10 Nov 2023

Eastern Busway project at risk if regional fuel tax stopped - Auckland mayor Wayne Brown

5:51 am on 10 November 2023
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File photo. The Eastern Busway is scheduled to be completed by 2027. Photo: Supplied

Pakuranga residents are hoping Auckland's mayor will not follow through on his threat to scrap the Eastern Busway project if central government gets rid of the regional fuel tax.

Wayne Brown told Checkpoint on Wednesday if the National Party went ahead with its election pledge to end the tax, the final stage of the $1.3 billion project might not go ahead.

Residents who have already endured years of construction noise and disruption would be none too happy if it did not get finished.

The Auckland Regional Fuel Tax generates about $150 million a year to pay for the city's transport projects, and Brown warned there would be consequences if the incoming government halted the much-needed revenue stream.

"If that's the case we'll just stop doing some of the things we've promised to do. The Eastern Busway which is right in the heart of strong National support suddenly becomes a problem. I have published a manifesto for them to read, which shows there are consequences for those kinds of things and they will be aware of that."

Auckland mayor Wayne Brown visits the Mangere Emergency Centre following the Auckland floods on Friday, 27 January to see how they are supporting victims.

Auckland mayor Wayne Brown. Photo: RNZ/Angus Dreaver

The first two stages of the project, linking Panmure to Pakūranga, are already complete and construction on the final stretch of between Pakūranga and Botany Town Centre started earlier this year.

It is a joint project involving the council, Auckland Transport and Waka Kotahi.

Construction has been plaguing businesses at the Pakūranga Plaza, which is largely deserted these days. Hairdresser Alex said parking had been reduced at the precinct.

"People actually don't want to come into the mall any more. All the shops are running out of business and if you look at the coffee shops, there [are] no people sitting there, so even the salons, me as a hairdresser, we don't have work because nobody is coming because of the congestion coming into the mall," he said.

Alex said he was looking forward to the project being finished.

Mango Tech owner Fabian said the construction had been keeping shoppers away, but cancelling the project would ultimately mean less business for him.

"Right now, because of [the] construction work there, many people will not come around here. If they finish that project I think more people will be coming."

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Damian Light. Photo: RNZ

Howick Local Board chairperson Damian Light said residents had had to put up with a lot of disruptions, with the understanding that it was going to deliver more transport choices for East Auckland.

"It's absolutely critical we get it delivered, so we would be really disappointed if there were any delays or disruptions to it."

Light said huge sums of money had already been invested in the Eastern Busway.

"While it has been quite disruptive and there are mixed views from some people, the community now has the expectation that it will be delivered. It should be our top priority. Transport is a major problem out this way and we need to have transport solutions. It is a massive growing population. Public transport is absolutely critical, rapid public transport to move the number of people around the city. We need the Eastern Busway."

Approximately $761.2m is funded by Waka Kotahi, including $561.2m by the National Land Transport Fund and $200m by the Crown.

National transport spokesperson and MP for Pakuranga Simeon Brown could not be reached for comment.

Unless Mayor Brown follows through on his threat to scrap it, the Eastern Busway is scheduled to be complete by 2027.

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