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Time for Govt to fully fund light rail in Auckland

Simon Bridges needs to commit to fully funding light rail to Auckland’s airport and North Shore to break the city’s traffic gridlock, the Green Party said today.

A NZ Transport Agency briefing obtained by the Green Party shows the Government is considering fully funding major public transport projects in Auckland as it currently does with major motorway projects. The briefing identified light rail to the airport and North Shore as projects that could be 100 percent funded by central government.

“High-capacity light rail shouldn’t be playing second fiddle to motorway projects. Light rail carries many times more people, it takes cars off the road, and is clearly needed on the North Shore and city-to-airport route," said Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter.

“Right now it's not a level playing field, and rail is roading’s poorer cousin. National gives expensive motorway projects special treatment in the form of 100 percent government funding, while rail has to be part-funded by the rate-payer.

“We’ve been hearing lots of horror stories about the traffic around Auckland airport over the last few days – this is only going to get worse as tourism and the city’s population continue to grow.

“Anyone who’s spent time in Auckland traffic knows we need a rail line from the city to airport now. Simon Bridges should know that too, and if he doesn’t, he’s kidding himself.

“Aucklanders are sick and tired of being stuck on congested roads. Light rail would help people avoid congestion and delays on the way to the airport or getting into the city from the North Shore.

“This is about priorities. National could get going on light rail in the next 10 years by simply deferring spending on a few low-value motorway projects, like the $2 billion East West Link.

“Building bigger, more expensive motorways that just encourage more people to drive isn't going to solve congestion. We need quality light rail that carries more people and avoids traffic jams on the motorway,” said Ms Genter.