14 Nov 2011

Greens promise to overhaul transport funding

8:52 pm on 14 November 2011

The Green Party wants to overhaul transport funding by dumping National's plan to fund roads of national significance.

It says it would use that money to fast-track an inner-city rail loop in Auckland and fund other public transport measures.

Transport spokesperson Gareth Hughes unveiled the policy on a bus on Monday morning, showing media where the proposed inner-city rail loop would go.


Mr Hughes says the city needs an inner-city rail link to ease congestion and the Greens would fund 60% of its construction by re-directing $1.4 billion away from National's uneconomic motorway projects over seven years.

"The fact is, this is what Auckland wants, it's speaking with one voice. There's compelling economic reasons why we need it. It can't wait another decade or two, so we're going to keep working hard to try and achieve it."

Mr Hughes says the National Party is obsessed with motorways, spending more than 80% of its transport funding on roads.

But he argues that more roads are not the solution to congestion and says the Greens would improve public transport, by matching funding dollar-for-dollar with roads.

"The Greens wouldn't cancel all the funding for roads and motorways - in fact, we'd prioritise it to road safety, road policing that would spend across all the activity classes and the Government 10-year funding plans."

The Greens would specifically redirect funding away from big roading projects such as the Transmission Gully proposal near Wellington, which it believes is uneconomic.

It is very similar to the Labour Party's transport plans. That party says it would fund half of the inner-city rail loop by cancelling National's plan to construct the proposed upgrade of State Highway 1 between Puhoi and Wellsford.

But National's transport spokesperson Steven Joyce says he is yet to be convinced of the rail loop's benefits.

"I think we actually have to get on and do the work, find out whether we can make a sensible project that the Government on behalf of taxpayers would want to contribute to. We've committed with the mayor of Auckland to doing that work over the next six to 12 months."

Mr Joyce says independent analysis has shown the rail link to be expensive, with very little gain.

The Green Party says it will work with whichever party leads the next government to ensure that construction on the Auckland inner-city rail link can start within three years.

Co-leader Russel Norman says the party would also give the Auckland Council more options to raise revenue so it could foot its 40% of the rail loop bill.

The Greens would also spend $500 million on improving buses and the ferry service and wants more to be spent on cycleways and footpaths.