Herald on Auckland transport funding

The Herald editorial:

The first of the group’s two recommended solutions to plug a $10 billion to $15 billion funding gap in the council’s 30-year integrated transport programme fails to meet that criterion. This option suggests that from 2021, the money should come from hefty increases in , a regional fuel tax, tolls on major new roads, further government contributions and small public transport fare increases. The financial burden would, in effect, be widely spread. An advantage of this approach is that it would be reasonably simple to implement. But that does not outweigh the fact that much of the funding would be drawn from homeowners.

Neither home owners or taxpayers should be primarily funding roads and public transport. The users of roads and public transport should fund them.

The second option is better targeted. It envisages the introduction of road pricing supplemented by smaller increases in rates and fuel tax, further government contributions and small public transport fare increases. Motorists would be levied to use existing roads through motorway tolls, or charged to pass through cordons on other congested arterial routes. This would be more expensive to implement but the approach has several benefits, as well as drawing most of the funding from the major beneficiaries.

Most importantly, it would prompt immediate behavioural change by drivers, a feature not associated with the other option. Virtually overnight, there would be less road congestion.

Claiming overnight cures to congestion is silly, but the point about behavioural change is important.

The Super City was established ostensibly to provide the people of Auckland with strategic direction and leadership. If the council can convince them to supply the bulk of the funding on the basis that there will be a dramatic improvement in traffic movement, the Government should get out of the road.

The best way of achieving that outcome would be through a run as part of October’s local-body elections. It cannot be a yes or no vote on the public paying more for transport. Such a vote would always see higher charges rejected. The question would have to be carefully tailored so as not to simply provide a chance for the venting of spleen. In essence, it should be boiled down to a vote on what is preferable – increased rates or road pricing.

I agree with a referendum, but disagree that you only ask people how they want to pay, and not how much they want to pay?

Why not do a referendum on the City Rail Loop, with funding options for it? Tell Aucklanders the cost of it, and get them to vote on say one of say these options:

  1. Fund $2.9b CBD rail loop by rates impost of $250 a year for 10 years
  2. Fund $2.9b CBD rail loop by a of 25c a litre for 10 years
  3. Fund $2.9b CBd rail loop by road charges of $4 a day (assume 300,000 vehicles charged)
  4. Not build CBD rail loop

Not quite as simple as that, but Aucklanders should get to vote on how they pay for the CBD rail loop, if they want it.

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