28 Apr 2011

Public transport set to benefit, says Joyce

11:58 am on 28 April 2011

Transport Minister Steven Joyce says public transport around the country is set for a cash injection,

Mr Joyce says that while the maximum funding available for state highways will increase under the Government's draft transport plans, the public transport subsidy will too - particularly for rail services in Auckland and Wellington.

"Those two have been underfunded not just by governments but by users and by ratepayers over the years," Mr Joyce says.

"The big increase will be in the metro rail area and that's effectively subsidies to fund things like the refurbishment of the trains in Wellington and the new trains in Auckland."

The draft version of the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport Funding 2012 says the Government intends to increase spending on new state highways but cut or effectively freeze funding in all but one other area of transport spending.

Higher limits are proposed for spending on new state highways - $1.3 billion by the 2014-15 financial year and $1.7 billion by 2021.

Funding would be cut in four areas, including road user safety, while funding for public transport infrastructure, road policing and local roads would be kept at current levels.

The draft document also tags four highways as possible future roads of national significance.

They are Hamilton to Tauranga, Cambridge to Taupo, further development of the Hawke's Bay expressway and improvements north and south of Christchurch on State Highway 1.

Joyce the 'tarmac king' - Jones

The Labour Party says the Government's transport plans are a mess and it should go back to the drawing-board.

The party's transport spokesperson, Shane Jones, says Transport Minister Steven Joyce should change his name to the tarmac king.

"Those particular roads will prove to be illusory," Mr Jones says, "just as the Puhoi extension is illusory, and I doubt you'll find that there's enough to fund those pet projects that he and his National Party colleagues have in mind."

Mr Jones says more money should be spent on public transport.