A $28 billion investment in Auckland's transport network will be a welcome relief for Aucklanders as it unlocks the city and provides much-needed transport choice, say backers of the plan.
Generation Zero Auckland director Leroy Beckett said by building new light rail, prioritising buses and upgrading cycling networks, the funding package will unlock the city.
"We're supportive of the Government's new transport plan and will be pushing for it to be delivered as soon as possible to provide relief and greater transport choices for Aucklanders," Beckett said.
The initiatives were announced today by transport Minister Phil Twyford and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff who described the work as the largest ever civil construction programme.
"This plan signals Auckland is now on track to deal with the transport problems that have plagued the city," Beckett said.
Auckland Council and the Government said they will invest $28 billion over the next decade to unlock Auckland's potential.
The money will be spent on building vital projects including light rail, a new toll road between the Whangaparaoa Peninsula and the Northern Motorway known as Penlink and Mill Rd in the south, improving the connection from Manukau through Takanini to Drury.
There would also be heavy rail and bus upgrades, safety improvements, and more dedicated cycle lanes.
The investments are made possible by a $4.4b funding boost resulting from the Auckland regional fuel tax (RFT), increased revenue from the National Land Transport Fund, and a new funding mechanism, Crown Infrastructure Partners.
"As Aucklanders, we are finally getting what has been required and demanded for the past decade," Beckett said.
"Every investment in public transport has been met with dramatically increased demand and enthusiasm.
"Auckland will finally build the citywide rapid transit network we have been waiting for since the 1950's."
Beckett said he was especially excited by the confirmation of a light rail network for Auckland, including a long-awaited public transport link to Auckland Airport.
"Modern, high capacity and high speed light rail will transform travel for those living in south-west and north-west Auckland."
However Beckett was dubious about Mill Rd, saying the project should be scrutinised heavily before construction because he thought smaller scale improvements would suffice and more money could be spent on safety improvements around Auckland.
Bike Auckland said an increase in the walking and cycling budget to $900 million over 10 years was something to celebrate.
Spokeswoman Barb Cuthbert added it was "huge news" that SkyPath - a new link across the Auckland Harbour - would finally get off the ground.
She said it also be an iconic addition to the city skyline and would become a "must-do experience for visitors to the city".
"Just as significantly, we will see connected-up cycleways advancing across the city, from west to east and north to south, giving Aucklanders the genuine option of biking for transport, to work, school, shops, sports, and for fun and health," she said.
"These links are vitally important for our growing city. Safer routes to schools will let families travel confidently around their neighbourhoods as well as delivering a 'school holiday effect' on the roads every week of the year."
The Green Party was heralding the announcement as "a game changer" that would deliver on some of the core commitments of the party's confidence and supply agreement.
"Investment in high-quality public transport is critical to the transition to a smart, green economy," Green Party co-leader James Shaw said.
"Light rail, along with new rapid bus lanes and safe cycleways, will give more Aucklanders easy access to low-carbon transport options.
"By investing in clean, electric transport Auckland will be doing its bit to support the goal of net zero emissions by 2050.
"These congestion-free alternatives to driving will also make Auckland easier to get around by giving more people the freedom to bypass road traffic."
Shaw said the commitment to deliver SkyPath would eliminate a major road-block to cycling around Auckland.
"It's great to see it supported by around 125 kilometres of new, safe cycleway in the city."
He said there was a risk that certain road expansion and widening projects would create more traffic and congestion down the track.
"This will have to be carefully managed by ensuring priority is given to public transport on these corridors."