Both Brian Rudman and, perhaps surprisingly, Jeremy Sole of the New Zealand Contractors Federation are waking up to the radical changes proposed for changes to national land transport funding.
As Auckland Regional Transport Authority chairman Mark Ford noted, “to put it simply, where there has been investment, there has been growth on rail and bus”. These were 3.7 million trips that were not taken in a private car on our congested roads. Yet our masters still have difficulty grasping the obvious message. Provide decent, reliable public transport and people will use it. At both local and central government level, the penny doesn’t seem to have dropped.
There are also other concerns. While the Government is firmly committed to investment in transport infrastructure to achieve economic growth, it appears this will be subject to funding availability.
The recent $25 million a year drop in the lower threshold of the predicted spend range in the Government Policy Statement for 2010 and 2011 indicates Government’s expectation that councils will not be committing their own funds to roading projects – so not drawing down the Transport Agency funding share.
The federation’s concern has been what will happen to those funds earmarked for local projects, if they are not taken up?
The Government has recently agreed to allow unused funds to be diverted to other transport projects but the mechanism for this is not yet clear.
It is vital that local projects such as arterial roads keep rolling forward. One way to do this would be low-interest Government loans to local councils – restricted to essential infrastructure projects.
Yes. Every category of transport funding is about to be slashed apart from new state highways. We’ll post the details shortly.