Govt, Auckland Council release $28bn plan for transport

Article – BusinessDesk

April 26 (BusinessDesk) – The government and Auckland Council plan to spend $28 billion on transport in the country’s biggest city over the next decade, with a $2.8 billion increase in funding from the National Land Transport Fund.Govt, Auckland Council release $28bn plan for transport over next decade

By Sophie Boot

April 26 (BusinessDesk) – The government and Auckland Council plan to spend $28 billion on transport in the country’s biggest city over the next decade, with a $2.8 billion increase in funding from the National Land Transport Fund.

The new Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) package released today sees central government spending $18 billion on transport in Auckland over the next decade, including $16.3 billion from the National Land Transport Fund, $1.4 billion from the Crown contribution to the City Rail Link, and $360 million from Crown Infrastructure Partners. Auckland Council will fund the remaining $10 billion, with $8.45 billion from rates, development contributions and borrowing, and $1.5 billion from the planned regional fuel tax.

The plan means Auckland will get 38 percent of the National Land Transport Fund, which is raised via fuel taxes, road user charges and vehicle licensing fees, which the government stressed was proportionate with its projected share of the country’s population into the future.

In the year ended June 30, 2017, Auckland received $909.2 million in funding from the NLTF from its total of $3.4 billion invested around the country, or 27 percent. The expected funding increase is based on the government’s draft statement on land transport, but “is subject to the on merit allocation process of the National Land Transport Programme”, the plan noted.

Of the $28 billion, $8.1 billion will be spent on operational costs and $3.3 billion on asset renewals. There will also be a significant spend on new projects, including:

– $8.4 billion on the rapid transit network, which includes buses, rail and light rail;

– $3.8 billion on road networks;

– $1.3 billion on greenfield transport infrastructure;

– $900 million on safety programmes;

– $900 million on walking, cycling & local board priorities; and

– $700 million on bus and ferry improvements;

– $700 million on optimisation and technology.

At a press conference today, Minister of Transport Phil Twyford said Auckland would get a fair share of the NLTP but “it will only get a fair share”. The proportion of the fund that Auckland will get was slightly ahead of its current population percentage, Twyford said, but “it’s a long way below the projected population growth and a long way below the GDP share.”

“Something has to change in Auckland; we cannot allow the city to grind to a halt.”

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said the plan “represents a significant increase in investment in our transport network, but we still need to find innovative ways to fund further development such as public-private partnerships, special purpose vehicles or infrastructure bonds.” Goff said that congestion pricing in Auckland is a “couple of years off” but has been demonstrated internationally to have an even bigger effect on traffic.

Major investments under ATAP include committed projects like the City Rail Link and northern motorway improvements, along with light rail; the eastern busway from Panmure to Botany; an airport to Puhinui State highway upgrade, including a public transport link to an upgraded Puhinui rail station; a bus priority programme to more rapidly grow Auckland’s bus lane network and support faster, more reliable and more efficient bus services; and Albany to Silverdale bus improvements.

There will also be a lower-cost East West Link to address key freight issues in the area; motorway widening between Papakura and Drury; the first phase of the Mill Road corridor; and the Penlink toll road.

The plan includes a “significant programme of safety improvements”, new transport infrastructure to enable greenfield growth, a network optimisation and technology programme to make the best use of the existing network, and rail network improvements including electrification to Pukekohe, additional trains and other track upgrades, Twyford said.

Within the rapid transit category, the government has allocated $1.8 billion for light rail, which Twyford said was “seed funding”. An announcement will be made soon on sources of investment capital for light rail outside of ATAP. Twyford said the first priority was the city to Māngere link, and the northwestern corridor was the second priority.

Cycling infrastructure receives $640 million of investment under the plan, with new developments including SkyPath (which runs under the Harbour Bridge), SeaPath (which extends SkyPath into Takapuna) and a new walking and cycling crossing of the Manukau Harbour between Onehunga and Mangere Bridge. Twyford said central government wants to see SeaPath and SkyPath funded and built, and expects local authorities to come to the party.

(BusinessDesk)

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