12 May 2015

Auckland Council transport spending steady

10:56 am on 12 May 2015

Auckland Council has produced figures countering a government claim that the council's spending on transport in the next three years will be lower than in the past three.

Passengers disembark at Britomart after the first journey on the city's new electric trains.

Photo: RNZ / Todd Niall

Both Transport Minister Simon Bridges and Prime Minister John Key said the council's expenditure would fall from $2.4 billion in 2012-2015, to $1.9 billion in the 2015-2018 period.

But the council has issued data showing a very similar level of investment over the six year period.

The statements came amid tension between the council and Government over the region promoting the introduction of motorway tolls to help fund transport investment.

Figures released by the council following the Prime Minister's comments show a possible decline in capital spending of $101 million, or 5 percent, but highlight the role of two big projects in the equation.

The council's data shows an underlying increase of $2 million to $1.566 billion, if the city's purchase of a new fleet of electric trains and the postponement of the City Rail Link project are stripped out.

The Auckland Council says the budget figures do not reflect that it initially funds the full cost of buying the trains, but that seperately, half of the borrowing costs are paid by the Government.

It says the $1.566 billion figure for 2015-18 also excludes the council's decision to fully fund the initial stage of the City Rail Link project to the tune of $395 million.

The council says the figures used by the Government also omitted a $100 million reduction made to current this year's capital spending on transport.

That takes the headline figure for the 2012-15 period down to $2.09 billion

Prime Minister John Key had insisted on TV3's Paul Henry show that the figures he used were correct.

"We've had our officials go through this, we don't make this stuff up. They've ripped this stuff apart and they know that they (the council) has spent less." he said.

Mr Bridges yesterday accepted that the $2.4 billion starting figure used in the comparison should have been $2.18 billion - or by the council's reckoning $2.09 billion.

The council said in a statement: "Adjusting for the significant change to CRL budgets, this is a very similar level of investment in Transport as was planned for in council's last Long Term Plan."

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