What Auckland public transport projects will be delayed as a result of the Government’s transport funding announcements last week?
The electrification of Auckland’s commuter rail network, which is far and away the largest public transport project in that city, remains on track for 2013. In regard to the smaller projects, I and my officials are working hard with Auckland officials to ensure that momentum is not lost on the important public transport initiatives in Auckland.
Does he realise that by cutting the guaranteed funding for Auckland’s public transport upgrades he has thrown into jeopardy integrated ticketing, new and upgraded train and bus stations, ferry wharf upgrades, and real-time information for buses, trains, and ferries—all of which are essential to make the network operate successfully?
No, I do not believe that I have placed those in jeopardy. Officials are walking through a process with the Auckland Regional Council and the Auckland Regional Transport Authority. The Auckland Regional Council has a total of $80 million of its own funds committed to those projects. We look forward to working constructively with them in the coming weeks.
The Government has committed to public transport infrastructure upgrades in Auckland, including the double tracking currently under way in Auckland costing $600 million, and signal, track, and electricity upgrades through ONTRACK worth $500 million, as well as the purchase of electric rolling stock worth another $500 million. Those projects represent a very sizable commitment, as the Minister of Finance confirms, to passenger transport users in Auckland.
How does the Minister answer the article in the New Zealand Herald that states that there will be delays in integrated ticketing, and how will Aucklanders who want to escape traffic gridlock and get to work quickly do so if they cannot easily transfer between buses, trains, and ferries on a single ticket, due to the Government’s half-plan that was announced for Auckland last week?
I do not expect they will want to ride on an integrated ticket. Integrated ticketing is currently subject to a funding decision from the New Zealand Transport Agency. The only comment I would add is that while integrated ticketing is important, some rather painfully expensive international experience shows that it needs to be done at the right time, and it is important that fare structures and services are simplified before we start paying the hourly rates of the information technology guys.
Does the Minister know when the successful tender for integrated ticketing for Auckland’s public transport will be announced, and when do tenders, which were called last year, lapse?
No, I do not know; that is subject to a decision by the New Zealand Transport Agency.
How will an Aucklander who wants to escape gridlock get to work when new and upgraded train and bus stations at Newmarket, New Lynn, Parnell, Morningside, and Onehunga now hang in the balance, due to the Government’s half-plan for Auckland public transport that was announced last week?
The member is well ahead of himself. The officials of the New Zealand Transport Agency, the Ministry of Transport, the senior staff of KiwiRail, the Auckland Regional Transport Authority, and the Auckland Regional Council are all working together, pretty much as we speak, to ensure that the projects that are under way continue.
Surely, the fact that the Minister is talking with these agencies does not override the fact that delays are taking place. To repeat the question of my co-leader, how will an Aucklander who wants to escape traffic gridlock and get to work easily be inspired to do so if there are hold-ups in the revamping of 10 ferries and the provision of better, real-time information for buses, ferries, and trains, now hanging in the balance due to the Government’s half-plan for Auckland public transport that was announced last week?
The answer to that question is the same as the answer to the previous one: the officials involved are working together to ensure that there are no unnecessary delays.
Does the Minister agree with former Minister of Transport the Hon Maurice Williamson, who said “. . . it’s also important to realise that throwing dollars at the problem of roads is not the answer. Experience in the United Kingdom, the United States and … Auckland shows us this. Building more and more roads in congested areas on many occasions results in more congestion—more traffic jams, more time and money wasted and more pollution.” If he does not agree with Mr Williamson, where is the evidence he has to show that Mr Williamson was wrong?
The member does not seem to understand that there is no argument at all on this side of the House that a multimodal passenger solution for Auckland is what is required. There is a need for roads because, at the end of the day, 84 percent of New Zealanders travel to and from work each day via the road, but there is also a need for public transport, particularly in our larger cities.
Has the Minister not seen the numbers with regard to the ways that people travel to work, including the dramatic increase in the number of Aucklanders catching the train, which was up by 18 percent in 2008, and the number of Aucklanders catching the bus, which was up by 7 percent in 2008—proving that Aucklanders would choose to use public transport if this Government, which will become a Government of gridlock if the Minister does not take action, would allow the Auckland Regional Transport Authority to get on and build the public transport we need?
As I said before, we do support passenger transport in Auckland, but we need to keep some sense of perspective. The number of passengers travelling to and from work by public transport in Auckland has been around 6 percent, and it is moving steadily towards 8 percent. Therefore, we have to still invest in other modes to get people to and from work safely.
I seek leave to table an article in this morning’s New Zealand Herald that shows that three short-listed tenders, prepared for more than $1 million each, are due to expire this Tuesday—
Leave is sought to table an article out of the New Zealand Herald. Is there any objection to that? There is.
I seek leave to table an article from the New Zealand Herald of 25 February 2009 entitled “Buses lead the way as commuters leave cars at home”.
I am about to seek leave for that, but I remind the Green members that the Standing Orders Committee has recommended that articles out of daily newspapers should not be tabled in the House. Having said that, leave is sought to table that article from the New Zealand Herald. Is there any objection? There is.