In a Herald article last Friday, Transport Minister Steven Joyce came out with the following straw man argument:
“I don’t think anyone would buy the suggestion that that very, very expensive project should just be paid for by road users,” he said.
In response, Transport Minister Steven Joyce is right, but no-one is suggesting that the CBD Rail Link should just be paid for by road users.
However Minister Joyce must be aware that public transport infrastructure can significantly benefit road users, and on that basis some level of funding commitment from the National Land Transport Fund, which raises $2.8bn annually from petrol excise and road user charges, is entirely appropriate.
The precedent for this is the Northern Busway. This quarter billion dollar project was jointly funded from the National Land Transport Fund and the North Shore City Council and has eased congestion levels across the Harbour Bridge to the significant benefit of motorists.
Similarly the CBD Rail Link will not only double capacity of the entire rail network and offer significant travel time saving benefits to public transport users, but it will also benefit road users as well by taking a significant number of cars off the roads at peak times.
Contrary to what Minister Joyce says, Auckland City has already established that no roading based solution will offer anywhere near the benefits of the CBD Rail Link.
If Minister Joyce insists on having sole discretion on how our fuel taxes are used, he needs to work constructively to find alternative transport funding solutions for Auckland.