Next Monday it will be a year since the Auckland Regional Fuel Tax was introduced. This 10 cent per litre charge (plus GST) is critical in supporting delivery of the $28 billion ATAP transport programme.
Projects funded by the Regional Fuel Tax are listed in the table below:
One important aspect to remember about the Regional Fuel Tax is that even though the charge itself raises about $1.5 billion over the next decade, this extra funding actually supports $4.2 billion of projects because it also unlock more funding from NZTA and from development contributions.
Last week Auckland Council got an update on how things have progressed over the past year – although the reporting only covers up until March 31 this year. This update highlights that during the 9 month period from July last year through to March this year just over $117 million from the Regional Fuel Tax was collected, but interestingly only $68.5 million was spent – leaving reserves of just under $50 million. It’s inevitable that expenditure might take a while to get going, but the scale of this gap does highlight that Auckland Transport needs to get on with delivering projects funded by the fuel tax.
More detail later in the presentation suggests that one reason for the slower spend might be difficulties of accessing NZTA subsidy, which was assumed by ATAP.
So where has the Regional Fuel Tax money gone in the past nine months?
Overall, the $68.5 million of Regional Fuel Tax spend has attracted some (interestingly it appears not full 50/50) subsidy from NZTA, meaning a total of $101 million of expenditure enabled by the fuel tax has occurred over the past nine months. The main areas of this seem to be on the AMETI Eastern Busway, Road Safety and Road Corridor Improvements. Somewhat surprisingly there’s no spend at all on active transport from the fuel tax, reflecting the horrifically slow progress Auckland Transport is making on walking and cycling improvements generally.
The other thing that stands out to me is how we are seeing a pretty tiny proportion of the $4.27 billion “enabled by the Regional Fuel Tax” programme actually occurring in the first year. As I said it’s understandable that Auckland Transport would take a bit of time to “ramp up”, but we really do need them to get on with it. It will be interesting to keep an eye on these progress updates, as I think Aucklanders will be pretty impatient to see results from the extra money they’re paying towards improving the transport system.