For the last 6 months or so, a group of people representing organisations from all corners of society have been looking at the issue of how we will pay for all of the transport projects on the councils massive wish list that is the Auckland Plan. Here is the press release:
Tough decisions needed on Auckland’s transport future
A six-month process involving 17 of Auckland’s key transport stakeholders reached a significant milestone today with the release of a public discussion document on the future of transport funding in Auckland.
‘Funding Auckland’s Transport Future’ is the consensus view of community, transport, environment, and business representatives, each with a stake in finding the best solution to Auckland’s transport funding problem.
The Consensus Building Group (‘the CBG’) have concluded that additional revenue of $400 million each year for the next 30 years is needed to help fund the transport projects in the Auckland Plan.
The CBG found that existing funding tools are sufficient in the short-term, however by 2021 Auckland needed to follow one of two possible options capable of generating the required money.
Option 1 identifies a continued reliance on existing revenue sources. This would mean large increases to rates and fuel taxes, tolls to fund major new roads, further government contributions and small fare increases for public transport users.
Option 2 would require a new source of funding, known generally as road pricing. Road pricing can be implemented in a variety of forms and they have identified a motorway network charge or one or more single cordons as the most likely. Option 2 would be supplemented by small increases to rates, fuel taxes and public transport fares, alongside further government contributions.
The CBG has not expressed a preference for one option ahead of the other. However, it concluded that unless Aucklanders are prepared to accept higher rates increases and heavier congestion, it will be necessary to introduce some form of road pricing by 2021.
The CBG has identified population growth as Auckland’s greatest transport challenge.
“In order to cope with population growth at twice the rate of the rest of New Zealand, Auckland’s transport system must undergo change across all modes – roads, public transport, walking and cycling,” says the report.
“If we do nothing, the result will be transport congestion that is excessive, disruptive and costly.”
Research conducted by the CBG shows that introducing a road pricing scheme would help to reduce the level of congestion on Auckland roads, and improve travel speeds and journey times for motorists and freight. However, road pricing must be supported by viable, attractive public transport alternatives.
The CBG is asking Aucklanders to submit their feedback on its initial proposals. Electronic copies of the report and an online survey are available at www.keepaucklandmoving.org.nz. Printed copies are also available at Auckland Council Service Centre’s and Libraries. Public feedback will help shape the CBG’s recommendations to Auckland Council, scheduled for July 2013.
The CBG has said that this is the beginning of a longer conversation. “If Auckland Council and the government wish to progress our recommendations, they will need to hold separate formal consultation with Aucklanders on the detailed impact and design of any new funding package,” says the report.
As mentioned in the release, there are two options being presented for how to bridge the funding gap.
Personally I was a disappointed that the group weren’t allowed to consider whether the projects marked on the Auckland plan would actually be effective or were the right mix. It is quite possible that changing priorities, and mix of projects may allow us to deliver the same level of benefits for a much smaller overall cost removing part of the funding gap.
We will take a much deeper look at the funding options in time but this post is really just to get the discussion going. There is more information on the website set up by the group (which has been updated today) including their report.