Manukau Courier : October 31st 2014
Friday, October 31, 2014 Taxes or road tolls? By JAMES IRELAND MILLIONS of dollars in South Auckland transport upgrades could be dumped if the council doesn’t find the money to fund its wish list. Auckland Council says it has secured $93 billion for its preferred transport plan to cope with the city’s growing population but needs another $12b to complete it. It will have to go ahead with a basic transport network if it can’t find the extra cash. That would mean high priority transport schemes, including the City Rail Link, would still be built but projects such as a rapid transit network that would connect Botany, Flat Bush, Manukau and Auckland Airport would go. The council has been told it has two funding options: road tolls or increased rates and fuel taxes. A report written by an indepen- dent panel of experts outlines the ways the city could collect the money. The first is to introduce road tolls The average residential rates bill could jumpfrom $2481 in 2015 to $3961 in 2025. on motorways, using number plate recognition for collection, similar to the system now used on the Northern Gateway. Driving the motorway at night would be free but a flat rate of $2 would apply or between $1.30 and $2.80 depending on what time of the day drivers use it. The report says a toll has the added benefit of encouraging drivers to use the motorway in offpeak times. The move would come with a set- up cost of approximately $110m and a cost of 24 cents to administer each transaction – or 10-12 per cent of revenue. But arterial roads would need to be upgraded to cope with people avoiding the motorways, the report says. That would apply particularly to Great South Rd because it passes through Otahuhu, Otara and Takanini. Planned upgrades to State High- way 20B between Manukau and the airport and Mill Rd between Papakura and Otara would also need to be brought forward to cope with demand. The second option to fund the city’s transport is to increase rates and fuel taxes. Rates would rise by 0.9 per cent a year between 2016 and 2025 on top of the already planned increase of 2.5 to 3.5 per cent a year. That would see the average resi- dential rates bill jump from $2481 in 2015 to $3961 in 2025. Average business rates would rise from $13,200 to $15,406. Fuel taxes would increase by 1.2 Costs andbenefits Without the extrafunding South Auckland would miss out on: ■ Rail electrification between Papakuraand Pukekohe ($110m) ■ Wiri depot extension ($50m) ■ Botanyto Manukau Rapid Transit Network ($25m) ■ Puhinui Gateway transport mitigation ($19.2m) ■ Thomas Rd upgrade ($16.2m) ■ Flat Bush School Rd East upgrade cents per litre a year until 2025, taking the total planned tax per litre from 59.5 cents in 2015 up to 81 cents in 2025. A fuel tax could be implemented in two ways, either with an increase to the tax throughout the country or with an extra tax solely for Auckland, the advisory body says. Its preferred option is a nation- wide tax. ($14.2m) ■ Puhinui station upgrade ($5m) ■ Ormiston Rd-Preston Rd intersection upgrade ($4.5m) ■ MiddlemoreInterchange ($4m) ■ Puhinui park-and-ride ($3.5m) ■ Ormiston Rd upgrade ($2.2m) ■ Te Mahia station upgrade ($2m) ■ Manurewa park-and-ride ($1.2m) ■ Papatoetoe park-and-ride ($0.6m) ■ Flat Bush terminus ($0.5m) The council will make a final decision in June 2015 as part of its Long-Term Plan discussions. ❚ The advisory body was appointed by the mayor andis made up of membersfrom groups representing affected interests such as business, truck drivers, AucklandAirport, cyclists, trade unionsand the environment. Transport report ‘a critical step’ – Brown Mayor Len Brown says the report’s release is ‘‘another historic day for Auckland’’. ‘‘Today is about putting down a clear marker for Auckland about how we fix our transport.’’ It marks ‘‘a critical step’’ in the city’s most important funding debate. ‘‘Aucklanders tell me every day that we need to fix this city’s transport problems and I know a basic network isn’t good enough for them so let’s debate, discuss and decide if and how much we are prepared to pay and finally fix Auckland’s transport problems.’’ Brown says he’s heard ‘‘from the prime minister down that listening to the views of Aucklanders is something that they want us to do’’. There are ‘‘benefits and negatives’’ to both options ‘‘but I’m certainly not going to go out there and pump one ahead of the other’’. ‘‘I will sit with the community. The simplest way would be a flat charge but that will be a discussion with the community. ‘‘This is by far and away the most significant issue that vexes Aucklanders and they want a TOLLS VERSUS RATES – TAKEYOURPICK Road tolls or increased rates and taxes? The Manukau Courier asked South Aucklanders which they’d prefer: result,’’ the mayor says. The advisory board’s research showed Aucklanders faced a cost whatever direction they choose – higher rates and fuel taxes or motorway charges or through the economic and social costs of ‘‘a city grinding to a halt’’. Kevin Ryan: Boy, that’s a tough call. I think putting a toll on the roads would work. If you’re goingtodrive on it you should put the money into it. That’s what happens overseas in places like Sydney anditseemstowork there. Ramari Croft: I think the whole thing’s ridiculous. I don’t want to paymore rates. I use buses andtrainsand the buses are always late. I suppose we don’t have any choice. If we want to keep public transport going, we have to pay for it. Devansh Mohan: Idon’t like the idea of having to pay to use the motorway. People will just go around them and use otherroads so they don’t have to pay. Ifind public transportis quite good. And you don’t have to pay for parking. Maerie Koligi: I totally object to rates goingup.Idon’t use public transport but if they could get it going out to the airport where IworkImight use it.We have got a long way to go. Diewe De Boer: I like the user pays systembut I think the council should be spending themoney more wisely. I use public transport. The new electric trainsare really good but it takes longer than it would if I drove fromManukau into the city. Michael Kuru: The rates and petrol costs arealready high enough. But I suppose if you have to pay to use the road everyone will just go around it. It’ll be like everything else and they will keep putting the price up. I would use public transportifI could. Glennis Smith: I suppose they have to get themoney from somewhere. If people use themotorway every day that’s goingtobe very expensive. Even in themiddle of the day themotorway is jampacked. I would use public transportifI could. Stewart Shaw: I think it’s better to raise the rates. Then all of Auckland is paying whether you only use the suburbanroads or not. The transport systemin Aucklandisa joke. They have talked about fixingitfor years.
October 30th 2014