift of Auckland's port.
Any hopes the Budget would make the popular half-price public transport scheme permanent have been dashed.
Instead, the scheme will run until the end of August at a cost of $132 million and the "community connect" pilot scheme will become permanent.
The Government introduced half-price fares on April 1 for three months. The decision, with slashing 25c off fuel taxes, was in response to the cost-of-living crisis.
In the first full week of half-price fares, the number of bus, train and ferry journeys rose in Auckland by 24 per cent, although some of the increase was because of the easing of Covid-19 restrictions and more people returning to work.
The Fares Free campaign said permanent half-price fares for community service card holders is a good start, but free fares would make a greater difference in reducing emissions and ensuring everyone has an accessible, low-carbon option to get to where they live, work and play.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff welcomed the two-month extension and permanent half-price fares for community service card holders, saying it would help 200,000 of the city's most vulnerable and low-income residents.
The Government has announced it will spend $199m for "detailed planning activities", plus an unknown amount, kept secret for commercial reasons, on its flagship $14.6 billion light rail project from the central city to the airport.
Transport Minister Michael Wood told Parliament on Monday that construction would begin next year. At the 2017 elections, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised the first leg of light rail to Mt Roskill would be completed in four years and running the full 22km to the airport within 10 years.
The Government is also forging ahead with feasibility studies for the long-awaited shift of Auckland's port.
Northport, which had been mooted as a replacement, will get a feasibility study for a new dry dock. The big winner will be Manukau Harbour, where a feasibility study will see whether it could one day replace Auckland's existing port in Waitematā Harbour.
Goff said the funding to explore the engineering feasibility of Manukau Harbour as a possible location for Auckland's future port will enable an earlier decision on moving the Port from the central city while keeping it within the Auckland region.
There is bad news in the Budget for Auckland Council's ballooning budget deficit, with Treasury forecasting inflation at 5.2 per cent over the next year.
Last December, finance officers were working to an inflation rate of 2 per cent for this year's budget, saying each additional 0.5 per cent of inflation would add about $15m to the council's permanent operating cost base. At that stage, the budget deficit was about $85m.
The audit and risk committee was told on Tuesday that the financial pressures could intensify "the magnitude of the council's operating budget challenge".
The committee noted that the ongoing impacts of Covid-19, along with rising inflation and interest rates and constraints in the labour market and supply chain are presenting "significant risks to the financial position of the Auckland Council group".