Yesterday was really a day of funding news with the other big talking point being the Council finally adopting the Long Term Plan. The budget agreed yesterday is significant as for transport it represents probably the biggest single shift in funding priorities in many generations. Unimaginable just a few years ago, over half of the council’s transport funding (if you exclude renewals) is going towards public transport combined with around 10% going to walking and cycling – not including projects funded as part of other road projects.
The step change in funding has come about in part due to the transport levy now agreed – $99 for households and $159 for businesses. The impact the levy has is shown below as it enables the Interim Transport Programme.
*some of the figures might have changed slightly from when this table was produced
In many ways I think Auckland has not been served well by it’s councils (and governments) who for decades have been too scared to make some tough choices and as such failed to invest enough in transport. The budget passing at 10-9 (two who most likely would have voted for it were away) shows that a large number of councillors wanted to continue this trend.
While I understand that people don’t want to pay more rates, the fact the money is going towards significantly investing in modes that we’ve neglected for decades and that are growing strongly is a positive thing. I suspect that if measured based on a return on investment metric we’d be getting a pretty good deal.
We and future generations should thank the 10 councillors from across the political spectrum who were brave enough to look to the future when making this decision. Those that voted for the budget were:
- Len Brown
- Arthur Anae
- Bill Cashmore
- Linda Cooper
- Chris Darby
- Alf Filipania
- Mike Lee
- Calum Penrose
- Wayne Walker
- Penny Webster
Of course the Herald ran with the story that many would see rates were going up over $1000. The council clarified that today with the following figures.
If there’s one area I think people should be upset it’s that the they have to pay GST on top of the transport levy. With around 454,000 households that’s almost $7 million a year extra going to the governments coffers that could be spent elsewhere. It perhaps wouldn’t be so bad if the government would promise to invest that GST back in to Auckland, that’s potentially a lot more cycleways or bus lanes.