Extra ATAP spend welcome but is the balance of transport modes right?

Mar 12, 2021

The additional $500 million spend announced today as part of the revised $31 billion Auckland Transport Alignment Programme (ATAP) is welcome at a time when Auckland Council’s budget is under extreme pressure, says the EMA.

EMA Chief Executive Brett O’Riley says: "The Community Connect initiative to assist disadvantaged members of the community to use public transport and the $1.5 billion allocated to Local Boards are both good community-focused initiatives that can only come into being because of the partnership between Auckland Council and Central Government."

"But we do have some concerns at the balance of transport modes outlined in the programme. Much of the focus is on public transport, busways, light rail, active transport (walking, cycling) and the CRL and all of these have a role to play in encouraging Aucklanders out of their vehicles while easing congestion."

However, Mr O’Riley says we need to recognise that vehicle use and vehicle kilometres travelled by the private, light commercial and freight fleets continues to greatly outstrip the growth in public transport use.

"We need to maintain a balance between public transport initiatives and much-needed rail and road projects that support our economic growth, the movement of critical freight and build on the connections needed across the upper North Island from Taupo through to the Far North.

"None of these public transport initiatives are put in the context of enabling congestion charging - an alternative transport mode helps with its introduction - and the revised programme is relatively silent on congestion charging and funding its implementation."

"We know during school holiday periods that the network operates in a different, less congested way. Congestion charging could make this an everyday reality, with increased public transport options being a key enabler."

Mr O’Riley says several projects mentioned were re-announcements of work already underway, such as the third main rail line, electrified rail to Pukekohe and allocations for Penlink and the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway extension.

"An injection of Central Government funding at this time will help keep Auckland’s transport programme on track although we would always like faster progress across a number of key projects to help boost the overall efficiency of the network."

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