Back in March, as part of consultation on the Long-term Plan, the Council was in the awkward position of needing to ask the public whether they supported a Regional Fuel Tax without being able to exactly say what the money it would raise would be spent on. Despite this, amazingly a majority of Aucklanders still supported the proposal – as evidenced through a 4000 person scientific Colmar Brunton poll.
With the release of ATAP last week, there is now clarity on the transport programme the fuel tax will enable to be delivered. There will now be a two week consultation period, starting today, that discusses this detail. Yesterday the Council’s Governing Body approved the list of projects that the fuel tax will enable to be delivered over the next ten years. This is briefly summarised below:
What’s perhaps the most interesting thing about this list is the grand total – that the Regional Fuel Tax will enable around $4.3 billion of transport capital investment and $250 million of operating cost over the next decade that would otherwise not happen. This is because the Regional Fuel Tax “unlocks” the following further funding:
- Around $700 million of development contributions
- Around $2 billion of NZTA subsidy from the National Land Transport Fund
The different projects are explained in a bit more detail in the consultation overview document:
Because the Regional Fuel Tax enables more development contributions funding and also gets “matched” by NZTA funding, it is ultimately making up a huge part of the overall transport programme. ATAP detailed a total spend on new projects (i.e. not operating costs or asset renewals) of around $16 billion. Once major committed projects like City Rail Link as well as projects that will be fully funded by the Government (like light-rail) are taken out, the Regional Fuel Tax really looks like it enables the funding of pretty much Auckland’ Transport’s entire non-committed programme. Or, put differently, if the Regional Fuel Tax is not ultimately approved, then nothing on the list above can happen.
There has been a lot of discussion about whether a Regional Fuel Tax is the “fairest” way of increase transport funding. From a social equity perspective it might be fairer to just raise rates by 13-14% instead. But, rightly or wrongly, I can’t see such a high rates increase happening. This means that if we want bus priority improvements, a huge increase to road safety investment, to finally build the AMETI Eastern Busway, to buy more trains and fully utilise City Rail Link, to actually have a walking and cycling programme and much much more, we need the Regional Fuel Tax.
It really is that simple. You can make a submission here.