Rail system vital for the future of Auckland
Mayoral candidate Phil Goff today released his transport policy which aims to bring forward rail and busways and pursue alternative funding options to pay for infrastructure.
His policy also will see the conversion of the Council vehicle fleet to electric, including the mayoral car, to reduce carbon emissions and pollution.
“Auckland’s worsening congestion is costing the city billions of dollars so tackling the problem has to be a priority for the incoming Council. Public transport projects will be the priority, and will free up the roads for those who do not have alternative options,” said Phil Goff.
“With bus lanes due to hit capacity, such as on Queen and Symonds Street, we need to look at rail as an alternative mode of transport. I want Auckland Council to prioritise the development of light rail and sign off of a business case for an isthmus light rail system so that it can be included into the Council’s 2018 Long Term Plan.
“With our tourist numbers growing and the airport area increasing as a place of employment, I want to see progress made on rail from the city to the airport, be it heavy or light, based on the business case.
“The current works expanding the Northern-Western motorway should have had a busway capacity built in. That now needs to become a priority, as well as extending the busway north from Albany,” said Phil Goff.
The transport policy provides a multipronged approach to solving and future proofing Auckland’s worsening transport problems including:
- Improving park and ride facilities in the outer parts of the network.
- Electrifying trains to Pukekohe as a priority to eliminate transfer at Papakura.
- The AMETI (Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative) project from Panmure to Pakuranga needs to be progressed as early as possible.
- Completing cycle networks around Auckland to add an alternative for people to move around the city and kids to bike to school.
“None of the infrastructure is going to come cheap but Auckland needs it. Aucklanders have said they are prepared to pay their share – through alternative funding tools such as a regional fuel tax or some form of road charging. They prefer these methods to the massive rates hikes and strategic asset sales that would otherwise be required. Treasury also advised the government earlier this year that rate rises and asset sales are not the way to fund infrastructure.
“We need the government to consider expanding the Housing Infrastructure Fund to cater for transport projects. If we want capital at the lowest possible interest rate, we also need to consider bond schemes. My priority will be to work with central government on this.
“I will also consider public/private partnerships or BOTs (Build-Operate-Transfer) schemes to get the infrastructure going earlier than we otherwise might have been able to. Higher financing cost will be offset by the saving made by delivering these big projects faster.
“As part of my overall drive to increase efficiency and sustainability, the mayoral car, and progressively the Council fleet, will be converted to electric over time.
“No one wants Auckland grinding to a halt. Central government needs to work with Auckland to provide its fair share and then give us the tools to pay ours. And that is what I will be pushing for as mayor,” said Phil Goff.