Graeme Easte sums up the rail funding issue for Auckland in a letter to the Herald last Thursday:
Len Brown is being attacked for seeking billions from the Government to fund major rail projects for Auckland. But this is a category mistake: the real issue is not about seeking substantial new money but rather about redirecting some of the vast amounts of cash already budgeted for transport funding.
Over the next 30 years the Transport Agency (NZTA) is budgeting to receive over $100 billion in income from fuel taxes and road levies. With about a third of the population, Auckland will provide about a third of that income and is slated to receive a similar proportion in expenditure – somewhere in the range of $30-39 billion. Although about half of that will be required for maintaining existing infrastructure, passenger transport subsidies, etc. that still leaves the other half for new projects – large and small.
So instead of telling us that the cupboard is bare, Government needs to enter into a dialogue with Len and his new Council as to what our spending priorities are. Len has a very strong mandate to tell Government Auckland’s preference is for expanding the public transport network way ahead of new motorways.
Indeed. Auckland should be investing in transport projects that achieve the best economic, social and environmental outcomes, with a view to reducing our long term reliance on fossil fuels. This investment should not be predetermined based on an obsolete funding model that stems from the transport planning of last century.