National leader Christopher Luxon has walked back remarks saying he was opposed to public transport subsidies after an excoriating attack from Labour.
He has clarified he supports public transport subsidies on most projects and he thinks that in the next decade the number of people using public transport will increase.
Luxon even said that if transport planners came to a future National Government asking for money for a future City Rail Link (currently slated to cost more than $4.4 billion), National would be open to funding it.
On Tuesday, Luxon had said he was not supportive of subsidies for public transport, saying services needed to "stand on their own merits".
He walked this back on Wednesday.
"I probably didn't express myself as clearly as I could have yesterday," Luxon told the Herald.
"The first thing I would say is we are very proud of our investment in public transport," Luxon said, citing the fifth National Government's spending on the city rail link and Wellington train services.
He said National was against "white elephant" projects like the Te Huia commuter train between Hamilton and Auckland, which was funded with a $100m subsidy
"That buys a lot of buses, that buys a lot of good you could do across the country."
Luxon said he wanted to look at "where you can get scale" and "where you can get compelling, good public transport options".
"I see it in my area in Auckland - you look at even the train services running from transport hubs like Panmure into Britomart.
"I've been using that public transport system myself… because for the first time it's effective, it works… it gets me in and out without having to worry about car parking - that's a good thing."
Luxon said he was "absolutely" open to funding the next City Rail Link-style project.
"Public transport we are very supportive of.
"We want to encourage mode shift."
Luxon said public transport could have fares subsidised, but each public transport service needed to have a supportive business case.
"I can't understand how that train service [Te Huia] works as a good place to subsidise and put money into."
He said in the future, more people would travel to work using public transport.
"I think you're going to see our cities densify.
"I lived in Sydney at a time when I watched that city, very similar to Auckland, go through a transition, where you build much denser housing over transport hubs and you get people encouraging and using it."