Auckland's booming, but inadequate, public transport system is the big winner in a $28 billion transport programme over 10 years unveiled by Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Mayor Phil Goff yesterday.

The city's car-dominant eastern suburbs will get a long-awaited rapid busway from Panmure to Botany and high speed public transport to the airport, electric trains will run to Pukekohe and the Northern Busway will extend to Albany and then on shoulder lanes to Silverdale.

Construction of the light rail will take about two years and cause great disturbance to traffic and firms in Queen St. Photo / Supplied
Construction of the light rail will take about two years and cause great disturbance to traffic and firms in Queen St. Photo / Supplied

"Everyone knows this city is slowly grinding to a halt. We have had years of drift and tinkering and under-investment and the consequence of that is the city is losing $1.3b every year in lost productivity," Twyford told the media and transport advocates at Newmarket Railway Station yesterday.

Alongside him, Goff unveiled transport projects to be funded by a proposed 11.5 cents a litre fuel tax, due to hit motorists at the pump in July. The tax would raise $1.5b over 10 years but with transport subsidies and other funding sources would add up to a $4.4b funding boost, he said.

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Auckland drivers face paying up to 25c a litre more at the pump in the next three years as the Government also proposes boosting fuel taxes to fund its transport plans.

Twyford also revealed that the tolled Penlink highway between Whangaparaoa and the Northern Motorway to take pressure off the heavily congested route through Silverdale could cost $2 to $3 to use, but detailed work still needs to be done.

National's transport spokesman Jami-Lee Ross said motorists using Penlink faced a triple whammy with the toll and two lots of petrol taxes.

We have congestion. We are facing gridlock. It is costing us huge frustration

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Roading and business groups welcomed the Government and council's joint 10-year transport programme, which included the long-awaited Penlink road and the first stage of the Mill Rd corridor running from Manukau to Drury to support growth at a cost of $500m.

National Road Carriers chief executive David Aitken was pleased to see the two roading projects in the 10-year plan, but believed Penlink should be built with four lanes straight away, not the two lanes envisaged by Twyford.

He also wanted to see the details of a lower cost east-west road project between Sylvia Park and Onehunga, which has gone from up to $1.8b under an earlier National Party proposal to $800m under Labour.

There was real excitement from public transport groups, such as Bike Auckland, whose chairwoman Barbara Chapman was elated at $900 million for walking and cycling.

"The huge news is the Government getting SkyPath off the ground after years of Aucklanders crying out for that missing link across the harbour," she said.

By building new light rail (modern trams), prioritising buses and further cycling network upgrades, this new transport budget will unlock Auckland," said Generation Zero Auckland director Leroy Beckett.

Whangaparaoa resident Chris Tarpey discusses congestion and traffic north of Auckland, as well as the new proposed Penlink road. / Video by Dean Purcell

Twyford was confident the package would double public transport, which has risen sharply in recent years to more than 60 million bus trips and 20 rail trips a year.

On the Government's ambitious plans to build modern trams from the CBD, via Dominion Rd, to the airport and from the CBD to Westgate in West Auckland, Twyford said the Government would provide seed funding of $1.8 billion.

The rest of the $6 tram cost would come from long-term borrowing or forms of partnerships with the private sector and "I will have more to say about this in the next few weeks" Twyford said.

Goff said the council had to contribute its share to the 10-year Auckland Transport Alignment Project(ATAP). It will fund $10b through the regional fuel tax, rates, development contributions and loans.

He said Auckland is due 38 per cent of the National Land Transport Fund over the next decade - proportionate to population but short of the city's projected 55 per cent share of the country's population growth.

"We have congestion. We are facing gridlock. It is costing us huge frustration. It is costing the country, not just Auckland, $1billion to $2b a year," said Goff.

Ross said the Government has just re-announced National's Auckland transport package but confirmed it will tax Aucklanders an extra 25c a litre of fuel to deliver its "half-planned, half-funded multi-billion dollar tram to the Airport".

"The difference between National and Labour's plans is under Labour, Aucklanders will be paying hundreds of dollars a year more in fuel taxes but getting fewer new roads, with billions diverted to a tram from the CBD to the airport," Ross said.

Twyford said the $28b transport programme is fully funded, saying Labour inherited a $9.7b fiscal hole from National for Auckland's transport planning.

It was widely reported that National's transport programme had a $5.9b hole, but modelling showed these costings did not account for inflation, the minister said.

"We have done the numbers and it was a $9.7b hole and we have closed it," Twyford said.

Auckland's $28b Transport bonanza

The big numbers

Trams, busways, rail - $8.4b
Local roads - $3.8b
Transport infrastructure in greenfields - $1.3b
Safety - $900m
Walking and cycling - $900m
Bus and ferry improvements - $700m
Technology & optimisation - $700m
Asset renewal - $3.3b
Running costs $8.1b
Total $28b

Committed Projects
$3.4b City Rail Link
Puhoi to Warkworth SH1 motorway
New electric trains
Manukau to Papakura SH1 motorway widening
Northern corridor improvements
Northern Busway extension to Albany

New projects

Road projects

Airport to Botany upgrade of SH20B with dedicated bus lanes

Revised east-west link, reduced in cost from $1.75b to $800m

Widening SH1 between Papakura and Drury

Mill Rd from Manukau to Drury, stage 1 costing $500m

Penlink toll road connecting Whangaparaoa and the Northern Motorway at Dairy Flat

Bus projects
Eastern busway from Panmure to Botany
Airport to Botany
More bus lanes, T2 and T3 lanes
Carrington Rd upgrade
Sylvia Park improvements
Albany to Silverdale bus improvements

Rail projects
Electrification to Pukekohe
Third main rail line from Otahuhu to Wiri
Level crossing and pedestrian crossing improvements

Trams
$6b light rail, or modern trams, from CBD to airport and CBD to Westgate

Walking and Cycling
$900m, including $640m package for cycling
SkyPath cycleway over Auckland Harbour Bridge, SeaPath connection to Takapuna and a new walking and cycling crossing of Manukau Harbour between Onehunga and Mangere Bridge included in the package
$240m for Local Board priorities for walking, cycling and safety

Ferry projects
Upgrade downtown ferry basin

Safety
Upgrade 10 to 12 high risk intersection and 200km of high risk routes each year
Better signage , surface improvements and markings on rural roads
Lowering speed limits, speed and red-light cameras on 10 per cent of roads

Running costs
Make more public transport services run every 15 minutes
Increase off-peak and weekend rail services

Mayor Phil Goff's proposals for spending the 11.5c a litre regional petrol tax*

Bus priority improvements, such as bus lanes, T2/T3 lanes - $135m*
City centre bus improvements - $62m
Improved airport access - $26m
Eastern busway - $201m
Park and ride for about 1900 additional spaces - $24m
Electric trains and stabling - $213m
Downtown ferry redevelopment - $28m
Road safety - $225m
Cycling and walking - $112m
Penlink toll road - $66m
Mill Rd corridor - $102m
Road improvements, including Lincoln Rd, Lake Rd and Matakana Link Rd - $87m
Traffic signal optimisation and other technology - $99m
Transport infrastructure at new subdivisions in south, north and north-west - $126m
Total $1.506m
*These projects and costings feed into the wider council-government programme.