Transport Minister promises big investment

Friday, December 2, 2016

INVESTMENT: Transport Minister Simon Bridges (left) discussed solutions to Auckland’s road congestion with the Greater East Tamaki Business Association. Times photo Laura Brookes.

Traffic congestion and transport woes were the hot topics being thrown about by the Transport Minister and the local business community.

Hosted by National MP Jami-Lee Ross, last Friday’s breakfast meeting – held at Waipuna Conference Suites Highbrook – was attended by Simon Bridges and around 150 business people from the Greater East Tamaki Business Association (GETBA).

Mr Bridges talked about Auckland’s transport issues, and wasted no time confirming the Government’s investment into Auckland’s transport situation would not be impacted by funds being poured into Kaikoura following last week’s quake.

He admitted progress had been slow on the development of Auckland’s transport system in the past, but says today’s Government had “unprecedented confidence” in its investment plans, and an unprecedented number of multi-billion dollar projects currently taking place in Auckland.

Up until now, he said, these projects had been mostly focussed on inner city areas.

However, Mr Bridges is confident the new Auckland Transport Alignment Plan (ATAP) will see money flowing away from the CBD and into the eastern, southern and western areas of Auckland, where there is a shortage of strong transport connections.

“The truth of this is that successive governments under-invested for a number of decades ... and in fairness, there were other things they needed to do under tight fiscal circumstances, but that’s not true anymore.

“Transport is getting really serious investment ... there is work physically being done right now, and more to come.”

One of these options is the East-West transport link, which will go through consenting at the end of this year and is estimated to cost between $1.2 billion and $1.8 billion – a project Mr Bridges confirmed is taking priority over the Reeves Road flyover.

The AMETI busway, the designation of the South Eastern Arterial as a state highway and the eventual construction of the Reeves Road flyover were also discussed as likely solutions to Auckland’s transport dilemma.  

The prospect of an eastern light rail, however, was not one of the Minister’s favoured options.

“It’s problematic,” he says.

“We have no sense of what it will really cost ... and once you start with light rail, it doesn’t stop, because you’ve got to keep going to make it successful.”

He says an investigation into the overseas-based development of newer technologies such as Volvo’s autonomous buses could prove more successful, providing an equally efficient system for a considerably lower cost.