Auckland transport boss Lester Levy had a stark warning for Aucklanders today.
"We will never solve the problems of transport in Auckland unless we address head-on the issue of car dependency. We cannot move forward without reducing the number of single-occupancy cars."
The Auckland Transport chairman wants more of us to try leaving the car at home. He says he knows it isn't right for everyone, but he hopes those who can will take advantage of the improved public transport, walking and cycling options AT is rolling out. They have some big plans.
He was speaking at the end of an AT board meeting, where they adopted a new $16.5 billion budget for spending on transport in the city over the next 10 years.
Most of the money will go on roads, and most of the roads money will go on bus services, along with local roads, both urban and rural, which need safety improvements.
The spending plans are the city's part of the new Auckland Transport Alignment Project, a $28 billion agreement between the council and the Government that was signed off in April. Auckland Transport is a council body.
The AT plan, officially known as the Regional Land Transport Plan, contains a long list of funding for public transport projects, along with nearly $500 million for "active transport", or walking and cycling.
Money has also been assigned to new technologies like electronic monitoring that will help manage congestion.
The public transport projects include extending the Northern Busway to Albany and creating new rapid transit routes in the east, west and south. There will also be more electric trains, a new downtown ferry terminal and new bus terminals on Quay St and Albert St.
The CEO of Auckland Transport, Shane Ellison, confirmed they expect to have the new downtown transport services in place for the America's Cup in 2021.
The board decided to refer to the Government's proposed new southern light rail line as the "central city to Mangere" line, not as the "airport line". That's because it's a commuter line linking suburbs and workplaces, not just a service for air travellers.
AT has not allocated funding for light rail in the 10-year plan, as the Government will be meeting those costs.
In addition to other budget items announced in the Herald yesterday, $60 million will be spent on scoping and route protection for a new Waitemata crossing. Electrification of the rail line to Pukekohe will be completed by 2022 at a cost of $232m. Rail freight will benefit from a third set of tracks to the inland port at Wiri and railway improvements near the port. They will cost $173m.